Notes Mud Balls Causing Concern

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ernie Els warned it could be a sloppy, muddy opening round at The Players Championship.
Turns out, the Big Easy was right.
Several players, including Els, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, had problems with mud clumps sticking to golf balls and altering shot flights Thursday at the TPC's Stadium Course.

Woods mentioned the glop four times during his brief interview after the round.
``I just tried to get by with some mud balls,'' said Woods, who shot a 2-under 70.
Rain hit the Jacksonville area Monday and Tuesday, drenching a course designed to handle the water. Still, the fairways were mushy, meaning second shots were adventures pros aren't accustomed to -- and certainly not at a tournament considered by many the fifth major.
Singh said he had a lot of ``suspect lies.''
``You can hit all the fairways you want in conditions like this,'' he said, ``it doesn't matter (because) there's mud on the ball.''
Singh overcame the problems for a 5-under 67, three shots behind leader Steve Jones.
On Woods' final hole, the ninth, he said he cut a shot he normally wouldn't to offset the mud on the ball's right side. ``It started out cutting and ended up hooking left,'' he said.
Woods made the birdie.
On Tuesday, Els cautioned that muddy balls could bring trouble. He shot a first-round 71.
``If we have mud on the ball, there is no way you can control it, period,'' Els said. ``And on this golf course, which is tough enough already, you hit it in the fairway, you want to have a good lie.''
Not everyone agreed. Fred Funk, who calls Ponte Vedra Beach home, said the conditions were better than he expected. ``It was surprising how dry it was for the amount of rain we had,'' he said.
Els won't sleep easy, though. He feels the worst is ahead.
``When they cut these fairways, I really think we're going to get some mud on the ball then because it's really going to compress as it hits,'' he said after his round.
If Brett Quigley succeeds this week, he'll know who to thank.
``My crazy uncle, for sure,'' said Quigley, referring to Uncle Dana, who's won nine times on the Champions Tour, including this year's MasterCard Championship.
The younger Quigley said his uncle pushed him to get off the range and onto the course during the winter. It must have helped. Quigley shot a 5-under 67 and stood three strokes off the lead at The Players Championship.
Brett typically takes four weeks off after the season and then starts his range work. His uncle challenged him to change this year. Brett listened and says it's paying off in an improved game.
``I probably only practiced two hours in two months,'' Brett said. ``Instead I played every day and hit a bunch of shots and learned how to score again.''
The fans gathered around the first tee recognized the face and the name of David Duval, who grew up in Jacksonville and remains a favorite in these parts. But he was introduced as being from Denver, where he moved last year after getting married.
And the game doesn't look familiar.
Duval won The Players Championship in 1999 to rise to No. 1 in the world, but is mired in a massive slump brought on my injuries and confidence. The only good part about his 76 was playing even par on the back nine, helped by a 20-foot eagle putt on the 16th.
``I'm playing good golf,'' Duval said. ``I've just got to do it out on the golf course.''
John Daly played the first hole twice Thursday.
He hit the ball down the fairway and had a two-putt par on No. 1. Then on the adjacent par-5 second, his tee shot went left into a tree, ricocheted left, bounced off a cart path and landed in the rough on the No. 1, about 20 yards away from his opening drive.
Blocked by trees, he figured his best option was to play down the first fairway. He went too long into the rough, then chip over the trees just short of the hazard on the second fairway, hit onto the green and made bogey.
``Always wanted to play the first hole backward,'' Daly said to himself after hitting the third shot.
Mark Calcavecchia shot 71 and called it a miracle.
His back has been bothering him all week, and a hard swing out of the rough on No. 4 nearly brought him to his knees.
Just his luck, the back specialist for partner Tommy Armour III was following that group and was able to work on Calcavecchia's back as he headed to the fifth tee.
``It's safe to say I played in the most pain I've ever felt,'' Calcavecchia said. ``I don't know if I can tough it out for three more days. I've got 23 hours to recover.''
Hunter Mahan, a college golf star at Oklahoma State two years ago, had a 68 in his first round at the Stadium Course. He had four straight birdies from Nos. 3-6. ... Luke Donald says he doesn't plan to leave Chicago, near his college of Northwestern, anytime soon despite the trouble getting in some rounds during winter. Donald says he's looking to buy a second home in Florida.
Related Links:
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  • Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

    Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

    Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

    After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

    With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.

    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.

    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.

    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.

    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.

    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.

    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

    “Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

    In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

    She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”