Fowler forcing himself to relax with long 2016 ahead

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 27, 2016, 9:45 pm

SAN DIEGO – With the adrenaline still flowing from his most recent victory, Rickie Fowler didn’t get a full night’s sleep on his 8,500-mile flight back to the West Coast.  

“But I stayed horizontal for 12 or 13 hours,” he said Wednesday. “Just tried to force myself to get as much as rest as possible.”

When he landed, Fowler saw the perfect weather and couldn’t wait to head to Torrey Pines, to build on his recent run of success.

Only this time, he purposely stayed away from his clubs for a day. He knew he needed to take a break, however short.

It’s an ongoing issue that came into focus over the weekend when Jordan Spieth admitted that he was “beat up, mentally and physically” after a globetrotting stretch in which he visited five countries in three months.

That comment might not elicit much sympathy from the majority of his fan base, which flies coach, crams into middle seats, snacks on stale pretzels and shells out $8 for the latest movie release, but his fellow pros certainly can relate to the world No. 1’s plight.

Especially this year.

With golf returning to the Olympics for the first time in more than a century, the summer schedule is even more condensed. Three majors and a World Golf Championships event fall within a seven-week span. The Games are a week after the year’s final major. The FedEx Cup playoffs – with a bye between the second and third events – arrive a week after that. And then comes the Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour might as well rename the 2016-17 season opener the Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

That’s why it was alarming to hear the 22-year-old Spieth, on Jan. 24, admit that he’s already fatigued. Because there isn’t much time to catch up.  

After this week’s Singapore Open – for which he is receiving an appearance fee greater than the $1 million tournament purse – Spieth will head home for a week before teeing it up at Pebble Beach and Riviera. Then comes Doral. And then his title defense at Innisbrook, his homecoming in Austin for the Match Play and his Masters warmup in Houston. 

That’s a lot of golf, and a life of luxury can still take its toll.

“Managing the schedule with time commitments and the amount of travel that has to go into playing, especially globally, I think that’s a big thing that a lot of people outside the ropes don’t really understand as far as what it takes to compete at a high level week-in and week-out,” Fowler said.

Though there are obvious financial benefits to growing his brand globally, it seems Spieth has already learned his lesson: The worldwide tour isn’t worthwhile if his play suffers.

It’s a complicated decision that Rory McIlroy is still grappling with. Just last fall, he contemplated his dual membership on the PGA and European tours because of the nonstop travel. Last year alone he figures he flew 350 hours, visited 120 airports and spent 287 nights in a hotel room.

“That’s the sort of travel that you have to do to be a worldwide player,” he said.

Fatigue affects each player differently, whether it’s poor decision-making, a loss of patience or lazy, uncommitted swings. And as deep as the fields are these days, that little edge can be the difference between winning and finishing fifth, as was the case with Spieth last week in Abu Dhabi, where he “wasn’t 100 percent.”

There is no perfect formula, of course, no ideal way to maximize both a player’s profits and performance.

In the three months following the Tour Championship, Patrick Reed played in Hong Kong, Malaysia, China, Dubai, the Bahamas and Hawaii, running off seven consecutive top-10s worldwide. Then again, the nonstop schedule is nothing new to Reed: He has logged at least 29 events each of the past three years.

No top-10 player tees it up as infrequently as Day. His appearance at the Farmers Insurance Open – assuming that he even plays, because of flu-like symptoms – will be just his second stroke-play event since Sept. 27.

And then there’s Justin Rose, who is making his 2016 debut at Torrey Pines after a seven-week break. Consider this pacing for a long year, because he’ll play deep into November with the European Tour’s Final Series.

“I always try to take maybe two, three weeks without touching the clubs after the end of the season and I want until I get that itch to play again,” he said. “I think that’s really important to sort of miss the game of golf, and once I feel that, I get back to practice.”

The itch returned three weeks ago, but the challenge moving forward is balancing how to be well rested and also competitively sharp for the biggest events. Rose plans to take a week on/week off approach.

“Just work in sprints this year and try and get your downtime as best you can,” he said.

There hasn’t been much of that lately for Fowler. Both weekend rounds in Abu Dhabi were all-day affairs after lengthy fog delays. After his stirring victory Sunday, he boarded a plane at 12:30 a.m. and flew 17 hours across 12 time zones, landing in time for a youth clinic hosted by one of his main sponsors, Farmers Insurance. He took only a few swings.

“I had to force myself to relax a little bit,” he said.

Come summertime, he shouldn’t need much convincing.

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: