Former Georgia players grab PGA Tour cards

By Rex HoggardDecember 5, 2011, 11:59 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. – As freshman they gathered in the East Campus Village, thrown together by chance more so than choice. They’d compete regularly at Jennings Mill Golf Club or the University of Georgia’s own layout for a precious spot on the Bulldog travelling team.

In between they’d eat, practice and play together. Every step of the way they’d dream of NCAA championships and individual titles and, yes, even PGA Tour cards.

The Coachella Valley will never be confused for cozy Athens, Ga., but for six bone-chilling days the “Brothers Bulldog” turned this year’s PGA Tour Qualifying School Tournament into something that more resembled one of those heated qualifiers and, by and large, fulfilled that ultimate dream.

In order, former Georgia players Brendon Todd (pictured above), Brian Harman, Harris English and Kevin Kisner earned Tour cards, and even Hudson Swafford, the final member of the Bulldog five-some at Q-School who missed his card by two strokes, could appreciate the achievement.

“We had seven guys on that team that could play anywhere week to week,” Swafford said. “Our qualifiers my freshman, sophomore, junior years were as intense as any event.”

And that’s saying something considering this year’s Fall Classic was as intense as any on record. A fierce, cold wind that blew for six days only magnified the normal pressure of Q-School. Not that’s Georgia’s finest seemed to notice.

Todd took medalist honors at 17 under, Harman tied for eighth place at 13 under, Kisner was 11th two strokes back tied with English. It was all enough to soften the blow of the Bulldogs’ loss to LSU in last weekend’s SEC championship game.

“Come on man,” Harman smiled when remained of the loss. “LSU is just good. I think they should play the Packers.”

Some in the field may be thinking the same thing about the Georgia five-some. If some universities have earned the nickname “Quarterback U.,” Georgia is turning into something of a “Tour Player U.,” an accomplishment that begins and ends with head coach Chris Haack.

Before Monday’s final round Haack had eight former players with varying degrees of Tour status, not to mention two NCAA championships. Not bad for a coach that took over the program in 1996 and a testament to a recruiting style that has a simple philosophy.

“I always like finding guys that are players,” Haack said. “I don’t really look at golf swing or technique. I just want that ‘it’ factor.”

To his players Haack was a “player’s coach,” much more interested in course time then range time and the team’s qualifying tournaments were heated clashes between some of college golf’s best.

Kisner recalled a cold December morning when Haack marched into the team room and instructed his squad to suit up. In a freezing rain he informed them, “If you break 40 (on the front nine) you can come in.” Two posted 39 and retreated to the clubhouse. The rest kept going, at least until Haack relented and drove his car out onto the course to retrieve them.

“He didn’t care if you were out there working on your swing every day,” Kisner said. “He just wanted the guy who got the ball in the hole the fastest.”

For Haack it was a simple question of pressure. If they were good enough to earn a spot through one of his Draconian qualifies chances are they were good enough to beat anything the NCAA could throw at them.

The quintessential example of this power through practice philosophy came at the 2009 NCAA Championship when Harman outdueled Tour staple Rickie Fowler down the stretch, closing with three consecutive birdies to win his match.

“There was always a lot of competition, a lot of head-to-head stuff,” Haack said. “What they are going through right now it’s nothing new. We did this in every qualifying round.”

The camaraderie and competition uniquely prepared the Georgia five for the rigors of Q-School and beyond.

The group stayed together at Q-School. English shared a house with Harmon, Swafford roomed with Todd. They had dinner every night, suffered through the SEC loss and even passed along advice and encouragement.

“To be smart you can never stop learning,” Harman said. “And Harris has such a great demeanor on the golf course and that’s something I haven’t been good at in my career.”

As Monday’s fury faded to dusk, all five Bulldogs gathered around the scoring trailer, trading hugs and laughs. Even Chris Kirk, a former Dawg and Tour winner in town for a photo shoot, was there for his teammates.

“All these guys are used to being around each other,” Haack said. “One of the things about our program it was kind of their fraternity. The golf team was there fraternity.”

Now the PGA Tour is their fraternity.

There was talk late Monday that Haack would join the team for the post-Q-School celebration, but the coach was attending a golf coaches convention in Las Vegas and suggested his crew would have a better time with him in Sin City.

“I bet Haack is throwing money all over the place in Vegas,” Kisner laughed.

Why wouldn’t he? After going 4-for-5 at golf’s greatest gamble even the capriciousness of Vegas must feel like a sure thing.

Watch: Pros try to hit 2-yard wide fairway in Dubai

By Grill Room TeamNovember 18, 2017, 5:20 pm

While in Dubai for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour prestented a little challenge to Ross Fisher, Richie Ramsay, Nicolas Colsaerts and Soren Kjeldsen. On a stretch of road outside of town, the four players had to try and hit a 2-yard wide fairway. Check out the results.

Rose (65) leads Rahm, Frittelli in Dubai

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2017, 3:24 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Justin Rose will take a one-shot lead into the final day of the season-ending Tour Championship as he attempts to win a third straight title on the European Tour and a second career Race to Dubai crown.

The 37-year-old Rose made a gutsy par save on the final hole after a bogey-free round for a 7-under 65 Saturday and overall 15-under 201.

The Englishman leads South African Dylan Frittelli, who produced the day's best score of 63, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who played in the same group as Rose and matched his 65.

Rose is looking to be Europe's season-ending No. 1 for the second time. His leading rival for the Race to Dubai title, Tommy Fleetwood, is only two shots behind here after a second straight 65 on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fleetwood did his chances no harm by overcoming a stuttering start before making eight birdies in his final 11 holes to also post a 65. The 26-year-old Englishman was tied for fourth place at 13 under, alongside South African Dean Burmester (65) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (67), who closed with five birdies in a row.

''So, last day of the season and I've got a chance to win the Race to Dubai,'' Fleetwood said. ''It's cool.''

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Race to Dubai title, is tied for 13th on 10 under after a 67.

Fleetwood had a lead of 256,737 points going into the final tournament and needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

Rose is hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey.

Rose, who made some long putts for birdies apart from chipping in on the 13th hole, looked to be throwing away his advantage on the par-5 18th, when his second shot fell agonizingly short of the green and into the water hazard. But with his short game in superb condition, the reigning Olympic champion made a difficult up-and-down shot to stay ahead.

''That putt at the last is a big confidence-builder. That broke about 18 inches right-to-left downhill. That's the kind of putt I've been hoping to make. That was a really committed stroke. Hopefully I can build on that tomorrow,'' said Rose. ''I know what I need to do to stay at the top of the leaderboard. If I slip up tomorrow, he's (Fleetwood) right there. He's done everything he needs to do on his end, so it's a lot of fun.''

The last player to win three tournaments in a row on the European Tour was Rory McIlroy, when he won the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship in 2014.

Fleetwood was 1 over after seven holes but turned it on with a hat trick of birdies from the eighth, and then four in a row from No. 13.

''I wanted to keep going. Let's bring the tee times forward for tomorrow,'' quipped Fleetwood after closing with a birdie on the 18th. ''Just one of them strange days where nothing was going at all. A couple sloppy pars on the par 5s, and a bad tee shot on fifth and I was 1-over through seven on a day where scoring has been really good ... Ninth and 10th, felt like we had something going ... it was a really good last 11 holes.''

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon: