Notes Pressel in Right Spot For Dramatic Endings

By Associated PressJune 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
McDonaldHAVRE DE GRACE, Md. -- The LPGA Tour has delivered some dramatic conclusions to their majors during the last year'notably Birdie Kim holing a bunker shot on the 72nd hole at the U.S. Womens Open, and Karrie Webb holing out a 116-yard wedge from the 18th fairway for eagle to get into a playoff at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
The common thread? Morgan Pressel watched them both.
 
Pressel was in the 18th fairway, tied for the lead at the Womens Open when she saw Kim make an improbable birdie.
 
I had put myself in a great position and just kind of watched it all disappear quickly, Pressel said Tuesday. But thats what happens. That happens in sport all the time.
 
It happened again at Mission Hills. This time, Pressel was well out of contention but paired with Webb, who wound up shooting 65. Pressel cant recall a better shot than the wedge struck by Webb.
 
It was one line from the moment it came off her club face, Pressel said. You can just tell. And the way that hole was set up with everybody on the right side and this huge stadium setting, it was the weirdest feeling. Even over my birdie putt, I was still shaking after having watched that shot. It was really neat.
 
Her goal to witness another spectacular ending of her own doing.
 
WIE RECOVERS
Michelle Wie arrived at Bulle Rock last Monday and played practice rounds for the LPGA Championship until leaving for Canoe Brook in New Jersey to start getting ready for the U.S. Open qualifier.
 
She finished at 1-over 143 after the 36-hole qualified and missed out on a playoff by five shots.
 
No wonder she showed up Tuesday at Bulle Rock looking like she needed a day off.
 
I felt like I was 80 years old when I woke up this morning because I couldnt move, the 16-year-old from Hawaii said. And Im a little bit stiff today. Im a little bit sore. But I think if I stretch well today that Im feeling my energy level is really up right now.
 
The LPGA Championship created a criteria for Wie last year, allowing an amateur to play for the first time. She finished second, three shots behind Sorenstam. This time, she made it into the field as a pro because of her top finishes in the majors last year.
 
OPEN AND SHUT
The U.S. Open isnt for everybody, especially those who have been through its rigors.
 
Paul Azinger didnt bother entering U.S. Open qualifying this year, and it wasnt an oversight. He tied for 29th in the 97 PGA Championship at Winged Foot, then played their last year during the week of the Barclays Classic.
 
All I know is I played my 18 holes there last year and decided I wasnt even going to qualify, Azinger said. I was playing terrible, and it just seemed too hard. And I dont need that beating.
 
Azinger last played a U.S. Open in 2002 at Bethpage Black. He is using a one-time exemption from career money to play the PGA Tour this year, and is in his last year with ABC in the broadcast booth. His schedule is important, and even after a 10th-place finish at the Memorial, he had no regrets.
 
I stuck to my guns on that one, Azinger said. Im hitting it great, but I need a week off. And thats a good week to take off. Because that week will take two weeks out of you.
 
Beth Daniels case is different.
 
She is entered in the U.S. Open qualifier outside Baltimore on Monday, but never had any intention of playing. When she turned in her entry form, when asked to mark where she would like to play sectional qualifying, Daniel wrote Top 35 on the LPGA money list.
 
That meant two things. She hoped she would be exempt through the money list, and she wasnt about to qualify. She is playing a major this week, and would be have to play 36 holes on a course she would not have no time to see before the qualifier.
 
Besides, the 49-year-old Daniel is already in the Hall of Fame.
 
Perhaps these words from her mother persuaded her not to bother'Youre usually miserable that week.
 
Then there was John Daly, who withdrew from the U.S. Open qualifier in Columbus. He had other plans Monday, playing in Jim Furyks charity exhibition Monday called the Exelon Invitational. Daly won six skins worth $130,000, which is probably $130,000 more than he might have earned at Winged Foot.
 
WETTERICHS OPENS
Brett Wetterich is having a terrific year, but it might not include golfs two oldest majors.
 
He appeared to have qualified for the British Open as among the top three on the PGA TOUR money list not otherwise exempt through Memphis, but the PGA TOUR player handbook incorrectly listed the cutoff for the world ranking criteria on the same date.
 
In fact, the top 50 from the world after the Memorial were exempt.
 
Three players in the top 50 were ahead of Wetterich on the money list'Arron Oberholser, Rory Sabbatini and Rod Pampling'and got the exemption from that category. And when the world ranking came out Monday after the Memorial, Wetterichs tie for second moved him up to No. 54.
 
That day, he went to U.S. Open qualifying in Columbus and failed to make it.
 
DIVOTS
The security officer assigned to Michelle Wie this week at the LPGA Championship wore a white cap Tuesday with Morgan Pressels autograph on the bill. ... There was a Steve Williams sighting in Columbus, Ohio, last week before the Memorial, which made no sense considering his boss, Tiger Woods, wasnt playing and the caddie lives in New Zealand. But it turned out to be true. Williams was there to do an outing with Valvoline, his top sponsor as a race car driver. ... More renovations are under away on the Blue Monster at Doral. With a World Golf Championship coming in March the greens will be redone with TifEagle Bermuda, and the bunkers will be renovated. As long as the tour doesnt tinker with the Monster Grill, where burgers are served behind the 18th green, the players probably wont mind. ... Retief Goosen and David Howell have signed endorsement deals with CA, title sponsor of the WGC event at Doral.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Vijay Singh has failed to finish under par in his last three tournaments, the first time he has done that in regular PGA Tour events since 1998.
 
FINAL WORD
I just earned a ticket to hell.'Mark Brooks, after qualifying for the U.S. Open.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.