Left-Handed Axley Wins First Event

By Sports NetworkSeptember 24, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Valero Texas OpenSAN ANTONIO -- Eric Axley became a first-time winner on the PGA TOUR when he closed out a three-shot victory at the Texas Open on Sunday.
 
Playing on a one-year exemption he earned through the 2005 Nationwide Tour money list, Axley entered the final round with a four-shot lead after consecutive rounds of 63.
 
He looked steady as a frontrunner on Sunday until he scattered shots all over the 14th on the way to a double-bogey, snapping a 53-hole streak of par or better.
 
The left-handed rookie also bogeyed the 17th, but the late lapses only served to thin his winning margin.
 
Axley closed with a birdie at 18 and shot a 1-over 71, finishing at 15-under-par 265 for his first victory in 27 career PGA TOUR starts.
 
'It got a little shaky there, but I held it together,' said Axley, who was calm during a television interview afterward, like a seasoned pro.
 
Anthony Kim, making his first PGA TOUR start on a sponsor's exemption, fired a 5-under 65 to move into a tie for second place with Dean Wilson (69) and Justin Rose (68).
 
Kim chipped in for birdie on the 17th, his eighth birdie of the day. Wilson was Axley's closest challenger for much of the day, but was done in by a bogey at the 15th. Rose collected his fourth straight top-15 finish.
 
None of them could catch Axley, whose only other professional win came on the Nationwide Tour last year.
 
Before his late-round miscues Sunday, when Axley missed shots this week he was only just missing them. But mostly he was making shots, finishing first in birdies, first in greens in regulation and ninth in putting.
 
It was a surprising performance for someone with little PGA TOUR experience prior to this season.
 
Axley, 32, missed the cut at the 2004 U.S. Open, his first PGA TOUR tournament, then missed 1-of-2 PGA TOUR cuts last year while playing full-time on the Nationwide Tour.
 
This year, in his first full season on the PGA TOUR, Axley had made just 10 cuts in 23 previous starts. Before this weekend, his biggest check was for $24,300.
 
Sunday, his winner's check was for $720,000 -- almost 3 1/2 times what he had earned in all his previous PGA TOUR starts.
 
'It feels unbelievable,' said Axley.
 
The wind was up Sunday at LaCantera Golf Club, and so were the scores. But Axley's grip on the lead was only loosened a little towards the end.
 
He flirted with bogey for the first time since the first round, but drained a 10-foot par save at the second hole. Axley then made a curling, 30-foot birdie putt at the fourth to get to 17 under.
 
Axley made another nice par save at the ninth, rolling in a 14-foot putt to keep his bogey-free streak alive. He then two-putted for par at the 10th, a hole that gave the rest of the field fits Sunday.
 
By then, Axley was six shots ahead of Wilson with eight holes to play.
 
Then, the 14th happened.
 
Axley was in the trees, in the fairway and in the rough twice on the way to his bogey seven.
 
'The first 13 holes I stuck to my game plan pretty well and was playing pretty conservative. But it slipped away from me at 14,' he said.
 
At the 17th, Axley missed a long par putt from the fringe and dropped another shot. But at the 18th, he knocked his approach within 4 feet to set up the closing birdie.
 
Someone in the gallery sounded an awkward scream when Axley's final approach landed close. It may have been his wife, Cortney, who leapt into her husband's arms before he could give a television interview.
 
'I'm so proud of you,' she told him. And if he was more excited than his wife, it sure didn't show.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Valero Texas Open
  • Full Coverage - Valero Texas Open
  • Bradley, wife welcome baby boy, already rocking Patriots gear

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 20, 2017, 6:40 pm

    Keegan Bradley and his wife Jillian announced on social media that they welcomed a baby boy, Logan James Bradley, to the world last week.

    The Bradleys both posted photos on Instagram over the weekend, introducing their healthy newborn baby, who was (not-surprisingly) already decked out in head-to-toe New England Patriots gear.

    Bradley, 31, grew up in New England and is not shy about showing his support for the area's sports teams.

    Logan James Bradley 11/13/17 He’s changed @jillian_bradley and my life forever. We couldn’t be happier #gopats #dab

    A post shared by Keegan Bradley (@keeganbradley1) on

    A big congratulations is in order for the new parents.

    And all you other adorable kids of PGA Tour golfers, you've officially been put on notice. You've got some new competition.

    Country music star Owen to play in Web.com event

    By Will GrayNovember 20, 2017, 6:19 pm

    Country music star and avid amateur golfer Jake Owen has accepted a sponsor invitation to play in the 2018 Nashville Golf Open on the Web.com Tour.

    Owen, 36, has sold millions of albums while becoming one of the top male singers in the country genre. He has also been frequently spotted on the links, teeing it up last week alongside host Davis Love III in the RSM Classic pro-am and participating each of the last three years as the celebrity partner for Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

    Owen will now try his hand in competition against some of the game's rising stars at the May 24-27 event, held in his hometown and benefitting the charitable foundation of PGA Tour pro Brandt Snedeker.

    "I am truly honored to have this opportunity to play golf with guys whose work ethic I admire so much, like my buddy Brandt Snedeker," Owen said in a release. "I know how hard everyone works to get to play in these (Web.com Tour) tournaments. I'm really grateful, and I can't wait for this week in May 2018 to get here."

    Owen will be following in the footsteps of NBA superstar Steph Curry, who played on a sponsor invite earlier this year at the Web.com's Ellie Mae Classic and, while missing the cut, largely exceeded expectations. Curry is currently listed as a 0.8 handicap, while Owen played at Pebble Beach in February as a 3 handicap.

    Like Curry, Owen will play via an "unrestricted" sponsor invite and will retain his amateur status.

    Jeremy Roenick uses golf clubs to catch rattlesnake

    By Jason CrookNovember 20, 2017, 6:00 pm

    Jeremy Roenick has never seemed to be afraid of much, whether it was another guy breaking his jaw on the hockey rink or an alligator interrupting his golf game.

    The retired American hockey legend who currently works as an NBC Sports analyst was at it again over the weekend, coming across a rattlesnake in Arizona and just casually using a couple of golf clubs to catch it before grabbing it with his bare hands and showing it off for the camera.

    The person recording can be heard calling Roenick "psycho" and "nuts" several times before the snake is thrown off the property.

    That person is not wrong.

    What's in the bag: RSM Classic winner Cook

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 20, 2017, 3:52 pm

    PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook earned his first Tour title at the RSM Classic. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Ping G400 (8.5 degrees adjusted to 9.2), with Fujikura Speeder Evolution 661X shaft

    Fairway wood: Ping G400 (13 degrees), with Fujikura Motore VC 7.0 shaft

    Hybrids: Ping G400 (19, 22 degrees), with Matrix Altus Red X shafts

    Irons: Ping S55 (5-PW), with KBS Tour S shafts

    Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 (50, 56, 60) with True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts

    Putter: Ping Sigma G Tyne

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1