Notes Faxon Desperate Enough to Cross Ocean

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Brad Faxon loves the British Open too much to stay away, even with little chance of playing.
 
Faxon was the sixth alternate, reason enough for him to travel across the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday night to be around Royal Liverpool in case a half-dozen guys decide to pull out.
 
If I didnt come over and my number got called, Id kill myself, Faxon said Monday evening while ordering pints at a pub. I wouldnt kill myself, but Id be pretty upset.
 
Then he paused to assess the situation before saying with only a tinge of desperation, Somebody has got to withdraw.
 
A year ago, Faxon endeared himself to the British gallery by coming over to Scotland to take his chances in a local qualifier the weekend before the British Open. He narrowly earned one of three spots from a 96-man field.
 
He didnt get that chance this year because the Royal & Ancient moved up local qualifying by one week, making it impractical.
 
Faxon also didnt get a chance in the U.S. qualifier because it was canceled by heavy rain that flooded Congressional. The R&A awarded the spots off the world ranking, and Faxon was too far down the list.
 
Now, his only chance is for six players to withdraw, which is unlikely.
 
The trip hasnt been a total waste of time. Faxon is allowed to practice at Royal Liverpool, and I even got a car park pass. He plans to play Tuesday with Brett Quigley, Mark Calcavecchia and Jerry Kelly.
 
I get chills just coming here, Faxon said. I feel rejuvenated.
 
And if he has to turn around and go home on Thursday?
 
You know, we just walked a mile for dinner, walked another mile to a pub, I havent slept, and were just having a blast, he said.
 
Oh, and theres one other upside. Im hitting my 3-iron 260 yards, he said. I never do that.
 
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Warren Bladon has all the traits of a long-shot qualifier at the British Open.
 
He makes about $10 an hour framing pictures in Coventry, and the only golf he plays is Wednesday and Saturday, a regular game he keeps with his friends at Forest of Arden. He moonlights as a plumbers assistant. Money is so scarce that his girlfriend paid the $200 entry fee for the British Open, asking only that he practice a little harder.
 
Bladon, 40, did well enough to make it through regional qualifying, then earned one of three spots in a local qualifier last week.
 
I was a little surprised, Bladon said.
 
But there is more to him that a blue-collar worker who can play.
 
Bladon has played in the Masters, even getting in nine holes of a practice round with Jack Nicklaus, then played in the Memorial. He once competed against Tiger Woods for the silver medal that goes to the low amateur at the British Open, losing out in 1996 when Woods shot 66 in the second round to make the cut at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
 
Bladon is known to most European players as having won the British Amateur at Turnberry in 1996, but his professional career didnt pan out.
 
I traveled the world playing golf, and I found it difficult to get a sponsor, Bladon said Monday. To get a full sponsorship in your 30s is difficult when theres all these young players coming up behind you.
 
Bladon ran a pub for a while, had a marriage end in divorce, and now is quite happy framing pictures and playing golf. He also took part in last years Big Break IV series on The Golf Channel.
 
This is quite a change.
 
I just want to do as well as I can, he said. I want to come off the course knowing that I havent been overcome by it, control myself and hit the right shots at the right time. And if I do that, then Ill be happy.
 
Bladon already is a little ahead of the game. He earned about $1,600 from final qualifying, and is guaranteed $3,800 for competing in the British Open. That should at least help him pay back his girlfriend for the entry fee.
 
EYES ON SEVE
Seve Ballesteros, whose career was derailed by back injuries, plans to play the British Open for the first time in five years.
 
Then again, its only Monday.
 
Ballesteros has talked about returning to competition over the past few years, but then withdraws as the tournament gets closer. He played the Madrid Open late last year and missed the cut by 14 shots, and played last month in the French Open, finishing two rounds at 20 over par.
 
Seves here? Nick Faldo said Monday.
 
