Bunker Shots Lone Stars and Golf Trails

By Randall MellMay 11, 2010, 6:58 pm

Blasting into the week ahead as the PGA Tour migrates to the Lone Star State, and LPGA and Champions tours move to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail ... 

PGA Tour (75x100)


Valero Texas Open

The Texas Swing opens with Zach Johnson vying to join Arnold Palmer in the record books.

Johnson is seeking his third consecutive Valero Texas Open title. Since this tournament’s inception in 1922, Palmer’s the only player to win it three years in a row.

Justin Leonard’s also trying to make some history, but he’s aiming to overtake Palmer as the only player to win this event four times. Leonard won it in 2000, ’01 and ’07.

The tournament’s being played on a new venue, the TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course, a Greg Norman design with Sergio Garcia as the player consultant. That explains Garcia’s appearance this week, his second at the event, his only other coming seven years ago.

Bunker Shot: Ernie Els is making a refreshing appearance. It’s refreshing because he’s a superstar taking his game to new territory at age 40. This marks the first time Els will tee it up in the Texas Open. Els needs to refresh the confidence he built winning the CA Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. As high as he was in that run, Els was almost as low at the Masters, where his tie for 18th was deceiving. He beat himself up profusely for failing to take his best game to Augusta National, where he struggled with a third-round 75 to shoot himself out of the championship. Els seems to be battling a Masters’ hangover in his two starts since. He squandered a chance at the European Tour’s Ballantine’s Championship with a 74 on Saturday and missed the cut last week at The Players. With the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach five weeks away, Els has a great opportunity. He finished second the last time the U.S. Open was played at Pebble Beach and the guy who beat him there by 15 shots (Tiger Woods) isn’t certain to play next month with a neck injury. It’s an open door for Els.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Bo Van Pelt. Contender – Ernie Els. Darkorse – David Duval.

  • Course: TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Texas. Par 72, 7,522 yards (Designed by Greg Norman with Sergio Garcia as player consultant, opened this year).
  • Purse: $6.1 million (winner’s share, $1,098,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Zach Johnson shot 60 in the third round at LaCantera Golf Club but needed a playoff to beat James Driscoll, who came from eight back in the final round to force extra holes.

LPGA Tour _newLPGA

Bell Micro LPGA Classic

Life without Lorena Ochoa officially begins this week.

In the tour’s first event since Ochoa’s retirement took effect, the fight to succeed her as the LPGA’s next dominant player begins in earnest. All the tour’s big names will be there. Jiyai Shin, who overtook Ochoa as No. 1 last week, joins No. 2 Ai Miyazato, No. 3 Yani Tseng, No. 4 Suzann Pettersen and every player in the top 10 of this week’s Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Ochoa’s name was removed from the rankings as she moves into inactive status.

Bunker shot: Morgan Pressel turned tables on the Asians last week. For a decade now, players from the Far East have crossed the American border and claimed LPGA victories. Pressel teed it up on the Japan LPGA Tour last week and left with the Salonpas Cup as champion. She was the only American in the event. Pressel jumped eight spots in the world rankings to No. 17 with her third professional title. Pressel isn’t a power player, but Miyazato’s showing you don’t have to overpower the competition to make a run at No. 1. Pressel appears poised to move her name in that mix.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Yani Tseng. Darkhorse – Brittany Lang.

  • Course: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove (The Crossings course), Mobile, Ala. Par 72, 6,532 yards (Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened in 1992).
  • Purse: $1.3 million (winner’s share, $195,000)
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Friday, noon-2 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 4-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Was not played last season.

2009 European TourEUROPEAN TOUR

Iberdrola Open Cala Millor Mallorca

Jose Maria Olazabal, sidelined while battling rheumatism, makes a cameo this week.

Olazabal will play the pro-am on Wednesday. The last of the Spaniard’s 23 European Tour victories came here in 2005. The two-time Masters champ is sure to get an enthusiastic reception on his native soil. Olazabal was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last year.

Bunker shot: The Iberdrola Open is the last warmup before the BMW Championship next week in Wentworth. Paul Casey is scheduled to return to defend his title at Wentworth. Ernie Els, Rory McIrloy, Padraig Harrington and Martin Kaymer are committed to one of the strongest fields of the year in Europe. Ryder Cup jockeying begins in earnest with players stepping up bids to make what’s looking to be a powerhouse European squad. The Euros will be favored when the matches are played at Celtic Manor in Wales in October.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Soren Hansen. Contender – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Darkhorse – Chris Wood.

  • Course: Pula Golf Club, Son Servera, Mallorca, Spain. Par 70, 6,808 yards (Designed by Jose Maria Olazabal).
  • Purse: 800,000 euros (winner’s share, 133,330 euros)
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Last year: Inaugural year.

Regions Classic

Bernhard Langer gets a chance to make up ground on Fred Couples in the Charles Schwab Cup race.

Langer’s in the field with Couples taking time off after a six-week stretch bouncing back and forth from the Champions Tour to the PGA Tour. Couples leads the Charles Schwab Cup points race with 1,015 points. Langer’s second with 818. There’s 225 points available to this week’s winner.

Ken Green’s comeback continues. He made a strong impression in his return at the Liberty Mutual Legends and will be looking to build on that this week.

Bunker shot: Fred Funk didn’t like saying goodbye at The Players Championship with a final-round 78 on Sunday. Look for the short hitter to come back big on this big course. Funk’s five-year exemption as winner of The Players expired, but he’s motivated to play his way back there. The winner of the Constellation Energy Senior Players in October gets an invite. That will be played in Funk’s old stomping grounds at the TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Maryland. 

Mell’s picks: Winner – Bernhard Langer. Contender – Tom Pernice. Darkhorse – Denis Watson.

  • Course: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge, Hoover, Ala. Par 72, 7,473 yards (Designed by Roger Rulewich and opened in 2005).
  • Purse: $1.7 million (winner’s share, $225,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Keith Fergus won the rain-shortened event last year, shooting a pair of 6-under-par 66s to finish three shots ahead of Gene Jones.


BMW Charity Pro-Am

A cast of celebrities will help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event.

Actors Kurt Russel, Luke Wilson and Thomas Gibson are among celebrities scheduled to play.

Bunker shot: NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice makes his second Nationwide Tour start. He won’t, however, be competing among the celebrity/amateur attractions. He’ll compete in his second Nationwide Tour event as a pro. Rice has ambitions for a pro golf career. He opened with an 83 and 76 in his debut at the Fresh Express Classic last month.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappell. Contender – Tag Ridings. Darkhorse – D.J. Brigman.

  • Course: Thornblade Club, Greer, S.C.; Brights Creek Golf Club, Mill Spring, N.C.; The Carolina Country Club, Spartanburg, S.C.
  • Purse: $600,000 (winner’s share, $108,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 1-3 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-4 p.m.
  • Last year: Australia’s Michael Sim defeated Argentina’s Fabian Gomez at the first hole of their playoff.
Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm