Aloha swing nothing alike in field golf courses

By Associated PressJanuary 15, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Throw out the weeks before and after the majors, and its tough to find consecutive stops on the PGA Tour as diverse as the Aloha Swing.
 
The Mercedes-Benz Championship was a winners-only field of 33 players.
 
More than half of the 144-man field at the Sony Open has never won at all.
 
The Plantation course at Kapalua was carved out of a mountain on the west coast of Maui, and with so much elevation, there were 24 tee shots that traveled at least 400 yards last week. The 17th hole alone drops 100 feet from tee-to-green.
 
The biggest drop at Waialae is stepping off the curb to cross the street from the clubhouse to the first tee. It is a classic course on the shores 10 miles east of Waikiki Beach, where the greens are located a flop shot away from the next tee.
 
There are two holes at Kapalua where players needed a Mercedes SUV to reach the next tee.
 
Big field, small field, Davis Love III said as he outlined the differences. A bunch of rookies this week and established guys last week. Came out here yesterday and just, whew! Breath of fresh air. Dont have to go up and down any hills.
 
The Sony Open begins Thursday, the second stop on the PGA Tour and the first full-field event of the 2009 season.
 
Which is the tougher tournament to win? Thats up for debate.
 
Geoff Ogilvy had to beat a field of PGA Tour winners, and he wound up with a six-shot margin over Love and Anthony Kim. But just about anyone at the Sony Open is capable of playing his best golf, and that means an additional 111 players to beat (including 14-year-old Lorens Chan, the amateur qualifier who is in the ninth grade and hits it a mile).
 
Daniel Chopra won the Mercedes-Benz Championship last year, didnt win another tournament all year and wound up 52nd on the PGA Tour money list. K.J. Choi won the Sony Open last year, challenged at the British Open and was 16th on the money list.
 
Ogilvy, who is trying to join Ernie Els as the only players to sweep Hawaii, couldnt work that one out.
 
The leaderboard at the end was probably what the leaderboard at the end of a normal tournament would look like, he said of Kapalua. So its hard to know if its any different. You would assume its going to be harder in a full-field event. It would be harder in a full-field event if you had those 33 plus the other 111. But if you had 144 without those guys in it, it might be different.
 
There were similarities in Ogilvy winning last week at Kapalua and Choi winning last year at Waialae.
 
Ogilvy had a six-shot lead, stumbled around for eight holes, then poured it on with an eagle and five birdies over the next seven holes to win by the same margin with which he started, giving him a wire-to-wire victory.
 
Choi also won wire-to-wire, starting out with a four-shot lead, had his lead cut in half during some tense moments down the stretch and became the first Sony Open champion in 41 years to not break par in the final round.
 
The other similarity? A winners lei around their neck, and fond memories.
 
I expect a lot of good things to happen, Choi said. This year is going to be very exciting for me, and Im looking forward to it.
 
In that respect, he has plenty of company.
 
The field includes some two dozen PGA Tour rookies, 10 of whom have never teed it up on tour. And that doesnt include Chan, who is about 4 months older and 6 inches shorter than Michelle Wie when she made her Sony Open debut in 2004.
 
Tadd Fujikawa will be making his ninth start on the PGA Tour, and he still has another semester before he finishes high school. But the 18-year-old earned this spot in a Monday qualifier, hopeful that will get him more sponsor exemptions before he gets his diploma.
 
Fujikawa tied for 20th in 2007 at age 16, the youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour in 50 years. That inspired him to turn pro, but he hasnt made a cut on the PGA Tour or European Tour since then.
 
He is struggling with his schedule, much like Wie when she was in high school, playing a few tournaments and then having to take a month off to learn about the Pythagorean theory.
 
Its hard to get any momentum going, Fujikawa said, presumably speaking of his golf. I feel like I play well one week, and then right when I start getting my game, I feel some confidence coming along and then Im on a break. So it just kills it.
 
He plans to play a mini-tour this summer, but would love to perform before his hometown crowd the way he did in 2007.
 
Im going to go out there and win, he said of his expectations this week. Thats always my goal. A tournament is a tournament. Youre out there to win, and thats what Im going to try to do.
 
Thats one thing about the Sony Open that hasnt changed from last week' the trophy goes to the guy with the lowest score.
 

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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''