Johnson Set for His Fifth Major

By Associated PressJuly 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 John Deere ClassicSILVIS, Ill. -- He hasnt been back to survey the destruction, not that Zach Johnson really needs it.
 
He saw the videos and pictures.
 
He heard the horror stories from his relatives and friends back home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and he realizes just how fortunate they are.
 
The damage they suffered relative to other people, its really minimal, he said.
 
For those not so fortunate, Johnson encouraged the PGA TOUR to raise funds for flood victims. The PGA stepped up, and Johnson is relieved that his biggest problem heading into the John Deere Classic is getting his game on track.
 
Johnson is again one of the top attractions at the John Deere, which he considers his home event even though he cant seem to settle in here. He has never finished higher than 20th and missed the cut last year, a few months after winning the Masters.
 
This time, hes returning from left wrist tendinitis that kept him out for three weeks as he tries to conquer a course that has given him fits over the years. And hell be challenged by a relatively deep field for a tournament that the top players generally skip because of the British Open.
 
To combat that, organizers chartered a jet this year to fly participants from the Quad Cities to Manchester, England, meaning no more dashes to OHare for commercial flights. No more connections, either.
 
Last year, only eight participants went from the Deere to the British Open. This year, there are 22 on the passenger list, including two alternates and the highest finisher not already qualified for Royal Birkdale.
 
One player who wont be on that plane is veteran Kenny Perry.
 
A two-time tour winner this year, he chose to skip the British Open and stick with his plan to play the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee next week.
 
You know what, Im an independent contractor, said Perry, ranked 20th in the world and fourth on the money list. I can do whatever I want, and I like that.
 
His focus is on helping the U.S. win the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in his home state, Kentucky. Winning a major?
 
That is the ultimate, he said. But at this stage of my career, I fought all that for 22 years. I want to play golf at the courses I enjoy playing at these last couple years, and Im going to go out on my terms, not on their terms.
 
Johnson was a surprise winner at Augusta in 2007, but he has struggled here for some reason.
 
He grew up just over an hour away in Cedar Rapids, serves on the tournaments board and believes the course suits his game.
 
So why the problems?
 
Maybe its just the added pressure on myself, he said. I havent figured that part out yet. Maybe Im just not clicking at the right time, either.
 
Johnson seemed to be clicking entering last years tournament, when he was ranked 15th.
 
Now?
 
Hes down to 29th after missing three cuts and finishing in the top 10 just once in 15 starts this year, although he thinks he played better than the scores indicate. This will be Johnsons first tournament since the U.S. Open when he was gone after the second round.
 
Tendinitis in the wrist surfaced the following Tuesday while preparing for the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. He iced it that night but couldnt move it the next morning.
 
What was frustrating was I get hurt and I thought it was a pretty big deal, but SportsCenter was Tiger and his injury; I got nothing, Johnson said in jest.
 
He started swinging again last week, but regaining his timing takes, well, time.
 
While he recovers, so does a region.
 
The Monday after the U.S. Open, Johnson suggested to commissioner Tim Finchem and several other officials that the tour raise money for the flood victims. A few days later, an unknowing Jerry Kelly did the same.
 
The fund started last week, and the total through the weekend was $12,975.
 
To me, this is like a Midwest Katrina, said Kelly, a Wisconsin native who got a firsthand look at the damage in his home state when he caddied at the Womens U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Erin Hills last month.
 
Johnson was in Cedar Rapids the week before the flood. His parents Dave and Julie left for the U.S. Open the day before it hit and were lucky to return to an intact house.
 
His moms downtown office was flooded, but she can work out of home or at a satellite office at a local high school. His dads chiropractic clinic escaped damage even though a nearby hospital and surrounding offices were devastated.
 
I saw a lot of pictures and some kind of video (of the area) and Im telling you its the luckiest thing, Johnson said. His office is sitting right there and you can see about two or three yards. His office is two or three feet higher than all the other offices there. No damage whatsoever.
 
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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

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    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.''