Calcavecchia surges into tie for lead at Senior British

By Associated PressJuly 22, 2011, 2:24 pm

WALTON ON THE HILL, England – Mark Calcavecchia and Lee Rinker headed an American charge in the second round of the Senior British Open on Friday as Germany’s Bernhard Langer faded badly in the defense of his title.

Calcavecchia – one of three overnight leaders – made six birdies in his 3-under 69 before being joined on 7 under by Rinker and Canada’s Rod Spittle, whose afternoon 67s were the joint second-lowest rounds of the week at Walton Heath.

In-form Australian Peter Fowler was two shots back after a 68, with American pair John Cook (67) and Mike Goodes (70) together at 4 under.

With players from the United States filling six of the top nine places – as well as 20 of the leading 31 – and three-time winner Tom Watson also getting back in contention with a bogey-free 68 for 1 under, the likelihood of an eighth American winner in nine years was growing.

Langer isn’t expected to be challenging Sunday, though, after a 4-over 76 left him nine shots off the pace.

Calcavecchia and Rinker, who will be the last pairing to go out in the third round, live near each other in Jupiter, South Florida and are also childhood friends, playing junior golf from the age of 12.

Their careers have taken different paths since then, however.

While the 50-year-old Rinker is unknown outside the U.S. and without a career victory to his name, Calcavecchia is best known for winning the British Open at Troon in 1989 and has 12 more victories on the PGA tour.

Calcavecchia is bidding to become the fourth player – after Watson, Gary Player and Bob Charles – to achieve the British Open double and has a great chance if he maintains his form off the tee this week.

“That would be awesome company to keep. They’re three Hall of Famers. That would be really special,” said Calcavecchia, who led by three shots after 36 holes of the first Champions Tour major of the year – the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek in May.

After grabbing birdies at Nos. 1 and 2, morale-boosting up-and-downs for par on Nos. 11 and 13 kept up the momentum. Although he bogeyed No. 16, his third dropped shot of the round, he picked up another birdie at the last to sign for a second straight round in the 60s.

“I played well for the most part – not too many crooked drives, I’m putting pretty good, not too many mistakes. So far so good,” the 51-year-old Calcavecchia, who has six top-10 finishes in 12 events on this season’s Champions Tour.

Rinker, in his first season on the Champions Tour, only sealed his spot at Walton Heath with a top-10 finish at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open at Endicott, New York last month.

He is certainly making the most of his first tournament in England, hitting five birdies in a blemish-free round in the mid-afternoon sunshine on the parkland course just south of London.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position,” said Rinker, whose best displays on the regular tour were two second places in 1997. “But my game’s been coming along this year. We’ll see how I hold up.”

Spittle joined the American pair at the top of the leaderboard toward the end of the second round, finishing with six birdies from the last 10 holes on a closing stretch that has troubled many of the field because of the length of the par 4s.

“To say I have played well is an understatement,” said Spittle, winner of the AT&T Championship in 2010 by beating Jeff Sluman in a one-hole playoff.

It was the first time since 2004 that at least three players have held a share of the lead after 36 holes of a Senior British Open.

Fowler, a two-time winner on the Senior European Tour this season, is handily place on 5 under after a 68 – aided by the holing of a pitch for birdie on No. 16 – while Cook followed Rinker and Spittle in shooting a flawless round of 5 under.

That score was only beaten on Friday by England’s Kevin Spurgeon, whose 66 contained eight birdies.

Goodes would have been closer to the lead trio if he hadn’t double-bogeyed the par-4 No. 10.

Other Americans in with a good chance heading into the weekend were Bob Tway (70) and 2010 runner-up Corey Pavin (72), who were tied on 3 under with England’s Barry Lane (70).

The vast contingent on 1 under, alongside Watson, included Mark O’Meara and Tom Lehman (both 72).

Australia’s Mike Harwood and Zimbabwean-born Mark McNulty shared the overnight lead with Calcavecchia but carded 74 and 76 respectively to drop back.

Langer also had a poor round, a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 4 adding to three other dropped shots.

The two-time Masters champion was at least one of 76 players to make the cut, which came at 4 over. Two of those are amateurs – American pair Paul Simson (2 over) and Randy Haag (3 over).

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.


Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship


Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)


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Wie's goal to reach goals: Just. Stay. Healthy.

By Randall MellJanuary 23, 2018, 3:30 pm

Michelle Wie’s player bio should come with medical charts.

Her caddie would be well served if he could read X-rays as well as he reads greens.