Faldo said he doesnt blame Ballesteros for only wanting to play in the Masters and British Open, the two majors he won that comes with exemptions that last a lifetime at Augusta National and until he is 65 at the British Open.
 
Thats what I would do'pop up for the odd Masters and British Open, Faldo said. I dont think hes trying to rebuild his career.
 
WAITING GAME
Coming off his first PGA TOUR victory, Trevor Immelman wasnt sure he would be at the British Open.
 
Immelmans wife, Carminita, is expecting their first child at home in Orlando, Fla. After holding off Tiger Woods to win the Western Open two weeks ago near Chicago, the South African went home and got a good report from the doctor.
 
Were expecting the end of next week, Immelman said. We went to the doctor right before I came over here and he didnt see any chance that she was going to have the kid this week. Weve got a few people with their cell phones on, and theyll let me know if something happens and Ill try to get back.
 
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  • Rahm, Koepka both jump in OWGR after wins

    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 1:19 pm

    Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka both made moves inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings following wins in Dubai and Japan, respectively.

    Rahm captured the European Tour season finale, winning the DP World Tour Championship by a shot. It was his third worldwide victory of 2017 and it allowed the Spaniard to overtake Hideki Matsuyama at world No. 4. It also establishes a new career high in the rankings for Rahm, who started the year ranked No. 137.

    Koepka cruised to a nine-shot victory while successfully defending his title at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix. The victory was his first since winning the U.S. Open and it helped Koepka jump three spots to No. 7 in the latest rankings. Reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele, who finished second behind Koepka in Japan, went from 30th to 24th.

    After earning his maiden PGA Tour victory at the RSM Classic, Austin Cook vaulted from No. 302 to No. 144 in the world. Runner-up J.J. Spaun jumped 48 spots to No. 116, while a hole-out with his final approach helped Brian Gay rise 73 spots to No. 191 after finishing alone in third at Sea Island.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas with Rahm and Matsuyama now rounding out the top five. Justin Rose remains at No. 6, followed by Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Rory McIlroy slid two spots to No. 10 and is now in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time since May 2014.

    With his return to competition now less than two weeks away, Tiger Woods fell four more spots to No. 1193 in the latest rankings.

    Love to undergo hip replacement surgery

    By Rex HoggardNovember 20, 2017, 1:08 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Two days removed from arguably the most hectic week of his year, Davis Love III will undergo replacement surgery on his left hip.

    Love, who hosted and played in last week’s RSM Classic, said he tried to avoid the surgery, but the pain became too much and he will undergo the procedure on Tuesday at the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala.

    “I had a hip problem the last few years, and I had a hip resurfacing trying to avoid hip surgery because I’m a chicken, but after playing [the CIMB Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship] I realized it was an uphill battle,” Love said.


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    Love said doctors have told him recovery from the procedure will take between three to four months, but he should be able to start work on his chipping and putting within a few weeks.

    Love, who missed the cut at the RSM Classic, said earlier in the week that his goal is to become the oldest PGA Tour winner and that the only way to achieve that was by having the surgery.

    “Now I’m excited that I’ve crossed that bridge,” said Love, who will turn 54 next April. “Once I get over that I can go right back to the Tour. I won after a spine fusion [2015 Wyndham Championship] and now I’d like to win with a new hip. That’s the reason I’m doing it so I can get back to golf and keep up.”

    LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

    Parity reigned.

    Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

    Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

    Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

    Rolex Player of the Year
    Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

    It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


    Vare Trophy
    Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

    There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


    CME Globe $1 million prize
    Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

    By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


    LPGA money-winning title
    Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

    The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

    Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


    Rolex world No. 1 ranking
    The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


    Rolex Rookie of the Year
    Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

    By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

    NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    “Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

    Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

    “Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

    Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

    Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


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    Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

    In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

    She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

    How did she evaluate her season?

    “I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

    “It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

    Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

    “Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

    “I think everybody has little ups and downs.”