Notes For players a lot on the line at Firestone

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2010, 2:59 am

WGC-Bridgestone - 125w

AKRON, Ohio – These are tense times to be an elite professional golfer.

The top 50 players in the world teed it up for the Bridgestone Invitational this week, which has a purse of $8.5 million and pays $1.4 million to the winner. It’s quite a prize.

Next week is the last major of the year, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Also, European and American players are hoping to represent their country at the Ryder Cup. And there’s also world rankings, position on the money list and a dozen other considerations to play for in the coming weeks.

So there’s a lot riding on each round, each swing of the club, every putt.

“It’s a round of golf that could mean a lot,” Hunter Mahan said after shooting a 4-under 66 in Saturday’s third round of the Bridgestone to move into a tie for seventh. “I don’t know, you just have to play golf right now and forget about all that other stuff that comes with it. Because it’s a lot right now. But it’s a good thing that you’re involved in this talk. It’s exciting.”

England’s Oliver Wilson is gunning to make the European Ryder Cup team.

“One good week and you’re right in there,” he said after a 67 put him in a tie for 10th at the Bridgestone. “It’s something that I really, really want to be a part of. The strength in Europe this year is just ridiculous. It really is fantastic. I’m outside the top 50 in the world, so at the moment I don’t really deserve to be on the team. You could pick a team easily from the top 20. Having said that, there’s still hope and I’ve got four weeks left. I’d like to have a good one tomorrow and play well next week. Who knows?”

The Englishman was a part of the European team two years ago at Valhalla. He admitted that he doesn’t want to even think about what it will be like if he doesn’t make it this time around.

“I’ll be devastated if I don’t make it. I really will,” he said. “It means so much to me, just to be a part of that team.”

Mahan is 10th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight through the PGA Championship are assured of spots on the team.

No one needs to tell him what’s riding on how he plays in Sunday’s final round, or next week at Whistling Straits.

“It’s important for Ryder Cup, FedEx points – a lot of things,” he said. “It’s also important to establish some rhythm. So to have some good rounds, it’d be nice.”


QUOTE OF THE DAY: Phil Mickelson, who is four shots back of the leaders, discussing his approach on Sunday: “I’m entering tomorrow thinking I have to be on the attack, that I’ve got to be firing at pins and making birdies to try and catch the leaders. And I like that feeling.”


WELCOME BACK, KATSUMASA: Ten years after he left the PGA Tour, Katsumasa Miyamoto is back in the States.

Miyamoto made a big splash on Saturday at the Bridgestone Invitational when he shot an 8-under 62, tying the tournament record for the third round.

Asked what he recalled from a not so successful year playing on tour in 1999, he said, “It’s been 10 years, but the food is still good. I went to Applebee’s last night and was able to eat some chicken wings. So it’s good to be back.”

The 37-year-old Miyamoto, who plays an orange golf ball, had rounds of 71 and 72 before putting up six birdies and an eagle with one bogey in the third round.

The eagle was a particular stunner. He hit a 274-yard drive into a fairway bunker at the par-4 17th, then holed his second shot from 116 yards.

That helped him record a 29 on the back nine, also tying a tournament record.

“Just unbelievable,” he said. “Of all the great players that have played here that really haven’t posted that score, it’s just an honor. I’m just really so excited right now.”

Tied for 58th when the day began, his round got him within two shots of the lead at one point. He will enter the final round tied for 10th and four shots back.

He isn’t planning on cruising to the finish.

“I want to get as many birdies as I did today,” he said.


FINDING FAIRWAYS: Matt Kuchar enters the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational alone in third place, one shot back of co-leaders Ryan Palmer and Sean O’Hair.

He owes it all to the longest club in his bag.

“I drove it beautifully today,” he said Saturday after putting the finishing touches on a 66 that left him at 8-under 202. “I think I hit 13 of 14 fairways and I missed just one – and the first fairway I was only in the first cut and was able to make birdie from there.”

Kuchar, who shares the PGA Tour lead with Retief Goosen with seven top-10 finishes this year, is near the top of the leaderboard despite playing only nine holes at Firestone Country Club before the first round.

“I got in Tuesday night figuring I’d play a practice round on Wednesday,” he said. “I lounged around in the morning with the kids and figured most guys would play nine holes in the morning and be done and I’d have the course to myself in the afternoon. Then a big storm came in – it didn’t rain at all but there was some lightning and storm clouds in the area. So I only got the front nine in for a practice round.”

No matter. Kuchar has played Firestone like he lives on the course, opening with a 69 and following up with a 67.

He knows how to play the layout already: Hit it long and straight and you’ll be OK.

“There are no tricks out there,” he said. “I knew you just had to drive it accurately, and from there it was pretty self-explanatory.”


HOMECOMING: Ben Curtis went to school not far away at Kent State University. He makes his home in a suburb.

So whenever the 2003 British Open champion comes to Akron to play in the Bridgestone Invitational, he has his hands full entertaining relatives and friends.

“We entertain a little bit, nothing major, small cookouts,” he said, referring to himself and wife Candace. “But nothing so major it affects the way I play. Actually, it’s good you get your mind away from it and out of it. It’s not a big distraction.”

Curtis grew up not far from Columbus, but played at Firestone Country Club a lot in college and since turning pro.

He chuckled when asked if he had any kind of a home-course advantage.

“Yes and no,” he said. “It’s just a long course. There’s no real advantage. If you’re not swinging good or putting that great you’re not going to play that good.”

He said rain earlier in the week actually helped the field. Now even long approach shots are sticking on the greens.

“Knowing you’re going to hit a 4 iron and it’s going to just hit and stop, that’s a little bit different,” he said. “Normally it’s firm and fast here. Even when you’re hitting a 7, 8 or 9 iron, it’s almost harder than it is playing now.”


DIVOTS: Tiger Woods had six bogeys in 72 holes a year ago in winning the Bridgestone. He has 16 bogeys and a double-bogey in 54 holes this year. … Paul Casey (73) and Justin Leonard (69) happened to wear identical orange Nike shirts on Saturday. … Twenty-one players are within five shots of the lead. … Woods enters the final round in 78th place out of 80 golfers – and is a shot back of Anthony Kim who hadn’t played in the three months leading up to the tournament while rehabbing from surgery on an injured thumb.

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm