Battle of major champs set for final round of Founders

By Randall MellMarch 20, 2016, 4:01 am

PHOENIX – You can’t win the JTBC Founders Cup without a major championship on your resume.

Maybe you can, but it’s never been done in the six-year history of this special event.

That makes Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko and Paula Creamer the favored cast of chasers in Sunday’s bid to catch 54-hole leader Eun-Hee Ji in what promises to be a shootout at Wildfire Golf Club.

Ji’s two titles include the U.S. Women’s Open in 2009.

Lewis, Ko and Creamer are the only other major championship winners among the top 16 on the leaderboard.

Ji’s 7-under-par 65 moved her one shot ahead of Lewis (64) and Sei Young Kim (70), two ahead of Jacqui Concolino (68) and three ahead of Ko (64), Creamer (67) and Carlota Ciganda (64).

A two-time winner, Ji has never successfully closed out a 54-hole lead in an LPGA event. In fact, she’s only held a 54-hole lead once in her nine years on tour. She won the U.S. Women’s Open and the Wegmans Championship coming from behind.

With players in attack mode at the Founders Cup, with birdies being made in bunches this week, Ji may have to fight off a number of final-round charges. In fact, she might not even have the lead by the time she tees off on Sunday afternoon.

“These scores are just ridiculous,” Lewis said. “So you can’t look at a leaderboard. You just go out there and make as many birdies as you.”

They can’t seem to play the Founders Cup without Lewis having something to say about how it all ends.

Lewis has been a commanding presence in every final act of this event over the last three years. She won in 2013, coming from four-shots behind in the final round. She finished second to Karrie Webb in 2014 and second to Hyo Joo Kim in 2015.

Kim, Webb and Lewis were all major winners when they won here. So was the only other player to win here, Yani Tseng in 2012.

Lewis, 31, is looking for her 12th LPGA title, her first since winning the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in June of 2014. She would love to put an end to all the questions that have come with the nine second-place finishes she has recorded since her last victory.

“The golf course just fits my eye,” Lewis said of her ability to regularly contend here. “You have to hit good shots to get rewarded for it. And then I read the greens really well here. But, you know, I don’t really know what it is. I'm just really happy to see some good scores going up.”

The Founders Cup has become a special event for Lewis, so special she helped fund filming of the documentary movie, “The Founders,” which was shown in a players’ meeting this week. After her round, Lewis helped a young LPGA pro confused by who was whom, matching names to the faces of the founders and pioneers who were seated on a small stage behind the 18th green.

“This week, it’s really special to me,” Lewis said. “I’ve gotten to know the founders the last few years, especially Marilynn Smith. Just being around them, you see the love and the energy they have for this game still, and for our tour.”

Ko, the 18-year-old Rolex world No. 1, won the New Zealand Women’s Open earlier this year and now is looking to win her first LPGA title of the new season. She has knocked on the door here before, finishing tied for second two years ago and sixth last year.

Ko gave herself a chance shooting 64 Saturday to match Lewis, Ciganda and Alena Sharp for the day’s low round.

“With the rough a lot longer this year, I thought the scores wouldn’t be as low, but apparently not,” Ko said. “I told myself if I wanted to catch up I needed to go low today.”

Creamer, 29, is looking for her 11th LPGA title, her first since winning the HSBC Women’s Champions two years ago. Despite a sluggish start, Creamer kept grinding away and got herself back in the hunt with a back-nine blitz. She showed her new found length eagling the 15th, knocking a 3-wood to 25 feet and rolling in the putt.

“I just didn’t get too upset on the front nine,” Creamer said. “I knew there was a lot of golf left. I just kept plugging along.”

Creamer says working with new coach Gary Gilchrist helped her push past Saturday’s frustrating start. She kept competing instead of fretting over missed shots or missed putts. Afterward, she said her caddie, Colin Cann, noticed how she grinded through some disappointments.

“Colin said he wasn’t sure that would have happened a couple months ago, if I maybe I would have gotten down on myself,” Creamer said. “That’s kind of what Gary is helping with, that you can swing however you swing, everyone has their own swing, their own mentality. It’s a matter of `This is what you’ve got, now go get it done.’

“I think I was being too critical for quite a while with my swing. I forgot to play the game. I know I’m not going to hit every shot perfect, but I think the difference is I’m saying `OK, I’m going to chip in, or I’m going to get up and down and move on.’ I don’t really dwell on things.”

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.