Canadian Curse

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 7, 2000, 4:00 pm
A tournament sellout. Six-and-a-half hours of televised coverage. The feel of a major championship. All for Tiger Woods. But despite the red-carpet treatment, you'll pardon Mr. Woods if he doesn't feel welcome at the Bell Canadian Open.
Woods, whose only missed cut in 93 professional starts came at the 1997 Canadian Open, shot a rather mundane round of even par 72 to place him seven shots off the first-round lead at the Glen Abbey GC in Oakville, Ontario.
Leading the way after Day 1 of Canada's National Open is Kevin Sutherland. Sutherland shot an early 7-under-par 65 to grab a one-shot lead over Cameron Beckman. J.L. Lewis, Brian Watts, Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik are two back after all opened in 5-under-par 67.
This isn't new territory for the elder of the Sutherland brothers. The 36-year-old, whose younger sibling, David, also plays on the Tour, knows what it's like to lead after 18 holes of an event. He just doesn't know what it feels like to lead after 72 holes.
For the third time in his five-year PGA Tour career, Sutherland holds the top spot through round one. He did so for the first time at the 1998 Buick Classic. He finished tied for seventh. He did so for the second time at the 1999 Greater Hartford Open. He finished tied for 17th.
If Sutherland can continue the prolific putting he showed on Thursday, he may just capture his first career PGA Tour victory. Sutherland, who began his first round on the par-37 back nine, reeled off four birdies and an eagle at the par-5 18th for 6-under-par 31.
'I putted phenomenally well today,' said Sutherland, who took 27 putts in the first round. 'When you're putting well, it keeps the round going, keeps the momentum going.'
Sutherland kept that momentum through to the front nine, though it only bore one birdie. Still, Sutherland didn't drop a shot over his final nine holes to produce his lowest score in his last 74 rounds played.
Putting has also been a friendly companion to Garcia as of late. The 20-year-old Spaniard, who defeated Woods in a head-to-head match play event two weeks ago and tied for fourth at last week's Air Canada Championship, took just 23 putts en route to his round of 67. At one point, Garcia climbed his way to 7-under for the tournament, but bogeyed the 6th and 8th (his 15th and 17th holes of the day) to finish at 5-under-par.
'The putter is a lot better than what it was,' said Garcia, who, coming off a two-win 1999, is in search of his first worldwide victory of this season. 'I'm hitting the irons better than last year, and the driver too, but the putter was keeping me from contending.
'I'm playing better than last year. I just wasn't putting as well. Now, I'm starting to putt better.'
The putter wasn't kind to Tiger on Thursday. Though he needed only 27 swipes to make it around the Jack Nicklaus-designed track, Woods suffered a number of lip-outs.
Tiger was 3-under through his first eight holes, but a bogey at the par-4 9th sent his round into a tailspin. Woods double bogeyed the par-4 11th, when his approach shot from 110 yards found the water surrounding the green.
Tiger hit only two of nine greens in regulation on the back nine for a 2-over-par 39.
Yet despite his back nine troubles, Woods managed to birdie the par-5 18th to secure his 32nd round on the PGA Tour at par or better.
'That's just the way it is sometimes,' said Woods, whose last round over par came in the first round of the GTE Byron Nelson Classic, May 11.
So, it's back to the drawing board for Woods, right? Wrong. It's back to bed. For the first time this year, Tiger will have a Friday morning tee time, going off at 7:57am ET.
'I'm gonna go home and get some rest,' Tiger said. '(I'm) still under the weather a bit.
'As bad as I felt over the ball on the back nine today, to be even par, I feel pretty good,'
Sutherland's feeling pretty good himself. He hasn't played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, but he's had a good excuse. Kevin and his wife, Mary, (mostly his wife) gave birth to their first child on August 28th.
'Yeah, we had a baby last Monday,' said Sutherland. 'My wife said `Why don't you go play golf this week,' so I said, `Okay.'

'I committed (within) the last 45 minutes.'
Parnevik was close to not competing this week either. Unhappy with his performance over the weekend at last week's Air Canada, Jesper considered not making the trip from British Columbia to Ontario. Last week, Parnevik led after two rounds, but wilted into a tie for 11th after rounds of 70-74.

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 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 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.''