Punch Shot: Who will win the PGA Championship?

By Rex HoggardAugust 11, 2013, 1:09 am

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Jim Furyk leads Jason Dufner by one shot entering the final round of the 95th PGA Championship, with Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker and Jonas Blixt within four of the lead. We asked our writers on-site at Oak Hill to pick a winner.


What we’ve learned from watching Tiger Woods the last half decade – he hasn’t won a major since 2008, for those who have been spending time under rocks – is that willing yourself to a major championship is not really an option.

Grand Slams are won with a certain degree of indifference, otherwise the target supersedes the task and that, any sports psychologist will tell you, simply won’t do.  And that is why it will be Jim Furyk who emerges from a congested leaderboard late Sunday at Oak Hill to collect his second major and prove for the second consecutive Grand Slam that 43 is the new 33.

Just look at how Furyk reacted after bogeying two of his first three holes on Saturday. There was no panic, no pressing, just quiet resolve and purpose.

The veteran would play the rest of the way in 4 under par, including a gritty par save at the last, for a one-stroke advantage. Or consider how he responded to the inevitable questions following his third-round 68.

“I know I’m going to go into the media room and someone is going to ask me, ‘You’re 43, how many more opportunities do you think you’re going to have?’” Furyk said. “I’m going to look at this as an opportunity.”

Furyk knows better than anyone, sometimes you have to let a major win you.


Lee Westwood is going to win the 95th PGA Championship – and yes, I know I’m going out on an awfully fickle limb.

Westwood will begin the final round six shots behind leader Jim Furyk, which hardly makes him the favorite. Neither does the fact that he’s been in close to a dozen major contentions in the past, only to come up empty every time.

But if anyone knows about the power of positive thinking and being aggressive and making a run at a far-ahead leader, it’s Westwood. Just last month, he was on the other end of things, leading through 54 holes at Muirfield, only to get run over by a train named Phil Mickelson.

I still think Westwood, now 40, will win a major championship in his career. So why not this one? He’s proven he isn’t the greatest closer when owning the lead entering Sunday at a major, but luckily for him, nobody else above him on the leaderboard is, either. Of all the occasions we’ve wondered whether it was Westwood’s time to win a major, this one is hardly getting much attention. Which may be exactly what he needs to finally win one


Jim Furyk has struggled finishing off tournaments in his career – he’s just 9-for-21 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. Think about that conversion rate. Less than 43 percent. If he were a team’s closer, the manager would have already yanked him out of the role and shipped him to Triple-A to work on his mechanics.

But I believe he will win Sunday, even if his 43-year-old nerves are frayed from decades of grinding. The stats this week say he will. No one is playing better, tee-to-green: He’s T-6 in both fairways hit and greens in regulation, and T-12 in putting.

That’s better than the streaky Jason Dufner, who is outside the top 20 in both fairways hit and putting. Better than the robotic Henrik Stenson, whose week has been remarkably consistent (T-16 fairways, T-25 greens, T-10 putting) once again, but not as good as Furyk. Better than the uber-talented Adam Scott, who has been a touch off with his long game all week (T-36 fairways and T-18 greens), while his broomstick, of all things, is keeping him in the hunt.

To finish off this major, Furyk, the game’s ultimate grinder, just needs to keep hitting more fairways and greens than his peers. At penal Oak Hill, that should be enough.


I had the late half of the live chat on GolfChannel.com Saturday afternoon, and was telling anyone who would listen that I thought Adam Scott would win this tournament. That was before he double bogeyed the 16th, however, and I’ve since re-examined the big picture.

Henrik Stenson is my pick to get it done at Oak Hill. He entered the week playing better than anyone at the top of the leaderboard – and has just two bogeys over the last 41 holes. As much as I respect Jim Furyk and appreciate his career, the dual collapses at Olympic and Firestone last summer remain on my mind. Besides, he hasn’t won in almost three years.

Jason Dufner hits it as well as anyone, including Scott, but I look at his putting stroke and question his ability to hole a big 6-footer down the stretch Sunday. I just don’t see Stenson giving much back to the field Sunday – or anyone firing a 66 to rally from five or six back.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.