What we learned: Couples, Gulbis back?

By Mercer BaggsJuly 29, 2012, 11:56 pm

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned that Fred Couples isn't done winning tournaments and that the Olympic Games' opening ceremonies have golfers fired up for the inclusion of their game in four years. 

Fred Couples has a shot at breaking a couple of long-standing PGA Tour records. After watching him win the Senior Open Championship, I could envision him winning another Tour event and even a major championship. A second career major would have to come at Augusta, and a 16th Tour title likely in Houston or at Riviera, but the possibilities remain. Couples turns 53 in October, which would make him the oldest player to win on Tour (Sam Snead – 52 years, 10 months, 8 days) and to win a major (Julius Boros, 48). Both are long shots, but I didn't think he could win an event in the U.K., so I'm not counting him out. – Mercer Baggs

Natalie Gulbis is back. By finishing T-4 at the Evian Masters, Gulbis logged her best LPGA finish since the 2007 ADT Championship. 

One high finish a season does not complete a comeback, but this is Gulbis' third top-10 effort in 2012. She had three combined from 2008-2011 and none in the last two seasons. Now healthy and not having to fight a chronic back injury as she has since 2010, she seems poised to become a household name – for golf. – Ryan Ballengee

News of golf being included in the 2016 Olympic Games and all of the subsequent talk about it likely didn’t get the world’s elite golfers as fired up about the possibility of competing in four years as anything that happened this week. Until now, the thought of golf in the Olympics has been more theory and less reality. This week was the first time since the IOC decided to include the sport that professional golfers could watch the opening ceremonies and actually picture themselves walking into the host stadium representing their country. There’s no doubt that some who were previously agnostic about the idea witnessed the scene and got goosebumps thinking about being in Rio de Janeiro four years from now. That scene helped turn the theory of competing into a stark reality. – Jason Sobel

For all the long- and belly-putter bluster we’ve heard the last few days it was still a player wielding a standard-length model (Scott Piercy) who emerged from the pack at the Canadian Open. In fact, of the half-dozen players with a chance to win on Sunday at Hamilton Golf & Country Club only Robert Garrigus (T-2) was using a long putter. The long putter may be destined for extinction, but it is not the ultimate fix some have tried to make it out to be. – Rex Hoggard

Dominant becomes vulnerable almost overnight in this crazy game.

It literally occurred overnight in the case of Tiger Woods, who is making his way back to the top of the game with sure-footed steps of late after that sharp detour into a neighbor’s yard three years ago. So maybe this is just re-learning that lesson with Yani Tseng amid her first real struggles since she gained the Rolex No. 1 ranking 76 weeks ago. In the case of Tseng, it only seems like her struggles have come overnight. They actually have stretched for six or seven weeks now. Back in the spring, Tseng was rolling with three victories in her first five LPGA starts of the year. Going into April, she had racked up 15 worldwide titles in 15 months.

When Tseng missed the cut at the Evian Masters this week, it was her second MC in three starts. That doesn’t seem like much, but missed cuts sting more in the women’s game. It’s just not as deep as the men’s game. Paula Creamer’s missed one cut in the past two seasons; same with Na Yeon Choi. Karrie Webb has missed one cut in the last three seasons; same with Suzann Pettersen.

Tseng is 36 over par in her last 13 LPGA rounds. She's off her normal game, and it may very well prove a minor blip in her run at the LPGA record books, but it's there, hovering as a growing storyline over this LPGA summer. Tseng’s record the past two seasons remains dominant, even as her form makes her look vulnerable. – Randall Mell

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.

Lexi, Finau 3 back going into final QBE round

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2017, 11:58 pm

NAPLES, Fla. - Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry shot an 8-under 64 in modified alternate shot and shared the lead Saturday with Steve Stricker and Sean O'Hair going into the final round of the QBE Shootout.

McDowell (Northern Ireland) and Lowry (Ireland), the only international players among the 12 teams at Tiburon Golf Club, began to erase a five-shot deficit with an eagle and birdie on the opening two holes and they dropped only one shot all day in blustery conditions.

Stricker and O'Hair started the back nine with a pair of bogeys, rallied with three straight birdies and then dropped one last shot from the bunker on the 17th.

The teams were tied at 18-under 126.

Lexi Thompson, the lone LPGA player in the field, teamed with Tony Finau for a 66 that put them in the hunt going into the final round. Thompson and Finau were three shots behind.

McDowell and Lowry tied for ninth in the World Cup last year. They grew up playing Irish junior golf and appreciate the difficulty of alternate shot, even the modified version when both players hit tee shots.

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

''To go out and shoot 8 under in that format in these conditions today, I think it speaks volumes about the fact we're both playing pretty well,'' McDowell said. ''We both had an opportunity to hit some good shots out there today and make some good putts, and it gives you a little bit of momentum going in there tomorrow.''

The format for the final round is better ball.

Stricker and O'Hair have each won the QBE Shootout, but not as partners.

Stricker, captain of the winning American team at the Presidents Cup, said he couldn't get comfortable and put O'Hair in some tough spots.

''We should have probably been two or three shots better than what we were,'' Stricker said. ''Sean played another good round of golf and made some great putts in there to keep us going, but all in all, we're in good shape.''

Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele shot 70 and were two shots out of the lead.

Defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English had a 72 and were tied for last place with Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman, who shot 70. They were nine shots out of the lead.