Jeong Still Leads Prange Close

By Futures Tour MediaSeptember 9, 2006, 4:00 pm
Duramed Futures TourALBANY, N.Y. -- Their stomachs are already grinding and they are doing their best to call Sunday's final round of the $85,000 ILOVENY Championship anything but what it is.
 
It is the final round of the final event in the Duramed FUTURES Tour's 19-tournament season. But for players hoping for a strong finish or a hard-fought win on Sunday, it is the last dash for one of the coveted 2007 LPGA Tour cards awarded to the top five season money winners.
 
'This is an important time for everyone,' said Ji Min Jeong of Kyungki, Korea, who broke a three-way tie for the lead with a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole today to grab the lead at 134 (-8). 'I'm nervous a little bit and happy too, for a chance to win.'
 
Jeong, who also led after the first round, fired a 3-under-par 68 today at Capital Hills at Albany. And with Danielle Downey (68) of Spencerport, N.Y., and Meaghan Francella (67) of Port Chester, N.Y., finishing tied for second one shot back at 135 (-7), Jeong admitted there's not much breathing room in such a tight race.
 
'I saw the scoreboard at the 18th hole with three players tied at seven under and I said, 'If I make this putt, I'll player easier tomorrow,'' she said.
 
Or is that, sleep easier tonight?
 
'We were all pretty wound up today,' said Francella, who drained her own 15-footer for birdie on the last hole to move into a tie for second with Downey. 'There's a lot at stake here and it's all coming down to this. But I'm rolling the ball well and I'm just trying to win.'
 
For a better idea of how Sunday's final-round stress fest will begin, consider that in the last two pairings of players, No. 9 Hye Jung Choi of Seoul, Korea, No. 7 Allison Fouch of Grand Rapids, Mich., and No. 6 Ashley Prange of Noblesville, Ind., will play together. Prange (67), Fouch (69) and Choi (69) are tied at 137 (-5) and all are hoping to reshuffle the Tour's money list and unseat No. 4 Kristy McPherson of Conway, S.C., and No. 5 Angela Park of Torrance, Calif. After two rounds, McPherson is tied for 36th at 145 (+3) and Park is tied for 13th at 141 (-1). A mere $103 separates fifth-ranked Park from sixth-ranked Prange with one round to play.
 
'We're all very, very aware of what's going on, but I'm trying to win a tournament and I've been trying to do that all year,' said Fouch, a two-time runner-up this season who is $223 behind sixth-ranked Prange. 'There are at least four of us gunning for that fifth spot.'
 
And in the final pairing is Downey, ranked 27th, alongside No. 8 Francella and No. 31st Jeong. Both Jeong and Francella have won this season, but only Francella has a chance to crack the top five. The New Yorker admitted that she had to force herself not to get too sidetracked in today's pairing alongside Fouch and Choi, who also can move into the top five with a win this weekend.
 
'It would have really been easy for Allison, Choi and I to get into a battle between ourselves today, but this is not match play,' said Francella, who carded five birdies and one bogey. 'I made myself stay in the present and I'll try to do the same thing tomorrow.'
 
But while the race for the five LPGA Tour cards weighs on everyone's mind, there is, of course, still a tournament to be won. Downey, whose last win came in 2004, moved another step closer to winning with her round that included four birdies and one bogey on a day in which she used 27 putts to move into a share of second on the 6,121-yard course.
 
'I've been putting well for a while and when you're burning the edges of the cup, they will start to fall,' Downey said.
 
On top of the already frayed nerves, players could have been rocked out of their routines today when afternoon thunderstorms suspended play twice. The first 46-minute suspension came at 2:45 p.m., with play resuming at 3:31 p.m. The second 47-minute suspension came at 5:39 p.m., with play resuming at 6:26 p.m. After the first delay, Downey returned to the course and birdied No. 8. After the second delay, she returned to birdie No. 16.
 
'I'm just one shot back -- same as yesterday, so I'll try to be aggressive,' Downey said. 'Why not go for it all?'
 
And while others admit to wrestling for a few winks of sleep this week, Jeong, who says she sleeps well 'anywhere, anytime,' hopes she can continue to approach each hole and each round as if it were her 'first hole or first round.'
 
'It's like starting over again on each hole or each day,' said Jeong. 'That's a good mind game. I will try to play like I did on Friday and today, and just play with what I have.'
 
Seventy-one players made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+9) on the par-71 course.

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 GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

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 Web.com, 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.


FALLING

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 Golf.com). “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: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.