Cho Wins on Futures Tour

By Futures Tour MediaJuly 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourSTRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. -- The ever-changing skies of Vermont were as unpredictable as Saturday's final-round leader board at the $70,000 Stratton Mountain Futures Classic. And the ebb and flow of leading scores kept the galleries guessing right down to the final eagle putt of teenager Aram Cho.
Cho, 18, started the day five shots behind leader Lisa Chang of Los Angeles, but the native of Seoul, Korea carded birdies on four of her first nine holes to take a one-shot lead, then added another birdie on the 11th hole for an outright, two-stroke edge at Stratton Mountain Country Club.
But how the day evolved gave Green Mountain golf lovers a flashback to yesteryear. When the Futures Tour first arrived in Vermont in 1996 to play at Green Mountain National, Smriti Mehra came to the 18th hole tied with native Vermonter Holly Reynolds. Mehra eagled the final hole and won by two shots.
Eight years later, a baby-faced rookie nicknamed 'Pooh' who had turned professional less than a year earlier, repeated the crescendo final act in the same state. After a bogey on the 16th and a final-round charge by Young Jo of Suwon, Korea and Lindsey Wright of Albury, Australia, Cho found herself in a three-way tie for the lead at 7 under par. Playing behind Wright and Jo, it was Cho's tournament to lose. But instead of sputtering on the 18th, the teen showed the mettle that had helped her win her first professional title four weeks ago in Decatur, Ill.
'I hit my 3-wood 220 yards to the 18th green and thought I hit it pretty close,' said Cho, through fellow player Sunny Oh, who helped interpret for the winner. 'But when I walked to the green, it was about 40 feet away from the hole. I knew I needed two putts to win, but I said to my dad [also her caddie], 'let's just make this one.''
And the teen slammed home the monster putt to dash the playoff hopes of Wright and Jo, who watched Cho's finish from the back of the clubhouse.
'It was so close,' said Jo, 20, who fired a final-round 67. 'I was right there. I'm playing solid and I know I can win soon, but I feel happy for Aram. We're good friends.'
Jo had a 40-foot eagle attempt of her own on the 18th green, but had to settle for a tap-in birdie and a share of second with Wright at 7-under 209. And although Wright didn't win, her final-round 64 was the story of the day on the rolling 6,212-yard, par-72 course.
The Aussie began Saturday's round at one-over par and blistered the course with eight birdies that put her on the scoreboard from out of nowhere. With a final-round scoring average of 69.375, Wright kept the groups behind her watching scoreboards and hoping the former Pepperdine University All-American would run out of holes before she went any lower. She did, indeed, birdie the last hole, hitting 16 greens and recording 27 putts for the round. And her season-low Futures Tour score of 64 was the consolation for runner-up status.
'I'm definitely not disappointed,' said Wright, 24, who retained her top ranking as the Tour's money leader. 'It was just magical today. I played like every hole was a birdie opportunity and I was really focused. My friends were laughing and calling me 'Last-Day Lindsey.''
Last-Day Lindsey nearly got the last laugh, but Cho played the no-fear style of golf that has moved her into the No. 2 spot on the Tour's money list and into the top position for the Tour's Rookie of the Year honors. For her win, the teen pocketed $9,800.
'I'm so happy about winning,' said Cho, who posted rounds of 71-71-65 for her 9-under-par performance of 207 in the 54-hole event. 'I feel like I'm flying. I didn't think about winning today because I was five strokes behind the leader, but after the birdie putt on No. 9, I knew I would take the lead.'
Danielle Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., who won in Lima, Ohio last month, fired a final-round, 4-under-par 68 to move into fourth place at 210. Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, also carded a 68, to tie for fifth at 212 with three others. And tour veteran Lori Atsedes of Ithaca, N.Y., moved into a four-way tie for ninth at 213 with her final-round 68.
But it was Cho's day. The teen can't explain her rapid success after only eight years of playing the game she learned from her father, Sung Ken Cho -- who caddies for the teen on tour.
'I'm surprised about the whole thing,' added Cho, whose final-round 65 was her career-low round. 'I think everybody worked hard today. This is the best I've ever played.'
How did the Tour's return to Vermont after a one-year hiatus register with typically stoic New Englanders? By the looks of fans who still fondly remember the McCall's LPGA Classic in Stratton Mountain from 1990-1995, it's safe to say Cho's grand finale on the 18th hole will go down as one of those memorable moments in Vermont golf.
How could it not? With Last-Day Lindsey, a baby-face future star named Pooh and a young player named Young Jo rising to the top of the 144-player field, they appear destined to meet again on the next level in the very near future. Today's final round in Stratton certainly was a preview of rounds to come.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Stratton Mountain Futures Classic
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: Who's got next?

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    The sprawling legacy of the Class of 2011 can be traced to any number of origins, but for some among what is arguably the most prolific class ever, it all began in June 2009.

