Notes Euros feeling good at Oakland Hills

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' When the Ryder Cup was held at Oakland Hills in 2004, the Europeans left with an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 victory, the second of their three straight over the United States.
 
The top points producers on that team are back for the PGA Championship that starts Thursday on the same course.
 
Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood both had 4 1/2 of a possible five points over those three days.
 
The look of the course is pretty much the same. Its obviously a lot tougher than it was at the Ryder Cup, said Garcia, who was 24 then. Obviously the rough is thicker. They have added some good length. Bunkers are a little bit deeper.
 
Westwood, who is seven years older than Garcia, broke into a wide smile when asked about the 2004 Ryder Cup.
 
I had had a bit more to drink than Ive had right now. Although I think we all were sort of pretty well on our way, he said referring to huge bottles of champagne that were sprayed and imbibed with great gusto. Its just great memories, really.
 
Westwood was asked if being back on the course for a practice round brought back any specific thoughts of holes from that day.
 
Its not the way my mind was working. I was just kind of focusing on this week and not what happened in the past on the golf course, he said. Only probably on the 18th green where I stopped sort of preparing for this weeks tournament and I just said to my caddie, `Do you remember that putt that Sergio holed there? It was only because he nearly hit me with the putter when he tossed it up in the air. Thats the only reason I remember that.
 
Eight of the 12 players on that European team are here this week and a ninth, Luke Donald, was forced to withdraw because of a wrist injury.
 
At least one former PGA champion believes the Europeans should be brimming with confidence from four years ago.
 
If they dont, its their own damned fault for not having it, because they really took it to us, said Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA champion who wasnt a member of the U.S. team in 2004.
 
PRACTICE? PRACTICE?
 
The image of golfers taking the opportunity to play practice round after practice round at a major championship venue was shattered by Rocco Mediate.
 
One of the sports most popular players since his U.S. Open playoff loss to Tiger Woods in June, Mediate was ready for Thursdays opening round of the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills after a total of nine practice holes on the course known as The Monster.
 
Im tired, Mediate said Wednesday after talking for a while about his hectic life since becoming such a celebrity following the 19-hole playoff loss to the worlds No. 1 golfer. I played last July in the British Open qualifier here and the golf course is right in front of you. The greens are difficult, but they are still right in front of you. I remember them all.
 
Its not rocket science. Its just youve got to be under these holes. You cannot play them from over the greens. Theres no tricks, obviously, just a lot of long clubs for me, and I enjoy hitting them.
 
Mediate was asked for an example of how crazy things have become for him since the 46-year-olds remarkable performance at Torrey Pines.
 
Walking to dinner last night, one guy stopped the car on the street, sent his son over. I signed the autograph and he got back in the car, Mediate said. It was kind of freaky, actually. It was fine. There wasnt much going on. It wasnt a busy street.
 
CENTENNIAL PGA
 
The 100th anniversary of the first PGA Championship will be celebrated by staging the last of the four majors near where the organization was formed: Baltusrol.
 
The course in Springfield, N.J., just across the river from New York where The PGA of America was formed in April 1916. The first PGA Championship was held six months later at Siwanoy in nearby Bronxville.
 
Its one of the classic clubs in this country, and if you walk up on a point on the Upper Course, you can see the Manhattan skyline, Joe Steranka, the CEO of the PGA of America, said Wednesday. So being in the New York metropolitan area for us was important, to be able to be near the birthplace. I know well have a lot of activities in the year leading up to that centennial championship.
 
That PGA Championship will be not the 100th edition, however, since none was held in 1917, 1918 and 1943.
 
Baltusrol hosted its only PGA Championship in 2005, with Phil Mickelson winning by one stroke over Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn in a rare Monday finish. Bad weather blew in late Sunday, forcing 12 players to return the day to complete their rounds.
 
That championship brought a whole group of people into the field and was one of the most dramatic moments, Steranka said. Well try to finish it on Sunday this year, though.
 
