Surprising Streelman Tied atop the Leaderboard

By Associated PressJune 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Thick rough or not, something about Torrey Pines Golf Course agrees with Kevin Streelman.
 
The 29-year-old PGA Tour rookie shot a 3-under-par 68 Thursday, tying him with Justin Hicks, another golfer who has toiled on the mini-tours for years, as the first-round leaders in the 108th U.S. Open.
 
I do enjoy this golf course. The lines off the tee kind of suit my eye well, Streelman said through a constant smile. Fortunately, drove it well and my iron play was pretty solid today.
 
I just really love this golf course.
 
Before Thursday, Streelmans claim to fame came at the Buick Invitational on the same striking city-owned golf course perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
 
As the third alternate, Streelman figured that he probably wouldnt get a chance to play. So he was rapping a few putts to kill time when somebody tapped him on the shoulder and told him he was teeing off in a few minutes.
 
When he looked up, he was startled to see Tiger Woods in front of him, but he was too intimidated to say hi.
 
Even more jarring was seeing Woods with him on the first tee in the final group that Saturday after Streelman opened with a 67, then made it around the tough South Course on Friday with a 69 that put him in second place'and under a big spotlight on the weekend.
 
I was the last alternate to get in Thursday morning, six minutes before my tee time, and kind of raced out and went out and shot a 5-under on the other course and came back here and shot a 3-under, and all of a sudden I was paired with Tiger, Streelman recounted.
 
That was definitely an eye-opening experience, and to this day one of the cooler experiences of my life.
 
Woods, the worlds No. 1 player, said at the time he had never heard of Streelman, and when told that he was No. 1,354 in the world rankings, Woods replied, I think he might be going up.
 
He rose to No. 608 entering play this week.
 
While Woods went on to win the Buick, Streelman faded, shooting 75-77 on the weekend to finish tied for 29th. Still, his $33,063 check was his biggest on Tour until he finished tied for 14th at the Shell Houston Open, netting $92,400.
 
Streelman, whos just back from his honeymoon and a two-week break from golf, used his surprising success at the Buick to soothe his nerves Thursday.
 
I felt like to kind of do that out of the gates took away a lot of the anxiety, I would say. I almost feel a lot less nervous on my tee boxes after doing that with him, Streelman said. Great experience for me.
 
Playing with a new Scotty Cameron putter that he received just this week, Streelman had a chance to grab the lead all to himself before bogeying his last hole, the 612-yard, par-5 ninth.
 
I thought I hit a perfect hybrid down the fairway, and it normally should kick right down there, and it shot through and jumped into that other cut of rough, and I just caught a flier, to be honest, Streelman said. I hit a good shot and it just jumped on me a little, and I was pretty much in a lot of trouble over the back of that green.
 
Streelman said he planned to tap into his experience playing on the weekend with Woods six months ago to help him try to keep this dream alive on Friday.
 
The main thing I took out of it was the necessity of rest, said Streelman, who planned to grab a quick dinner and hit the sack early.
 
He also said hes gotten over the wow factor.
 
The first time with Tiger was definitely an incredible experience, Streelman said. The first time we walked off the first hole, he said, Hey, Kev, whats going on? And he was chatting like he was a buddy. You realize theyre guys, as well.
 
And Streelmans definitely one of the guys now.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

    Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

    That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

    Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

    From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

    Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

    She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

    She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

    “Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

    Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

    With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

    The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

    She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

    The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

    Getty Images

    One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

    Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

    Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

    Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

    Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

    Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

    Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

    Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

    David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

    Getty Images

    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

    Getty Images

    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.