Notes Defending Champ Missing Pebble

By Associated PressFebruary 6, 2007, 5:00 pm
Arron Oberholser's season started poorly, and it keeps getting worse.
 
Oberholser won't be able to defend his lone PGA TOUR victory this week at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am because of a bulging disk in his back, which likely will keep him out until March.
 
'This couldn't have happened at a worse time for me,' Oberholser said. 'Missing the chance to defend my AT&T title on one of my favorite courses in the world is just awful. I said last year this is my fifth major and I meant it. But right now, I have to focus on the healing process, and that may take some time.'
 
There were signs that Oberholser might have a rocky start to this year.
 
He opened with a 70 in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, then withdrew before the second round when his back injury flared up. A week later, he went to his locker at the Sony Open and found his name tag missing, replaced by Monday qualifier Scott Piercy.
 
The locker room attendants at Waialae told a bewildered Oberholser they had heard he had gone home to Arizona.
 
'I never withdrew,' Oberholser told them.
 
He was given another locker, punched in the electronic combination and stared into an empty locker.
 
'Um, excuse me,' Oberholser said to the attendant. 'Any idea who (took) the three dozen Titleist balls in my old locker? Brand new? Not even on the market yet?'
 
The Pro-Am was only a few hours away, and Oberholser said he had enough golf balls in his bag from Kapalua to get by. Turns out it didn't matter, however, because he withdrew a few hours later when back pains persisted. And he hasn't played since then.
 
AUGUSTA ADDITION
Further proof that a fitness craze has reached golf: Augusta National now has a gym.
 
Club chairman Billy Payne said in a recent interview that the club has built a gym near the cabins that can be used by members and their guests if they're staying on the property.
 
'It's just an amenity we wanted to add,' Payne said.
 
Asked whether Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and other players might use the gym during the Masters, Payne said he hadn't considered that, but figured they likely would stick to their routines by using fitness trailers.
 
The club does not talk about membership matters, and the chairman didn't elaborate when asked if building a gym was a sign that members were getting younger at Augusta National.
 
'I think fitness is an increasingly important part of golf,' he said. 'It wasn't any more complicated than that.'
 
WOODS DIVIDED
The accolades kept coming when Woods made his 2007 debut by winning the Buick Invitational for his 55th career victory, and seventh straight on the PGA TOUR.
 
Ron Sirak of Golf World wrote that 'you could cut up Tiger's record and give about a dozen guys pretty nice careers.'
 
That was a bit of an exaggeration.
 
But not much.
 
Woods' career would be equal to the PGA TOUR careers of Paul Azinger, Nick Faldo, Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman, Mike Weir and Fuzzy Zoeller. Combined, they have 12 majors among 55 victories on the U.S. tour.
 
So it's not a dozen guys. It's only a half-dozen.
 
MATCH PLAY
Shaun Micheel ended Woods' winning streak by beating him in the first round of the World Match Play Championship on the European Tour last September.
 
Woods still has a seven-tournament winning streak on the PGA TOUR, and if his next start is the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona in two weeks, there's a chance Micheel might be there to face him in the opening round.
 
This is the final week to qualify for the 64-man field at Match Play, which is determined by world ranking. Micheel is No. 63 and not playing at Pebble Beach. First, he has to hope enough people don't pass him in the ranking to knock him out of the tournament. Oberholser is not expected to play because of a back injury, so Woods likely will play whoever is ranked No. 65.
 
Others on the bubble include Brett Quigley (No. 64), J.J. Henry (No. 65) and Dean Wilson (No. 66), all of whom are playing at Pebble.
 
BAY HILL CHANGES
Arnold Palmer's golf course isn't getting harder, but it might look that way on the scorecard.
 
Bay Hill Club and Lodge will play to a par 70 for the first time next month in the Arnold Palmer Invitational by converting two holes to par 4s. The 558-yard fourth hole will measure about 480 yards, while the 517-yard 16th hole will play close to 500 yards.
 
'It's something I've been thinking about for a few years now, and I figured it was time, simply for the way the game is progressing along,' Palmer said. 'Most of the guys are hitting irons into 16. It's play as a par 4, anyway. So I thought we should take a look at this. I think this will make it more interesting for the overall tournament in relation to par.'
 
It certainly will change the dynamics of the closing holes, a time for players to protect the lead with pars instead of trying to make up ground with birdies. The 17th is possibly the toughest par 3 at Bay Hill, and the 18th is a daunting par 4 with a pond protecting the front and right side of the green.
 
DIVOTS
Walter Driver was elected to another one-year term as USGA president. ... The Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio, won't be the biggest sporting event in the area this year. By moving to the week before the PGA Championship (Aug. 2-5) as part of the FedExCup schedule, the third round Saturday will go up against the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in nearby Canton, Ohio. ... Scott Hoch has signed an endorsement deal with Adams Golf. Hoch had been playing Yonex since the early 1990s. ... Europe has decided not to change its system of picking a team for the Ryder Cup, which it has won three straight years. Five players will come from world ranking points, five from a European Tour money list with two captain's picks. Qualifying starts Sept. 9 at the European Masters and ends Aug. 31, 2008 at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
For the first time since 2000, the LPGA Tour does not have a major champion from the previous season on the cover of its media guide. It went with Lorena Ochoa (player of the year), Seon Hwa Lee (rookie of the year) and Julieta Granada (ADT Championship winner).
 
FINAL WORD
'I really enjoyed my week. It's just that the last 20 minutes didn't work out the way I wanted.' -- Ernie Els, who finished one shot behind Henrik Stenson at the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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.''