Notes Bay Hill darkness brings back Faldo memories
Tiger Woods wound up making a 15-foot birdie putt, and the tournament was over.
Nick Faldo was in a similar situation involving daylight, but with far more pressure ' not only because of the stakes, but because of the location. This is the 20-year anniversary of his first Masters victory, one that nearly led to a conversation that Faldo did not want to have.
The Masters typically ends at 7 p.m., leaving little time for extra holes. The sudden-death playoff almost ended at No. 10, but Scott Hoch missed a 3-foot par putt, sending them to the 11th hole.
Faldo drove it well to the right, got relief from a drain, had a 3-iron to one of the scariest greens in golf.
One of the best 3-irons Ive ever hit in my life, he said in a recent interview. It was so dark that I didnt see the ball until I was 60 yards short of the green. I remember telling myself, Im going to have to be brave here and say, Im not playing on. Imagine telling Augusta that youre not playing on. That was going to be a big decision.
How dark was it? Faldo crouched to read the putt, then turned to his caddie, Andy Prodger.
I said to Prodger, What do you think? He said, All bit of a blur to me, Gov, Faldo said with a laugh.
He holed the 25-foot birdie putt, and whether they could play another hole was never discussed.
Strangely enough, fast forward 14 years to Doral, where Hoch had a birdie putt just inside 10 feet on the second extra hole of a playoff against Jim Furyk. Hoch declared he couldnt see, and fans heckled him when play was halted until Monday. Upon returning, Hoch made the birdie putt to continue the playoff, then won on the next hole.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE: William J. Powell, who overcame racial barriers to become the first African-American to design, build own and operate a golf course, will receive this years Distinguished Service Award from the PGA of America.
Powell, a 92-year-old life member of the PGA, will be honored Aug. 12 in Minneapolis during the PGA Championship with the groups highest award. It was created in 1988 and honors leadership, humanitarian qualities, integrity and enthusiasm for golf.
His labor of love is Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio, which Powell began building in 1946. His daughter, Renee Powell, who once played on the LPGA Tour, is the head pro and his son, Larry, is the superintendent.
This is quite an honor, and it is something I savor due to so many good people in the PGA that made it happen, Powell said. I have had so many special things happen to me, I believe, because golf sees no color. It is a game that brings out the best in people and it is vital to young people. Golf means nothing but good. If you can get young people in the game, then they are good for all their lives.
Powell once described Clearview as Americas course a course where the only color that matters is the color of the greens. The club is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
TOP COURSES: Just in time for the Masters, Golf Digest will release its biennial list of Americas 100 Greatest Courses, and for only the second time in 25 years there is a new No. 1 ' Augusta National.
The home course of the Masters has replaced Pine Valley atop the list, which is in the May edition of the magazine that hits news stands next Tuesday. Augusta National was at No. 3 two years ago.
Pine Valley is No. 2, followed by Shinnecock Hills, Cypress Point and Oakmont Country Club.
Pebble Beach, the only other course to be ranked No. 1 ahead of Pine Valley, has slipped to No. 6 in the 2009-2010 list, although it remains atop the Greatest Public Golf Courses list.
Rounding out the top 10 are Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, Fishers Island Club in New York and Seminole Golf Club in south Florida.
SHARK EQUIPMENT: Just in time for his return to the Master, Greg Norman has a new equipment deal.
Norman said Tuesday he has joined the staff of TaylorMade Golf Co., agreeing to play its clubs, golf ball, use its golf bag and wear its logo on the inside of his cap. Norman used the TaylorMade TP Red ball when he tied for third at the British Open last year.
It started with the TP ball, which I played at the Open Championship last year, Norman said. Im pleased that the discussions have evolved to the extent that I am now a member of the TaylorMade staff. TaylorMades approach to the game and equipment design is very similar to my own.
IRISH SHOWDOWN: The present and future of the Emerald Isle will collide after the British Open when three-time major winner Padraig Harrington plays 19-year-old Rory McIlroy at the Lough Erne golf resort.
The inaugural Lough Erne Challenge, to be held July 22, will be stroke play. Organizers are limiting ticket sales to 4,000.
The fact that two of the most important and exciting figures in world golf are Irish, and both of them are in the worlds top 20, made it compelling to pit them against each other in this special event, said Jim Treacy, the resort owner.
The Lough Erne Challenge comes five years after the demise of the Battle at the Bridges, the made-for-TV event that Tiger Woods played for six years before everyone lost interest.
This event will be filmed by European Tour Productions with a delayed broadcast in 13 countries.
DIVOTS: Tom Lehman has agreed to be honorary chairman for the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open on the Nationwide Tour. Lehman won the tournament 20 years ago when it was part of the Ben Hogan Tour. It is one of four original Nationwide Tour events still on the schedule. The PGA Tour has donated about $69,000 on behalf of The Presidents Cup to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, which is helping people and communities affected by Australian fires that have killed more than 200 people and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes. The Presidents Cup will be played in Melbourne in 2011.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Sean OHair became the 60th player to be a runner-up to Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour.
FINAL WORD: If I can get anywhere near to where he is, Ill have done very well.'Rory McIlroy, on people comparing him with Tiger Woods.
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”
You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios
NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.
Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:
Race to the CME Globe
Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.
Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.
The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.
Ariya Jutanugarn is also one shot off the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.
Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.
So Yeon Ryu and Shanshan Feng are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.
Rolex Player of the Year
The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.
Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.
Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.
Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.
It’s simple math.
The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.
1st - 30 points
2nd – 12 points
3rd – 9 points
4th – 7 points
5th – 6 points
6th – 5 points
7rd – 4 points
8th – 3 points
9th – 2 points
10th – 1 point
Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.
Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.
Rolex world No. 1 ranking
World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.
Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.
At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.
Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.
Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.
''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''
Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.
''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''
Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.
''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''
J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.
''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.
''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''
He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.
''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''
Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.
''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''