Am Tour: Erdman shoots tournament record 66 to climb back into contention

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 22, 2015, 6:06 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Not only is this the largest Championship flight in recent years at Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship, it's delivered some of the tournament's most spectacular scores.

Jordan Massey, who we profiled earlier this week, carded a 36-hole tournament record (68-69=137). Then, in round three on the Stadium Course at PGA West, two-time National Champion Paul Erdman, from Erie, Colo., shot a tournament record single round score of 66. 

After an opening round 79, which the Colorado resident chalked up to a failure to adjust to yardages at sea level, Erdman found his distances in Round 2 and arrived at Round 3, seemingly out of contention and totally relaxed. 

"I couldn't have dreamed there would be a 12-shot swing," said Erdman. "I kept making putts, making birdies. I had no idea I was 8-under going into 17."

Then, "Alcatraz", the famous island green on the Stadium, bit him. He found the water right and made a double bogey.

With the runaway leader Massey stumbling to a 78, Erdman, who won the Championship flight in 2011 at PGA West and 2014 in Scottsdale, is three shots back. That's the same deficit he had heading into the final round in '11.

Kody Conover rallies, guarantees victory 

You may remember Am Tour member Kody Conover, who Mike Bailey profiled in the 2014 National Championship in Scottsdale and was also featured in this Morning Drive feature by Rich Lerner:


 


Well, Kody is back at Nationals in 2015, having won two major tournaments (he won five tournaments in a row in 2014). Playing in the Sarazen flight (handicaps 12-15.9), he had high hopes for Nationals, but an opening round 103 set him considerably off the pace in his flight. His caddie and father Clifford said the round was simply a matter of ball position and perhaps being a little bit excited for the tournament.

But Kody has stormed back in the last two rounds. He shot a 94 in Round 2 and then went even lower with an 83 on the Palmer Course today.

He may be in 48th place and 37 shots off the lead heading into the final round, but as one of Am Tour's most prolific golfers, he's still plenty confident in his chances.

"That 103 I had was a bad round for me," said Conover. "But I'm going to come back and shoot a 61 to win."

Fireworks at the 15th

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There was plenty of hootin' and hollerin' at the par-3 14th hole of the Palmer Private course this afternoon in the Sarazen flight grouping of Mel Imad, David Holcomb and Jay Harjo.

Imad, from Virginia Beach, Va., aced the dramatic par-3 that plays along the side of the mountain. It was his first ever hole-in-one.

It was a group effort on the tee. Holcomb, playing first, hooked his tee shot into the bunker. Watching the shot, Imad then made the decision to play a little further right of the pin.

"I hit an easy 9-iron and aimed to the right," he said. "Hoping it will roll to the left. I hit it perfect, two feet right of the hole, it rolled left and disappeared."

As they arrived onto the green, a crowd had gathered and photos were taken. Even a bighorn sheep was perched above the green in the rocks.

Then Holcomb went down into the bunker and holed his shot for birdie, which sent all onlookers into a frenzy.

Well, maybe not the bighorn. They've been all over the Palmer and Nicklaus courses at PGA West recently, including this flock that wandered onto the first green of the Nicklaus course this afternoon: 

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

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

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”