Upsets and excitement in Volvik WLD Rd. of 16

By Will GraySeptember 6, 2017, 3:51 am

THACKERVILLE, Okla. – The top two players are gone. So, too, is the defending champ. But the drama and intrigue have only just begun at the Volvik World Long Drive Championship.

There were upsets aplenty as the top 16 men squared off in head-to-head matches under the lights Tuesday at the Winstar World Casino and Resort. Chief among surprises was two-time and defending champ Joe Miller, who couldn’t match a 426-yard bomb from southpaw Nick Kiefer.

Kiefer was hoping to make the Round of 16 entering the week, but he’ll now return for Wednesday’s high-octane finale with a shot at the $125,000 top prize.

“It’s huge,” Kieffer said. “I’ve looked at the numbers, and I know I’m just as fast as everyone else. But it’s about who puts a good ball out on the grid.”

The most dramatic duel featured two-time champ Tim Burke, who skated through by the thinnest of margins. Burke and Stephen Kois both hit 415-yard drives, which called for a manual measurement. Had the two shots been within 6 inches of each other, they would have squared off in a four-ball playoff.

But instead, Burke’s ball was measured at 415 yards, 28 inches – 9 inches past Kois.

“When I looked at the Jumbotron when they were measuring, I could tell I was a little farther, Burke said. “I’m glad it went my way.”


Volvik World Long Drive Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Volvik World Long Drive Championship scoring and brackets


Burke will encounter a familiar face in Wednesday’s quarterfinals when he meets 20-year-old Kyle Berkshire. The two are frequent training partners together in Orlando, Fla., and Berkshire continues to impress in his world championship debut.

Only months removed from playing stroke-play tournaments as a freshman at the University of North Texas, Berkshire heads into a marquee quarterfinal match on a mission.

“I’ve only been playing for one year, but I’ve already come close to winning a couple tour events,” Berkshire said. “I know what I’m doing and I know how good I am. My main goal is to win. I don’t think I would have gotten this far if I was just trying to do well.”

Berkshire is hardly the lone surprise still with title aspirations. Wes Patterson’s underdog tale only detoured into the sport of long drive last month, but after twice beating world No. 1 Maurice Allen in the Round of 32 he toppled No. 2 Ryan Riesbeck Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals, where he’ll face Canada’s Mitch Grassing.

With Allen and Riesbeck out, the top-ranked player is now world No. 3 Justin James, who will square off against Paul Howell and is not exactly lacking confidence.

“I’m the best,” James said. “So come get me.”

Howell turned heads with a 425-yard shot to advance, while the fourth quarterfinal will feature Kiefer and Will Hogue. Hogue’s back was against the wall after his opponent, Josh Cassaday, set the mark at 428 yards. But with his penultimate ball, Hogue uncorked a 437-yard shot that won the match and served as the longest shot of the Round of 16.

The spotlight will again be on the grid Wednesday in primetime, where the top eight players will square off in head-to-head matches featuring eight shots per player. The four match winners will continue until someone leaves with the championship belt.

The women will also share the stage Wednesday, as the semifinal matches will feature defending champ Phillis Miti against Heather Manfredda and Sandra Carlborg against newcomer Alexis Belton.

Some of the names have changed and a few of the familiar faces have been eliminated, but the high-energy action of long drive remains a constant. Wednesday the stakes will get even higher as a pair of world titles are up for grabs. 

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee:

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.