    The 99-player field that descended on Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., for the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational included Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and so many others, like Michael Kim, who up to that moment had experienced the weight of the ’11 class only from afar.

    “It was that year that Justin won the FootJoy Invitational and that got him into [the Wyndham Championship]," Kim recalled. "That was my first invitational and I was like 'these guys are so good’ and I was blown away by what they were shooting. I remember being shocked by how good they were at that time.”

    Tom Lovelady, who like former Cal-Berkeley Bear Kim is now on the PGA Tour, remembers that tournament as the moment when he started to realize how special this particular group could be, as well as the genesis of what has become lifetime friendships.

    In the third round, Lovelady was paired with Spieth.

    “We kind of hit it off and became friends after that," Lovelady recalled. "The final round I got paired with Justin Thomas and we became friends. On the 10th hole I asked [Thomas], ‘Where do you want to go to school?’ He said, ‘Here. Here or Alabama.’ My first reaction was, ‘Don’t go to Alabama.’ He’s like, ‘Why?’ I wanted to go there. I knew the class was strong and they only had so many spots, but that’s where I really wanted to go.”

    Both ended up in Tuscaloosa, and both won an NCAA title during their time in college. They also solidified a friendship that endures to this day in South Florida where they live and train together.

    While the exploits of Thomas, Spieth and Daniel Berger are well documented, perhaps the most impressive part of the ’11 class is the depth that continues to develop at the highest level.

    To many, it’s not a question as to whether the class will have another breakout star, it’s when and who?

    There’s a good chance that answer could have been found on the tee sheet for last week’s RSM Classic, a lineup that included Class of ’11 alums Lovelady; Kim; Ollie Schniederjans, a two-time All-American at Georgia Tech; Patrick Rodgers, Stanford's all-time wins leader alongside Tiger Woods; and C.T. Pan, a four-time All-American at the University of Washington.

    Lovelady earned his Tour card this year via the Tour, while Schniederjans and Rodgers are already well on their way to the competitive tipping point of Next Level.

    Rodgers, who joined the Tour in 2015, dropped a close decision at the John Deere Classic in July, where he finished a stroke behind winner Bryson DeChambeau; and Schniederjans had a similar near-miss at the Wyndham Championship.

    To those who have been conditioned by nearly a decade of play, it’s no surprise that the class has embraced a next-man-up mentality. Nor is it any surprise, at least for those who were forged by such an exceedingly high level of play, that success has seemed to be effortless.

    “First guy I remember competing against at a high level was Justin. We were playing tournaments at 10, 11 years old together,” Rodgers said. “He was really, really good at that age and I wasn’t really good and so he was always my benchmark and motivated me to get better.”

    That symbiotic relationship hasn’t changed. At every level the group has been challenged, and to a larger degree motivated, by the collective success.

    By all accounts, it was Spieth who assumed the role of standard-bearer when he joined the Tour in 2013 and immediately won. For Rodgers, however, the epiphany arrived a year later as he was preparing to play a college event in California and glanced up at a television to see his former rival grinding down the stretch at Augusta National.

    “Jordan’s leading the Masters. A couple years before we’d been paired together battling it out at this exact same college event,” he laughed. “I think I even won the tournament. It was just crazy for me to see someone who is such a peer, someone I was so familiar with up there on the biggest stage.”

    It was a common theme for many among the Class of ’11 as Spieth, Thomas and others emerged, and succeeded, on a world stage. If familiarity can breed contempt, in this case it created a collective confidence.

    Success on Tour has traditionally come slowly for new pros, the commonly held belief being that it took younger players time to evolve into Tour professionals. That’s no longer the case, the byproduct of better coaching, training and tournaments for juniors and top-level amateurs.

    But for the Class of ’11, that learning curve was accelerated by the economies of scale. The quality and quantity of competition for the class has turned out to be a fundamental tenet to the group’s success.

    “Since the mindset of the class has been win, win, win, you don’t know anything other than that, it’s never been just be good enough,” Lovelady said. “You don’t think about being top 125 [on the FedExCup points list], you think about being as high as you can instead of just trying to make the cut, or just keep your card. It’s all you’ve known since you were 14, 15 years old.”

    It’s a unique kind of competitive Darwinism that has allowed the class to separate itself from others, an ever-present reality that continues to drive the group.

    “It was constantly in my head motivating me,” Rodgers said. “Then you see Jordan turn pro and have immediate success and Justin turn pro and have immediate success. It’s kind of the fuel that drives me. What makes it special is these guys have always motivated me, maybe even more so than someone like Tiger [Woods].”

    The domino effect seems obvious, inevitable even, with the only unknown who will be next?

    “That’s a good question; I’d like for it to be myself,” Lovelady said. “But it’s hard to say it’s going to be him, it’s going to be him when it could be him. There are just so many guys.”