Palmer answers caddie's challenge at Colonial

By Associated PressMay 24, 2013, 12:11 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Palmer was standing in the fairway on his last hole Thursday when his longtime caddie and fellow Colonial member issued a challenge.

James Edmondson, who won his third Colonial club championship last year, told Palmer that a birdie would match the caddie's low round at Hogan's Alley.

''What do you do when you get that thrown at you,'' Palmer said.

Palmer hit his approach to 5 feet at the 388-yard ninth hole for an 8-under 62 that matched the lowest PGA Tour first round at Colonial. That put him a stroke ahead of John Rollins, who had his best round this season.

For all the rounds Palmer has played at Colonial, where he has been a full dues-paying member since 2010, he had never had such a low score. He generally plays there two or three times a week during the offseason and once or twice during weeks he's not playing the PGA Tour.

''These old men here make me grind because I have to give them so many shots. Maybe that helps,'' Palmer said, smiling. ''Usually in a practice round, I don't think I've shot below 65. You just don't grind a lot. In this situation, you grind a little harder. You are able to focus more. When I'm out here with the guys, I mean half the time I might grab a few (beers) for the back nine.''


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Graham DeLaet, wearing pants with a plaid design similar to the jacket Colonial winners get, matched Morgan Hoffmann, David Hearn and John Peterson at 64. Matt Kuchar, No. 13 in the world ranking and the highest-ranked player in the 136-man invitational field, was in a group of six players at 65.

Rollins, who like Palmer lives in nearby Colleyville, has playing privileges at Colonial like other PGA Tour players though he doesn't play the 7,204-yard layout nearly as much as Palmer.

''He's a pretty permanent fixture in the men's group and everything that goes on out here,'' Rollins said.

Palmer, the former Texas A&M player who has three PGA Tour victories, had a bogey-free round, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation, with his first birdie putt being his longest. He was still even par until his 17-footer on his fifth hole, the 442-yard 14th, that started his stretch of four consecutive birdies. The only other birdie over 10 feet was a 14-footer at the 391-yard sixth hole.

''It's pretty neat. A lot of fun,'' Palmer said. ''Being a member here, we played it so many times, James and I. I felt comfortable over every tee shot. I hit driver almost everywhere that I could. I drove it perfectly today I felt. I hit it close a lot and made a lot of putts from about 5 or 6 feet. ... (Playing partner) Brian Stuard's caddie even made a comment on how comfortable I was because I've done it so many times.''

In his nine previous PGA Tour appearances at Colonial, Palmer's only top 10 was a tie for fifth last year. He missed the cut in 2010, the same year he became a full member.

Now he finally leads at Colonial after matching his best-ever round on the PGA Tour.

''This is what I dream about when I play here every year,'' Palmer said. '' This is the one tournament I gear up for the most.''

David Toms had an opening 62 when winning at Colonial two years ago. He was tied for the first-round lead that year with Chez Reavie. The only other opening 62 was Patrick Sheehan's in 2005. The course record of 61 is shared by six players, the last Chad Campbell in 2004.

Rollins' only bogey came after his drive at the 431-yard 12th landed in a fairway bunker. But he quickly got that shot back at the 193-yard 13th hole when he hit his tee shot within 7 feet of the cup.

Kuchar's only bogey came at the 241-yard, par-3 fourth, the middle hole of Colonial's famed ''horrible horseshoe'' because of the layout of a three-hole stretch where that par 3 is sandwiched by the two longest par 4s on the course. But he came right back with a 10-foot birdie at the 472-yard fifth to get to 5 under.

Colonial is one of Kuchar's favorite courses. Plus, the PGA Tour's two-week visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the Byron Nelson Championship and the Colonial provides extra time for him to work with his Dallas-based swing coach.

''I feel like I start coming along maybe the end of this week,'' Kuchar said. ''Things get really clicking.''

Defending Colonial champion Zach Johnson shot 69, the 16th time in his last 17 rounds under par at Colonial. The lone exception in that five-year span, when he also won in 2010, was last year's closing 72 that included a two-stroke penalty on the final hole. He had four bogeys and three birdies.

''I think overall more positives than negatives. I'm not going to dwell on too much here,'' Johnson said. ''It's a fairly solid day, a day I didn't shoot myself out of it. I would have liked to have a couple of more birdies.''


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.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."