Westwood 1 shot back of Molinari at HSBC Champions

By Doug FergusonNovember 5, 2010, 3:14 pm

WGC-HSBC ChampionsSHANGHAI – Lee Westwood figured a 5-wood would be enough to carry the water on the par-5 18th and set up an easy birdie for a share of the lead Friday at the HSBC Champions.

Only when he got to the green did he realize the hole was closer to the edge of a slope than usual, and that his position some 15 yards left of the pin made it nearly impossible to keep it on the green. He had to settle for par, leaving him one shot behind Francesco Molinari.

“That’s why you shouldn’t play golf by memory,” he said after a 2-under 70.

That was only one shot on one hole.

As for the rest of the game, Westwood has total recall. It does not look as though the Englishman is playing in only his second tournament since the first week of August. He was on a roll this year, and the only difference now is the No. 1 ranking next to his name.

In his first tournament since replacing Tiger Woods atop the world ranking, Westwood didn’t know what to expect from his game in the final World Golf Championship of the year.

tiger woods shanghai
Tiger Woods mixed five birdies with five bogeys for an even-par 72 in the second round.

“Everything is pretty competitive in my game,” Westwood said. “It’s a good performance the first two rounds to come back. I’m pleasantly surprised with how well I’ve played.”

Equally happy was Molinari, whose game is built more on precision than power. Sheshan International measures 7,266 yards, which is a little on the long side for the Italian. But he opened up a four-shot lead with three early birdies, then held it together the rest of the round for a 70 and heads into the weekend at 9-under 135.

“To be better for my characteristics, the course will be probably a bit shorter and with thicker rough,” Molinari said. “So in theory, it should be the best course for me. But as I said, it’s a golf course that you can play many different ways.”

Ernie Els played it like he had nothing to lose, firing at flags on a day when a slightly stronger breeze made scoring slightly harder. Not for the Big Easy, who made eight birdies in a round of 65 and was only two shots behind, along with Richie Ramsay of Scotland and Jaco Van Zyl of South Africa, who had a 29 on his back nine.

Tiger Woods was still in the mix, just not as close to the lead as he would like. Woods hit into the water on the par-5 second, recovered with a pair of birdies, then dropped three shots in a four-hole stretch around the turn. All the putts inside 10 feet that he made in the opening round stayed out on Friday.

Frustration set in late in the round, especially with his final tee shot that he hooked into the rough. Woods let the driver fall from his hands, then he kicked the club about five yards in front of the tee box.

He shot 72, and was five shots out of the lead in the only World Golf Championship he has not won.

“Struggled a little bit,” he said later. “Didn’t hit it very good and had a couple of three-putts there, and had five lip-outs. So my score could have been worse, but it also could have been a lot better.”

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who played with Westwood, shot a 71 and joined Woods at 4-under 140. PGA champion Martin Kaymer had a 69 and was another shot behind.

The top four players in the world were all in the top 20 heading into the weekend, adding to the anticipation of the first skirmish for the No. 1 ranking. Any of them can get there by winning.

With all the attention on the “Big Four” in Shanghai, Molinari keeps plodding along.

“I think it’s really exciting for everyone watching that one of the four guys could be No. 1 in the world at the end of the week,” Molinari said. “But for us, it doesn’t really make a difference. We play together with them, against them, pretty much week in and week out. So I think everyone is really just focusing on improving his ranking rather than seeing who is going to be on top.”

Luke Donald, who keeps steadily moving up the rankings despite only one victory in Europe this year, shot 70 and was at 6-under 138. Woods and Mickelson had plenty of company at 140, including Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, newlywed Nick Watney and Robert Allenby.

The strongest move came from Els, who got a small measure of redemption on the final hole.

A year ago, Els had a chance to shoot 61 in the final round and win the tournament. He had a downhill lie in the 18th fairway and tried to cut a 5-wood into the green, only to catch it fat and watch it go into the water. He made bogey and finished one shot behind.

With an identical shot this year, Els went with a 4-iron. It barely cleared the water, ran through the back of the green and he hit a delicate putt down the slope to 3 feet for a birdie.

“Just after I hit that shot last year, I said, ‘I should have gone with a 4-iron instead of trying to cut a 5-wood.’ That was probably the shot I should have played last year,” Els said. “I would have shot 61 and I would have won the tournament. Yeah, I did think about it.”

Els also made another putter switch, using the one he tried for two rounds last week in Malaysia. He said it helped playing with Woods because of how the former No. 1 looks so comfortable over putts.

Maybe so, but Woods didn’t look terribly comfortable after so many putts failed to drop.

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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