Fresno State Wins BitePacific Coast Intercollegiate
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State golf team enjoyed its success this past weekend at the Bite/Pacific Coast Intercollegiate so much, that the Bulldogs were the team that took the biggest bite out of 21-team, 105-player field tournament as they won the invitational 23 strokes under-par.
Senior Nick Watney (Dixon, Calif.) was the prize golfer to watch as he broke a 27-year-old course record with a 199 (67-64-68) and notched his fifth individual title of the season, 10th of his career, while carding his first career sub 200 stroke tournament.
Finishing 17-under-par, Watney bettered the course record by 10 strokes, as the former record was 209. Putting together his best three round performance of his career, he shot a 200 (67-66-67) at the University of San Diego Invitational as a sophomore.
However, a team effort was what propelled the Bulldogs to their first tournament win of the spring and third on the 2002-03 season.
'This was a huge and important tournament for us because the NCAA Tournament selection will be taking place shortly,' said head coach Mike Watney, who had led the Bulldogs to 23 NCAA appearances. 'In terms of some of the teams we competed against, especially those who are in our (Southwest) region, this was a great, great victory.
'We beat all the regional teams (Colorado State, UTEP, Denver, Hawai'i and Wyoming) at this tournament. This puts us in great shape coming down the home stretch.
'We had been in the doldrums of late but this team showed nice firepower over the weekend. We had solid play throughout the line up and everyone contributed. I'm especially thrilled by not only Nick's performance but by Ryan McDonald, who finished seven under par yesterday and was significant in our overall victory.
'I can't say enough about how everyone contributed. We had a very solid round today, especially by being back by seven or eight strokes after 11 holes. It's tough to stage this type of a comeback. It was a good tournament win for us.'
McDonald, who shot a 214 (67-70-77), finished tied for 18th while Ryan Carter tied for 24th with a score of 216 (73-71-72). Chad Spencer (74-73-73) and Jeremy Moreno (70-77-73) finished in a tie for 52nd with a score of 220.
The top 10 teams in the field were Fresno State (-23), UC Irvine (-21), UC Riverside (-19), UTEP (-16), Long Beach State (-8), Pacific (-6), California (-4), Colorado State (-1), Denver (+1) and Cal Poly (+4).
The bottom half were Santa Clara (+5), UC Santa Barbara (+7), Saint Mary's (+10), San Jose State (+12), San Francisco (+15), Hawai'i (+18), New Mexico State (+19), CS Northridge (+24), University of San Diego (+25), Wyoming (+31) and Utah State (+56).
Fresno State will look to take this momentum into this weekend's competition at the Cleveland Augusta State Invitational at the Forest Hills Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., April 5-6.
Simpson WDs from RSM, tweets his father is ill
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Following rounds of 67-68, Webb Simpson was in 12th place entering the weekend at the RSM Classic before he withdrew prior to Saturday’s third round.
On Saturday afternoon, Simpson tweeted that he withdrew due to an illness in his family.
“Thanks to [Davis Love III] for being such a great tournament host. I [withdrew] due to my dad being sick and living his last days,” Simpson posted on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.
Simpson’s father, Sam, caddied for his son during amateur events, and Webb Simpson started playing golf after following his father to the course on family vacations to North Carolina.
“My dad is probably the kindest man I know. He’s always been the guy who knew everyone, everyone knew him, everyone wanted to be around him,” Simpson said in a 2015 interview with David Feherty. “He taught me the game. He’s always been one of those dads who loved to be active with their kids.”
Before play began on Thursday, Luke Donald withdrew after being hospitalized with chest pain. Tests indicated the Englishman’s heart was fine and he returned home to undergo more tests.
New old putter helps Kirk (64) jump into contention
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Chris Kirk’s ball-striking has been nearly flawless this fall. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for his putting.
In four events this season, Kirk ranks 143rd in strokes gained: putting, but his fortunes have changed this week, thanks at least in part to a return to something familiar.
Kirk switched to an older style of putter similar to the one he used on the Web.com Tour in 2010 to earn his PGA Tour card.