BIG MONTH
 
Chad Campbell has a lot on his mind this month ' the PGA Championship, trying to make the Ryder Cup team, the PGA Tour playoffs for the FedEx Cup. And in the middle of this, hes preparing for fatherhood.
 
His wife, Amy, is expecting a boy on Sept. 4.
 
She more worried about the schedule than I am, Campbell said.
 
He said he likely would play the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ends Sept. 1, then skip the BMW Championship in St. Louis. That might affect his FedEx Cup standings, but it shouldnt have any bearing on the Ryder Cup. If he doesnt make the team, the captains picks are announced after the Deutsche Bank.
 
LATE CHANGE
 
Shingo Katayama, No. 52 in the official world golf rankings, withdrew from the PGA Championship on Wednesday due to recurring back problems. He was replaced by Michael Allen of Scottsdale, Ariz. The 156-player field now includes 93 of the worlds top 100.
 
Other withdrawals in the last week include Brett Wetterich (back), Jason Bohn (back), Luke Donald (wrist) and Alex Cejka (arm).
 
Cejka was in the field as an alternate, replacing Donald.
 
Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods is not in the field after undergoing knee surgery soon after winning the U.S. Open in June.
 
NO TIGER
 
Tiger Woods will miss the Ryder Cup, and U.S. captain Paul Azinger cant see how that will help.
 
Some have speculated that Woods absence ' he has never had a winning record at any Ryder Cup ' might motivate the Americans and put more pressure on Europe, which has won the last three times.
 
I dont see one, single positive that Tiger Woods isnt on our team, Azinger said. I cant imagine how you can argue a team would be better off without arguably the greatest player ' potentially the greatest player ' who has ever lived. As far as Im concerned, it really puts Europe in an advantageous place. It puts Europe in a favorite role. Theres just no question about it.
 
PRIZE MONEY
 
The PGA of America approved prize money Wednesday of $7.5 million for the PGA Championship, up $500,000 from last year. First place is worth $1.35 million.
 
Its the first time since 2003 that all three U.S. majors had the same purse.
 
The British Open had the largest amount of prize money this year, mainly because of the exchange rate. Padraig Harrington earned nearly $1.5 million from a prize fund of $8.24 million.
 
Typical of the majors, even those missing the cut will earn $2,500.
 
BACK STRETCH
 
The PGA Championship comes toward the end of an impressive string of marquee sporting events in the Detroit area. The 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills started the run and was followed by baseballs All-Star game the next year and the 2006 Super Bowl. Following the 2009 Final Four, the Motor City might have a long wait for another scheduled sporting event that has wide appeal.
 
Oakland Hills members are open to hosting another major ' a seventh U.S. Open or fourth PGA Championship ' but not until sometime between 2016 and 2022. Local officials are hoping to land another Final Four between 2012-16.
 
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  • Whan details LPGA changes for 2018 and beyond

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 8:56 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Race to the CME Globe’s season-long series and its big-bang finish at the CME Group Tour Championship are secured for another six years.

    Tour commissioner Mike Whan announced a contract extension with CME Group through 2023 in his annual state-of-the-tour address Thursday at the Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    Whan also outlined changes to next year’s tournament schedule and detailed specifics of the revamp of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, with a new Q-School Series devised as the final stage beginning next year.

    Highlights from Whan’s address:

    Extending the CME Race . . .

    The Race to the CME Globe, a season-long competition for a $1 million jackpot, will be played at least six more years, with Whan announcing a contract extension through 2023.

    “We’re pretty excited about that,” Whan said.

    The LPGA is also close to finalizing details that will keep the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon Golf Club.

    2018 schedule will include two new West Coast events . . .

    The LPGA is likely going to lose three events next year, but it will gain three new ones, leaving the tour with 34 events, including the UL International Crown. That’s the same number of events being played this year. Total prize money is expected to reach $69 million, up from the record $65 million played for this season.


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    The Manulife LPGA Classic in Canada is off next year’s schedule, and the Lorena Ochoa Match Play also is not expected to return. The McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open is not returning, but only because it is sliding off the schedule to move up early on the 2019 schedule.

    Whan said two new West Coast events are being added, and they will be positioned on the calendar next to the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, to give players more reasons to stay out west.

    Whan said there’s also a new international event being added to the schedule, but details of the new events won’t be released until the full schedule is released sometime after Thanksgiving.

    “I hope you’ll agree that stability and predictability haven’t always been the calling card of the LPGA, but it has been the last few years,” Whan said. “I’m proud to tell you that the revenues of the LPGA in the last five or six years are up almost 90 percent. We have added 20 title sponsors and over 20 official marketing partners in the last five or six years. Don’t know too many sports that could claim that.”

    Q-School officially overhauled . . .

    Whan said the LPGA Qualifying Tournament will still be played in three stages next year, but the final stage will get a makeover as the Q-School Series.

    The LPGA will continue to host first and second stages, but instead of a five-round final stage, there will be an eight-round finals series, with two four-round tournaments scheduled in back-to-back weeks in the same city, with cumulative scores used over eight rounds. The new Q-Series site will be announced early next year.

    A field of 108 will make the Q-Series finals, with 40 to 50 LPGA tour cards up for grabs.

    The Q-Series field will be filled by players finishing 101st to 150th on the LPGA money list, players finishing 31st to 50th on the Symetra Tour money list, with up to 10 players from among the top 75 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings who don’t have LPGA membership. Also, the field will include the top five in the Golfweek Sagarin College Rankings. The rest of the field will be filled by players advancing through Q-School’s second stage, which could be anywhere from 23 to 33 players, depending how many from the world rankings and college rankings choose to go to the Q-Series.

    Ryu, S.H. Park among winners at Rolex awards

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 5:51 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – The Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy winners won’t be determined until Sunday’s finish of the CME Group Tour Championship, but seven other awards were presented Thursday during the LPGA’s Rolex Awards dinner at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort.

    The awards and winners:

    William and Mousie Powell Award – Katherine Kirk won an award given to the player “whose behavior and deeds best exemplify the spirit, ideals and values of the LPGA.” Kirk won the Thornberry Classic this year, her third LPGA title. “Some people ask me if I feel obligated to give back to the game,” Kirk said. “I think it’s a privilege.”

    Heather Farr Perseverance Award – Tiffany Joh, who had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma earlier this year, thanked the Farr family and all those who supported Joh through her diagnosis and recovery.

    “I found a great quote from Ram Dass, `We are all just walking each other home,’” Joh said. “I’ve really come to understand the value of all my relationships, no matter how fleeting or profound they seem.”

    The Commissioner’s Award – Roberta Bowman, outgoing chair of the LPGA Board of Directors, was honored for her service the last six years. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan called her “my friend, my boss and my hero.” Bowman deflected the praise for her back on to the tour, thanking Whan, LPGA staff, players, sponsors, fans and the media.

    “The world needs more role models for little girls,” Bowman said. “And they don’t need to look much farther than the LPGA.”

    Ellen Griffin Rolex Award and Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award – Sandy LaBauve, who founded the LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf program, was honored as the first person to win both these awards.

    The Griffin Award honors golf teachers and the Lopez Award honors an LPGA professional who emulates the values Lopez demonstrated. LaBauve is the daughter of Jack and Sherry Lumpkin, both teachers of the game.

    “This program doesn’t belong to me,” LaBauve said of LPGA-Girls’ Golf. “I merely planted the seed. The fruit belongs to all of us.”

    Rolex Annika Major Award – So Yeon Ryu won the award, named for Annika Sorenstam, for the best overall performance in women’s major championships this year. She won the ANA Inspiration and tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open.

    “It’s such an honor to win an award named after Annika Sorenstam,” Ryu told Sorenstam during the presentation. “It’s a special award for me.”

    Rolex Rookie of the Year Award – Sung Hyun Park won the honor, telling the audience in a message translated from Korean that she was disappointed failing to win the KLPGA’s Rookie of the Year Award and was grateful for a dream come true getting the chance to win it on the LPGA.

    Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.