Golf Channel Am Tour Crowns 12 National Champions

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 15, 2011, 2:40 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., Oct. 7 - Twelve national champions were crowned last week when a record 920 amateur golfers from throughout North America converged on North Florida to compete in the 2010 Golf Channel Am Tour (GCAT) National Championships.

Two competitors successfully defended their 2009 GCAT National Championships, both in the senior division.  Ken Larney (Orland Park, Ill.) became the first three-time national champion in the history of the Golf Channel Am Tour (2009, 2007), when he turned in one of the lowest rounds of the tournament on the final day with a 69 at St. Johns Golf & Country Club.  Larney won the Senior Championship Flight (handicaps 0-3.9) by three shots.  Clifford Conover (Roosevelt, Utah) survived a scare in the SeniorPalmer Flight (handicaps 4-7.9) when he turned in his highest round of the tournament (82), yet managed to win by one stroke.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Hibler (Midland, Texas) became the second-youngest national champion in the history of the Golf Channel Am Tour when he defeated Kevin Downey (St. Augustine, Fla.) and Kevin Stutts (San Diego, Calif.) in a two-hole playoff at World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course to capture the Hogan Flight (handicaps 8-11.9).  Hibler carded three consecutive rounds in the 70s following an opening round of 93 to climb up the leader board and eventually win the Hogan Flight title.

Contested at four Jacksonville-area golf courses and headlined by the famed PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships featured 920 competitors representing 44 U.S. States. Canada and Puerto Rico.  The participation eclipsed 2009’s tournament field at PGA West (781), making the 2010 National Championships the largest field in the history of the Golf Channel Am Tour.  The Senior National Championships took place Sept. 21-24, with the Open National Championships taking place Sept. 26-29.  Dye’s Valley at TPC Sawgrass, World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course and St. Johns Golf & Country Club also served as host courses for the 2010 National Championships.

 

National Championship Winners

Open Division

Snead Flight (20+ handicap)

Down by one shot going into Sunday’s final round at St. Johns Golf & Country Club, Michael Poole of West Chester, Ohio, improved on his third-round score by 14 strokes with a final round 85, capturing the Snead Flight by two.

Jones Flight (16.0-19.9)

Suneil Aggarwal of Alpharetta, Ga., held on for a two-stroke victory with a third-round 97 at Dye’s Valley Course TPC Sawgrass.  **The final round at TPC Sawgrass was cancelled due to inclement weather.**

Sarazen Flight (12.0-15.9)

Mark Perfetuo of Cary, N.C., erased a two-stroke deficit going into the final round with an 84 at St. Johns Golf & Country Club to win the Sarazen Flight by three strokes.

Hogan Flight (8.0-11.9)

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Hibler (Midland, Texas) became the second-youngest national champion in the history of the Golf Channel Am Tour when he defeated Kevin Downey (St. Augustine, Fla.) and Kevin Stutts (San Diego, Calif.) in a two-hole playoff at World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course to capture the Hogan Flight (handicap 8-11.9).  Hibler carded three consecutive rounds in the 70s following an opening round of 93 to climb up the leader board and eventually win the Hogan Flight title.

Palmer Flight (4.0-7.9)

Gio Swann of Lauderhill, Fla., took the Palmer Flight title by four strokes in a rain-shortened 54-hole tournament after shooting 74-75-81.  **The final round at TPC Sawgrass was cancelled due to inclement weather.**

Championship Flight (<3.9)

Dan O’Connor of Carlsbad, Calif., carded a final round 73 at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass to overcome a two-stroke deficit and capture his first Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship by one shot.

Senior Division

Snead Flight (20+ handicap)

Rod Burns of Weston, Fla., saved his best golf for last.  Burns turned in the lowest round in the Snead Flight with an 84 at World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire Course to run away with the title by 11 strokes.

Jones Flight (16.0-19.9)

Like Rod Burns in the Snead Flight, Randy Adcock turned in the lowest round of the tournament in theJones Flight on the final day.  The Vidor, Texas, resident came from one stroke behind going into the final round to win by two shots with a final-round 82 at St. Johns Golf & Country Club.

