Park, Ko, Feng finish gold, silver, bronze at Olympics

By Nick MentaAugust 20, 2016, 5:00 pm

With a round of 5-under 66, Inbee Park ran away from the field to win the first gold medal ever awarded for women’s golf. Here’s how things wrapped up in Rio, where Lydia Ko birdied the 18th hole to edge Shanshan Feng for silver:

Leaderboard: Park (-16), Ko (-11), Feng (-10), Haru Nomura (-9), Stacy Lewis (-9)

Gold: This is Park’s 23rd worldwide win and her first since the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November. Just three months ago, Park was struggling her way through injury to reach the LPGA Hall of Fame. Heading into Rio, she had played just one event in two months – she missed the cut – and attention was turning toward a potential retirement. But for 72 holes at the Olympics, the seven-time major winner looked as sharp as she ever has. Up two to start the day, she played her first nine holes a bogey-free 4 under to pull away quickly and for good. She mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the back to walk to the finish. The former world No. 1 said earlier this week that winning a gold medal would probably be “the highlight” of her career. As for what she does now, next month’s Evian Championship is the only one of the LPGA’s five current majors she hasn’t won. A victory in France would make Park one of only two players (Karrie Webb) in golf history to claim five different major titles. She’s already the first to own multiple majors and a gold.

Silver: Ko quickly slipped out of contention for the gold and was just even par through 15 holes before playing her final three holes in 2 under par, including a clutch birdie at 18 to claim the silver medal. Had she missed the final putt, Ko would’ve been headed to a playoff with Feng.

Bronze: Feng, a 15-time worldwide winner and one-time major champion, turned in four straight under-par rounds including Saturday’s 69. But while much of the field closed with birdies, Feng played her final six holes in 1 over, good enough to hang on for third and a coveted spot on the Olympic podium.

Biggest disappointments: Lewis and Nomura came up one shot and a few inches short of a playoff with Feng for bronze. Lewis fired a closing 66 and birdied 16 and 17 before leaving a final birdie try hanging on the lip at the 18th hole:

Nomura, separately, posted a bogey-free 65 but was done in by this missed backhanded tap-in attempt during her first round on Wednesday:

Rest of the U.S.: Playing in the final group with Park and Ko, Piller made two birdies and two bogeys in her first five holes before fading for good with dropped shots at 9, 13 and 14. She went from a tie for second to a tie for 11th at 6 under. Thompson went out in the first group off the back nine and posted 5-under 66 to finish minus-3, tied for 19th. 

Round of the day/Shot of the day: Russia’s Maria Verchenova set a new Olympic record with her 9-under 62 Sunday, besting Marcus Fraser, Matt Kuchar and Stacy Lewis who shared the previous mark of 63. Verchenova made eight birdies, two bogeys and this hole-in-one at the par-3 fourth:

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x