Langer passes Nicklaus with back-to-back majors

By Associated PressMay 28, 2017, 10:32 pm

STERLING, Va. – Bernhard Langer knew it wouldn't be easy to come from one stroke back to beat Vijay Singh, who's five years younger, drives the ball 30 yards farther and routinely competes with players young enough to be his sons.

Ultimately, the 59-year-old German star's confidence with the putter, a club that has frequently bedeviled him, was the difference as he edged past Singh in a tense back-nine duel to win the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National on Sunday.

Langer won his record ninth senior major and the only one that had eluded him during his dominant decade-long run on the 50-and-over circuit. He tied Jack Nicklaus' record of eight majors last week with a comeback victory in the Regions Tradition. He's also the first player to win the career ''super slam'' of all five senior majors.

Despite a few dozen protesters, the drama remained on the course at President Donald Trump's club on the shores of the Potomac River, about 25 miles outside Washington. Trump, coming off a nine-day trip abroad, did not attend the final round.

Langer pulled ahead of Singh with 12-foot birdie on the par-4 16th. Singh three-putted 17 to give Langer a two-shot advantage. After Singh birdied 18, Langer calmly tapped in for par and a one-shot victory, embracing his daughter, who flew in from Seattle to surprise him, on the 18th green.

Langer shot a 4-under 68 to finish at 18-under 270. Singh closed with a 70.



''I think what really frustrated him was my putting,'' Langer said. ''I made a bunch of putts just to keep in touch and he didn't really make anything.''

Langer knows what that feels like, having struggled with the putting yips off and on throughout his career. Langer's latest challenge came at the beginning of last season, when golf's governing bodies banned the anchored putting stroke he had used for more than a decade. Langer continued using the long putter, moving his top hand an inch away from his chest.

''I found a way now that I feel reasonably comfortable most of the time, not always,'' Langer said. ''It's encouraging for me to see that even under pressure I can make some putts.''

The final pairing teed off amid steady rain and the weather appeared to bother Singh, who rushed his pre-shot routine. Langer, implacable as ever, birdied the par-5 third and the par-4 fifth to move one shot ahead.

Langer made his only bogey of the day on No. 6, and the two remained tied for the next nine holes as the rain tapered off and the wind picked up, blowing from a different direction than it had the rest of the week.

Singh tried to overpower Trump National as he had the first three days, but Langer used his guile to maintain a share of the lead. On the short par-4 ninth, Singh drove the green and had 7 feet for eagle. Langer, unable to reach the green with a driver, hit a hybrid off the tee. His approach shot spun back to 20 feet, but he buried the putt and raised his fist in the air. Singh then missed the eagle putt and stood frozen in disbelief.

Singh's unease grew throughout the afternoon. He practiced his full swing with his putter on the side of the sixth green and rehearsed his putting stroke on several tee boxes. On 12, after hooking his second consecutive tee shot into the rough, he took out his frustration on some tall grass, taking four hard practice swings.

Langer missed just two fairways and one green in regulation, and he led the field for the week in both categories. His accuracy and persistence finally paid off on 16. Singh missed another fairway and two-putted for par. Langer hit 6-iron to 12 feet and his birdie putt was so pure that he started his fist pump before it dropped.

''I missed a lot of putts out there. If I would have putted nicely, this thing probably would have been over a long time ago,'' Singh said. ''But Bernhard played really solid. He never missed a shot and he was always on the green and he putted nicely as well, so he deserved to win.''

No one else posed much of a threat. Billy Andrade twice pulled within two shots of the lead but faded on the back nine. He shot 71 and finished five shots back, tied for third with Miguel Angel Jimenez, who closed with a 68. Scott McCarron and Bob Estes tied for fifth.

The 54-year-old Singh still plays a full PGA Tour schedule and was playing in his first Senior PGA, which is the oldest of the five senior majors.

Langer had four previous top-five finishes in the championship, his best chance coming in his first attempt. He led after three rounds in difficult conditions at Oak Hill in 2008, but shot a final-round 76 to lose by one stroke to Jay Haas.

Langer has three straight wins in the Senior Players Championship and two straight at the Regions Tradition, along with two Senior British Opens and one U.S. Senior Open.

''It means a great deal to win two majors at age 59,'' Langer said. ''And to surpass Jack's record of eight majors out here is pretty neat. I'm a good friend of Jack's and I think very highly of him, and whenever you can do something just similar or close to what he's achieved, you've done something pretty special.''

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.


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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.”


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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.


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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.''