Ko, Park going down to the wire for awards

By Randall MellNovember 21, 2015, 10:56 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko and Inbee Park are threatening to take their battle for the LPGA’s biggest prizes down to the final shot Sunday at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

The tournament trophy, the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking are all still hanging in the balance for these two in a potentially dramatic conclusion at Tiburon Golf Club.

If Ko or Park has a hot round Sunday, it could lead to an epic sweep.

“It’s going to be great TV and theater,” said Stacy Lewis, who remains in the hunt for the Tour Championship and the CME Globe. “That's what you want at the end of the year.

“I love the Globe Race. I love the drama that it creates. It gives media and TV, gives everybody something to talk about. That's what we need with our tour.”

Cristie Kerr shot a 6-under-par 66 Saturday to take a share of the third-round lead of the CME Group Tour Championship with Ha Na Jang (69). They’re at 13 under overall, two shots ahead of Ko (69) and Gerina Piller (67) and three ahead of Lexi Thompson (67), Brittany Lincicome (68) and Karine Icher (68).

Park made a nice move Saturday with her putter heating up. She shot 67 to move four shots off the lead. She finally got comfortable on these Bermuda greens, rolling in 40-foot birdie putts at the 16th and 17th holes.

Ko and Park remain first and second in projected CME points in the battle for the Globe and $1 million jackpot. Thompson jumped to third in projected points to give herself a shot at the big payday with Lewis fourth in projected points.

The battles for Rolex Player of the Year, Vare Trophy, money title and Rolex world No. 1 ranking are narrowed down to Ko and Park.

If Ko or Park win the CME Group Tour Championship, they’ll likely sweep all the big prizes.

Ko won both the Tour Championship and the Globe’s $1 million payout last year. The $1.5 million payday was the richest in the history of women’s golf. How would she like to repeat the feat?

“It would be awesome,” Ko said. “When you defend something or do something back to back, it's always cool to do that.

“There's still a lot of golf to be played. Inbee is playing great, so are the other girls. You can't take anyone out of it. I’ve just got to focus on my game. I think that's all I can do from here.”

How close are these battles for the season-long awards? The scenarios are dizzying.

Ko is just three points ahead of Park in Rolex Player of the Year points (276-273) and Park entered the week just .016 average strokes ahead of Ko in scoring average.

The races are so close, Ko and Park could actually end up in a playoff for the CME Group Tour Championship that would also decide the CME Globe winner. Or, they could end up in a playoff just for the CME Globe after the CME Tour Championship winner is crowned.

If separate playoffs are required for the CME Group Tour Championship and the CME Globe, the Tour Championship playoff would begin first with a return to the 18th tee. The CME Globe playoff would follow.

Ko and Park could also end up tied for Rolex Player of the Year and share the award. There’s no playing off if they tie for that.

“We both had really, really good seasons and somebody is going to be No. 1 and somebody is going to become No. 2,” Park said. “That's just the way it is. I'm just trying to tell myself I had a really good enough season this year. I've earned what I wanted to earn, what I wanted to achieve. The rest is just a bonus.”

Ko was asked if this big Sunday finale is fun, or if it is agonizing.

“You can kind of look at it two ways,” Ko said. “The positive way is I'm glad, and I should be proud, that I'm in this position. Anything can happen. If I play well, it might end up being a good day where I'm holding a couple trophies.  At the same time, because everything is on the line, there is more added pressure.

“I think it's more kind of those first couple holes where you do get nervous anyway, but to know at the end of the 18th hole, there could be a lot of things on the line, a little bit more added pressure ... that's why I'm not going to not think about all that. I think that's what I did today. I wasn't thinking about what might be happening tomorrow.”

The possibilities are dizzying.

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Watch that time Tiger throttled Ames, 9 and 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 4:54 pm

Nine and eight. Three words that live in golf lore. Just say them and any golf fan can tell you what they mean.

In the 2006 WGC-Match Play, Tiger Woods faced Stephen Ames in the opening round. Ames, when asked prior to the event about his chance of winning, infamously said, "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it."

What happened on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at La Coasta Resort & Spa, was the most lopsided result in tournament history: 9 and 8 Check out the highlights below:

After his win, Woods was asked if Ames' comment had motivated him. Woods replied, "9 and 8."

Woods eventually lost, 1 up, to Chad Campbell in the third round. He then won his next start at Doral and went on to finish the season with six consecutive Tour wins, including The Open and PGA. He also won his first start in 2007 to make it seven consecutive Tour titles.

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Schedule change, caddie change for Casey at Match Play

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Paul Casey originally planned to skip the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, opting for two weeks off before the Masters.

Those plans changed when he removed the Arnold Palmer Invitational from his schedule and returned home to England last week to attend the funeral of a family friend. That adjustment also prompted a caddie change this week, with Scott Vail stepping in for the Englishman’s normal caddie, John McLaren.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Tee times

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“We looked at tickets and it just didn't make sense for Johnny to fly back. We try and base our schedule around playing the best golf possible, but also having quality family time,” Casey said on Tuesday at Austin Country Club. “For Johnny to break up a nice three-week break with his family, there was no point to ruining that.”

This isn’t the first time Casey, who won the Valspar Championship two weeks ago, has needed a replacement caddie. At last year’s Travelers Championship, McLaren took a similar break and was replaced on the bag by Shannon Wallace. Although it’s not uncommon for caddies to take a week off, McLaren does have one stipulation.

“The only rule we have is that if Johnny is not going to work, he picks my caddie. So he picked the caddie,” said Casey, who is 20-12-1 in 12 starts at the Match Play and has advanced to the championship match twice.

Westchester Country Club hosted the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. (Getty) Getty Images

Westchester selected to host 2021 U.S. Women's Am

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 20, 2018, 3:20 pm

The USGA announced Tuesday that Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., has been selected to host the 2021 U.S. Women's Amateur. The tournament will be held Aug. 2-8, 2021.

The club's West Course first hosted the event in 1923, and it boasts a storied history of professional tournaments as well. The PGA Tour hosted the Westchester Classic, later known as the Buick Classic and eventually The Barclays, at Westchester from 1967-2007, including the first-ever FedExCup playoff event, won by Steve Stricker in 2007.

The course was also the site of the 2011 Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, won by Fred Couples, and the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, won by Inbee Park.

"The USGA is thrilled to bring the U.S. Women's Amateur to Westchester Country Club for the second time," Stuart Francis, USGA championship committee chairman, said in a release. "One of the USGA's three oldest championships, the Women's Amateur consistently identifies the world's top female players, and we are confident Westchester will provide the ultimate test for the championship's 121st playing."

First held in 1895, the Women's Amateur is open to players with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 5.4. Sophia Schubert won last year's event at San Diego Country Club, while this year's tournament will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs.

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Stock Watch: Park rises again, under the radar

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2018, 12:48 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


Rory (+10%): The massive drives, the fist pumps, the unmistakable strut – McIlroy finally found the spark that he needed to play confident, aggressive golf. Bring on Augusta and his shot at history.

Tiger (+7%): It was another forgettable end to a final round, but let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Five events into his comeback, Woods has now carded 10 consecutive rounds of par or better – all on tough tracks – and can be viewed as a legitimate threat at the Masters. Remarkable, really.

Inbee Park (+5%): Fighting injuries and questioning whether she should retire, the Queen ‘Bee routed a top field in just her second start back. Stud.

Bryson (+3%): When The Machine operates properly, he’s one of the best ball-strikers in the world. Yes, he’s still painfully slow, but there’s no denying his talent – his runner-up against a star-studded field should help him tremendously.

Laura Davies (+2%): Fifty-four years old and nursing an Achilles injury, she turned back the clock with one of the coolest performances of the young season, on any tour. She’s still got tons of game.


Henrik Stenson (-1%): Maybe he’s just destined to go winless at Bay Hill. In the past four years, he’s had three excellent chances to win there and came away empty-handed each time.

Rickie (-2%): Hanging near the lead, Fowler closed his third round bogey-double, then shot 74 in the final round to drop out of the top 10. Sigh.  

P-Reed (-3%): His whiny protest to a rules official about a free drop – “I guess my name needs to be Jordan Spieth” – got even juicier when the Ryder Cup partners were drawn in the same group at the Match Play. Get your popcorn ready.

Ted Potter Jr. (-5%): His impressive victory at Pebble Beach over DJ, Phil and J-Day is looking more and more like a fluke each week. He’s now missed four consecutive cuts.

Fan behavior (-7%): Another week, another player complaining about increasingly hostile spectators. The Tour has (frustratingly) remained quiet on the issue, but the tipping point will come when one of these dopes affects the outcome on the 72nd hole.