One Day Off Curtis Back to Work

By Associated PressJune 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick ChampionshipCROMWELL, Conn. -- Weary, and a bit bleary-eyed, Ben Curtis has had little time to savor his second career victory. Or dry out for that matter.
 
Hours after Curtis won the soggy, six-day Booz Allen Classic by five strokes, he arrived in Connecticut for the Buick Championship hoping to add onto his $900,000 payday from Tuesday.
 
'I just woke up, really. I was tired,' Curtis said Wednesday afternoon. 'It was four straight days of getting up right around 5 a.m. It was a very long week sleeping on the lead every night, so I think I was more tired mentally than physically.'
 
More rain, actually a few torrential downpours, awaited him Wednesday at the TPC at River Highlands. But by late afternoon, the sky brightened, the sun even peeked through and Curtis and rest of the players were hopeful they'd be able to wrap up all 72 holes by Sunday.
 
'I hope we can get out there and play four straight days, and go home. It could be rain for tomorrow, but it could end up being sunny and warm,' Curtis said. 'Who knows.'
 
The field also features defending champion Brad Faxon, the Rhode Island native who finally won it in his 22nd appearance. Other former champions teeing off Thursday are Stewart Cink, Olin Browne, Paul Azinger, Notah Begay III, David Frost, Woody Austin and Brent Geiberger.
 
Curtis has played well on the 6,820-yard course in his only appearance in 2005, finishing in a tie for fourth and earning $177,773. The winner this weekend gets $792,000. Curtis was scheduled to play the tournament in 2003, the week after he won the British Open. But the whirlwind of media and attention that followed, overwhelmed the then-rookie and opted to pass. He had no intention of skipping it this time, despite the elongated Booz Allen where more than 9 inches of rain fell in 1 1/2 days.
 
'It's ironic, both wins on Tour came before this tournament,' Curtis said. 'Maybe they'll move Hartford every other week and I'll all right.'
 
The tournament nearly got dropped from the heart of the PGA Tour schedule.
 
Buick is ending its sponsorship after this year and the 54-year-old tournament was in danger of being relegated to the fall for second-tier status. But it was brought back to life in April with a new title sponsor -- St. Paul Travelers -- and spot on the summer schedule starting next year. The tournament also will be part of the new FedEx Cup portion of the tour.
 
That will give top players an incentive to show up and earn points toward the Tour Championship. They also will be competing for a $5.5 million purse, up from $4.4 million this year.
 
'I for one am very excited about it,' said Zach Johnson, a third-place finisher here in 2003. 'Its great for us players because of the incentive playing well obviously toward late summer, early fall, is huge financially speaking.'
 
Johnson said the Cup also should bring many of the elite players out more often and that would help showcase those in the tour not of the household-name variety. Johnson is one of four players in the top 20 on the money list and is sixth in Ryder Cup points.
 
J.J. Henry, a member of the Player Advisory Council, acknowledges the race the Cup will likely need some tweaking as members and the fans adjust to it.
 
'We're still kind of in the learning process. Who knows really,' Henry said. 'It's still golf. It's still a golf tournament. It's not like we're playing tennis here. You're still going out trying to win a golf tournament.'
 
Henry, who's had two top 10 finishes this season, is still looking for his first win since turning pro six years ago and this is one he's been itching for a long time. The Fairfield, Conn., native knows the course well and would love get is first win before a home crowd.
 
'I love playing here. I've always said one of these years I will get this tournament,' Henry said. 'When you come close to home or come to place you've watched as a kid and you want it so bad, you sometimes try too hard. If I can go out and have a good time, I will probably play well.'
 
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.