Choi makes a statement for Koreans

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2012, 12:08 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The Americans owned Friday at the CME Group Titleholders, but Sunday belonged to the South Koreans.

While American Stacy Lewis was the star of a momentous Rolex Awards Celebration as the LPGA’s player of the year in a dinner halfway through the event, Na Yeon Choi led a final round that was all about the dynamic young talent South Korea keeps delivering in the women’s game.

Choi won what turned into a duel with fellow South Korean and Rolex Rookie of the Year So Yeon Ryu. Choi did so on a day when fellow countrywoman Inbee Park wrapped up the LPGA money title and Vare Trophy for low scoring average.

Titleholders: Scores | Photos | Highlights

Lavner: Choi wins second title of 2012

Closing with a 2-under-par 70 at TwinEagles Club to claim her seventh LPGA title, Choi finished two shots better than Ryu (70), three better than Brittany Lincicome (70) and four better than Karrie Webb (69).

It was the eighth LPGA title won by South Koreans this year, notable in that it equals the American total as most by a nation on the tour this season.

With Sunday’s $500,000 first-place check, Choi claimed the two largest winner’s checks on the tour this year. She also took home $585,000 winning the U.S. Women’s Open, her first major.

The big payday had special meaning with Choi in the midst of house hunting in the Orlando area, where she makes her American base.

Choi’s mother, Jeong Me Song, made the trip from South Korea this week to help Na Yeon look at houses this coming Monday. Choi is looking to move out of her current home in the area to a home near Isleworth, where she’s hoping to become a member of the country club.

“I think I can buy a bigger house than I thought,” Choi said.

Sunday marked the first time Choi’s mother saw her daughter win outside South Korea.

“I think she is proud of me,” Choi said.

Choi was eloquent and charming telling her story afterward in English. She sent a jolt of laughter through the media center saying she got nervous because she couldn’t locate her mother in the gallery as they played. She wondered if her mother was following the wrong group.

“I couldn’t find her,” Choi cracked.

Choi’s parents watched the U.S. Women’s Open victory on television in South Korea.

“When I won the U.S. Women’s Open, I really missed my parents,” Choi said.

Mama’s home cooking might have helped Choi close out the victory. She said her mother cooked Galbi, Korean barbecue, for dinner on the eve of the final round. Her mom cooked kimchi, Korean cabbage, just about every night in Naples.

“Whenever I hit my driver far, my caddie always says, `That’s the kimchi power’” Choi said.

Choi’s caddie is Jason Hamilton, former caddie to world No. 1 Yani Tseng. Sunday was their first LPGA title together.

Choi showed the same resilience winning the CME Group Titleholders as she showed winning the U.S. Women’s Open in July.

Trying to protect her 54-hole lead at TwinEagles, Choi made a big mistake in the final round, just as she did at Blackwolf Run. Choi made a mess of the third hole Sunday in Naples, making double bogey after watching a chip roll back to her feet.

The mistake dropped Choi a shot behind Ryu.

“Leading the tournament, there is always extra pressure,” Choi said. “At that moment, I felt more comfortable than when I was leading. Maybe it sounds weird, but I like chasing somebody; then I can play more aggressively.”

Choi backed that sentiment up two holes after the double bogey.

She made eagle to move back in command.

Choi striped a 3-wood to 9 feet at the fifth and made the putt.

“Na Yeon is a really, really great player,” Ryu said. “Today, she was playing really good, especially her putting today was really great.”

Choi put a scare into her fans in the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open when she hit her tee shot into the woods starting the back nine and made triple bogey. She bounced back with a birdie at the next hole and never wavered again closing out the major.

“I feel really great and satisfied not just about how I played today, but about this season,” Choi said.

With Park, Ryu and Jiyai Shin all showing terrific form this year, it says something that Choi might be the best South Korean in the game today. Choi entered the week No. 4 in the Rolex World Rankings and is now poised to move back over No. 3 Park as the highest-ranked South Korean.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.