Sarazen Flight (12.0-15.9)

Mickey Rogers of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., picked an opportune time to shoot one of the lowest rounds in his career.  In the third round, Rogers carded a 79 at World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire to overtake the top spot and held on to win the title by three strokes with a final-round 87 at the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Hogan Flight (8.0-11.9)

Don Miller (North Bay, Ontario) one of two Canadians competing in the Hogan Flight, grabbed the lead in the third round with a 79 at the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, and held on for a four-stroke victory.

Palmer Flight (4-7.9)

Clifford Conover of Roosevelt, Utah, became a two-time national champion in the Palmer Flight (2009), even after turning in his highest round of the tournament in the final round with an 82 at World Golf Village’s Slammer & Squire.  Conover managed to successfully defend his 2009 national championship with a one-stroke victory.

Championship Flight (<3.9)

Ken Larney (Orland Park, Ill.) became the first three-time national champion in the history of the Golf Channel Am Tour (2009, 2007) when he turned in the low round of the tournament on the final day with a 69 at St. Johns Golf & Country Club to win the Senior Championship Flight (handicap 0-3.9) by three shots.

As the largest amateur golf tour in North America, the Golf Channel Am Tour is open to the public and provides the most professional tournament experience for players of all ages and abilities, as well as offering unparalleled access to some of the most renowned and challenging golf courses across the country.  For more information about the Golf Channel Am Tour and the national championships, visitwww.GolfChannel.com/amtour.

About Golf Channel:

Golf Channel is a multimedia, golf entertainment and services company based in Orlando, Fla.  The Golf Channel cable network, co-founded by Arnold Palmer and a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:  CMCSA, CMCSK), is available in more than 120 million homes worldwide through cable, satellite and wireless companies.  Exclusive partnerships with the world’s top tours allow Golf Channel to feature more live golf coverage than all other networks combined, added to a programming schedule distinguished by golf’s best news, instruction and original programming.  Golf Channel’s digital platform of businesses is led by www.GolfChannel.com, a leading golf destination on the Internet, delivering unmatched coverage of the world of golf, as well as services that help the recreational player with how to play, what to play and where to play golf.

About TPC Sawgrass

TPC Sawgrass -- “Home of THE PLAYERS” -- encompasses more than 30 years of magic and memories from famous pros' road to the Championship and everyday golfers who challenge THE PLAYERS Stadium Course and Dye's Valley Course. Open to the public and also offering exclusive memberships, TPC Sawgrass boasts a 77,000 square-foot Mediterranean Revival-style Clubhouse that protects and shares the TPC Sawgrass history and Heritage through THE PLAYERS memorabilia. On the course, golfers build new memories with storyteller forecaddies who help closely replicate the experiences of the pros while challenging the famous 17th Island Green. Additional amenities include world-class golf instruction and state-of-the-art equipment at the TOUR Academy and restaurants Nineteen and Traditions overlooking the famed fairways. For more information on TPC Sawgrass please visit  www.tpc.com/tpcsawgrass_60.aspx or call PGA TOUR Experiences at 888-421-8555 and visit www.pgatourexperiences.com

About Slammer & Squire 
One of 'The Official Golf Courses of the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum,' the Slammer & Squire is an 18-hole championship course designed by Bobby Weed with design consultants Sam 'The Slammer' Snead and Gene 'The Squire' Sarazen, both members of the Hall of Fame. The Slammer & Squire features two distinct nines with generous fairways, contoured greens, and plenty of water hazards along with impressive views of the Hall of Fame. Along with the King & Bear golf course, Slammer & Squire offers five sets of tees and beautiful, tournament-ready course conditions year-round.

Slammer & Squire was the host site of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, a Champions Tour event, and currently hosts an array of other golf events. To learn more about Slammer & Squire at World Golf Village, visit www.golfwgv.com or call 904-940-6088.

About St. Johns G&CC

An award-winning Clyde Johnston-designed course, Billy Casper Golf-managed St. Johns Golf & Country Club attracts golfers from throughout the southeast United States.  Carved out of a pine forest and featuring occasionally arduous wind patterns, the 18-hole layout tests golfers of all abilities, including those playing its championship tees at par-72 and 7,236 yards.

In 2009, under Billy Casper Golf agronomic direction, St. Johns was designated a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” by Audubon International for its high standards protecting the environment and preserving the natural heritage of golf.  According to Audubon International, St. Johns is one of a handful of courses in the Jacksonville area to achieve certification, joining the elite TPC Sawgrass, Amelia Island Plantation, The Palencia Club and Bent Creek Golf Course.  For more information about St. Johns: www.stjohnsgolf.com, 904.940.3200.

LPGA awards: Ryu, S.H. Park tie for POY

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:56 am

NAPLES, Fla. – In the end, the CME Group Tour Championship played out a lot like the entire 2017 season did.

Parity reigned.

Nobody dominated the game’s big season-ending awards, though Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park came close.

Thompson walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average. If she had made that last 2-foot putt at the 72nd hole Sunday, she might also have walked away with the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Park shared the Rolex Player of the Year Award with So Yeon Ryu. By doing so, Park joined Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park also won the LPGA money-winning title.

Here’s a summary of the big prizes:

Rolex Player of the Year
Ryu and Park both ended up with 162 points in the points-based competition. Park started the week five points behind Ryu but made the up the difference with the five points she won for tying for sixth.

It marks the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Ryu and Park join Inbee Park as the only South Koreans to win the award. Park won it in 2013.


Vare Trophy
Thompson won the award with a scoring average of 69.114. Sung Hyun Park finished second at 69.247. Park needed to finish at least nine shots ahead of Thompson at the CME Group Tour Championship to win the trophy.

There were a record 12 players with scoring averages under 70.0 this year, besting the previous record of five, set last year.


CME Globe $1 million prize
Thompson entered the week first in the CME points reset, but it played out as a two-woman race on the final day. Park needed to finish ahead of Thompson in the CME Group Tour Championship to overtake her for the big money haul. Thompson tied for second in the tournament while Park tied for sixth.

By winning the CME Group Tour Championship, Jutanugarn had a shot at the $1 million, but she needed Park to finish the tournament eighth or worse and Thompson to finish ninth or worse.


LPGA money-winning title
Park claimed the title with $2,335,883 in earnings. Ryu was second, with $1,981,593 in earnings.

The tour saw a tour-record 17 players win $1 million or more this season, two more than did so last year.

Ryu came into the week as the only player who could pass Park for the title, but Ryu needed to win to do so.


Rolex world No. 1 ranking
The top ranking was up for grabs at CME, with No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Sung Hyun Park and No. 3 So Yeon Ryu all within three hundredths of a ranking point. Even No. 4 Lexi Thompson had a chance to grab the top spot if she won, but in the end nobody could overtake Feng. Her reign will extend to a second straight week.


Rolex Rookie of the Year
Park ran away with the award with her U.S. Women’s Open and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open victories among her 11 top-10 finishes. She had the award locked up long before she arrived for the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Ko ends first winless season with T-16 at CME

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 1:07 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko carved a hybrid 3-iron to 15 feet and ended the most intensely scrutinized year of her young career with a birdie Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

“Nice to finish the season on a high note,” Ko said after posting a 3-under-par 69, good for a tie for 16th. “Obviously, not a top-10 finish, but I played really solid. I feel like I finished the season off pretty strong.”

Ko posted two second-place finishes, a third-place finish and a tie for fifth in her last eight starts.

“Ever since Indy [in early September], I played really good and put myself in good positions,” Ko said. “I felt like the confidence factor was definitely higher than during the middle of the year. I had some opportunities, looks for wins.”

Sunday marked the end of Ko’s first winless season since she began playing LPGA events at 15 years old.

Let the record show, she left with a smile, eager to travel to South Korea to spend the next month with family after playing a charity event in Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Much was made of Ko beginning the year with sweeping changes, with new equipment (PXG), a new coach (Gary Gilchrist) and a new caddie (Peter Godfrey).

In the final summary, it wasn’t a Ko-like year, not by the crazy high standards she has set.

She saw her run of 85 consecutive weeks at No. 1 end in June. She arrived in Naples holding on to the No. 8 ranking. She ends the year 13th on the LPGA money list with $1,177,450 in earnings. It’s the first time she hasn’t finished among the top three in money in her four full years on tour. She did log 11 top-10 finishes overall, three second-place finishes.

How did she evaluate her season?

“I feel like it was a better year than everyone else thinks, like `Lydia is in a slump,’” Ko said. “I feel like I played solid.

“It's a season that, obviously, I learned a lot from ... the mental aspect of saying, `Hey, get over the bads and kind of move on.’”

Ko said she learned a lot watching Stacy Lewis deal with her run of second-place finishes after winning so much.

“Winning a championship is a huge deal, but, sometimes, it's overrated when you haven't won,” Ko said. “Like, you're still playing well, but just haven't won. I kind of feel like it's been that kind of year.

“I think everybody has little ups and downs.”

For Ariya, Lexi, finish was fabulous, frustrating

By Randall MellNovember 20, 2017, 12:47 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Lexi Thompson can take a punch.

You have to give her that.

So can Ariya Jutanugarn, who beat Thompson in the gut-wrenching conclusion to the CME Group Tour Championship Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

They both distinguished themselves overcoming adversity this season.

The problem for Thompson now is that she’ll have to wait two months to show her resolve again. She will go into the long offseason with the memory of missing a 2-foot putt for par that could have won her the championship, her first Rolex Player of the Year Award and her first Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson took home the CME Globe $1 million jackpot and Vare Trophy for low scoring as nice consolation prizes, but the Sunday finish was a lot like her season.

It was so close to being spectacular.

She was so close to dominating this year.

That last 2-foot putt Sunday would have put Thompson in the clubhouse at 15 under, with a one-shot lead, which would have added so much more pressure to Jutanugarn as she closed out.

Instead of needing to birdie the final two holes to force a playoff, Jutanugarn only needed to birdie one of them to assure extra holes. She went birdie-birdie anyway.

Thompson was on the practice putting green when she heard the day’s last roar, when Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-foot birdie to beat her.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it,” Thompson said of the short miss. “I don’t really know what happened there. It just happens. I guess it’s golf.”


CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


Thompson was asked if the weight of everything at stake affected her.

“No, honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it,” she said. “I putted great the whole day. I guess, maybe, there was just a little bit of adrenaline.

“We all go through situations we don’t like sometimes.”

Thompson endured more than she wanted this year.

She won twice, but there were six second-place finishes, including Sunday’s. There were three losses in playoffs.

There was the heart-wrenching blow at the ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major, when she looked as if she were going to run away with the title before getting blindsided by a four-shot penalty in the final round. There were two shots when a viewer email led to a penalty for mismarking her ball on a green in the third round, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Thompson was in tears finishing that Sunday at Mission Hills, but she won a legion of new fans in the way she fought back before losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

There was more heartache later in the spring, when Thompson’s mother, Judy, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, requiring surgery to remove a tumor and then radiation.

For Thompson fans, Sunday’s missed 2-foot putt was a cruel final blow to the year.

This time, there were no tears from Lexi afterward.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds . . . it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said. “This won’t either.”

After Thompson bounced back from the ANA loss to win the Kingsmill Invitational in May, she acknowledged how the loss motivated her.

“I'm as determined as any other person out here,” Thompson said. “We all want to win. I have a little bit more drive now.”

She was so close this year to elevating herself as the one true rock star in the women’s game. She will have a long offseason to turn Sunday’s disappointment into yet more fuel to get there.

Thompson will prepare for next year knowing Jutanugarn may be ramping her game back up to dominante, too.

Jutanugarn looked as if she were going to become a rock star after winning five times last year to claim the Rolex Player of the Year Award and then rising to No. 1 with a victory at the Manulife Classic back in May, but it didn’t happen.

Jutanugarn struggled through a summer-long slump.

She failed to make a cut in six of seven starts. It wasn’t as miserable a slump as she endured two years ago, when she missed 10 consecutive cuts, but it was troubling.

“Even though I played so badly the last few months, I learned a lot,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m growing up a lot, and I’m really ready to have some fun next year.”

Her surgically repaired shoulder was bothering her again, but it was more than that.

“This time it was more about becoming No. 1,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach. “I think all of the responsibilities got to her.”

Gilchrist said he could see a different focus in Jutanugarn this week. He credited Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott for helping her deal with all the pressure that has mounted with her growing status.

“It’s been a long process,” Nilsson said. “She’s felt too much expectation from everybody else, where she loses focus on what she can do.”

Marriott said they asked Jutanugarn to come up with something she wanted to do to make herself proud this week, instead of worrying about what would please everyone else.

It worked.

