Notes: Fall Series gets upgraded

By Doug FergusonJune 27, 2012, 2:15 am

BETHESDA, Md. - Starting next year, Fall Series tournaments won't feel like second-class citizens.

The PGA Tour policy board has decided to award full FedEx Cup points to the tournaments that come after the season-ending Tour Championship. That was one step in trying to shore up plans for a new season that will start in October 2013 and conclude with the Tour Championship in September 2014.

''With the fall tournaments moving to the front end of the PGA Tour schedule, the policy board believes the next logical step is for these tournaments to kick off the FedEx Cup and begin awarding full points,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''All of these tournaments have been very successful and certainly deserve to be part of the FedEx Cup competition.''

For the past five years, the FedEx Cup has ended in September with the Tour Championship. The Fall Series events that followed only awarded prize money to determine the top 125 players on the money list who kept their full cards.

All that changes in 2013 with a fall start to the season.

Still to be decided is a major part of the puzzle - determining how players get their cards.

Instead of Q-school, the tour already has approved a plan to merge the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour with PGA Tour players who finish from No. 126-200 on the money list for a three-tournament series. Fifty full tour cards will be awarded.

Tour officials have been retooling various options, though no consensus has been reached on a model.

Three options were reviewed at the Monday board meeting, and Finchem said his staff will get further feedback from the Player Advisory Councils on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour before deciding on the best model. A decision could be sooner that some might expect.


YEAR OF THE COMEBACK: No lead appears safe on the PGA Tour this year, particularly if the leader is going for his first win. Marc Leishman, who closed with a 62 at the Travelers Championship, became the fifth player to come from at least six shots behind on the last day to win.

The trend began in January when Brandt Snedeker came from seven shots back with a 67 to win a playoff over Kyle Stanley, who made triple bogey on his last hole for 74. A week later, Stanley rallied from eight shots behind with a 65 to beat fast-fading Spencer Levin.

John Huh came from seven shots back in Mexico with a 63 and won in a playoff over Robert Allenby. The 54-hole leader, Daniel Summerhays, closed with a 73. The other comeback winner was Phil Mickelson, who was six behind Charlie Wi and closed with a 64 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

In each case, the 54-hole leaders had never won on the PGA Tour. Last week in Cromwell, Conn., the 54-hole leaders were Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis, neither of whom has won on tour.

The last 54-hole leader to hold on for the win was Jason Dufner at the Byron Nelson Championship on May 20.


DOWN UNDER, ALL OVER: Considering the number of good players coming from Down Under, Geoff Ogilvy is the only Australian since 1995 to win a major.

Aussie icon Greg Norman, who won two majors, is puzzled by the lack of majors. Then again, it's not just Australia.

Sweden has never produced a male major champion. The last Englishman to win a major was Nick Faldo in 1996. Spain's last major was more than a decade ago.

''The simple answer to that is no, it's not an acceptable strike rate considering the talent and the capabilities of the Australian players we have out there,'' Norman said in a conference call last week. ''There's a slew of them. But you can look at other countries, too, that haven't really done it. Sweden, you probably have more players on a global basis of that caliber than any outside of the United States, and they haven't done it. Then you look at Northern Ireland where you have back-to-back years with two guys.

''Why does it happen? Why the void? I have no answer because it doesn't make sense to me, because the players are good enough to do it on a regular basis,'' he said. ''But when you think about it, you've got all these great players around the world and there's only four golf tournaments per year. So there's only going to be four winners. You can see the odds are getting harder and harder.''


DIVOTS: Alan Dunbar is the latest player from Northern Ireland to capture a big prize. The 23-year-old from Portrush won the British Amateur over the weekend at Royal Troon. He follows Graeme McDowell winning the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Rory McIlroy winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and Darren Clarke winning the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George's. Dunbar's win gets him into the British Open, Masters and U.S. Open. ... Six-time major champion Nick Faldo has been selected to receive the 2012 Ambassador of Golf Award, given to a person who has contributed to golf on an international level. The award is presented by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities and will be given to Faldo at Firestone during the Bridgestone Invitational. ... Bubba Watson leads the PGA Tour in driving distance and greens in regulation. Since the tour began keeping track of these statistics in 1980, no one has led both categories in the same season. ... The winner of the money list on the new PGA Tour Latinoamerica will be recognized with the Roberto de Vicenzo Award, named for the first Argentine to win a major.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The winner of the past three tournaments at Congressional had scores of 268 (Rory McIlroy), 267 (Tiger Woods) and 268 (Anthony Kim).


FINAL WORD: ''It's getting harder and harder for him to win because the older he gets, the younger everybody else gets. And the younger they get, the less intimidated they are by him.'' - Greg Norman on Tiger Woods.

 

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.

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.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

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.''