Masters post-mortem this week at Quail Hollow

By Associated PressApril 29, 2009, 4:00 pm
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. ' A tip of the hat and handshakes for Masters champion Angel Cabrera.
A pat on the back for Chad Campbell.
And for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, reflections of a green jacket that got away from them.
Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim is the defending champion of this week's star-studded tournament. (Getty Images)
Except for Kenny Perry, the leading characters from the Masters return to competition this week at the Quail Hollow Championship, their first time seeing their peers and the press since that memorable Sunday afternoon earlier this month at Augusta National.
Only one of them had reason to celebrate.
Cabrera scrambled for par from the trees at No. 18 in a playoff, then won on the second extra hole to defeat Perry and Campbell and capture his second major. Four days later, he was feted at what amounts to a club championship at his home club in Argentina.
It was incredible to go back to my country and to be with my people, just was really a special, special feeling, Cabrera said through his Houston-based swing coach, Charlie Epps.
And it got even better when he arrived at Quail Hollow, the tree-lined course with a major championship atmosphere.
Its very nice that my fellow professionals have congratulated me the way that they have, Cabrera said.
Woods still commanded all the attention Wednesday, partly because of his status as the No. 1 player and a 14-time major champion, and partly because of the company he kept. Woods played with Peyton Manning, the three-time MVP quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, and both sides of the fairway were lined with spectators as they finished the round.
Despite not taking advantage of some easy scoring conditions at Augusta National, and now going a career-long four years without winning another green jacket, the time off gave Woods some perspective on the state of his game.
He has played four times since his eight-month layoff due to reconstructive knee surgery. He won at Bay Hill, and he has finished in the top 10 in all of his stroke-play events.
Ive had people remind me to look at it that way, he said with a smile. I have a hard time looking at it that way. Its just the nature of how I am. You want to try and win every event you play in, and obviously, I havent done that this year. But Ive had some successes this year. Even the years that Ive won nine times, eight times in a year, you still look at all the times you didnt win.
Imagine how Campbell feels.
He was in the middle of the 18th fairway in the playoff, a 7-iron in his hand, when he hung it out to the right and into a bunker and wound up missing a 5-foot par putt that knocked him out of the playoff.
Campbell enjoyed being away from golf for a few weeks, but it was almost too much time.
The longer I had off, the more I started thinking about things I should have done or could have done, he said. Its nice to be back out here playing, and maybe put that tournament behind me a little bit. It was a great experience. I had a blast. But I just wish it would have turned out a little bit better.
Mickelson tied a Masters record with a 30 on the front nine, but his charge to a third green jacket stalled with a tee shot into Raes Creek and two missed birdie putts inside 5 feet. After a few weeks to reflect, he saw only positives.
Im looking forward to getting back and playing, he said. I had a fun time at Augusta, and I cant wait to get back out. Ive been working on my game and Im excited about the rest of the year. Weve got a big tournament every month.
It starts with the Quail Hollow Championship, the tournament formerly known as the Wachovia Championship until the bank was acquired by Wells Fargo, and the new owner decided to take its name off the tournament under scrutiny over taking federal money.
The defending champion is Anthony Kim, although Woods could claim part-ownership. He won at Quail Hollow two years ago, then missed last year while recovering from the first of his two knee surgeries.
The course is in pristine shape, and its easy to see why club president Johnny Harris ' who joined Woods and Manning ' is courting a PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup for Quail Hollow. The difference this year is the lack of rough, with the difficulty aimed for greens that are expected to be faster than ever.
Its not what weve seen here in years past, past champion Jim Furyk said. I think its a good enough golf course it doesnt matter. This is one of those tournaments that probably has a bit more of a green light to kind of mess around with the setup and see whats best and whats not, because the players like the course so much and support this event so well.
Woods, who is testing a new shaft in his driver, says he is starting to get some pop back in his swing. He might need that, especially after Mickelson was continually hitting it past him during their final-round pairing at the Masters.
He will play three times before the next major, the U.S. Open. And it wasnt long after the Masters that he began gearing up for his title defense at Bethpage Black.
Probably took me a couple of days, he said. Just wanted to go over what happened there and make sure I thought about what I did right and wrong, and analyze it and prepare, and start game-planning for the Open.
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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 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 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.''