Winsday Hot List: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Win McMurryMarch 20, 2013, 1:00 pm

The King shines in the Sunshine State this week as several top players pay homage to Arnold Palmer at the last stop of the Florida swing. A streak is on the line and so is the No. 1 ranking, but many players who have made the Orlando, Fla., area home will be jockeying for the prestigious title – handed out by the man himself – on their own turf. We have you covered with golf’s hottest topics online, on-air and on the course.

1. Stacy Lewis: She rightly takes the No. 1 spot in our rankings this week, capturing the top spot in the world rankings with her scorching come-from-behind victory at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Lewis is only the second American to claim the honor since the rankings began in 2006 (Cristie Kerr held the position for five weeks in 2010). Lewis also earned Player of the Year in 2012, becoming the first American to do so since Beth Daniel in 1994.


2. American dominance: You have to applaud the red, white and blue. To go along with Lewis’ accomplishment, Americans have won every event played on the PGA Tour this season. The hot streak is at 12, so will it be lucky or unlucky No. 13 this week?


3. King for a Day: As Arnold Palmer holds court this week, Lamkin, the grip company he’s been affiliated with for more than 60 years, kicks off a sweepstakes where one lucky winner will win a VIP trip for two to meet the King in his hometown; play golf at his home course; and win a set of Callaway clubs, Lamkin grips and autographed Arnold Palmer memorabilia. Enter at www.meetarnoldpalmer.com.


4. The First Tee of Central Florida: And speaking of Palmer, he’s making even more dreams come true in central Florida. With a $200,000 donation to The First Tee of Central Florida, he established the Arnold Palmer Scholarship Fund, which will help provide educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, promote healthy choices through the game and ensure that no child ever gets turned away for an inability to pay.


5. Tiger and Lindsey: It’s official. And Facebook official at that! Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn confirmed that the two have been dating for a couple months. They published professional photos of the two of them together (wearing their sponsor’s logos, nonetheless) and asked for their privacy. Now professional photos for an engagement announcement are somewhat the norm these days, but for a dating announcement, that’s new to me. Perhaps social “engagements” attended by the two of them together are in the near future.


6. World ranks: Not only is Woods making headlines with his relationship, but this week’s defending champion can regain the No. 1 ranking with another win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He hasn’t held the top position since October 2010, 29 months ago.


7. Nona Blue: Perhaps the main man in Woods' way to the top at Bay Hill is local resident Graeme McDowell, who has donned blue competing against Woods in the Tavistock Cup for Lake Nona, while Woods has dressed in both Isleworth red and Albany pink. McDowell, who was runner-up to Woods last year at this event, opened a restaurant and bar this past weekend, just outside the gates to his Lake Nona home. If you’re in town, this would be the “who’s who” spot for celebrating victories and drinking away sorrows.


8. Jordan Speith: In just four PGA Tour starts this year, the 19-year-old earned special temporary exempt status for the remainder of 2013 with two top-10 finishes – a T-7 last week in Tampa and a T-2 in Puerto Rico. He joins an elite group of players who have earned their card without advancing through Q-School or the Web.com Tour, including Justin Leonard, Gary Hallberg, Scott Verplank, Phil MickelsonRyan MooreBud Cauley and Woods.


9. South African Golf: We’ve given a nod to the Americans, so it’s only right to acknowledge the other country producing a notable number of winners this season. South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel won the Alfred Dunhill Championship, followed by fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen, who picked up the title at the Volvo Golf Champions. Other South African winners include Richard Sterne, Darren Fichardt, Dawie Van Der Walt and last week’s champion, Thomas Aiken.


10. Doubling up in the Carolinas: In South Carolina, Hilton Head’s Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the RBC Heritage, will undergo construction for a new clubhouse. Demolition will begin after the 2014 Heritage and is to be completed by the 2015 tournament. And in North Carolina, Greensboro’s Sedgefield Country Club, site of the Wyndham Championship, will merge with Cardinal Golf and Country Club to create one brand, the Sedgefield Country Club’s Ross Course and Dye Course. The merger will make it the only private club in the nation with both a Donald Ross and a Pete Dye course. It will also feature both Bermuda and bent grass greens, so members can have ideal putting conditions year-round.

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:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''