Life on the bubble

By Rex HoggardOctober 23, 2011, 10:02 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With apologies to those with weak constitutions the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic was about throwing up – raw, unabashed vomiting of the literal and metaphorical varieties.

Gag Sunday began in the PGA Tour’s fitness trailer for James Driscoll, the top-125 poster child entering the week and as honest a customer as one can find in the play-for-pay set.

“I threw up four times this morning,” Driscoll revealed following his Sunday round at Disney. “I’m not sure if it was nerves or something I ate. I think it could have been a combination of the two.

Or maybe it was something that has been eating away at Driscoll and the other members of the year-ending cash crunch for weeks: Ten months and mountains of missed chances always come down to the bitter end for the likes of Driscoll.

Driscoll rallied from his sickly start, signed for 68 to tie for 12th and finished 114th in earnings.

“If you’re going to throw up it’s better to do it before the round than during it,” reasoned D.J. Trahan, who shot 70 with a 22-footer for birdie at the last to land the final 2012 card at 125th in earnings.

Steven Bowditch didn’t make any impromptu trips to the restroom before or after his round. Instead he saved his throwing up for his closing nine at Disney’s Magnolia Course, carding four bogeys and three birdies over his final loop for a 72 that dropped him outside the top 125 (he was projected at 120th following a birdie at the 10th hole) to 132nd and back to Q-School.

In Bowditch’s defense, the Australian was playing with a broken bone in his hand. Really, he broke the bone in his pinkie finger last Friday when a valet at Sea Island Resort accidentally slammed a car door on his right hand.

Bowditch was told by three doctors that if he could withstand the pain he could play, although he was initially advised he would be in a cast for four weeks.

“I had to think about the top 125-150,” said Bowditch, who began the week 135th on the money list. “I was close to pulling out on Saturday after I hit my tee shot at No. 12. The pain just shot up my arm.”

On Sunday the pain was spread evenly throughout a field fighting all manner of cash demons.

Driscoll may have thrown up before his round, but Sunghoon Kang had the pale, sickly look of a man about to hurl as he awaited his money-list fate. The Korean darted between the scoring hut and the 18th green for 30 minutes trying to figure out if he was headed for Q-School or Hawaii to start next season.

When Kevin Chappell’s birdie attempt at the last slipped past the hole Kang’s shoulders slumped and he allowed a long-awaited exhale. “I’m dreaming right now,” he said. “I was really nervous. If I had a bad day today . . . you never know. One day can’t change my life but . . .”

Luke Donald, who was playing only for history, may have had the biggest day of his career. Trailing Webb Simpson by $363,000 to start the week, the Englishman’s quest to become the first dual-member to win both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles seemed to stall when Simpson birdied the eighth and Donald bogeyed for a two-stroke swing in what amounted to a match-play money race.

But Donald did what top-ranked players do, pouring in six consecutive birdies starting at the 10th hole to cruise to his second Tour victory of 2011 and the cash crown.

“When you’re playing with the best player in the world and he makes six straight birdies it’s tough to beat,” said Simpson, who finished tied for sixth place for his seventh top-10 showing in his last nine starts.

In retrospect the only thing East Lake decided is which millionaire inched closer to early retirement. But the real money drama at Disney wasn’t measured in millions, it was measured in pocket change. At one point on Sunday the difference between relative heartbreak and heroics was $142. That’s the advantage projected No. 125 Roland Thatcher had over projected No. 126 Trahan, at least for a moment.

Truth is, following the action was dizzying enough to make one queasy. Early during a picture-perfect afternoon Bobby Gates, No. 124 to begin the week, double-bogeyed the fifth hole to drop to No. 125 in projected earnings. Four holes and an untimely three-putt at the ninth later (he started on the 10th hole) there was nothing theoretical about his position – 126th.

“Me and James (Driscoll) talked about it at the beginning of the week. We could finish fifth and sixth and someone could finish first, second and third and beat us,” said Gates following his closing 71. “This is the hardest part. Tom Petty wrote his song about it, ‘the waiting is the hardest part.’ At the end of the day you hope you’ve done enough.”

Waiting is all Thatcher had left to do on Sunday after missing the cut and he spent much of the day teetering at 125th in earnings. It was a cruel twist that Thatcher’s card dreams were dashed by Kang in the third-to-last group.

Kang’s birdie at the last pushed him to 120th on the money list and dropped Thatcher outside top-125 nirvana. It’s the second consecutive year Thatcher’s Tour status was decided on the last week of the season.

It was all enough to make the rank and file consider loading up on barf bags, or stock up on Dramamine patches, before Disney’s final turn.

“They say Bobby Jones used to throw up before he teed off in every tournament,” Trahan said. “If that’s the case we should all stick our hand down our throats.”

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: