Tseng looking to rebound at Evian Masters

By Randall MellJuly 25, 2012, 4:51 pm

The Evian Masters won’t become an LPGA major until next year, but there are major implications for this week’s winner.

The $3.25 million purse equals the U.S. Women’s Open as the largest payday in women’s golf.

The winner in Evian-les-Baines, France, will take home $487,500 in earnings, the second largest winner’s check in the women’s game behind the U.S. Women’s Open ($585,000).

There is more to be won than that for Yani Tseng, who is looking to rebound from a series of sluggish starts and regain her dominant form. There’s a reassertion of confidence and momentum to be won.

Tseng, 23, is amid the first real challenge to her form since she seized the Rolex World No. 1 ranking 76 weeks ago.

Tseng will tee it up at the Evian Masters looking for her fourth LPGA title of the year, but her first victory since claiming the Kia Classic four months ago. If Tseng leaves France without a title, it will be her longest winless run since she became No. 1. It will mark her eighth consecutive LPGA event without a title. She hasn’t gone longer than seven in a row without a win since ascending to the top of the world rankings.

This hardly constitutes a slump, and given she has won three times already this year, it ought not create any panic, but Tseng has been so dominant that her success has created some burdensome expectations. She’s dealing with that amid this desultory run.

“I think I just feel a little more pressure,” Tseng said Wednesday in her Evian news conference. “I’m kind of thinking too much and trying too hard to play well, like I did before. I only play two, three bad tournaments, and it feels like the end of the world, like everyone is asking me what's wrong with me? What happened to your game?”

“But there was nothing wrong. It's really hard to play well every week. I always do my best to play well, and I learn a lot from mistakes the last two months. I think I'm ready to go. I feel fresh. I don't look back. I don't feel like I do anything wrong. I still keep working hard and try to balance my life. I feel very comfortable this week, and I feel very confident, too. I just can't wait to go out and see how I play this week.”

Tseng has failed to break par in her last 11 rounds. It should be noted eight of those rounds were in major championships.

That Tseng is concerned about her form is clear in her decision to let go of her long-time caddie, Jason Hamilton, after a disappointing U.S. Women’s Open in her last start. Tseng has hired Basil van Rooyen as her new caddie. He’s a veteran who has caddied for Mark McNulty, Graham Delaet, Mark James and David Frost.

Through this sluggish run, Tseng has been notably good natured, stopping to answer every media question asked, even after the most frustrating rounds. She hasn’t bolted from the scoring trailers after the worst of her rounds, but she feels the challenges.

“It’s pretty hard to be world No. 1,” Tseng said. “This is kind of my second year. No one knows how hard. It's not just playing good golf.  Everything around the golf course, I need to handle. All the media and fans and pressure on the golf course and sponsors, it's really hard. But I think I'm getting better every time and learning a lot. I have a good team behind me helping out with those things.”

Tseng is learning how to deal with being held to a different standard than other players.

“It's hard winning every tournament,” Tseng said. “You enjoy, you try your best, and you're learning from other players. That's why golf is so challenging. I still have lots of passion.”

Tseng will be looking to show that as she and her fellow tour pros play the Evian Masters for the last time before it becomes a major.

Watch exclusive coverage of the Evian Masters on the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday, from 6:30-8:30PM ET, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-6PM ET.

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Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

"I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

"I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

"I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

“It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

“I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

"They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

“It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.