Top 125 decided at Disney

By Rex HoggardNovember 11, 2012, 11:21 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – By way of apology to Charlie Beljan he was hardly the only player wrestling with a potential bout of panic this week at Walt Disney World, just the only one hospitalized for it.

But for all the drama the big kid from Arizona injected into the PGA Tour’s season finale on Friday when he was rushed to a local hospital with chest pains, it was the more subtle give and take further down the money list on the year’s final Sunday that made many a Tour type appear mentally manhandled on a windswept fall afternoon.

Beljan it seemed had his fill of drama on Friday, when he spent the better part of the night being poked and prodded by medical personal following a second-round 64 amid symptoms of a panic attack, and swept out to a commanding five-stroke lead midway through the final turn thanks to a four-birdie stretch that began at the seventh hole. From there he never missed a beat.

Sorry, too soon?

“I’ve got to go get some help,” Beljan said on Saturday after explaining that he’d suffered at least a half-dozen similar bouts with panic before Friday.

Seems the cure for what ailed the rookie was a closing 69 at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic for a two-stroke victory that two days earlier didn’t seem likely.

“I was 99.9 percent sure I was not going to show up (for Saturday’s third round),” he said following a 71 on Day 3 that staked him to a two-stroke lead.

If this is the Tour’s last stop at Disney – the Children’s Miracle Network ends its sponsorship this year and the 41-year circuit staple was not on a “tentative” 2013-14 schedule – Beljan made it a memorable sendoff.

He overpowered the Magnolia Course on the weekend despite his lingering health concerns, became the year’s fourth rookie champion and secured his status for next year after starting the week 139th in earnings.

Considering the circumstances Beljan’s victory qualifies as one of the season’s most emotional, if not bizarre, triumphs, a surreal ending even his caddie, Rick “Handlebar” Adcox, seemed to sense on Saturday when he declined to wear the proper-colored bib (red).

“I wore (a yellow bib) on Friday and it was such a special day and the way he finished an unbelievable round,” Adcox said. “They could put me 6 feet under in this bib.”

Many in the year’s final official field only felt like they’d been sent 6 feet under.

The facts are these: Beljan (win) and Tim Herron (T-9) played their way into the top 125 on the money list to secure full status in 2013, while Billy Mayfair (missed cut) and Rod Pampling (missed cut) played their way out. But those generalities gloss over a hectic day that made Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride seem lethargic by comparison.

At 1:20 p.m. (ET) Jeff Maggert was projected at No. 125. Seventeen minutes later Kevin Chappell found himself perched on the magic number. And so it went.

Chappell was clinging to the last spot when he rinsed his tee shot at the 17th hole and scrambled for a “great bogey.” At the last, he calmly rolled in a 4-footer for par he thought would lock up his Tour card.

“Not knowing is the hardest part,” said Chappell, who closed with 73 to tie for 34th. “When you’re trying to win a golf tournament you know what you need to do, but I didn’t know if I needed to be aggressive or stay patient.”

Turns out all he needed to do was wait.

Charlie Wi, playing in the penultimate group, bogeyed the 17th hole and dropped into a tie for fifth. If he had bogeyed the last, which he didn’t, he would have slipped back and created a seven-way tie for eighth. That scenario would have lifted Jerry Kelly, who started the week 137th in earnings, past Chappell and into 125th place.

Late Sunday, however, Kelly didn’t have the look of a man just run over by the season-ending money crush.

“I’m about the happiest 126th guy you’d ever see,” smiled Kelly, pointing out that his tie for ninth secured his status inside the top 25 in career earnings which brings with it a one-year exemption. “If I didn’t get it done today . . . I had to play today and I ended up with the best round (66) of the year by a long shot.”

It wasn’t Herron’s best round, but it was good enough despite a double-bogey 6 at the 17th hole, dubbed the “Widow Maker” by one caddie on Sunday. The veteran’s tie for ninth lifted him to 124th on the money list, marking just the second time in five years he’s finished inside the top 125.

“(Golf Channel on-course reporter) Billy Andrade told me, ‘You're in. You don’t need to break any more stuff,’” said Herron, who was taking his frustration out on his golf bag after the miscue at the 17th hole.

Russell Knox, 156th to start the week, made a run at the top 125, playing his first 14 holes in 7 under, but was also undone by a double bogey at the 17th hole and jumped to 143rd in earnings which was good enough to secure partial status on Tour next year and an exemption into the final stage of Q-School later this month.

“Going into today the top 150 was my goal. I never thought it would be a possibility (to crack the top 125),” said Knox, who earned the lion’s share ($346,000) of his $512,584 this season in the Fall Series.

Late Friday night with his “size 15s” hanging over a hospital bed, Beljan didn’t think it would be possible to finish the tournament. The next 48 hours featured a remarkable transition, or maybe it was a recovery, from intensive care to the winner’s circle.

Stress, what stress?

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.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

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

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


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.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''