Notes: Streb in right place at right time at Sony Open

By Doug FergusonJanuary 14, 2014, 10:11 pm

LONG TRIP PAYS OFF: Robert Streb figured he would be an alternate in the Sony Open, but he bought a ticket to Hawaii, anyway. It was freezing in Kansas City, Mo. He could always try to Monday qualify. And there were worse places he could be.

Streb wound up in the right spot.

He was the second alternate when the final field was announced. He missed out on Monday qualifying by two shots. But the first alternate, Shawn Stefani, chose not to fly to Hawaii from Houston. And when Hideki Matsuyama withdrew after the pro-am, Streb was in.

''I just figured I'd hang around and see if I got lucky,'' Streb said. ''And I did.''

Stefani can't be faulted. As a rookie, Carl Petterson was the first alternate when the field was set. He waited three days, up until the last group teed off Thursday, and headed to the airport.

''It's obviously a lot of money and time to come out here,'' Streb said. ''If you don't feel you have a good chance, it's perfectly understandable.''

Streb closed with a 73 to tie for 68th, earning three FedEx Cup points. That's not much, but keep in mind that a year ago, Streb missed out on the playoffs by 10 points. Without full status, he hopes to get 15 starts this year, including Monday qualifying. If that doesn't go well, he'll try some Web.com Tour events.


HUDSON AND HARRIS: A new season means new faces on the PGA Tour, such as Hudson Swafford.

Or was that Harris English?

The two former Georgia Bulldogs – and residents at Sea Island – have been mistaken for each other dating back to their junior golf days. Both are 6-foot-3 with a languid walk, smooth swing, gracious manners and an easy smile. And they're best of friends. English was late getting to Hawaii because he was in Swafford's wedding on New Year's Eve.

''Larry Penley was the best,'' Swafford said, referring to the Clemson coach. ''I don't think he knows Harris English exists. It was always 'Hudson' to me and him.''

Swafford is two years older, so it was English who most often was called by the wrong name. That's changed in the last few years, especially around Sea Island. English won twice last year and is in his third year on tour. Swafford, always the big brother to English, is a rookie.

''Around Sea Island, I'm Harris now,'' Swafford said.


HIGH ROLLER: Pat Perez might not face greater pressure all year than the final day of 2013.

He got engaged to his girlfriend of two years, Ashley Pendley, on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. Typical of Perez, this was no ordinary engagement. He was going to a private party at the MGM Grand, where Stevie Nicks was to perform. Perez persuaded MGM officials to give him the stage before the show. All they said was to be ready.

''It was for all their high rollers – and me. Their $280 million in credit and my $500,'' Perez said. ''So they call me. There's 2,000 people in there, and I'm hammered. I know a lot of the MGM guys, and they were giving me fireball shots at 8 o'clock. I'm getting nervous now. I get the microphone and I call her. They walked her over, I somehow get it out and I drop (to a knee), and they go crazy.''

She said yes. Perez knew that. After all, Penley picked out the ring.

The entire setting has a diameter the size of a dime. Perez said the center was 6 karats, and the entire ring was 11 karats. He declined to say a price, only that ''it's more than this bag is worth'' as he pointed to his golf bag.

The wedding is planned for the end of the year, depending on how his season goes.


UP FOR ELECTION: Jason Bohn, Charley Hoffman and Kevin Streelman are on the ballot to join the PGA Tour policy board.

The tour named its 16-man Player Advisory Council for 2014, which advises and consults the policy board and Commissioner Tim Finchem on various issues. Among the newcomers to the PAC is Lee Westwood, who rejoined the two years ago. His selection is noteworthy as one of the PAC member selected by the players on the board.

The players on the board chose Bohn, Hoffman and Streelman to run for chairman of the PAC through an election that ends after Pebble Beach. Whoever is elected will serve a three-year term on the policy board starting in 2015.

The rest of the PAC includes Stewart Cink, Ken Duke, Trevor Immelman, Matt Kuchar, Scott Langley, Marc Leishman, Davis Love III, Will MacKenzie, Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Putnam, Webb Simpson and Brendon Todd.


DIVOTS: Mark Loomis returns to golf as the coordinating producer for golf production and studio programming at Fox Sports. His experience should come in handy when Fox begins its 12-year deal with the USGA to broadcast the U.S. Open and the rest of its championships. Fox currently does not broadcast any golf tournaments. Loomis previously worked for ABC when it covered PGA Tour events. ... The Champions Tour gets underway this week on the Big Island in Hawaii with the Mitsubishi Electric Championships open to winners the last two years, senior major winners the last five years and eight special exemptions. The exemptions went to four major champions, along with Esteban Toledo, Mark Wiebe, Willie Wood and Kirk Triplett. Vijay Singh did not get an exemption. ... Rory McIlroy plans to play the Scottish Open this year the week before the British Open.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Seven of the eight winners on the PGA Tour this season have shot 66 or better in the final round. The exception was Ryan Moore, who closed with a 70 and won a playoff in Malaysia.


FINAL WORD: ''I feel like to play well in the Masters and U.S. Open it's important to start the year right and get in contention, because you don't want to be in the final group on Sunday of a major having not been in that position earlier in the year.'' – Phil Mickelson.

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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Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


“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.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


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 also one shot off 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 and Shanshan Feng 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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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


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.''