Donald shoots 64 at BMW PGA in bid to become No 1

By Associated PressMay 26, 2011, 5:40 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Luke Donald closed in on golf’s top ranking after shooting a 7-under 64 in the incomplete first round of the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday, leading by two strokes and finishing eight ahead of world No. 1 Lee Westwood.

Donald mastered the wet and windy conditions at the West Course at Wentworth to equal his lowest European Tour round. He made a run of five birdies in seven holes from No. 4 onward, then made three more which were offset by a single bogey.

“That was probably one of the best rounds I’ve ever played,” said Donald, last year’s runner-up. “It was tough conditions out there. The wind was swirling. There was some rain showers, and this isn’t an easy course in the best of conditions. So to pretty much have total control of the golf ball today doesn’t happen very often in golf, but that’s how I felt today. I was just seeing the shots and was able to hit them.

“The goal is to try and win this event, and if I finish ahead of Lee, then great,” he added.

The Englishman needs to outperform Westwood to take the top spot. He has already missed out on two opportunities this season, losing to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff at The Heritage in April and going down to Ian Poulter in the final of the World Match Play event in Spain last weekend.

Donald has had trouble closing out strokeplay tournaments, having won only one in the past five years. He has, however, picked up the Accenture Match Play title in Arizona in February as part of eight straight top-10 finishes in a remarkable run of consistency.

“Top 10s are nice but winning is what’s important,” said Donald, who had previously shot a 64 on the European Tour three times. “I thought anything under par was going to be a good round – 1, 2 under was going to be a solid round. I certainly didn’t expect to come out here and shoot 7 under.”

Westwood made a double-bogey after a penalty drop at No. 6 to go with two bogeys in a 72. He then had to undergo a random doping test but joked the testers had the wrong man.

“They should drug-test Luke after a 64. I can’t quite figure that one out. It’s a very good score,” he said, before criticizing his own form on the greens. “When the longest putt you hole is 5 feet, you’re going to struggle to shoot 7 under in these kind of conditions, which is really the story of the day for me.”

The round was suspended because of bad light with five groups still out on the course, including Oscar Floren of Sweden, who was at 4 under with four holes to play.

Matteo Manassero of Italy, who became the youngest winner on the European Tour at 17 years, 188 days last October, shot a 66 to tie for second with Johan Edfors of Sweden.

English pair Ross McGowan and Poulter and Bradley Dredge of Wales all shot 68s, one stroke ahead of a group that included winning European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

Montgomerie, the champion in 1998, ’99 and 2000 who is now ranked No. 462, found some of his old form by holing birdies at three of the first four holes to reach the turn in 30. But five bogeys on the back nine ruined his brilliant start.

His seven birdies ensured he still matched his best round of the season, and Montgomerie is well placed to make his first top-10 finish in more than 2 1/2 years.

“In certain ways, it’s disappointing to only finish 2 under after that start, a flying start. But at the same time, it is tricky. Anybody that breaks 70 today has done extremely well,” said Montgomerie, who revealed that his regular caddie had left him to join Ryder Cup player Francesco Molinari.

Rory McIlroy continued his indifferent form since his 14-stroke turnaround after starting the final round of The Masters leading by four shots. He hit a 76 on Thursday, following on from his group-stage exit at the World Match Play.

PGA Championship holder Martin Kaymer of Germany, who also has a chance to become No. 1, shot a 74. Playing partner Charl Schwartzel, the Masters champion, had a terrible start to his round with double bogeys on holes 3 and 5 before signing for a 79.

Jose Maria Olazabal, the next European Ryder Cup captain, was one of three players to pull out during a round that was interrupted for 36 minutes due to thunder and lightning. A back problem forced his exit after seven holes, joining Robert-Jan Derksen (rib) and Paul Waring (hand) in withdrawing.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.