Waiting is the hardest part

By Mercer BaggsJune 7, 2011, 3:47 pm

Jack Newman waited. And waited. And waited. He went back to his hotel room. He sat in his car and listened to music. He played games on his phone. He talked to friends. And finally – finally – he got the message he was patiently waiting on: he was in a five-man playoff for three spots in the Melwood Prince George’s County Open.

Newman’s 5-under round was just good enough during qualifying last week for the chance to compete on the Nationwide Tour.

He sent a text message at 5:36 p.m. ET saying that he was waiting – and waiting – on everyone to finish up their rounds to see if his number was good enough. At 7:57 p.m. he sent his next message: Sank a 40 footer for bird on first hole. Boooooom baby!

“I hit a 3-wood into the rough and had 155 (yards) to the hole,” he recounted this past Monday. “I had a gnarly lie so I hit down on an 8-iron and gave it everything I had. It just got over the first bunker, in front of the green – there was also water there.

“I had 40 feet. It was right-to-left, about 4 feet, with a 2-foot ridge. I hit a decent putt but didn’t know if it was enough. It went in with about a half-a-ball roll left.”

Boom, baby!

Due to inclement weather, the qualifier was pushed to Tuesday. With a pro-am on Wednesday, Newman was able to play but nine holes prior to competition, before walking the back nine.

He didn’t make the cut, shooting 73-77. Steve Wheatcroft won the tournament with rounds of 66-60-65-64.

“That was incredible,” Newman said of Wheatcroft’s tour-record 29-under total. “Most players on the PGA Tour wouldn’t have been able to beat him that week.”

Two weeks prior, Newman shot four under-par rounds to tie for 16th in the Hooters Tour’s Cherry Blossom Classic in Georgetown, Ky. That gave him confidence heading into his 2011 Nationwide Tour debut. But confidence is fickle, especially when you are still trying to put together the pieces of a new swing.

“It’s still just a matter of trust,” he said. “A good example is during the qualifier, on one hole it should have been 4-iron-sand wedge, but I hit a poor tee shot and had an 8-iron into the green. I knocked it to 7 feet and made the putt.

“During the tournament, though, I expected every shot to be perfect. I wasn’t accepting of a poor shot. Instead of rolling with the punches, like in the qualifier, I was trying to be perfect and getting upset when I wasn’t.”

It’s easy to relate. From weekend hacks to the greatest of professional players, no one is exempt from the pressures of live competition. Hitting the ball well on the range is one thing; taking it to the course is another. Even Tiger Woods, holder of 14 major titles, can attest to that.

Newman didn’t cash a check in College Park, Md., but he gained some valuable experience. He also got a close-up look at the differences from playing on a mini-tour compared to that of playing on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit.

“It’s a lot different out there than on the Hooters Tour,” Newman said. “There’s more people. The fairways are firmer, the greens are firmer – not faster, but harder. The rough is higher and, there is a lot of talent on the Hooters Tour, but these guys are just one step away from the PGA Tour.'

From Maryland, Newman traveled to Greensboro, N.C., for another shot at qualifying on the Nationwide Tour. He didn’t make it, but he was far from disheartened as he was making the car trek back to his home base in Oxford, Ohio.

“I feel really good about my game. I feel like I’m definitely headed in the right direction and getting better,” he said. “I just have to have confidence in myself – not doubting what I’ve been working on when I put it into play.

“When you’ve done something your whole life, and now you’re doing something different, it takes time to find your comfort zone. I’m trying to hit the ball both ways now, left to right and right to left. My (swing) plane is different.  I know that no one ever really owns their game, but I’m working to get as close as possible.”

And so the road continues – literally.

“I’m at 2,176 (miles) right now on this trip,” Newman said. “I went from Oxford to Kentucky to North Carolina to Maryland back to North Carolina and now back to Oxford.”

After a return to Ohio and a week’s rest, it’s off to Oklahoma for a Hooters Tour event and then to Texas for another. He’ll then head to his true home in Iowa and try to Monday qualify for the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in nearby Silvis, Ill., where he received a sponsor’s exemption to play in 2009, the same year he competed in the Masters Tournament after winning the ’08 U.S. Public Links Championship.

“I’m staying positive,” he said. “You have to. Even when you’re not playing well, if you keep working at it, things will pay off eventually.”

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.