A. Jutanugarn smiles all the way to first major title

By Randall MellJuly 31, 2016, 8:26 pm

WOBURN, England – Talk about a winning smile.

Ariya Jutanugarn’s smile embodies the terrific story of how this broken player put herself back together again.

Though she looked like she was going to run away early with the Ricoh Women’s British Open Sunday, it was fitting she had to overcome another dose of adversity on another nerve-wracking back nine, that she had to overcome a final test of her resolve.

It was fitting she smiled through every daunting challenge this crazy day presented.

Jutanugarn started smiling as part of a new pre-shot routine after she collapsed in April at the ANA Inspiration, the season opening major. The smile was a “trigger” Vision 54s Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott gave Jutanugarn to remind her to slow down, calm down and focus when the pressure mounted in big events.

So when all hell started breaking loose on the back nine Sunday, Jutanugarn kept smiling.

“When I get really excited or nervous, I know what I have to do,” Jutanugarn said.


Ricoh Women’s British Open: Articles, photos and videos


Jutanugarn shot an even-par 72 to become the first man or woman from Thailand to win a major championship. She finished at 16-under 272, three shots better than Mirim Lee (73) and Mo Martin (70).

“I really wanted to win a major, and I did, so I'm very proud of myself,” Jutanugarn said.

Jutanugarn beat more than the 143 other players in the field this week at Woburn Golf Club. She beat all the demon memories lined up against her.

A year ago, Jutanugarn left the Women’s British Open miserable, frustrated missing the cut. It was her 10th consecutive missed cut. Once a teenage phenom who seemed destined for stardom, she was lost. And when she finally thought she had fought her way back this spring, she blew a two-shot lead over the final three holes at the ANA Inspiration, creating more doubts.

“Ariya shows us all you can go through tough times in life, but you can come back,” said Gary Gilchrist, her swing coach. “She bounced back with her determination, with her self-belief.”

With Nilsson, Marriott and Gilchrist helping, Jutanugarn rebuilt her swing and her confidence. She needed all her gifts Sunday after building a six-shot lead on the front nine and then nearly losing it on the back nine.

With a double bogey at the 13th hole, Jutanugarn watched Mirim Lee move within a shot of her, but Jutanugarn didn’t crack with the pressure mounting.

“I was still nervous, but I’m pretty sure I learned a lot from [ANA],” Jutanugarn said. “Because after I felt nervous, I knew what to do.”

Jutanugarn’s smile reminded her to avoid the pitfalls that cost her at the ANA, to slow down and stay in the moment.

“She was so different than at the ANA,” Nilsson said. “She had the tools to manage herself.”

Jutanugarn rebounded from her double bogey with one solid shot after another and with a clutch 25-foot birdie putt at the 17th to put her back up by two shots with one hole to play.

“Today, she knew she would be more nervous,” Marriott said. “She took more breaths with long exhales and slowed down a little bit.”

Moriya Jutanugarn, Ariya’s older sister and fellow tour pro, saw how down Ariya was after missing her 10th consecutive cut a year ago at the Women’s British Open.

“Her mind wasn’t going right,” Moriya said. “She was everywhere. She had too many worries. She was really stressed, but this year’s completely different. She said this year she was just going to play her game and show everyone her style of golf.”

Jutanugarn’s practiced pre-shot smile embodied the winning plan Ariya put together with her team’s help.

Peter Godfrey, Jutanugarn’s caddie, saw how it worked after the double bogey.

“She never changed her attitude all through the day, whether she made birdie or double bogey,” Godfrey said.

The victory is Jutanugarn’s fourth this season.

Early last year, she was No. 124 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She’s projected to move three spots to No. 3 with this win, behind No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Brooke Henderson. The top three players in the world are now 19, 18 and 20 years old, respectively.

Ariya’s mother, Narumon, was beaming for all of Thailand afterward.

“I’m proud for Thailand,” she said with Moriya translating. “I hope this inspires more young girls in Thailand to take up golf.”

Gilchrist believes Jutanugarn is only beginning to show what she’s capable of achieving.

“Ariya’s confidence is going to go to another level with this victory,” Gilchrist said. “This girl was cruising in fourth gear today. She’s got a fifth gear and a sixth gear.”

Jutanugarn also has a winning smile that won’t quit.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


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And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

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Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

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Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

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Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

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Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.