Lone Star Shootout in Austin
A total of 132 golfers representing nine countries will take on the 6956-yard, par-72 Fazio Foothills course at Barton Creek Resort. Players will compete for a $99,525 (US) purse, with $15,925 going to the winner.
Anders Hultman of Sweden notched a triumph in his first tour start during last weeks TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Classic. The 23-year-old, who won Winter Qualifying School earlier this month, will be looking to become the first back-to-back winner since New Zealands Steven Alker won the final two events of the 2000 campaign.
The Fazio Foothils track will not be as forgiving off the tee as the Crenshaw Cliffside course was last week during the Classic. It has been ranked the No. 1 course in Texas according to the Dallas Morning News, and recently made Golf Digests 50 Greatest Golf Destinations.
President George W. Bush, who plays the course regularly with Austin native and PGA Tour legend Ben Crenshaw, told the USA Today in 2001 that the Fazio Foothills layout was his favorite course to play. Crenshaw and Bob Estes share the course recordcat 9-under 63.
An uphill 465-yard, par-5 finishing hole should add to the drama this week. Players looking to reach the green in two will have to fly a creek while avoiding three bunkers that surround the putting surface.
The Golf Channel will broadcast all four rounds of the Challenge Thursday through Sunday from 4-6 pm Eastern, with encore presentations later in the evening.
CHIP SHOTS: Roger Tambellini defeated Rick Rhoden Wednesday to win Week 2 of the Canadian Tour Shootout. Hultman, Steve Scott and Kevin Stadler also took part. Jeff Quinney defeated Derek Gillespie in a playoff during last weeks shootoutAmong those receiving sponsors exemptions this week are Stadler, former PGA Tour player Brian Claar and Rhoden, who pitched in the majors for 16 seasonsCanadians to watch this week include Gillespie, Jon Mills, Rob McMillan and David Hearn. Steve Scott and Alex Quiroz, who each won titles in 2002, both make their season debut at the Challenge.The TravelTex.com Canadian Tour Classic Pro-Am Gala, sponsored by Time Warner and The Golf Channel, was emceed by author Turk Pipkin and Harry Anderson, who starred on Night Court, Tuesday night.
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
Cook 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.
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.
Bubba (64) fires his lowest round of 2017
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bubba Watson’s plan when he left the Dell Technologies Championship in September was to take a few months off and come back fresh in 2018
Those plans changed after a few weeks.
“What we figured out was the mental side, preparing for kindergarten - not for me, for my son - preparing for [wife] Angie's knee surgery. It's been a tough go,” Watson said.
“Being home and being with the family and everything, I realized how much I missed the game of golf, and that's why I wanted to come and play in these tournaments.”
The plan has paid off this week at the RSM Classic, where Watson is tied for 12th place after a second-round 64 on the Seaside course moved him to 7 under par.
Watson, who tied for 51st two weeks ago in Las Vegas, got off to a quick start on Day 2, playing the opening nine in 29. Despite a miscue at the 14th hole, when his tee shot wedged into a tree, he was solid coming in for his best individual round this year.
The left-hander was particularly sharp with his ball-striking after what has been a difficult year.
“I want to play golf now and right now I'm swinging at it pretty nicely,” he said.
S.H. Park (65) builds three-shot lead at LPGA finale
NAPLES, Fla. – Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Park kept right on attacking.
The 24-year-old from South Korea added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with a 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.
Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap off an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.
''To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,'' Park said through an interpreter. ''After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.''
Leave that to the players chasing her.
Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and was three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).
More importantly, none of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.
Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.
So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed a 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.
The other two players who need to win the tournament to collect the $1 million bonus also had their work cut out for them. Brooke Henderson had another 70 and was eight shots behind, while world No. 1 Shanshan Feng shot 73 and was 11 shots behind.
Park was in control, only she didn't see it that way.
''I don't think it's quite that far of a lead,'' Park said. ''Two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. We will have to see what's in store for this weekend.''
Park began her big run with an 18-foot birdie on No. 5, got up-and-down for birdie from just off the green at the par-5 sixth, holed a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7, and then closed out the front nine with birdie putts from 8 feet and 15 feet.
''I actually didn't know that I was going five birdies in a row,'' Park said. ''Come hole No. 10, I realized that I hadn't been jotting down my scores as diligently, and so I realized it a little bit later on. And it felt great.''
That gave her the lead by one shot over Suzann Pettersen, except that Pettersen faded badly on the back nine.
Pettersen dropped four shots in a three-hole stretch by getting out of position off the tee and she shot 39 on the back nine for a 70 to fall five shots behind.
''I feel like I'm playing good,'' Pettersen said. ''Three bad drives on the back nine cost me four shots. That should not be possible on this course, where the fairways are about 100 yards wide.''
Park was honored at an awards banquet Thursday night as the LPGA rookie of the year. Now, she has more awards in her sights. A victory would give her the award for player of the year. She would capture the money title, which she leads over Ryu. And depending on how the weekend goes, she might be able to surpass Thompson in the race for the Vare Trophy.
Thompson did well to recover from two bogeys on her opening three holes.
''I hit a few really erratic shots in the beginning. It wasn't a good start to the round,'' Thompson said. ''Just tried to stay positive and find something that could work for the last 14, 15 holes.''
Lydia Ko fell six shots behind in her bid to avoid a winless season. She was one shot behind going into the second round but managed only three birdies in her round of 71.
Park, meanwhile, had everything going her way. Even when she pulled her drive on the par-5 14th into a sandy area with a root next to her ball, she picked it clear and sent it through a goal post of trees back to the fairway. Three holes later, she blasted a drive and had only a 7-iron into the green at the par-5 17th, which she hit to 30 feet and made the long putt.
Does anything make her nervous?
''I hate spiders,'' she said. ''But in terms of golf, I always get nervous to this day on the first tee. I can feel my heart pounding.''
It's a feeling that doesn't appear to last very long.
Korda sisters poised to make a run at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Jessica Korda wasn’t feeling well making her way around the CME Group Tour Championship battling congestion Friday, but the leaderboard walking to the ninth tee gave her a nice lift.
That’s where she saw younger sister Nelly’s name tucked right next to hers.
They were within a shot of each other amid hard charges up the leaderboard, with Nelly playing just in front of her.
“I was like, 'Dang!’ It was good to see,” said Jessica, 24. “It’s fun to see her playing this well. I know what she puts into it. I’m kind of jealous of the rookie year she’s having, because mine sucked.”
Nelly, 19, is looking to put a special ending on her first year on tour. She posted a 6-under-par 66, good for a tie for fourth, six shots behind Sung Hyun Park (65). Nelly has given herself a weekend shot at her first victory.
Just a year ago, Nelly was here as a spectator, watching her sister.
“I found it funny,” Nelly said. “I was walking to the range on Tuesday, thinking just last year, people were asking me, 'When are you going to be out here?’ It seems surreal to be out here, playing alongside my sister and the best players in the world.
“Being in contention is really, really special.”
Jessica shot 68 and sits a shot behind her sister.
Nelly said seeing the leaderboard gave her a lift, too.
“Maybe it amps me up just a little bit,” Nelly said. “It’s a friendly competition. Even though we want each other to succeed, we also want to beat each other. I think she would say that, too.”
Jessica is seeking her fifth LPGA title. She’s coming off a tie for third at the Blue Bay LPGA last week.
Jessica is 35th on the LPGA money list this year, with $515,521 in earnings. Nelly is 51st, with $388,983 in earnings.
“I definitely look for Jess on the board,” Nelly said. “We’ve very supportive of each other.”