Wagner fulfills great expectations at Sony Open

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2012, 8:57 am

HONOLULU (AP)—The mustache is here to stay. Johnson Wagner hopes the samecan be said of his golf game.

Wagner usually doesn’t start a new PGA Tour with great expectations, onlythis year was different. For starters, he was expecting to catch plenty of grieffor the mustache he grew on a whim over Thanksgiving, and he was right.

“I probably got `Magnum P.I.’ in Maui a hundred times,” Wagner said. “AndI had never really watched the show. So I Googled images of Tom Selleck and Itook it as a compliment. Tom Selleck is a stud.”

Wagner also was expecting to win early in the year, based on how hard heworked in the offseason and his unusual confidence level.

Right again.

Trailing by two shots going into the final round, Wagner played bogey-freeover the final 12 holes and closed with a 3-under 67 on Sunday to win the SonyOpen for only his third PGA Tour title.

The perks were immediate.

Wagner crossed off one of his goals by earning an invitation to the Masters,and this time he can enjoy it. The only other time he played Augusta Nationalwas in 2008, and he got in by winning the week before at the Houston Open.

He also gets to book a return to Hawaii next year for a two-week workingvacation, starting with the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. His other goalsof getting into the top 50, getting into more majors, will take more work.

But what a start.

“I’ve worked very hard this offseason, and it’s just really nice to see itpay off so early,” Wagner said.

Six players had at least a share of the lead in the final round, yet thefinal few holes lacked much drama. Wagner took the lead for good with a birdiefrom the greenside bunker on the short par-4 10th. He didn’t make any mistakes,and no one else made enough birdies in what turned out to be a winning recipe.

Harrison Frazar took the outright lead with a birdie on No. 10, but had tosettle for pars the rest of the way for a 67. Charles Howell III was paired withWagner and stayed with him until a three-putt par on the par-5 ninth. He birdiedthe last hole for a 69. Sean O’Hair narrowly missed a 30-foot eagle putt on thelast hole and shot 67, while Carl Pettersson overcame a double bogey on hissecond hole with four birdies on the last six holes for a 67.

They all tied for second.

“My first top-10 as an American,” said Pettersson, the Swede who became aU.S. citizen during the offseason.

Wagner got some help.

He started the final round two shots behind Jeff Maggert and Matt Every ,both of whom fell apart early. Maggert made two big par putts to start hisround, but he put too much pressure on himself around the greens and it finallycaught up with the 47-year-old when he started missing short putts. He shot 74.

Every ended a trying week, which began with him bumbling his way through twointerviews over his PGA Tour suspension stemming from his arrest on amisdemeanor marijuana charge during his rookie season.

By Saturday evening, with a share of the lead, he said that “I’m just readyto get it over with.”

His chances of winning were over quickly. He made bogeys on the opening fourholes by failing to get up-and-down from a bunker on No. 1, driving into thewater on No. 2 and three-putting on No. 4. But even after a three-putt from 4feet on No. 6 for double bogey, he was still in the hunt, along with so manyothers.

Wagner looked up at the leaderboard next to the ninth green and saw that theleaders coming back to the field, and that raised his hopes immediately. He madebirdie from the bunker on the ninth, made birdie from the bunker on the nexthole and then effectively put the tournament away with a 15-foot birdie puttfrom the fringe on No. 15, and a tee shot into the wind on the 16th that avoidedtrouble.

“He played fantastic, right down the stretch,” Howell said, who playedalongside Wagner. “He hit a really good drive up 16, which he needed to hit.And then his shot on 17 to the middle of the green to make 3 there. That was thelast place I think he could have lost it. He played 18 with 5 to win. That mustbe a pretty good feeling, I don’t know. I’ve heard it is.”

It was the second time Howell has been runner-up in the Sony Open, and the13th time in his career. Frazar also was a runner-up for the second time atWaialae, having lost in a playoff to Ernie Els in 2004.

Now, Wagner is hopeful of a big year.

Somewhere in the offseason, when he was working out three times a week,flying to Florida to meet with his swing coach, and jotting down notes about hisattitude and his goals, he decided not to settle for mediocrity.

He was confident enough to tell family and friends to expect a win early inthe season. And it was a message he shared with Johnny Harris, who runs QuailHollow where Wagner often plays.

Before leaving for Kapalua, Wagner said he told him, “If I get into theMasters, are you going to sponsor my brother and I in a foursome down there fora couple of days?”

Those who qualify for the Masters can play the course with members beforethe tournament.

“He was like, `You go do it and I’ve got you, podner,”’ Wagner said. “SoI’ll be going down to Augusta a few times.”

And that mustache is going with him.

“Kind of made a deal with myself in December that if I was to get into theMasters, then I was going to keep the mustache for at least this year,” hesaid. “Everybody said, `Oh, is it a November mustache? Well, it’s December,time to shave it.’ I said, Look, this is not a one-month mustache. This ispotentially a 10-year mustache.’

“So I think it’s going to be around for a while.”

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Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

"This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

THE MAJORS

Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

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U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

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The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

AT&T Pebble Beach

Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

Travelers Championship

Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


PHOTO GALLERIES

Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm