Punch Shot: Who's next for career resurgence?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 13, 2014, 12:30 pm

Some have struggled for a while. Others have been written off completely. The 2014 season has brought about career revivals for several players, including Michelle Wie and last week's Players champ Martin Kaymer. GolfChannel.com writers make their picks for who may be the next in line for a resurgence. 


Charles Howell III doesn’t get nearly as much attention these days as he did as a PGA Tour phenom some decade-and-a-half ago, but I think he’s on the verge of a career revival.

Not that he’s so far off. Howell’s five top-10 finishes this season ranks seventh, behind only guys named Kuchar, English, McIlroy, Spieth, Walker and Watson. His 252 total birdies ranks tied for second, down from the top spot a week ago. And he’s a model of consistency, having missed just three cuts in 18 starts.

It’s that last part – the consistency – that leads me to believe Howell’s career arc could mirror that of Kuchar. Which is to say, there’s no reason something can’t click in his mid-30s that elevates him to a guy who contends for two titles a month.

In many ways, CH3 has been the poster boy for everything wrong with the modern game: He owns just two career wins and one career top-10 at a major championship (T-10 at the 2003 PGA Championship) and yet he ranks 26th in career earnings with just over $26 million.  Expect all of those numbers to increase soon enough, though. His other numbers say he’s too good for it not to happen.


He’s already been labeled a teen phenom, a global superstar and now a bust. Strong words for a player just 22 years old.

That’s right, he’s still younger than Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Harris English. He’s only 14 months older than Jordan Spieth. So, yes, there is plenty of time for Ryo Ishikawa, a 10-time winner in Japan, to blossom into the PGA Tour player that fulfills all those lofty expectations of his teen years.

This has been his most promising season in the States to date, finishing in the top 10 three times already and banking more than $1.2 million. The back injury that plagued his past two years is no longer an issue, and he’s now developing into a well-adjusted young man … or as well as a guy can be after growing up with a camera or microphone constantly in his face. Indeed, each man blazes his own path to the game’s elite. 


Yani Tseng.

Tseng ruled the Rolex Women’s World Rankings as No. 1 for more than two years, losing the top spot to Stacy Lewis just 14 months ago. She has plummeted to No. 53 in the world today, and she is more than two years removed from her last LPGA victory.

At 25, Tseng owns 15 LPGA titles, including five major championships. Yes, she lost something, and she’s searching to get it back. Yes, there’s mystery in trying to figure out exactly what she lost, but she’s young enough and determined enough to find it.

Tseng should find inspiration in watching Martin Kaymer fight his way back in the men’s game, and in watching Michelle Wie do the same in the women’s game. Once Tseng feels whatever mojo she lost coming back, one big week could bring her name back to leaderboards with regularity in a hurry.


Ryo Ishikawa.

The “Bashful Prince” has largely been seen as a disappointment since he began playing regularly in the U.S., but at 22 years old there is still plenty of time to reverse that trend.

Ishikawa struggled to handle the media, both Japanese and American, while bursting onto the scene as a teenager, but in recent months he appears to have found his footing. He played consistent golf at the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals to regain his PGA Tour status, and this season has continued that momentum, with eight top-25 finishes in 15 starts including a runner-up at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. With more than $1.2 million already in the bank, his playing privileges for the 2014-15 season are virtually assured.

Hideki Matsuyama has taken on the label of “can’t-miss kid” from the Land of the Rising Sun, and the flock of Japanese media that follows him to every event reinforces that notion. No longer the center of attention among golf fans in his homeland, Ishikawa is now freed up to simply play the game – which he has been doing rather well this season. Don’t be surprised if the “Prince” gets his hands on a trophy before too long.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.