Day 1 WGC-Accenture Match Play predictions

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2011, 9:55 pm
MARANA, Ariz. – Once the action starts at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship things move fast, so your on-site scribes Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard offer a quick glance of what to expect on Day 1 at Dove Mountain (click here for the full bracket):

(1) Lee Westwood vs. (16) Henrik Stenson

Randall: Former champ Henrik “Boxer Briefs” Stenson gets boxed out in a brief appearance this year by a highly motivated world No. 1.
(1) Martin Kaymer vs. (16) Seung-yul Noh

Rex: The world-No. 1-in-waiting has little trouble with the Korean, who has a grand total of five lifetime starts on the PGA Tour.
(1) Tiger Woods vs. (16) Thomas Bjorn

Randall: Expectorations, uh, sorry, expectations have changed for Tiger, but he spits out another Match Play opponent anyway.
(1) Phil Mickelson vs. (16) Brendan Jones

Rex: Jones has been here before, going down to Tiger Woods two years ago in Round 1, and this season’s stay in the Arizona desert will be just as brief.
(2) Graeme McDowell vs. (15) Heath Slocum

Randall: I’m betting Heath Slocum’s caddie won’t be ripping off his bib before this one’s over. McDowell wins.
(2) Paul Casey vs. (15) Richard Green

Rex: A bracket bridesmaid the last two years at Dove Mountain, Casey cruises past Green on his way to another finals runs.
(2) Rory McIlroy vs. (15) Jonathan Byrd

Randall: Byrd has reveled playing with his back to the wall, and that’s what it will feel like against the talented young Irishman, whom Byrd sends home early in this upset.
(2) Steve Stricker vs. (15) Matteo Manassero

Rex: This is going to send my Cheese-headed cubicle-mate into a tizzy, but the young Italian stuns Stricker whose Match Play record is pedestrian at best since his 2001 victory.
(3) Luke Donald vs. (14) Charley Hoffman

Randall: The talented artist from England paints a pretty picture in the desert, one Hoffman won’t stop to admire on his way out of town.
(3) Jim Furyk vs. (14) Ryan Palmer

Rex: Close match but Match Play rookie Palmer edges Furyk, who has started his season slowly.
(3) Ernie Els vs. (14) Jeff Overton

Randall: The Hoosier does a little Hickory High weave around the Big Easy in a first-round upset.
(3) Ian Poulter vs. (14) Stewart Cink

Rex: A Ryder Cup redo of sorts, but the colorful defending champion clips Cink.
(4) Matt Kuchar vs. (13) Anders Hansen

Randall: Try as he might, Mr. Hansen can’t wipe that smile off Kuchar’s face with Kuchar continuing to take his game to another level.
(4) Dustin Johnson vs. (13) Mark Wilson

Rex: In a classic clash of divergent styles Wilson, the PGA Tour’s only two-time winner in 2011, wears out Johnson with his fairways-and-greens schtick.
(4) Robert Karlsson vs. (13) Hiroyuki Fujita

Randall: Highest ranked player nobody’s paying attention to (Karlsson) wins another in the shadows.
(4) Retief Goosen vs. (13) K.J. Choi

Rex: Although solid last week at Riviera, Choi’s had little luck at the Match Play and Goosen is trending in the right direction.
(5) Francesco Molinari vs. (12) Ryan Moore

Randall: The Italian teaches Moore the meaning of the word “arividerchi” in dispatching the American in the first round.
(5) Hunter Mahan vs. (12) Sean O’Hair

Rex: The showdown of Sean Foley disciples goes to Mahan, whose superior ballstriking makes him a favorite this week.
(5) Bubba Watson vs. (12) Bill Haas

Randall: Bubba’s strained oblique won’t feel any better after Haas sticks a loss in his ribs.
(5) Louis Oosthuizen vs. (12) Bo Van Pelt

Rex: As long as Van Pelt isn’t asked to spell Oosthuizen he’ll roll to victory over the Match Play rookie.
(6) Alvaro Quiros vs. (11) Y.E. Yang

Randall: Spanish missiles light up the desert sky with Quiros riding a hot streak to another win.
(6) J.B. Holmes vs. (11) Camilo Villegas

Rex: No need for a called-in ruling, Villegas’ week will be short without an unpopular disqualification.
(6) Miguel Jimenez vs. (11) Yuta Ikeda

Randall: Even bulls refuse to fight “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” how’s Ikeda supposed to beat him?
(6) Edoardo Molinari vs. (11) Martin Laird

Rex: Remember that halved Monday singles match with Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup? This half of the flying Molinari brothers sails to a Round 1 victory.
(7) Charl Schwartzel vs. (10) Ryo Ishikawa

Randall: The Bashful Prince will know another level of shyness when Schwartzel’s done with him.
(7) Adam Scott vs. (10) Ben Crane

Rex: They say the race goes to the slow and steady, but this bout goes to the relative sprinter Scott.
(7) Kyung-Tae Kim vs. (10) Jason Day

Randall: “No worries, Mr. Kim, that bloke that just beat you is Tall Poppies.” Translation of Aussie slang: Day’s really good.
(7) Robert Allenby vs. (10) Ross Fisher

Rex: Allenby is playing well, but Fisher is a match play assassin and will bury the Aussie with birdies.
(8) Rickie Fowler vs. (9) Peter Hanson

Randall: Bad news for Mr. Hanson, Fowler seemed to really like match-play pressure in his Ryder Cup debut.
(8) Geoff Ogilvy vs. (9) Padraig Harrington

Rex: Ogilvy, Ogilvy, Ogilvy . . . oi, oi, oi. Translation: the former two-time Match Play champion wins in a walk-over.
(8) Zach Johnson vs. (9) Justin Rose

Randall: Sound the bugle, the Zach Attack moves through the desert.
(8) Nick Watney vs. (9) Anthony Kim

Rex: Swing coach says Kim is “fine” after L.A. withdrawal, but Watney will give him some extra time to recover with an early exit.

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:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.

RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic

''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''