AskLav: Another improbable comeback

By Ryan LavnerNovember 15, 2012, 5:35 pm

Charlie Beljan won last week on the PGA Tour after he was strapped to a gurney, rushed to a hospital and forced to chug Gatorade just to keep himself upright. The New York Times breathlessly described the rookie’s Disney title as “a triumph over the most mental of games.” For his troubles, Beljan received an $846,000 first-place check, a get-out-of-Q-School-free card and a two-year exemption.

That Friday 64, when he thought he was going to die, has to be considered one of the best rounds of the year, if not the best.

That two-shot victory at the Magic Kingdom, when he entered the event needing a top-10 finish just to keep his card, has to be considered one of the best comebacks of the year. From the ambulance to the CT scan machine to the first tee to the victory celebration with Mickey Mouse. Of course.

Not bad, Charlie, but that was far from the most inspiring performance in the past seven days. 

That’s because one day last week – with no camera crews present – I spent 7 ½ hours in a dentist’s chair and lived to tell about it. It was the longest-ever visit in that office, nearly requiring a full 8-4 shift. At the end, the dentist’s empty stomach sounded like a golf cart rumbling over a wooden bridge. All I got out of the deal was a renewed fear of drills, an astronomical bill and a few tubes of Sensodyne toothpaste. And my exemption lasts only six months!

Here’s hoping this week’s mailbag doesn’t cause dry mouth:

 @RyanLavnerGC Who are the players you are watching at Q-School? Predictions on players like N. Begay or J.Parnevik? #AskLav

Obviously I’ll be paying attention to the four college players who are currently competing in second stage – the reason why can be found here – and also guys such as former European Ryder Cupper Ross Fisher and erstwhile can’t-miss-kid Jamie Lovemark and brain-surgery patient Jeff Klauk. So many compelling stories.

As for the two players you mentioned: Well, it’s difficult to forecast success for two guys who combined to make eight PGA Tour starts in 2012, with one cut made. This season, Begay was better known for his fine work as a Golf Channel analyst and Parnevik for his “Gangnam Style” video. Advancing to the finals would be a stretch, but hey, at least their second careers appear promising.

@RyanLavnerGC What's your Social Security Number? #AskLav

Tweet sent on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 10:24 a.m.: Still time to send in Qs for this week's mailbag, to go up Thursday. Use the hashtag #AskLav. Nothing off-limits ... well, kind of.

Needless to say, I need to adjust my laissez-faire approach.

@RyanLavnerGC Going to miss Q School? #AskLav
@RyanLavnerGC #s say #webdot grads on avg. do better than QSchool grads. Don't ppl want to see the exceptional not the avg? #AskLav #Beljan

How convenient: I can answer the first question with another of this week’s queries. Sure, beginning next year, Q-School will no longer be able to produce the romanticized story of an unheralded player navigating through each stage and eventually making it onto the PGA Tour. That’s probably a good thing. Little staying power. Instead of having the same names recycled in Q-School each year, the Tour has become the official proving ground for the PGA Tour – just like the commercial says! – and the number of winners via each route in the past few years supports that. Everyone loves an underdog story, but not at the expense of a potentially stronger product.

 @GolfChannel @RyanLavnerGC The long putter, is it legal to anchor to the body? #askLav

Hello there. Good afternoon. It could not have been comfortable living under that rock. But since you briefly disappeared, Rory has supplanted Tiger as golf’s dominant player, President Obama was re-elected and, yes, it is still legal to anchor the putter to a part of the body … for now.

 @RyanLavnerGC do you agree with no masters invite for opposite-field and fall series events winners? #AskLav

Rory and Tiger seemingly simplify the task at times, but if nothing else 2012 showed it’s hard – really hard – to win on the PGA Tour, no matter if the event is played during the West Coast Swing, the Florida Swing, the Texas Swing or the Fall Series. Only 16 times in 44 stroke-play events did the 54-hole leader go on to win the tournament. Golf might be the deepest it has ever been. But Augusta National still can run its own tournament as it sees fit. If the green jackets don’t want their field size to tip the scales at 100, then it won’t. Clearly, in their collective minds, at least, those fall events are still viewed as second-tier.


To avoid long-term injury, Hulk should seek immediate medical attention for any rash lasting more than four hours.

Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.