Punch Shot: Predictions for 117th U.S. Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 14, 2017, 10:50 pm

Our writers at Erin Hills on who will win the U.S. Open, sleeper picks, the winning score and the biggest issue this week.


Rex Hoggard: These things I know to be true: Players will complain about the golf course this week, the eventual winner will love Erin Hills, and Jon Rahm will factor into Sunday’s outcome. Erin Hills will be won by a bomber, which Rahm is, and a player who is confident enough to take chances, which Rahm also is. That Rahm tied for 23rd last year as an amateur after a horrid start to his week only makes him a more attractive pick.

Ryan Lavner: Rickie Fowler. Probably the hardest star to predict, but there are three reasons to believe this is his week to break through: Big hitter, imaginative short game and unflappable approach.

Randall Mell: Dustin Johnson. On this big, brawny track with its wide fairways softened by rain, Johnson will have the shortest clubs into the greens and the best angles. He’ll appear to be playing a different course from everyone else.

Will Gray: The “best player without a major” title will shift once again when Rickie Fowler lifts the trophy Sunday evening. Fowler has been rock-solid since his win earlier this year at PGA National, and he leads the Tour in total driving and sits third in scoring average. It’s time.


Hoggard: Since 2010, Billy Horschel has the third lowest scoring average at the U.S. Open, following four consecutive finishes inside the top 32 at his national championship, and his confidence is high following his victory last month at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He may not be the bomber everyone thinks will win, but he checks off all of the other boxes.

Lavner: Martin Kaymer. With closely mown areas surrounding nearly every green, Erin Hills somewhat recalls the new look at Pinehurst, where Kaymer dominated in 2014. Having options around the green should help the German, whose chipping and pitching keeps him from contending more often.

Mell: Lee Westwood. If Sergio Garcia can break through after all the heartache and doubt, why not Westwood? He has been third or better nine times in majors.

Gray: Shane Lowry. The Irishman had one hand on the trophy last year, but he has found his form once again with a T-6 finish at Wentworth and T-15 at the Memorial. Lowry loves tough courses (see his win at Firestone in 2015) and cracked the top 10 at Chambers Bay before last year’s runner-up.


Hoggard: Forget the total yardage. Forget that looming fescue and a forecast that will quickly turn Erin Hills into a muddy mess. The winning score will be under par this week. Let’s go with 10 under par, largely because the layout has four par 5s and will not play nearly as long as some might think.

Lavner: 7 under. Don’t even look at the scorecard yardage. It’ll be significantly shorter than that, even with conditions that will be much softer than the USGA wanted. Four par 5s, a couple of drivable par 4s and perfect greens should lead to plenty of birdies. If the wind doesn’t kick up, scores should be pretty good, at least by U.S. Open standards.

Mell: 12 under. With rain expected to soften the course, with four par 5s, with the USGA likely to error on the side of caution, the winner reaches double digits under par.

Gray: Anyone that tells you they have a confident read on how scoring will shake out on a brand-new venue is lying. But given the soft conditions and four par-5s facing players, I’ll estimate that the winner will hit 6 under – one shot deeper into the red than Jordan Spieth reached two years ago at Chambers Bay.


Hoggard: Although the fescue that frames Erin Hills has been the hottest topic this week, it will not be the headline on Sunday. The final takeaway will fixate on a common theme: pace of play. Although officials have set the pace at 4 hours, 52 minutes for Rounds 1 and 2, most players say it will be closer to the six-hour mark largely due to the tall fescue rough, four par 5s and the drivable par-4 second hole.

Lavner: Those dastardly bunkers. With ragged edges, uneven lies, unusual sand, awkward widths and even some holes surrounding them because of erosion, there’s a good chance a player gets caught in one of those little devils and makes a big number.

Mell: Slow play. The biggest issue could end up being the penal bunkering, all the lost balls in the fescue or heavy winds, but you add all of these to four par 5s and some reachable par 4s, and this might be the slowest-played U.S. Open in history.

Gray: Forget the fescue. The biggest gripe by the end of the week will be the bunkers, which are fraught with nooks, crannies and uneven lies. Someone will bounce into a small finger of sand at an inopportune time, and the unusual design of these hazards will become a major storyline by week’s end.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: