U.S. Open sectional recaps: Donald in; Stricker out

By Will GrayJune 9, 2015, 2:39 am

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – One of the more grueling days on the golf calendar is now complete. Here is a look at how things fared at each of the 10 U.S. Open sectional qualifying sites on Monday, as the field for Chambers Bay is nearly filled:

Columbus, Ohio: The deepest qualifying field saw a player with significant ties to Chambers Bay come out on top. Michael Putnam hails from tiny University Place, Wash., and is as close as it comes to an expert on next week’s venue. He shared co-medalist honors with PGA Tour rookie Sam Saunders, while newly-crowned NCAA individual champ Bryson DeChambeau shared third place with David Hearn.

Qualifying spots also went to Sebastian Cappelen, Daniel Summerhays, George McNeill, Ryo Ishikawa, Brad Fritsch, Cameron Smith, Bo Van Pelt and Camilo Villegas.

A 5-for-3 playoff was required to determine the final spots, where Danny Lee, Robert Streb and D.A. Points earned berths, while Kevin Chappell and Alex Cejka were relegated to alternates.

Other notable misses include Vijay Singh, Memorial champ David Lingmerth and Steve Stricker, who will miss the U.S. Open for the first time since 2005.


Scores: U.S. Open sectional qualifying results


Memphis, Tenn.: Days after his wife, Morgan, gave birth to the couple’s first child, rookie Blayne Barber earned co-medalist honors with Tyler Duncan and Brad Elder to earn a spot in his first U.S. Open.

The other qualifiers were highlighted by Retief Goosen, whose 10-year exemption for the most recent of his two U.S. Open wins expired last year. He made it on the number, as did Andres Romero, who chipped in for eagle on his final hole of the day.

Other spots went to Tom Hoge, Brandon Hagy, Charlie Beljan, Brian Harman and amateur Davis Riley. Among the notables on the outside of the cut line were Harris English, David Toms and Martin Laird, who all missed by two shots, as well as former world No. 1 David Duval.


Jupiter, Fla.: A recent run of poor results sent Luke Donald to qualifying for the first time in more than a decade, but the former world No. 1 ensured that his streak of major appearances remained intact. Donald rebounded from a slow start to share medalist honors with Andrew Pope and amateur Jack Maguire.

The final spot went to amateur standout Sam Horsfield, who missed by a shot at the Florida sectional last year but this time around outlasted amateur Cristobal del Solar.

Notable misses included former Ryder Cuppers Chris DiMarco and Brett Wetterich.


Purchase, N.Y.: Two-time U.S. Open champ Lee Janzen earned his way back into the field for the first time since 2008, shooting rounds of 69-68 to take medalist honors. Janzen finished two shots ahead of Jamie Lovemark, while the final two spots went to Pat Wilson and Rich Berberian.

Notable misses included Johnson Wagner and four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Nathan Smith.


Springfield, Ohio: Fresh off a T-8 finish at the Memorial, Tony Finau made only one bogey across 36 holes and qualified with rounds of 66-67. Michael Davan, a player without status on a major tour, earned medalist honors, while the final spots went to Web.com player Stephan Jaeger and amateur Nick Hardy, who just completed his freshman year at Illinois.

Brian Stuard, who medaled in Springfield each of the last two years, missed by four shots.


Dallas: Mark Silvers earned medalist honors with rounds of 66-65, but the biggest story was 15-year-old amateur Cole Hammer, who earned a spot after opening with a 64. Hammer will be the youngest participant next week, as the other qualifying spots went to amateurs Matt Mabrey and Kyle Jones along with former Texas standout Cody Gribble and veteran Jason Allred.

Those missing out included Peter Malnati, Steve Marino, Carlos Ortiz and Bob Estes, making his first competitive start in more than a year after a shoulder injury.


Rockville, Md.: Former Navy golfer Billy Hurley III returned to the Old Line State and earned a spot in the U.S. Open, sharing medalist honors with amateur Denny McCarthy after rounds of 66-72. The final spot went to veteran Tim O’Neal, who years ago saw his Tour card vanish with a triple bogey on the final hole of Q-School.

O’Neal edged out Joshua Persons in a playoff, while notable misses included Steve Wheatcroft and Mark Hubbard.


Ball Ground, Ga.: Matt NeSmith was the hottest player of any sectional Monday, running away with medalist honors at Hawks Ridge GC. NeSmith, who plays for the University of South Carolina, carded 17 birdies and an eagle across 36 holes, cruising to a four-shot win over University of Georgia standout Lee McCoy.

Veteran Roberto Castro grabbed the third and final spot, edging out his brother Franco by a shot. Former LSU teammates Smylie Kaufman and Stewart Jolly missed out, as did U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champ Todd White.


Newport Beach, Calif.: Kevin Lucas made only two bogeys across 36 holes to take medalist honors, two shots clear of a trio that included University of Texas standout Beau Hossler, who contended at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic. Hossler shared second place with Jared Becher and amateur Jake Knapp, while spots also went to the University of Illinois’ Brian Campbell along with Josh Anderson and Alex Kim.

Those on the outside included Patrick Cantlay, Jason Gore and Max Homa, while Fred Couples withdrew before play began.


Cle Elum, Wash.: The day’s final qualifier produced a trio of University of Washington products, each of whom will have plenty of support at Chambers Bay. The list is led by standout Cheng-Tsung Pan, who earned medalist honors with two straight rounds of 1-under 69, while the other two spots went to another pair of Huskies, Richard Lee and Troy Kelly.

Those missing out included University of Oregon head coach Casey Martin, who came up five shots short.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

“When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

And that was an offseason event.

“They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

“Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)