Walker-Cooper Captures First Victory

By Futures Tour MediaMarch 29, 2003, 5:00 pm
Futures TourSEBRING, Fla. -- Non-exempt LPGA Tour player Lee Ann Walker-Cooper of Cary, N.C., fired a three-under-par 69 for a 211 (-5) to capture her first-ever professional victory at the Florida Hospital Futures Golf Classic in Sebring, Fla.
Fellow non-exempt LPGA Tour player and second-round leader Lisa Strom of Huntersville, N.C., shot a 73 (+1) for a 213 (-3) to finish in second alone. In third was Michele Vinieratos of Altamonte Springs, Fla., who shot a 73 (+1) for a 214 (-2) at the Sun N Lake Golf and Country Club.
Heavy rains and thunderstorms halted second-round play for a period of one hour and 50 minutes and play was suspended last night at 6:25 p.m. At that point, Walker-Cooper, who was tied for the first-round lead at 70 (-2), only completed 11 holes and returned this morning at 7:00 a.m. to finish the remainder of her round. She ended with a 72 (E) and was tied for fifth at two-under-par 142 heading into the final round, two shots behind Strom.
Two hours later, Walker-Cooper was on the course again, one group in front of Strom. She made steady pars until a birdie on the par four 386-yard seventh hole. She turned at three-under-par for the tournament and was trailing non-exempt LPGA Tour member Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla., by one shot. Prammanasudh started the day tied for second at three-under-par 141 and was playing in the same group as Strom.
On the back nine, Walker-Cooper made 12-foot birdie putt on 12, allowing her to take the outright lead for the first time at four-under-par. She followed up with another birdie on 16 and was holding a two-shot lead over Strom.
'I had no idea I was leading until I saw the leaderboard on 15,' beamed Walker-Cooper, who recorded one top-10 finish on the Futures Tour last year. 'I was pretty nervous, but I was handling it much better than I usually do. I was just being patient and trying not to get a head of myself. I just wanted to go out there and play consistent.'
Walker-Cooper bogeyed 17, but came back with a birdie on the par five 520-yard final hole, hitting her eight iron from 123 yards to six feet, to solidify her victory at five-under-par 211.
Strom headed into the final round with a one-shot lead at 140 (-4). She bogeyed one and eight and was two shots shy of Walker-Cooper at the turn. Strom made steady pars until a birdie on 16, sending her to three-under-par. She found herself within one shot of Walker-Cooper, who bogeyed 17, but was unable to catch the leader and finished with a 213 (-3).
'I knew I had to make that birdie putt on 18,' stated Walker-Cooper. 'Lisa is a very strong player and I would not have been surprised if she would have made an eagle on the final hole to tie me. I had 22 putts today and that was really the key to this win.'
Prammanasudh was leading on the front nine at four-under-par until she bogeyed 10 and 11, putting her two shots short of Walker-Cooper. She came back with a birdie on 13, but suffered two more bogeys on 15 and 17. Prammanasudh finished tied for fourth at 215 (-1) with Patti Rizzo of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Ju Kim of Seoul, Korea.
Last season, Walker-Cooper made $9,010 in 17 events. In two tournaments the year, she has already made $8,731 and has moved to second on the Futures Tour Money List. Walker-Cooper credits her success to her father, Joe Cooper and golf coach Ted Kiegiel of the Carolina Country Club.
The emotional 31-year-old Walker-Cooper commented, 'This victory means a lot to me. Ted and I have been working really hard on my game over the past three years and we have come a long way together.
'This win is dedicated to my dad. I have been playing golf since I was thirteen and if wasnt for my fathers faith and confidence in my ability, I would not be here where I am today. He has been with me through everything.'
Last October, Walker-Cooper returned to the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament and tied for 51st to re-gain non-exempt status for 2003 LPGA Tour. She was also member of the LPGA during 2000 and 2001 seasons.
After the upcoming Tampa Bays Next Generation Futures Golf Classic in Tampa, Fla., Walker-Coopers plans are to return home and Monday qualify for the upcoming LPGA Tour events, beginning with the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship hosted by Nancy Lopez in Stockbridge, Ga. However, with her first professional win under her belt, Walker-Coopers plans could change and she may choose to play in Futures Tour tournaments instead.
'This win has changed everything,' said Walker-Cooper. 'I have the confidence in myself to know that I can actually win out here. I am going to discuss it with my dad and determine what the next step is. Who knows, I might change my mind and head out to the Futures Tour tournament in Wichita and miss the LPGA tournaments. I have a lot to think about now.'
Getty Images

CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

Getty Images

Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

Getty Images

Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

Getty Images

Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.