Lucky No. 21

By Jon LevyMay 24, 2011, 2:19 pm

Editor's note: GolfChannel.com will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit  'Wah' Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Momentum is like a drug.

A mythical one, mind you – nothing tangible. But when you get the slightest taste, the slightest inkling you’ve hitched a seat on 'Air Mo,' you want to ride the flight for as long as possible.

That said, Benoit Beisser’s racked up some serious frequent flyer miles.

Maybe it’s his personality. He just goes with it. And goes for it.

But when he feels momentum in his corner he owns it. Twenty rounds of 65 or better in official Gateway Tour starts since 2008 attest this.

Beisser’s 64 a week ago in the final round at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz. was his latest.

He got it going early – birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8 to turn at 5 under – and then he steamrolled the start of the back nine with birdies at 10, 11 and 12.

Eight under through 12 holes and even knowing he was playing for second – former PGA Tour member Brian Vranesh went crazy-low (63-68) and built a seven-shot lead through two rounds, 11 over Beisser – Wah had momentum on his side and holes to play.

'I found a little something with my putting after the second round and just went with it,' Beisser explains. 'I had a great session of yoga that night, too, which really loosened me up, so I woke up the next day feeling better than I had in a long time and just kind of had a feeling it was going to be a good day.'

Golf pros might as well be psychics.

A 'feeling' here or there can result in anything from good shot to bad shot, to a win to a missed cut. Which, of course, goes back to the momentum thing.

That usually manifests with bushels of birdies for Beisser. And cash. He’s up to almost $49,000 in earnings on the tour and it’s not even summer yet.

Wah tried to put a finger on what clicked for him at McCormick.

“It’s kind of hard to explain . . . I basically stopped worrying about trying to putt my ball on a specific line to the hole. I decided to treat it more like a chip shot or even a driver, where I set up to hit to a central spot and once I make the stroke, I lose the idea of worrying about where it’s going,' he said.

“I just focused on making a good stroke and then letting everything else go.”

The man’s a sports psychologist’s dream and he doesn’t even know it.

'Process' is the trendy term these days with Tour players and Beisser just explained it to a T. The process at McCormick found him gunning toward a course record until pars on Nos. 13-15 and a three-putt bogey on 16 put a halt to that talk.

“It was just one of those days where you just got me on the greens and I felt like I could make everything,” Beisser explains. 'But then on 16, I was about 20 feet and I got a little too aggressive with it and left myself about a 3 1/2-foot slider, downhill, for par.

“And I hit that just a little too hard, through the break, and all of a sudden I had 4 feet coming back for bogey, which is about the worst thing you want because when you’re playing like that, you don’t want to totally ruin it by making a stupid double . . . bogey is fine but double just completely ruins your day.”

Beisser center-cut his bogey putt – total destruction averted – then two-putted the par-3 17th for par and pounded driver, 5-iron to the winding par-5 18th to 35 feet for eagle.

Two easy putts for his 4 and he finished tied for second at 10 under for the week. Goal reached.

“I was happy with how I played the last hole,” Mr. 64 says. “My goal was to get second and I did, so I was super happy about that.”

This 29-year-old free spirit from Arizona has turned into one of the most consistent players on the Gateway Tour. His $5,166.67 check for sharing second complemented a package deal of five top-5s in his last seven starts.

Momentum?

If Beisser could bottle and sell what he’s got right now he'd find a lot of buyers on any tour, PGA included.

Or maybe he can strut his stuff on the Nationwide Tour, which, after competing in the first Nationwide qualifier of his career, he’s penned a schedule for four or five Monday qualifiers this summer, starting with either the Utah Championship or Cox Classic of Omaha.

Regardless, Beisser's got it right now and he needs to flaunt it.

He proved it again just this Monday.

An aside from an official start on the Gateway Tour, Beisser competed in the tour's one-day California Series sponsorship qualifier in southern California, vying for a fully-paid series membership which was given to the winner of the 55-player event.

He didn't win, but Wah's 6-under 65 scored a T-2, which at least earned one paid-for event of the series' six scheduled tournaments during July and August. 

It also means our happy-go-lucky momentum savant just scored lucky No. 21 – the 21st time he's hit the 65-or-below barrier on the Gateway Tour in the last four years.

Yet now another flight taken, sooner or later Beisser's going to cash in on all these 'Air Mo' miles. Hopefully, with a first-class ticket to the PGA Tour.

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.''