Notes: Beem heading to Europe

By Doug FergusonApril 24, 2012, 11:53 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One of the perks Rich Beem received for winning the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine was a 10-year exemption on the European Tour.

He never used it because he didn't need it - until now.

Beem's only status on the PGA Tour is as a past champion, and sponsor exemptions have been limited. In the last year of his exemption in Europe, he took up membership and is having more fun than he imagined.

''Every year, my agent asked me if I wanted to use my exemption,'' Beem said Tuesday from his home in Austin, Texas, where he had a week off before leaving for Spain. ''I didn't have a use for it. I was exempt over here, I wanted to be over here. I wish now I had taken a harder look at it, because I've played some amazing courses and I've loved every minute of it.''

The results could use some work.

Beem missed the cut in his first three events - the Joburg Open, Andalucia Open and the Hassan Trophy in Morocco - before he tied for 11th two weeks ago in Italy at the Sicilian Open. He plays the Spanish Open next week, then gears up for a monster schedule - seven tournaments in eight weeks in which he will play in England, Wales, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France and Scotland.

He would rather be in America on the PGA Tour for the obvious reasons.

''At the end of the day, you look at what's more convenient and where the money is,'' he said. ''But I love it on the European Tour. It's been nothing short of fantastic.''

There have been some adjustments.

The events he has played in continental Europe are not among the top events, and thus the galleries have been a bit sparse.

''I saw more people Tuesday in Hilton Head than the entire two weeks in Europe,'' he said. ''That's no knock on them. The places we played were great, but it's hard to get to them. And there are adjustments with the travel. It's not like hopping on Southwest Airlines. When guys miss the cut, they tend to stick around for a couple of days. Over here, we spend $100 on a change fee and go home.''

He figures that will change when Europe gets to the meat of its schedule this summer, and every tournament is no more than a short flight from London.

Beem isn't sure where this will lead. The worst-case scenario is that he tries to go through two stages of PGA Tour qualifying school and tries to get his card back. Or, he could play great and work his way back toward the top 50 in the world.

His last trip was two weeks. The next one will be a one-week stay in Spain. Beem was intending to play the following week at Madeira Island in Portugal until word of the airport made him skeptical.

''They said, 'If you land on the first try, it's a mistake.' And I said, 'You know what, I think I'll come home that week,''' he said.


AMAZING GRACE: Branden Grace started the year at No. 271 in the world, fresh off getting his European Tour card through qualifying school. Four months later, he already is a three-time winner.

''If I think back now to last year and playing on the Challenge Tour and just trying to get back to the main tour and really just trying to make a living, it was tough at points,'' Grace said. ''So to be here with three wins is amazing. I wouldn't have thought I would have been top 70 in the world.''

The 23-year-old from South Africa is only the second player in European Tour history to win three times in the season after Q-school. The other was Johan Edfors in 2006. Grace joined even more exclusive company. Only two other players have won three times in one season at a younger age - Seve Ballesteros (three times) and Sandy Lyle.


U.S. OPEN MEMORIES: Matt Kuchar returns to The Olympic Club in June for the U.S. Open, where in 1998 he tied for 14th. Kuchar turned 20 during the final round, so it would seem a return to Olympic would bring back warm memories.

Then again, this is the U.S. Open.

''I can remember walking off the course at Olympic Club and just being dead tired after my rounds at the U.S. Open,'' Kuchar said. ''And I remember my rounds at the Masters feeling like I was walking on clouds, feeling like I had so much fun I didn't want the round to end. At Olympic Club, I was more, 'Boy, I'm glad this round is over with. I don't know if I can take any more punishment.'''

Kuchar has not been on the Lake Course since 1998, even though he has been to San Francisco numerous times. The one time he tried to go to Olympic, the course was being renovated for the U.S. Open. He has no plans to see the course before the next major.


DIVOTS: David Duval made his first cut of the year on the PGA Tour at the Texas Open. He had missed the cut in his opening seven tournaments. ... Frank Lickliter tied for 13th at the Texas Open, his highest finish on the PGA Tour since he tied for 13th in the 2008 Byron Nelson Championship, a span of 56 tournaments and nearly four years. ... Despite good weather, the Texas Open featured a two-tee start in the final round because the TPC San Antonio was playing difficult and officials were not sure how long it would take to finish. Ben Curtis holed the winning putt at 6:02 p.m. EDT. ... The Humana Challenge produced more than $2 million in charitable proceeds, while the Humana Foundation contributed an additional $500,000 from its ''Walkit Challenge'' program.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Sean O'Hair leads the PGA Tour career money list among players under 30. He has made $16.2 million. O'Hair turns 30 in July.


FINAL WORD: ''Some people take a big leap forward, but slowly going forward is not a bad idea.'' - Bubba Watson.

Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME

By Nick MentaNovember 18, 2017, 8:47 pm

Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)

What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.

Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.

Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.

Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.

Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.

Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''


DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and 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.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

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.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


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.