United States wins back Walker Cup from GB&I

By Associated PressSeptember 11, 2017, 12:41 am


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The United States won back the Walker Cup from Britain and Ireland in an unprecedented runaway that atoned for a big loss two years ago.

Collin Morikawa, Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy each went 4-0 - a first for a team in Walker Cup history - to lead the United States to a 19-7 victory Sunday in the biennial amateur matches at the super exclusive Los Angeles Country Club's North Course.

Norman Xiong, at 18 the youngest player in the competition, came painfully close to also going 4-0 before halving his match with Scott Gregory. Xiong, one of three Southern Californians who had huge performances this weekend, had been up 2 with two holes to play before Gregory caught him.

It was a big turnaround from two years ago, when Britain and Ireland won 16 1/2-9 1/2 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. The 19 points for the Americans matched the most ever in Walker Cup history. That came in 1993 when the United States won 19-5 at Interlachen.

It was special for Morikawa in helping the United States extend its lead to 36-9-1 in a series that dates to 1922.

Morikawa, who's from La Canada Flintridge and plays at California, beat British Amateur champion Harry Ellis 2 and 1 to cap his perfect weekend.

''It's something special and you can't really explain what it is,'' Morikawa said. ''I wasn't really nervous on the first tee, in the first shot for the U.S. on Saturday morning, but you just kind of are excited and thrilled that you can get out there and hit a tee ball for your country.''

Morikawa teamed with Xiong, who's from Canyon Lake, to win foursomes matches Saturday and Sunday mornings. Both won their singles matches Saturday afternoon.

Morikawa was 2 down after three holes before winning four straight holes to take control. It helped, too, when Ellis bogeyed the par-3 11th.

''I've never really gone undefeated in one of these team events, and just to have some momentum to know that I can do it against these guys, these guys are the best players around the country and the entire world, really,'' he said.

Morikawa and Xiong got the rout going Saturday morning when they beat Ellis and Plant 8 and 7 in a foursomes match, the largest margin for an 18-hole match at the Walker Cup.

Ghim, of Arlington Heights, Illinois, beat Matthew Jordan 3 and 1 in Sunday's singles. McNealy, of Portola Vallley in Northern California, topped Alfie Plant 4 and 2. Ghim and McNealy teamed up to beat Jordan and Robert MacIntyre in a morning foursome match. They also paired up to win a foursomes match Saturday as well as their singles matches.

The United States went into the afternoon singles matches needing only 2 1/2 points to win the amateur biennial event. It got them quickly.

Braden Thornberry of Ole Miss, the 2017 NCAA individual champion, rolled past Paul McBride, 6 and 5. With Xiong assured of halving his match, Stewart Hagestad, a junior member at LACC who played at Southern California, won 2 and 1 against Jack Singh Brar to clinch the competition.

The rest of the matches contributed to the huge victory margin. The Americans won seven of 10 singles matches Sunday, with two being halved.

McNealy was on the losing side two years ago.

He said winning back the trophy was bigger than going undefeated.

''I think it starts with the U.S. team getting that big trophy and that was our goal at the beginning of the week and I'm so excited to be part of the 2017 winning Walker Cup team,'' said McNealy, who played at Stanford. ''That's what's most important to me. I'm so glad we could win this for our team, win this for Captain (Spider) Miller and win this for the country.

''It's been unbelievable,'' he said. ''I'll never forget this week. It's the end of my amateur career, but it means so much more than that to me,'' he added.

Ghim was runner-up to Doc Redman at the U.S. Amateur last month at Riviera.

''It feels great to be able to play it the way I wanted to,'' Ghim said. ''I wasn't really sure how nervous I would be, but, I don't know, I felt really comfortable from the first tee shot on and just kind of rode the wave. I've been playing really well all summer and to end the summer with a week like this is so much fun.''

Britain and Ireland coach Andrew Ingram said the Americans were ''superb all week.''

As for the rout, he said, ''Today's been an, I guess back home we call it a bit of a hedgehog day. We couldn't get going. We couldn't get anything moving forward.''

LACC North, which sits between Beverly Hills and Westwood, with the high-rises of Wilshire Boulevard in the background, will host the U.S. Open in 2023.

Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

“At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

“I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

“As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

“I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.