High Altitude High Scores at International

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 The INTERNATIONALOne week before the PGA Championship, the PGA TOUR travels just south of the Mile High City to Castle Rock, Co., for the 21st edition of The International.
Though scheduled just prior to the year's final major, a world-class field will be on hand at Castle Pines Golf Club, headlined by world No. 2 and two-time champion Phil Mickelson.
Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas is quickly becoming one of the PGA TOUR's most recognizable stars.
With the high altitude and the rarely used modified Stableford scoring system in effect, this is perhaps not the ideal event to prep for a major championship. But the list of top players in the field may suggest otherwise.
Along with Mickelson, those gathering in Castle Rock include defending champion Retief Goosen, fellow South African Ernie Els, British Open contenders Sergio Garcia and Chris DiMarco and a pair of former International winners Davis Love III and David Toms.
The scoring system awards 8 points for double eagle, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie, zero for par, minus-1 for bogey and minus-3 for double bogey or worse. Mickelson and Els share the tournament scoring record with 48 points.
Another big story that will be played out this week is the battle to make Tom Lehman's Ryder Cup squad this fall at the K Club in Dublin, Ireland.
The top-6 currently on the points list are virtually a lock to make the team - Tiger, Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Chad Campbell and DiMarco. But starting at Vaughn Taylor's spot at No. 7, many scenarios could play out over the next two weeks. The top 10 players after the PGA Championship will get automatic berths.
Taylor, who jumped from 11th to seventh with his fourth-place finish at the Buick Open, will not be in the field, choosing to instead to get ready for Medinah. Both J.J. Henry and Zach Johnson, currently in the 8th and 9th positions will be in Castle Rock but Brett Wetterich, No. 10 on the list, will not.
Of the players sitting in the 11-15 spots - John Rollins, Jerry Kelly, Lucas Glover, Love and Fred Couples - only Kelly will not be teeing it up.
Love, who has been on six straight Ryder Cup teams dating back to the U.S. victory at the Belfry in 1993, will need good finishes this week and next or hope that captain Lehman will make him a captain's selection due to his vast Ryder Cup experience.
With all the subplots going on, here are five players to look for to win the title:
Phil Mickelson
As mentioned above, Mickelson is one of only two players - along with Love - to have twice won this tournament and also shares the scoring record. In 13 starts, Lefty has finished in the top-10 over half those times and along with his two wins he has a pair of runner-ups. And dont forget what he did in another major tune up earlier in the year - a blowout 13-shot victory at the BellSouth Classic. Add in the fact that he is second only to Tiger in birdie average and is in the top-12 in eagles per hole played and Lefty and the modified Stableford scoring system make quite a nice fit.
Retief Goosen
Much like last season, the quiet South African comes into this event with nary a win on either the PGA TOUR or European Tour. He quickly took care of that winless problem last year with a solid, if not spectacular, four rounds in Colorado. Not that he has been off that much this year as seen by his runner-up bid at The Players Championship followed with his tie for third at the Masters. The last two times he has entered this event he finished second and first.
Lucas Glover
With the up and coming Glover it has been a simple case of the good, the bad and the ugly. The good: his breakout victory at last year's Funai Classic at Disney where he made a 40-foot putt from the fringe at 17 and then holed a 35-foot bunker shot on the last hole for the win. He has since racked up six top-10 finishes in '06 to vault into Ryder Cup consideration. The bad: he has missed the cut in eight of his 21 starts this year including five of the last eight. The ugly: the former Clemson All-American has failed to make it to the weekend in all three majors this season.
Steve Lowery
A two-time winner on TOUR, the 45-year-old Lowery has had success at this event as seen by his playoff win over Rick Fehr back in 1994. But it was his performance in the 2001 edition, however, that might be best remembered. Trailing eventually winner Rich Beem coming down the stretch, Lowery twice holed out from the fairway - for eagle on the par-4 15th and then for a mind-blowing double-eagle at the par-5 17th. Alas, his birdie putt on 18 hung on the lip, leaving a clearly shaken Beem with the victory.
Camilo Villegas
The stylish rookie from Columbia, who is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable stars on the PGA TOUR, is having a terrific season thus far with three top-3 finishes including a pair of runner-ups. Currently 31st on the PGA TOUR's money list he sits in a good position to qualify for the season-ending TOUR Championship. He is ranked in the top-15 in both total birdies and total eagles on the tour, which bodes well for this event.
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  • 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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.''