Simpson grinds out first major championship at 112th U.S. Open

By Rex HoggardJune 18, 2012, 5:35 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Turns out The Olympic Club did deliver another Simpson, although it seems likely history will remember this version, both the champion and the championship, more favorably.

A week that began with plenty of style by way of the uber-grouping of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson on Thursday and Friday, came to a dramatic conclusion with Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell delivering the substance.

For the record, Olympic remains a perfect 5-for-5 for 54-hole leaders. That’s to say, none have gone on to win any of the five Opens played on the NorCal gem, a run that includes the 1987 championship won by Scott Simpson.

But in a dramatic break from tradition this time it was not an obscure contender who emerged to upset the favorite. This time the last man standing was not the last one everyone thought would win.


Video: Final-round highlights from the 112th U.S. Open

Video: Simpson post-victory interview


After beginning the final round 30 minutes ahead and four strokes adrift of co-leaders Furyk and Graeme McDowell, Webb Simpson made his move early with three consecutive birdies beginning at the sixth, failed to birdie either of Olympic’s par 5s and scrambled for an all-world par at the last to cap a 68-68 weekend and take the clubhouse lead at 1 over.

It was a quintessential Open finish. The kind of performance one would expect from the likes of Furyk, whose victory in 2003 is the highlight of a career at the national championship that features just two missed cuts in 18 starts.

Earlier in the week, McDowell caused a minor stir when he referred to Furyk as a plodder, and for 15 holes Sunday Furyk was at his blue-collar best.

Furyk rattled off five consecutive pars to start his day before his first miscue at the sixth hole, and rebounded with six more pars, including a stretch of three consecutive tap-ins starting at the eighth to maintain a 1-up lead on Simpson. Open Golf 101.

But the Open specialist succumbed to Olympic, which had been seasoned to bouncy perfection by consecutive warm days and the U.S. Golf Association’s aversion to watering.

At the 12th, Furyk needed a 35-footer to save par. His tee shot then nestled into the deep rough short of the green at the 13th hole and he made bogey to drop into a tie with Simpson. It will be the par-5 16th hole, however, that ultimately cost Furyk his second Open title.

Needing a birdie on one of the last three holes to avoid a playoff, Furyk pulled his tee shot badly into the trees left of the fairway, needed five shots to reach the putting surface and never recovered.

“I was tied for the lead, sitting on the 16th tee … I got wedges in my hand or reachable par 5s in my hand on the way in and one birdie wins the golf tournament,” said Furyk, who closed with a 74 after an unsightly bogey at the last to tie for fourth. “I'm definitely frustrated.”

The same could have been said of Simpson had he not ended up with the silver chalice. Tied with Furyk through 15 holes, he failed to birdie either par 5 and ended up in the worst possible position when his approach at the last sailed wide of the green.

From the kind of lie major championships go to die, Simpson delicately chipped 4 feet below the hole and calmly, or so it seemed, rolled in the winner.

“Probably, one out of five at best (to get the ball up and down at the 18th),” said Simpson’s caddie Paul Tesori. “It was the worst lie I’ve ever seen. You would have called someone cheating if they would have given you that lie in competition. He could have chipped it down the fairway 30 yards. He wouldn’t have gotten another one close in 10 more shots.”

It was a shot Simpson and Tesori began working on this week to combat the high rough and hard greens. It was also the kind of championship that suited Simpson perfectly – an honest test for an honest man.

In his two previous Tour victories Simpson had not been shy crediting his faith, so much so one half expected the North Carolina native to break into a Tim Tebow pose on the 18th green before the award ceremony. But that’s not Webb.

Tesori said he reminded his boss as they played the 17th hole of a Bible verse the two had been using for inspiration all week, an attempt to find calm in the middle of a marine layer storm.

“The back nine was . . . I don't know how Tiger has won 14 of these things, because the pressure. I couldn't feel my legs most of the back nine. It grew my respect for Tiger all the more,” said Simpson, who finished at 1-over 281, a stroke ahead of first-round leader Michael Thompson and McDowell, whose 24-footer for birdie at the last to force another 18 holes slipped past the cup on the left.

“Just thankful to God. I couldn't have done it without Him.”

Simpson also thanked wife Dowd, who walked all 72 holes with him despite being 34 weeks pregnant with the couple's second child, for providing emotional support.

For Woods, who was tied for the lead after two rounds but struggled to a Saturday 75, his week on the Lake Course was also a question of faith.

Although he played his first six holes on Sunday in 6 over, Woods recovered to play his last 12 in 3 under for a 73 that left him tied for 21st at 7 over. The wait for major No. 15 continues.

“Hit the ball really well. Unfortunately I just didn't have the speed of the greens until today,” Woods said. “The way I struck the golf ball, the way I controlled it all week is something that's very positive going forward and if I would have just hung in there a little bit better yesterday and missed it on the correct side a couple times then I would have been in a better position going into today.”

Mickelson didn’t seem as upbeat following his week that ended with an 8-over 78 and a tie for 65th, his worst finish at the national championship since 1996. At least he was around for the weekend; the same could not be said for world No. 1 Luke Donald and defending champion Rory McIlroy, who has now missed four cuts in his last five starts.

Things may have been even harder on Lee Westwood, who lost his golf ball in a tree right of the fifth fairway and never recovered for another major miss.

But that was a common theme at The Olympic Club. After last year’s record scoring at Congressional, this Open was about heartbreak and holding on. Call it a return to the norm.

“Not sure if guys can have their ‘A games’ to be honest, the course just won’t allow it,” McDowell said. “Today was a grind. It was a slog.”

A slog won by a grinder, just the way the USGA likes it.

Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

“I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

“Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

“Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:



Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.