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.

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.


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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.”


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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.''