Notes Toms return to Pebble Honest Hayes

By Associated PressFebruary 10, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' David Toms returned to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in seven years, partly because of a change in the schedule that put Pebble a week after his annual ski trip to Colorado with his family.
 
The other reason?
 
Toms is at No. 66 in the world ranking, and this is his last chance to qualify for the 64-man field in the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he is a past champion and has a nine-year streak of never losing in the first round.
 
He started the year at No. 116 in the world ranking, and already has moved up 50 spots on the strength of his tie for second at the Sony Open and a tie for fourth in the FBR Open.
 
Ive been able to play well knowing that I needed to, Toms said Tuesday. So thats been very encouraging. I know if I go out and play well, that will take care of itself.
 
It could be entirely up to him this week.
 
Of the dozen players on the bubble, the only ones playing this week are Pat Perez (No. 60), Dudley Hart (No. 63), Toms and D.J. Trahan (No. 70). Among those not playing anywhere in the world are Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year-old from Japan who is at No. 64.
 
Only when the final field is set at Pebble and the Malaysian Open will it be clear what Toms needs to do.
 
Some players have not played the week of a qualifying deadline because it could help their ranking. Toms said he was told by the Ttour that his divisor would be reduced by one if he skipped Pebble, allowing for him to possibly move up. But that would depend on how other players performed ahead and behind him.
 
I think there would be an outside chance if I didnt play this tournament that I could make the top 64, he said. I dont really know the scenarios. But I know if I play this tournament and I play well, Ill get in.
 
If Tiger Woods decides not to return at Match Play, the top 65 will qualify for the $8.5 million event. If he does play, and Toms gets the last spot at No. 64, that would be quite a first-round match.
 
I just need to get in the field, Toms said.
 

 
HONEST HAYES: J.P. Hayes was celebrated in the world of golf for his honesty late last year when he essentially disqualified himself in the second stage of Q-school upon discovering he might have used a golf ball that was a prototype and not on the approved list.
 
He already had lost his card, and by notifying officials of the mix-up, assured himself of losing his job.
 
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a story that soon reached millions. Hayes found himself getting interview requests on national radio and television shows, along with every major print outlet.
 
I always thought that the next phone call was going to be the last, but it never stopped ringing for three days, said Hayes, who estimated he took 300 phone calls. I would say the response was overwhelming ' a little bit embarrassing to be honest with you.
 
Hayes was simply doing what he felt most players would have done.
 
There were some benefits. He immediately received sponsor exemptions from the John Deere Classic, U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he is making his 2009 start. Hayes also said he received exemptions to the HP Byron Nelson Championship and the Crowne Plaza Colonial.
 
But his greater act of honesty might have come during the media frenzy.
 
He said several businesses offered him money to speak to various groups on what he went through, money that would come in handy for a guy who lost his Tour card last year.
 
I was very careful to say no to a lot of things where I might have profited from this, he said. I dont think it was right. I dont think Im a spokesperson on ethics. People saw it for more than it was ' more than for what I saw it.
 

 
NOW ON THE TEE: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem will be making his debut as a player this week in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, playing in the foursome with Davis Love III, Hunter Mahan and AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson.
 
David Toms can see one benefit from the commissioner stepping inside the ropes.
 
It might be the only chance we have for this tournament to be moved to October, Toms said with a laugh, referring to weather issues that have occasionally plagued Pebble.
 

 
LPGA PUBLICITY: The LPGA Tour gets under way this week in Hawaii, where Michelle Wie makes her debut as an LPGA member on her home island at a course where she tied for second as a 15-year-old.
 
According to the Sports Business Journal, the LPGA will not promote her any differently from the other 20 rookies. The commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, said Wie and the rookies will be promoted through varied media outreach, primarily local newspaper stories.
 
Wie had at least a share of the lead on the back nine of three majors in 2006, but injuries and poor scheduling sent her into a massive slump from which she finally recovered last year, earning her card with ease.
 
The Sports Business Journal said neither Nike or Sony are featuring their endorsement client in advertising. The Golf Channel, meanwhile, will use Wie to promote its live coverage of the tournament.
 
Meanwhile, the LPGA Tour has decided not to publish a media guide this year, saying it made a strategic decision to transfer the content online. By going to cyberspace, the tour said it could provide more updated information in a timely manner.
 
In an informal meeting two years ago, the Golf Writers Association of America objected to Bivens plan to do away with a media guide, citing the inability to get information when the Internet was not available, or the timeliness when the connection was slow.
 

 
DIVOTS: About the only championship site not announced at the USGA annual meeting last week was when the U.S. Womens Open would be played at Pebble Beach, although course officials believe 2014 is the most logical year. U.S. Womens Amateur champion Amanda Blumenherst has declined her invitation to the Kraft Nabisco Championship, wanting to save her six exemptions for later in the year with hopes of avoiding Q-school.
 

 
STAT OF THE WEEK: Webb Simpson, a 23-year-old rookie, was the oldest player in his group during the third round of the Buick Invitational. He played with Jason Day (21) and Gregor Main (19), an amateur qualifier from UCLA.
 

 
FINAL WORD: It was the first players meeting I ever attended that no one brought up pace of play. ' Kevin Sutherland, on a mandatory players meeting at Torrey Pines where the topic was sponsor and media relations.
 
Related Links:
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  • 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.''