Bunker Shots Winner Jinx

By Randall MellSeptember 5, 2009, 6:55 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from Jinx-ville to the start of a “long” LPGA run and more  ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

St. Jude Classic

If you’re a superstitious caddie, you deliberately pull some wrong clubs this week.

Or give some bad yardages.

Or maybe stick a 15th club in the bag.

Anything to make sure your player doesn’t win.

For players wanting to hone their games to peak at next week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the St. Jude Classic should come with a warning: “Don’t win this week, fellas.” Nobody’s ever won the PGA Tour stop played the week before the U.S. Open and then gone on to win the U.S. Open. The Masters, the British Open and the PGA have all been won by winners the previous week.

Of course, any serious competitor relishes a chance to break the jinx, if there is one. And there are some ultra serious competitors in Memphis. Eight of the top 17 players in the world ranking are scheduled to tee it up at TPC Southwind in Memphis.

No. 3 Lee Westwood, No. 6 Ian Poulter and No. 10 Rory McIlroy lead a field that also includes No. 14 Padraig Harrington. Local favorite John Daly should also help fuel interest and sell tickets.

Bunker shot: The quality of this week’s field can’t hurt St. Jude’s Classic officials as they try to lure a new title sponsor. The 53-year-old tournament won’t continue without one. The event carries on with Smith & Nephew as a presenting sponsor and a syndicate of local sponsors coming together, but the future’s uncertain without a title sponsor to pony up the $6 million or so needed annually. Good news might be coming before the event even begins, but this week’s still a perfect example why the Tour needs that new “designated tournament” plan, or at least some proposal like it to help smaller events attract bigger stars. The field’s not an issue in Memphis this week, but some assurance that future fields will be equally strong won’t hurt tournaments like St. Jude’s in attracting or keeping their title sponsors.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Robert Allenby. Contender – Brian Gay. Darkhorse – Jason Dufner.

  • Course: TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn. Par 70, 7,239 yards (designed by Ron Prichard and opened in 1987).
  • Purse: $5.6 million (winner’s share, $1,008,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replay 8:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last time: Brian Gay won wire to wire with rounds of 64, 66, 66 and 66.

LPGA

LPGA State Farm Classic
LPGA Tour _new

Entering the sixth month of the year, the LPGA has played seven official events.

With the spotty schedule to date, tour pros will finally get a chance to build some momentum this summer.

The LPGA State Farm Classic marks the first of five consecutive weeks of tournaments, the longest run of the season. In fact, there are events seven of the next eight weeks with three of them major championships (LPGA, U.S. Women’s Open, Ricoh Women’s British Open). A player who gets hot right now can lock down Rolex Player of the Year honors by the start of August.

Bunker shot: If the Americans are going to break their winless streak in official LPGA events this season (0-7), this is the time. This run of five consecutive weeks of LPGA events all come in the United States. Of course, it also looks like a good opportunity for the Far East to build on their 7-0 mark. Asians are defending champs in four of these next five events with a European the defending champ in the other.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Cristie Kerr. Contender – Jiyai Shin. Darkhorse – Shanshan Feng.

  • Course: Panther Creek Country Club, Springfield, Ill. Par 72, 6,746 yards (designed by Hale Irwin and opened in 1992).
  • Purse: $1.7 million (winner’s share, $255,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last time: In-Kung Kim defeated Se Ri Pak by a shot.

EUROPEAN TOUR

2009 European Tour

Estoril Open de Portugal

Not a single player in the top 80 in the world is scheduled to play.

Count Chris Wood at No. 81 as the highest ranked player in the field.

Bunker shot: Darren Clarke, 42, has fallen away from his top form, but at No. 24 on the European Ryder Cup Points list he’ll be looking to move up and give himself a shot at making the team for the sixth time after missing the matches in ’08. Clarke was disheartened when he wasn’t made a captain’s pick last time around despite winning twice that season. He would rather not rely on a captain’s favor this year. Europe was 4-1 when Clarke played. He is looking for his 13th European Tour victory.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Darren Clarke. Contender – Marcus Fraser. Darkhorse – Robert Rock.


CURTIS CUP

2010 Curtis Cup The United States will be seeking its seventh consecutive victory against Great Britain/Ireland in this biennial team event.

American Alexis Thompson was a year old the last time the Americans lost. That was 1996, when current LPGA standout Karen Stupples led GB&I to victory in Ireland. The Americans lead the overall series 26-6-3.

The future of American golf will be on display in Massachusetts beginning Friday. Thompson, the ’08 U.S. Girls’ Junior champ, was 12 when she became the youngest player to qualify for a U.S. Women’s Open. Kimberly Kim was 14 when she became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Jennifer Song, won both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links championships last year.

Noreen Mohler, of Bethlehem, Pa., is the American captain and member of the winning USA team in 1978. Ireland’s Mary McKenna, who played in nine Curtis Cups, leads the GB&I team for a second straight event.

Bunker shot: Song, 20, will turn pro after the Curtis Cup, but there’s more focus on Thompson making make her final amateur appearance because of her age. Thompson, 15, is scheduled to make her pro debut next week, playing the LPGA Shoprite Classic on a sponsor’s exemption. LPGA pros will be watching more than Thompson’s game next week. They’ll be watching to see how she handles the rigors and disappointments of professional golf and what it does to a player emotionally. To be sure, her junior career has been riddled with fewer disappointments than most juniors experience and she’ll enjoy the rewards of that terrific career in her first and last Curtis Cup. After that, golf will get to see what this young phenom is like as a money player. More than one observer believes she’s the future of American women’s golf.

Mell’s pick: USA 13-7.

  • Course: Essex County Club, Manchester, Mass. Par 70, 6,247 yards (Built in 1893 as a nine-hole course, redesigned and expanded by Donald Ross after his arrival as club professional in 1910).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Friday-Saturday, 11-1 p.m.; Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
  • Last time: Stacy Lewis went 5-0 to lead the Americans to a 13-7 victory at the Old Course in St. Andrews.
Getty Images

Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.