Remarkably, Wie will begin her 13th full season as a pro when she tees it up Thursday in the LPGA’s season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

Wie is only 28, but on some days, she must feel like she’s going on 40.

It isn’t the years, it’s the mileage. Her body has too often been like an exotic sports car, a sleek and powerful machine capable of thrilling rides ... when it isn’t sitting it in the shop for weeks for repairs. There’s been one breakdown after another, spoiling her rides.

That’s why one burning desire trumps all others for Wie as she begins this new year.

“Being healthy, staying healthy, it’s my No. 1 priority,” Wie told GolfChannel.com. “I hired private physios at the end of last year, to work on my body. I’ve been working with my doctors in New York, and they’ve been doing a great job of getting me to a place where I’m pain free.

“For the most part, I’m feeling pretty good and pretty healthy. I’ve got little aches and pains from hitting so many balls over the years, but I’m really excited about starting this year. I feel really driven this year. I just want to be healthy so I can build some momentum and be able to play at 100 percent.”



Wie would love to see what she can do in an injury-free, illness-free year after all the promising work she put into rebuilding her game last year. She seemed on the brink of something special again.

“We worked last week, and Michelle looked really, really good,” said David Leadbetter, her swing coach. “It’s quite impressive the way she’s hitting the ball. She is hitting it long and feeling good about her game. So, the main goal really is to see if she can go injury free.”

After winning twice in 2014, including the U.S. Women’s Open, Wie battled through a troublesome finger injury in the second half of that year. Hip, knee and ankle injuries followed the next year. She didn’t just lose all her good momentum. She lost the swing she grooved.

Wie rebuilt it all last year, turning her draw into a dependable fade that allowed her to play more aggressively again. She loved being able to go hard at the ball again, without fearing where it might go. The confidence from that filtered into every part of her game. She started hitting more drivers again.

And Wie found yet another eccentric but effective putting method, abandoning her table-top putting stance for a rotating trio of grips (conventional, left-hand low and claw). She would use them all in a single round. It was weird science, but it worked as she moved to a more classic, upright stance.

“It’s not pretty, but it’s working,” Stacy Lewis said after playing with Wie at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last summer.

Wie said she’s going back and forth between conventional and left-hand low now.

“I can’t promise I’ll stay the same way all year,” Wie said. “But even with different grips, I stayed with the same putting philosophy all year. I want to keep doing that.”

Leadbetter calls Wie a rebel in her approach to the game. She’s a power player, but she carried a 9-wood and 11-wood last year. She says the 11-wood will be back in her bag this week. Her unorthodox ways go beyond technique, strategy and equipment. She’ll be sporting pink hair come Thursday.

“She has never been orthodox,” Leadbetter said. “She doesn’t like to conform. She’s always liked to buck the system in some way.”

Wie looked as if she were poised to make a run at her fifth career title last season. She logged six finishes of fourth place or better the first half of the year. She contended at the ANA Inspiration, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

And then a neck spasm knocked her out of the U.S. Women’s Open.

And then emergency appendectomy surgery knocked her out for six weeks at summer’s end. It kept her from playing the year’s final major, the Evian Championship.

“I can’t list all the injuries Michelle has had in her career,” Leadbetter said. “I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue.”

Over the last three seasons alone, Wie has played through bursitis in her left hip, a bone spur in her left foot and inflammation in her left knee. She has battled neck spasms and back spasms. There have been platelet rich plasma injections to aid healing, and there have been too many cortisone injections for her liking.

There also have been ongoing issues in both wrists.

In fact, Wie, who broke two bones in her left wrist early in her career, is dealing with arthritic issues in both wrists of late. She underwent collagen injections this off season to try to be more pain free.

“I’ve had to pull back the last couple years, restrict the number of balls I hit, not practice as much as I would like, but I was able to put in a lot of work this offseason,” Wie said. “I’m excited about this year, but I’ve been smart about things.”

Leadbetter says he has been focusing on injury prevention when working with Wie. He worries about the stress that all the torque she creates can have on her body, with her powerful coil and the way she sometimes likes to hold off shots with her finish. His work, sometimes, is pulling her back from the tinkering she loves to do.

“Everything we do with her swing now is to help prevent injury,” he said.

Leadbetter relishes seeing what’s possible in 2018 if there are no setbacks.

“Michelle would be the first to admit she hasn’t reached anywhere near her potential,” Leadbetter said. “We all know what she is capable of. We’ve had fleeting glimpses. Now, it’s a matter of, ‘OK, let’s see if we can really fulfill the potential she’s had from a very young age.’

“She’s really enthusiastic about this year. She can’t wait to get back in the mix.”