Who will win the 112th U.S. Open?

By Jason SobelJune 17, 2012, 4:44 am

SAN FRANCISCO – After 54 holes at the 112th U.S. Open, only two players are under par for the tournament - Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell. But in their rearview mirror sit 26 players within six shots of the lead. So, just who will ultimately be crowned champion at Olympic? Our GolfChannel.com team weigh in:

By JAY COFFIN

Graeme McDowell will capture his second U.S. Open Sunday at The Olympic Club and it will mark the third consecutive year that a man from Northern Ireland will walk away with the trophy.

McDowell seems at peace with the U.S. Open conditions as much as anyone else. He admitted Friday that it has not been fun this week, nor has it been easy but he’ll find a way to enjoy it when it’s all over.

Something about McDowell oozes clutch. Sure there have been a couple final-round collapses – the 2011 Players Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year going head-to-head with Tiger Woods are the ones that immediately come to mind – but there have been so many more clutch moments where McDowell has produced. It’s difficult to think he won’t show up with his A-game Sunday in sunny California.

The legend began two years ago at Pebble Beach where he won his first U.S. Open after outlasting Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. Later that same year he drained the winning putt for Europe in the Ryder Cup in Wales. In December of 2010 he went head-to-head with Woods at the Chevron World Challenge and took him down.

Success in those three pressure-packed moments is all I need to believe McDowell will win this U.S. Open.


By REX HOGGARD

The line on Lee Westwood goes that despite that all-world ball-striking, until he began holing putts down the stretch in big events there was no reason to think he would magically start on any given Sunday.

On Saturday at The Olympic Club the Englishman took a monumental step in what will be his major breakthrough. As the world No. 3 put the finishing touches on what was already one of the day’s best rounds he stepped to his uphill 35-footer at the last hole and calmly charged the birdie attempt into the cup to cap a day’s best 67.

If victories are born from learned experience, both good and bad, count Westwood's 54th-hole crowd pleaser as a crash course in what he is capable of doing when it matters.

He will likely have to match that feat at some point on Sunday to shed his title as the best player without a major championship, but imagine how easy dinner went down on Saturday following his walk-off birdie.

They say Westwood is a bad putter, but you don’t climb to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a truly balky flat stick. Similarly, you don’t achieve greatness without a few bruises. Westwood has plenty of scar tissue, on Sunday it’s time for the long-awaited payoff.


By RANDALL MELL

Jim Furyk will win the 112th U.S. Open, but he will have to survive a battle with another master tactician, Graeme McDowell.

With those two paired as the leaders in the final round, Sunday could feel like a world-class chess match. This is Boris Spassky vs. Bobby Fischer good if you like to see master strategists maneuver.

Asked earlier this week how you manage through a U.S. Open, McDowell said: “You play Jim Furyk golf.”

Furyk vs. McDowell is classic U.S. Open fare, two guys built for this kind of Sunday scrum on a fast, firm and ferocious course. Furyk gets the slight edge here only because it seems difficult to imagine him retiring with just one U.S. Open title. Same goes for McDowell, but he has more time.


By JASON SOBEL

I’m taking Nicolas Colsaerts to win the 112th U.S. Open Championship on Sunday – mainly because I know nobody else will.

There’s something to be said for picking the underdog at a major championship. Entering the final round at Pinehurst in 2005, the focus was on Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen and Jason Gore. The name Michael Campbell was hardly uttered at all – and all he did was simply fly under the radar and swoop in for the title.

It takes more than obscurity to win one of these, of course.

Colsaerts has a major advantage in the fact that he’s one of the five biggest hitters in the elite professional ranks today. He has yet to play his best golf, posting scores of 72-69-71 so far. And in the fourth-to-last pairing of the final round, he can play relatively pressure-free while the majority of the focus rests on others.

More than anything, the Belgian fits the mold of recent major winners, from Geoff Ogilvy to Graeme McDowell to Charl Schwartzel. Those are all big names, you say? Well, they weren’t until they won their majors. It’s got to happen at some point. For Colsaerts, it just may happen on Sunday.

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.''