Furyk hopes players scout Ryder Cup course

By Doug FergusonOctober 17, 2017, 10:05 pm

Le Golf National outside Paris, the host course of the Ryder Cup next year, has been part of the European Tour schedule since 1991 and last year was the 25th time it has held the French Open.

So along with the European crowd, that's one big advantage for the home team next year.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk hopes his American team can find time to see the course ahead of the September matches, even if they don't play the tournament. The French Open is three weeks before The Open at Carnoustie, held the same week as The National on the PGA Tour schedule.

''We seem to have a bunch of players that hang out together,'' Furyk said Tuesday in France. ''I would love to see them make a trip here before The Open Championship or after The Open Championship and see the golf course.''

He said he would extend the invitation to the top 15 or 20 players in the U.S. standings. Furyk understands each player sets his own schedule, which includes obligations and rest, and he said it's not going to be a requirement.

For American players, especially those on the bubble, it might not be a bad idea. Asked if it would be a strong recommendation to see the course, Furyk replied, ''I think it's going to be an ask and an invite, and I would hope to see some of those players.''

This is the second time in the last six years the Americans go overseas for the Ryder Cup in possession of the trophy. They have not won on European soil since 1993, the year Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Xander Schauffele were born.

''We have 25 years of scars to overcome,'' Furyk said. ''That being said, I will have a lot of young talent on my team. I'm anxious to see how they handle that challenge. Europe has handled those away matches far better in the last 25 years than we have.''

Europe is 3-3 on the road since 1993. The Americans are 0-5.


THE NICKLAUS CONNECTION: One of the more popular photos when Fred Ridley was appointed chairman of Augusta National is Ridley and Jack Nicklaus playing together in the 1976 Masters, the traditional pairing of the defending Masters champion and the U.S. Amateur champion.

The connection runs deeper than that.

In some respects, Ridley and Nicklaus shared the same golf coach - Jack Grout.

Ridley learned the game from Jamie Jackson, the head pro at Lone Palm in Lakeland, Florida, and later worked with Mike Killian and his mentor, Irv Schloss. But it was his teammate at Florida his senior year, Brad Baldwin, that led him to Grout.

''He had taken lessons from Jack Grout,'' Ridley said. ''Brad and I were going to the North and South Amateur in 1974 and he said, almost flippantly, 'I'm going to call Jack Grout and see if he'll give us a lesson and tune us up for the North and South.'''

Ridley was stunned that his teammate could just ring up such a famous teacher, but they headed to La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach, Florida.

''I took two days of lessons and thought, 'Golly, I've never hit it this good,''' Ridley said. ''I won two or three matches at the North and South, beat Jay Sigel, and then that summer I qualified for the U.S. Amateur.''

Ridley started law school and said his father allowed him to take the following summer off to play golf.

''That was going to be my last fling,'' Ridley said. ''I spent a lot of time with him (Grout) that summer, and then I won the U.S. Amateur at the end of the summer. Those other gentlemen were great, but Jack Grout really took my game to another level.''


REUNIONS: The Italian Open and the CIMB Classic featured reunions of sorts.

Sergio Garcia was paired in the third round in Italy with Austin Connelly. It was their first time playing together, but apparently not the first time they have met. Connelly's mother posted a photo from the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic that showed Garcia with his arm around Connelly.

Garcia was 19 and playing in his first regular PGA Tour event. Connelly was 2. The tweet prompted the European Tour to get them to strike the same pose .

Circumstances were slightly different over in Malaysia, where Scott Hend of Australia teed off in the first round with Ian Poulter and Patrick Rodgers. That brought back strong memories for Rodgers.

Walking off the second tee, Rodgers said to Hend, ''This is going to sound a bit weird, but when I was 10, you gave me a signed glove, and it was the first thing I ever got from a professional golfer.''

Rodgers told the PGA Tour he still has the glove at home.

Hend played two full years on the PGA Tour in 2004 and 2005 before returning to the Asian Tour, where he has won nine times. It was a reminder how much of an influence the smallest gestures can have.

''It's maybe easy to forget when we are out here, since it's our job, but you can make a real difference with the people that come to watch you play,'' Hend said.


AWAY ON HOLIDAY: Professional golfers spend so much time on the road that it's not unusual to miss birthdays or holidays, or in the case of Anirban Lahiri, the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali.

Lahiri says he hasn't been home in India for Diwali since he was 14.

''When we were playing junior golf, all the tournaments were scheduled around the school holidays, and Diwali is obviously a school holiday,'' he said last week in Malaysia. ''And then when you're a pro, especially now, the Asian Tour schedule really picks up. So yeah, I've probably been on the road for the last 14, 15 Diwalis.''

Lahiri referred to it as a hazard of work, though the holiday still carries deep meaning wherever he is. Among the traditions are exchanging sweets and presents with close friends and family.

''It's fun because it's family times and it's friends time. I miss that,'' he said. ''So in a way, it's Diwali every time I go back for me because I get to do all those things that other people get to do at Diwali.''


DIVOTS: Of the 80 juniors who qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National next year, three are returning for the third time - Megha Ganne of Holmdel, New Jersey; Treed Huang of Katy, Texas; and Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto. Huang won his age group (7-9) in 2014. ... Hideki Matsuyama went over the $20 million mark in career PGA Tour earnings with his tie for fifth last week in Malaysia. ... With her runner-up finish last week, LPGA Tour rookie Sung Hyun Park became the first woman to top $2 million this year. ... Padraig Harrington is playing in Spain for the first time in nine years at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The average of the PGA Tour player of the year over the last four seasons is 25.8.


FINAL WORD: ''The perception sometimes of the team coming together ... has a lot to do with the outcome. We always look a lot happier during a winning year. We always look a touch more sad during a losing year. It seems as though winning cures all.'' - Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.


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“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.


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Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2017, 12:28 am

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic.

Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey - his first of the week - to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club's Seaside Course.

''Putting is key right now,'' Cook said. ''Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we're looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.''

Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64.

''I'm really comfortable here,'' Kirk said. ''I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.''

Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69.

''I love the course,'' Gay said. ''We keep getting different wind directions so it's keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we're getting a new course every day.''


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J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under.

''I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,'' Spaun said. ''I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour.

''I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,'' Cook said. ''I was able to put myself in contention on the Web.com more this year than I have in the past. I think I've just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.''

He planned to keep it simple Saturday night.

''I've got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,'' Cook said. ''Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.''

Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial.

''It's nice to be back in contention again,'' Kirk said. ''It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I'll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.''