Bunker Shots

By Randall MellMay 26, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Rory chases a legend down Hogans Alley
Move over, Ben.
Rorys Rowdies are coming with their man Rory Sabbatini trying to do something Hoganesque at Hogans Alley.
Sabbatini is among 14 players who have won both the Byron Nelson and the Colonial PGA Tour events in the Dallas area over the years, but he bids this week to become the first to win them both in the same year since Hogan pulled that double in 1946. Sabbatini claimed the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday with a group of supporters in Rorys Rowdy Roadies T-shirts exhorting him. The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is up next in the South Africans backyard. He makes his home in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth. The ultra confident Sabbatini should have no problem envisioning himself equaling a Hogan mark, though we may not get to hear him in full swagger. Since calling Tiger Woods more beatable than ever a couple years ago, hes clearly choosing his words more carefully. Same with his clothing. The pink Sunday attire was classy last weekend as tribute to Phil Mickelsons wife, Amy, whos battling breast cancer.

An Englishman went up a hill
Paul Casey arrives at Colonial casting a larger shadow.
With his victory at the BMW Championship Sunday, Casey is suddenly No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, making him the highest ranked player in a reasonably good field at Colonial Country Club.
How will he handle his elevation in status on American soil? Hes all aglow with star power possibilities, but its a different game up here in the clouds, where only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson rank ahead of him, and yet Caseys record of late indicates he has found more game this season.
Casey, 31, should get top billing at Colonial, a tournament absent Mickelson, who isnt defending his title while taking a heartfelt leave of absence to be with his wife. With three victories worldwide in little more than four months, Casey has soared from No. 41 in the world at years start, gaining more world ranking points than anyone this season. After finishing runner up at the Accenture Match Play Championship two months ago, he finally broke through to win on American soil at the Shell Houston Open last month. Those performances were logged against stellar fields. Whats next? His first major? No Englishmans won a major since Faldo in 96, but Caseys giving them hope overseas as the highest ranked Englishman since Faldo.

The Daly show keeps rolling in Europe
John Daly will play his fifth consecutive week in Europe when he tees it up at the European Open in England.
That also makes it five straight weeks since Daly last visited a Hooters.
Europe may not serve chicken wings with the presentation Daly has grown accustomed, but its offering him the boost he has sorely needed.
Daly, 43, told the Associated Press he will play the St. Jude Championship in Memphis in two weeks on a sponsors invite. Daly has made the cut in all four of his European Tour starts. After tying for 31st in his first at the Spanish Open, then tying for second at the Italian Open, he has slipped against the stronger fields, tying for 98th at the 3 Irish Open and tying for 72nd at the BMW Championship. Still, hes rolling with the European media falling in love with him on a run that includes no negative setbacks.

Making me Irish mother blush
Shane Lowry wont be shown on five-second delay or wearing a muzzle when he makes his professional debut this week at the European Open, but his spirited tongue is on the minds of European Tour officials. Apparently, the lad could make a Jersey longshoreman blush with his language after bad shots.
Two weeks after becoming the third amateur to win a European Tour event, Lowry, 22, makes his start under a warning about a certain four-letter word he let slip more than once within boom microphones reach when he won the 3 Irish Open. Irish-based Independent News & Media were among media reporting that European Tour Director of Operations David Garland cautioned Lowrys managers that he will now be subject to European Tour rules and fines for similar indiscretions as a tour member.

Blasting away . . .
Adam Scott will be looking to end his streak of six consecutive missed cuts when he tees it up at Colonial, where hes playing for the first time . . . CBS analyst Ian Baker-Finch, 48, will tee it up at Colonial on the 20th anniversary of his victory there partly to see how much work he needs to play the Champions Tour in two years . . . Brian Davis is aiming to log his fourth consecutive finish among the top five in a four-week span when he plays Colonial . . . Danny Lee will tee it up at Colonial in his fourth start as a pro in his quest to win his PGA Tour card without going to Q-School in the fall. While Lee, 19, had his best finish with a tie for 13th at the Byron Nelson Sunday, his double bogey at the final hole cost him roughly $60,000. He gets seven sponsor exemptions in his quest to make it among the top 125 money winners by seasons end to earn exempt status. He has earned $152,960 in his three starts so far this season. A year ago, Martin Laird finished 125th in money with $852,752 in earnings.
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  • Full Coverage ' Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
  • Full Coverage ' The European Open
  • South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.

    Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:

    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''