Time to Put a Win in the Bank

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
US Bank Championship in MilwaukeeThis is where it all began. Ten years ago. Hello, world.
 
Tiger Woods made his professional debut a decade ago in the Greater Milwaukee Open, which will be contested this week as the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
 
Ben Crane
Ben Crane is the defending champion of this year's U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.
This years event will not feature Woods, as has been the case since he tied for 60th in 1996. Woods used his first professional sponsors exemption here, made a little cash, and hasnt since been back.
 
Woods isnt the only big name player skipping this week. All of the top 20 players in the world are anywhere but in Milwaukee this week. That happens when a tournament is held the week following the Open Championship ' which was won, of course, by Woods.
 
Tiger may not return until the PGA Championship. As for this week, it should once again prove to be a good opportunity for a first-time winner, or for a veteran to get a win for the first time in a while.
 
This year, weve seen the likes of Tim Herron and Jeff Maggert win on TOUR for the first time since 1999. And weve seen J.B. Holmes, Arron Oberholser, Aaron Baddeley, Chris Couch and Brett Wetterich win for the first time ever.
 
Prior to the British Open, three straight first-time winners had prevailed ' J.J. Henry, Trevor Immelman and John Senden. And just before that, Ben Curtis won the Booz Allen Classic for his first TOUR triumph since his first TOUR triumph three years ago.
 
The field for this weeks U.S. Bank Championship may not have Tiger or Phil or Ernie. But it does have a vast array of players who could really use a win for one reason or another.
 
Like Paul Azinger, who is trying to shift gears from TV analyst to full-time pro ' but is in need of solid playing status for 2007.
 
Like Mark Brooks, who made a valiant run last week at the B.C. Open, but is still winless since 1996 ' and his 10-year exemption for winning the 96 PGA Championship runs out this year.
 
Like Ryan Moore, who seems to be forgotten among the new crop of TOUR rookies, but may have more talent ' and definitely a better amateur resume ' than the lot of them.
 
Of course, these are just a few examples. There are 156 players in the field, all hoping that their story has a happy ending come Sunday evening.
 
This will mark the 39th playing of this event and the 13th consecutive year that it will be held at Brown Deer Park Golf Course.
 
Here are our five favorites to make this years edition the most special of them all ' at least in their minds.
 
Jeff Sluman
Jeff Sluman is trying to become the first three-time winner of this event.
Jeff Sluman
Sluman has already wrapped up his playing status for next season, thanks to a trio of top 10s and only three missed cuts. But he hasnt won on TOUR since 2002 ' when he captured this event. So this would be as good a place as any to end his current drought. He has played this tournament 18 times throughout his lengthy career and has six top-10 finishes, including a fourth-place showing a year ago. Two of those are victories, with the first coming in 1998 and the second four years later ' its now four years later once again.
 
Kenny Perry
Perry is still trying to find his form after being sidelined for two months due to a knee injury. He cracked the top 15 at the Booz Allen and the Western Open, but he still doesnt have a top 10 all season long. This, however, is one site Perry seems to enjoy very much, so perhaps all will change this week. Perry has finished inside the top 10 each of the last six years here, winning in 2003.
 
Scott Verplank
From 1992-2003, Verplank was M.I.A. in Milwaukee. He then returned in 2004 and promptly tied for 11th. He returned last year and finished runner-up to Ben Crane. Hes back once again to see if he can once again graduate his results. Verplanks last win on TOUR came in the 2001 Bell Canadian Open. He began this campaign with back-to-back runner-up finishes, but hasnt recorded a top 10 since Bay Hill in March.
 
Jerry Kelly
While the British Open is a major to every golfer in the world, this weeks event is also a major in the eyes of Kelly. Kelly was born and still resides in Madison, Wis. He is a true cheesehead at heart. Though he hasnt won on TOUR since 2002, Kelly has had a fairly successful season this year, with a pair of top-5s and over $1 million in the bank. He has played his home tournament 14 times and has three top 10s. Over the last three years, he has finished T12, T13 and T14.
 
Chris Smith
Smith is guy who desperately needs to make some big money this week to give him a chance to earn his card for next year, having missed eight cuts in 15 starts. Smith, who hasnt won on TOUR since the 2002 Buick Classic, has a good track record at this event. He has managed to break into the top 10 on three of his last four trips around Brown Deer Park.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee
  • TV Airtimes - U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee
  • Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

    Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

    Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

    “I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

    Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

    “Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

    Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

    “Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

    South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

     

    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

    Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.