After four tough days, Whyte sends Baylor to finals

By Ryan LavnerMay 27, 2015, 1:47 am

BRADENTON, Fla. – Each night when they returned to the team hotel, Lauren Whyte and Hayley Davis allowed themselves three seconds to complain about their day.

“This is the day it’ll turn around,” Davis would try to convince her teammate. “I’m telling you, this is the day.”

But the message can be delivered only so many times before it eventually loses its effect.

Whyte’s high scores kept piling up at Concession: An opening 81. Followed by an 85. And then a 94. And an 82. Four days of stroke play, and not once did her score count toward Baylor’s team total.

Of the 84 players who finished four rounds here, Whyte was dead last, 54 over par, 57 shots behind winner Emma Talley.

“She was down,” head coach Jay Goble conceded.

“It’s really been hard for her,” Davis said.

The closest to Whyte in the individual standings was Duke freshman Lisa Maguire, who has endured her own struggles this season. And incredibly, both Baylor and Duke’s fates came down to those two players Tuesday during the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Championship.

After more than an hour of clutch shots and big putts and steely nerves, Whyte prevailed with a bogey on the 24th hole of her match. On Wednesday afternoon, Baylor will play Stanford in the championship match. Neither school has ever won a national title.

That it somehow came down to Whyte and Maguire made this one of the most unforgettable days in college golf history.  

Whyte, a freshman from St. Andrews, Scotland, didn’t even crack the team’s lineup until late March. She’s failed to shoot in the 60s during regular-season play, and then she had a few disastrous rounds here at Concession.

Full coverage: NCAA Division I Women’s National Championship

Even as her woes continued, Whyte reveled in the Bears’ stroke-play success that earned them a No. 3 seed for match play.

“I guess you need to deal with the bad to come out the best,” Davis said of her teammate. “She’s probably been through the worst.”

Earlier Tuesday, in the quarterfinals against Tennessee’s Hannah Pietila, Whyte dropped the opening four holes during a 4-and-2 loss.

Sent out first again in the afternoon semifinals, Whyte traded bogeys with Maguire and was 2 down at the turn. She won the 10th, and then the 12th, and the 13th and 15th, too. By the time she stood on the tee of the par-5 17th hole, she had a 2-up lead with two to play.

That advantage disappeared quickly. She promptly tugged her tee shot into the water, leading to a bogey and lost hole. And then on 18, her tee ball was unplayable in a bush, and the ensuing double bogey sent her match into extras.

The turning point in overtime came at the 22nd hole, the par-5 13th. In good position off the tee, Whyte drilled a 3-wood that trickled into a greenside bunker, leaving her an awkward 60-yard shot. Her third shot came out too hot and scooted over the green, into a valley.

The hole is nicknamed “blackjack”, because a member once made 21 there.

LPGA player Jessica Korda tweeted, “I wouldn’t want that chip... It’s hard.”

“Heck no,” Brittany Lincicome replied. “I’ve been there hahaha.”

“A lot of people would just pack it in and take the loss there,” said Goble, but Whyte de-lofted her 60-degree lob wedge and bumped her fourth shot into the bank. The ball rolled out to 5 feet. She made the par putt, ho-hum, and moved on to the next.

“She stepped up and delivered,” Goble said, beaming.

A couple of solid drives and 7-irons over the next two holes – and an ill-timed block on the 24th hole by Maguire – touched off a raucous celebration by Baylor.

“She’s so tough,” fellow freshman Dylan Kim said of Whyte. “She has such a great mind and she’s a fighter. We know how hard she’s been trying.”

Added Davis: “That’s the best golf I’ve ever seen her play. It says a lot about her that she could do that on that stage.”

On the opposite side was Maguire, who struggled mightily all season and found herself in an uncomfortable position, with everything riding on her success or failure.

With her team eliminated, Maguire stared blankly into the woods. Her twin sister, Leona, the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, consoled her from a few feet away.  

“It’s always tough to take a loss,” Lisa would say later, barely above a whisper, “but to lose it this way was especially so.”

Maguire and Duke head coach Dan Brooks have labored through a swing change since she arrived on campus in late August. Basically, they’re trying to get Maguire to utilize her lower body more to increase her distance. The results haven’t been pretty – she’s ranked outside the top 400 individually, and she had only one top 20 and a 77.07 scoring average in 10 starts.

“Anything she hasn’t accomplished this year,” Brooks said, “is because I messed with her golf swing.”

Still, Brooks saw signs of progress, such as Maguire’s bunker shot on the 23rd hole, when she had little green to work with and an opponent only 25 feet away for birdie. She splashed out to a few feet.

“She went from being a player on the periphery,” Brooks said, “to one who had everything at stake. I’m very proud of her. That showed a lot of guts.”

But this was Whyte’s moment, after a miserable five-day stay here at Concession.  

Goble’s confidence in his No. 5 player never wavered, mostly because of Whyte’s poise and confidence.

“It just makes you believe that she’ll hit the shots,” he said.

And she did, spectacularly, to put Baylor on the brink of a national title.

“Today,” Whyte said with a smile, “was me playing my part.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.