“I told my caddie, Les [Luark], that thinking about the No. 1 ranking wasn’t going to help me be a better golfer,” Jutanugarn said. “I wanted people to say, `Oh this girl, she’s really happy.’ That was my goal, to have fun.”

Late Sunday, hoisting the trophy, Jutanugarn looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Thomas vs. Rose could be Ryder Cup highlight

By Rex HoggardNovember 19, 2017, 11:40 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – For those still digesting the end of 2017 – the European Tour did, after all, just wrap up its season in Dubai on Sunday – consider that the PGA Tour is already nearly one-fifth of the way into a new edition.

The Tour has already crowned eight champions as the game banks into the winter break, and there are some interesting trends that have emerged from the fall.

Dueling Justins: While Justin Thomas picked up where he left off last season, winning the inaugural CJ Cup in October just three weeks after claiming the FedExCup and wrapping up Player of the Year honors; Justin Rose seems poised to challenge for next year’s low Justin honors.

The Englishman hasn’t finished outside the top 10 since August and won back-to-back starts (WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open) before closing his year with a tie for fourth place in Dubai.

Note to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk: Justin v. Justin next September in Paris could be fun.

Youth served. Just in case anyone was thinking the pendulum might be swinging back in the direction of experience over youthful exuberance – 41-year-old Pat Perez did put the veterans on the board this season with his victory at the CIMB Classic – Patrick Cantlay solidified his spot as genuine phenom.

Following an injury-plagued start to his career, Cantlay got back on track this year, needing just a dozen starts to qualify for the Tour Championship. He went next level earlier this month with his playoff victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


They say these trends come and go in professional golf, but as the average age of winners continues to trend lower and lower it’s safe to say 25 is the new 35 on Tour.

A feel for it. For all the science that has become such a big part of the game – from TrackMan analysis to ShotLink statistics – it was refreshing to hear that Patton Kizzire’s breakthrough victory at the OHL Classic came down to a hunch.

With the tournament on the line and Rickie Fowler poised just a stroke back, Kizzire’s tee shot at the 72nd hole came to rest in an awkward spot that forced him to stand close to his approach shot to keep his feet out of the sand. His 8-iron approach shot sailed to 25 feet and he two-putted for par.

And how far did he have for that pivotal approach?

“I have no idea,” he laughed.

Fall facelift. Although the moving parts of the 2018-19 schedule appear to be still in flux, how the changes will impact the fall schedule is coming into focus.

The Tour’s goal is to end the season on Labor Day, which means the fall portion of the schedule will begin a month earlier than it does now. While many see that as a chance for the circuit to embrace a true offseason, it’s becoming increasingly clear that won’t be the case.

The more likely scenario is an earlier finish followed by a possible team competition, either the Ryder or Presidents cup, before the Tour kicks off a new season in mid-September, which means events currently played before the Tour Championship will slide to the fall schedule.

“So if you slide it back, somebody has to jump ahead. The mechanics of it,” said Davis Love III, host of the RSM Classic and a member of the Tour’s policy board. “I’m still going to go complain and beg for my day, but I also understand when they say, this is your date, make it work, then we'll make it work.”

While 2019 promises to bring plenty of change to the Tour, know that the wraparound season and fall golf are here to stay.

Product protection. Speaking of the fall schedule and the likely plan to expand the post-Tour Championship landscape, officials should also use the platform to embrace some protections for these events.

Consider that the RSM Classic featured the third-strongest field last week according to the Official World Golf Ranking, behind the season-ending tournament in Dubai on the European Tour and the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour.

The winner in Dubai received 50 World Ranking points, a marquee event that has historically been deeper than that week’s Tour stop, while the Dunlop Phoenix winner, Brooks Koepka, won 32 points. Austin Cook collected 30 points for his victory at Sea Island Resort.

All told, the Japan event had four players in the field from the top 50 in the world, including world No. 4 Hideki Matsuyama; while the highest-ranked player at the RSM Classic was Matt Kuchar at 15th and there were seven players from the top 50 at Sea Island Resort.

Under Tour rules, Koepka, as well as any other Tour members who competed either in Japan or Dubai, had to be granted conflicting-event releases by the circuit.

Although keeping players from participating in tournaments overseas is not an option, it may be time for the circuit to reconsider the conflicting-event policy if the result is a scenario like last week that relegates a Tour event to third on the international dance card.