Three Bright Stars Look Towards the Future

By Martha BrendleSeptember 20, 2001, 4:00 pm
Every year since 1999 - the year the SBC Futures Golf Tour became the official developmental tour of the LPGA - three special golfers have played their way out of one tour and into the big league. The Futures Tour must award these exemptions prior to the LPGA qualifying school's sectionals and so use the last event in August as the finishing line.
The reward for being in the top three of the Futures Tour money list is full exempt playing status on the LPGA Tour for the following season. Three players, three stories. In the end, three dreams come true.
This year is no different. As the last Futures Tour event in August wrapped up, three names came into view.
It's graduation time for the Futures Tour's finest and the positions of summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude have been filled. Taking home this years' respective honors are Beth Bauer, Angela Buzminski and Jung Yeon Lee.
They have made a place for themselves on the LPGA Tour and we will undoubtedly be hearing more about them in the 2002 season.
First on the money list out of the 300-plus Futures Tour competitors is Florida native Beth Bauer. Bauer wanted nothing more than to become a professional golfer.
In the spring of 2000, the Duke University sophomore was reveling in a prominent amateur career in which she recorded 17 AJGA Victories in addition to the six All-America titles and two Player of the Year titles. At the top of her amateur career, Bauer made the pivotal decision to leave Duke upon the conclusion of her second year and turn professional.
She felt she was ready for the pro circuit and there was no doubt in her mind that making her LPGA Tour card for the 2001 season would be a breeze. Bauer was headed for LPGA Qualifying School and what lay ahead was anything but easy.
Reality set in quickly when Bauer shot a stomach-wrenching 76 at Q-school finals. There would be no card for her.
At the time it was the unthinkable. The 20-year-old had not even contemplated missing the cut.

The former Duke superstar faced the biggest stumbling block of her life. No longer part of a team and unable to play her way into the organization of her choice, Bauer felt she had no home in competitive golf. Where would she play?
The Futures Tour answered that question. In January of 2001 Beth redirected her golf game. She and her mother then took to the roads to compete in the 20 Futures Tour tournaments held in 15 states. Not even a year later Bauer had racked up four wins, $76,487 and the No. 1 spot on the money list.
'Playing the SBC Furtures Tour has been a blessing in disguise,' Bauer said shortly after receiving word that she was a member of the LPGA Tour. 'It has been a great year for me as far as building my confidence by winning out here. Hopefully I can take this momentum into next year on the LGPA Tour.'
Then there is Angela Buzminski. As a graduate of Indiana University, Buzminski joined the Futures Tour in 1995. A native of Oshwa, Ontario, the left-handed golfer has won a total of four times on the Futures Tour - three of those wins came during the 2001 season.
Prior to this year, the long-time Futures Tour veteran's best year was in 2000 when she finished 15th on the money list after recording the first of those four wins. To look at this 30-year-old Canadian's record is to know that she is ready to graduate. 'I'm relieved that it is over and that I am going to the LPGA.' Buzminski said.
Fellow Futures Tour rookie, Jung Yeon Lee of Seoul, Korea, rounded out the threesome by winning twice, recording nine top-10 finishes and earning $48,272.
Lee, who edged out fellow countrywoman Ju Yun Kim by $211, was packing her bags when she heard the good news. 'I thought I was going to finish in fourth place so I went back to the hotel to pack to go back to Korea,' Lee said. 'I had no idea that I had passed Kim this week.' Lee returned to her homeland shortly after receiving the good news.
What lies ahead is yet unknown but one thing is sure - the future is now for these three young and very talented 2002 LPGA Tour rookies.
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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”