“It's nice to be back in contention again,” said Kirk, who is alone in second place, three strokes behind front-runner Austin Cook. “It's been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow.”
Kirk is 25th in strokes gained: putting this week and has converted several crucial putts, including a 30-footer for birdie at the 17th hole on his way to a third-round 64.
His putting is similar to 2013 when he won the RSM Classic, and his improved play on the greens has given the 32-year-old confidence going into Sunday’s final round.
“I'll probably be relatively comfortable in that situation, and thankfully I've been there before,” Kirk said. “It's still not easy by any means, but hopefully I'll be able to group together a bunch of good shots and see what it gives me.”
Rookie Cook (66) handling RSM like a pro
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Of all the impressive statistics Austin Cook has put up this week at the RSM Classic – he is first in strokes gained: tee to green, strokes gained: approach to the green and scrambling – the one number that stands out is 49.
That’s how many holes Cook went this week without a bogey or worse, a moment that prompted his caddie, Kip Henley, to joke, “The dream is over.”
That loss of momentum at the 14th hole didn’t last long, with the PGA Tour rookie making birdie at the next hole on his way to a third-round 66 and a three-stroke lead.
“Bouncing back from any bogey with a birdie is nice and helps get the number right back. Being my only bogey of the week so far, it was really nice to be able to get that back on the next hole,” said Cook, who leads Chris Kirk at 18 under par. “Going into tomorrow with a three-shot lead instead of a two-shot lead I think is crucial.”
Although this is the first time Cook has held a 54-hole lead on the Tour, in fact it’s just his fourth start as a Tour member, he has experienced Sunday pressure before. In 2015, he began the final round at the Shell Houston Open one stroke off the lead held by Jordan Spieth.
“Back then my game was good as well, but mentally I've grown a lot and matured a lot and been able to kind of just let small things on the golf course roll off my shoulder instead of getting tied up in one little small mistake,” said Cook, who closed with a 75 at the ’15 Shell Houston Open to tie for 11th.
Park collapses; leaderboard chaos at CME
Sung-Hyun Park started the day with a three-shot lead and slowly gave it all back over the course of a 3-over 75, leaving the CME Group Tour Championship and a host of season-long prizes up for grabs in Naples. Here’s where things stand through 54 holes at the LPGA finale, where Michelle Wie, Ariya Jutanugarn, Suzann Pettersen and Kim Kaufman share the lead.
Leaderboard: Kaufman (-10), Wie (-10), Jutanugarn (-10), Pettersen (-10), Stacy Lewis (-9), Karine Icher (-9), Austin Ernst (-9), Lexi Thompson (-9), Jessica Korda (-9), Pernilla Lindberg (-9)
What it means: It wasn’t the Saturday she wanted, but Park, who already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year Award, is still in position for the sweep of all sweeps. With a victory Sunday, she would claim the CME Group Tour Championship, the Race to CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and the money title, as she ascends to No. 1 in the Rolex world ranking. Meanwhile, Thompson, too, could take the $1 million and Player of the Year. As those two battle for season-long prizes, a host of other notable names – Wie, Jutanugarn, Pettersen, Korda, Lewis and Charley Hull (-8) – will fight for the Tour Championship.
Round of the day: Kaufman made four birdies on each side in a bogey-free 8 under-par 64. A lesser-known name on a stacked leaderboard, she seeks her first LPGA victory.
Best of the rest: Amy Yang will start the final round two behind after a 7-under 65. The three-time LPGA Tour winner could pick up her second title of the season after taking the Honda LPGA Thailand in February.
Biggest disappointment: On a day that featured plenty of low scores from plenty of big names, Lydia Ko dropped 11 spots down the leaderboard into a tie for 23rd with a Saturday 72. The former world No. 1 needed two birdies in her last five holes to fight her way back to even par. Winless this season, she’ll start Sunday four back, at 6 under.
Shot of the day: I.K. Kim aced the par-3 12th from 171 yards when her ball landed on the front of the green and tracked all the way to the hole.
Kim, oddly enough, signed her name to a scorecard that featured a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. It was all part of a 1-under 71.