Winsday Hot List: WGC-Cadillac Championship

By Win McMurryMarch 6, 2013, 1:02 pm

Fasten your seatbelt, but don't bother checking your clubs as we take you on a trip through the hottest topics in the world of golf. We begin in China as one golf course Americanizes with an Asian flare. Back in the good old U.S., American stars and the pursuit of the American Dream have us flying high as the PGA Tour travels to a piece of property owned by one of the most entrepreneurial businessmen on the planet. No need to put your seat back in the full upright position. Just sit back, relax and enjoy this week's ride.

1. Surreal Golf: Mission Hills is at it again. This time with its Fantasy Course, the 12th on the massive property. It will feature terra cotta warriors and waterfall hazards, pandas and Mayan ruins and a green that is an enormous bowl of Chinese noodles. Serious. Yes. Wow.

2. Golf Boys 2.Oh: The Golf Boys are back with 2.Oh. Wow. If it doesn't make you crack a smile (Remind yourself these are talented professional golfers by day), I can't think of what would. I burst out laughing at my desk today, while watching the Birdman again, who crashed last year’s U.S. Open.

3. Team America: All nine winners so far in the 2013 Tour season are U.S. born. Here's the list: Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Brian Gay, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, John Merrick, Matt Kuchar and Michael Thompson. Time for the Internationals to step it up, and there’s no better place than this week, when the Tour splits its time between the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Puerto Rico Open.

4. America's Sweetheart: While we're on the topic of American dominance, Stacy Lewis deserves a tip of the hat. The 2012 Rolex Player of the Year (first American on the LPGA to earn the honor since Beth Daniel in 1994) won the HSBC Women's Champions at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on Sunday.

5. Smart Golf: An advent in new technology has golfers attaching sensors to belts and golf club grips to track each shot during a round in the new Golf Game. These sensors combined with GPS and data sharing can be transferred to smart phones, tablets and personal computers for sharing highlights and garnering feedback from others through existing social media networks. 'See, share and compare,' said John McGuire, the CEO and co-founder of Game Golf, who is looking to revolutionize the way golf and other sports are played.

6. Carry-on Clubs: Don't worry about parting with your Scotty anymore. The TSA announced Tuesday at a conference in Brooklyn that they are making changes to aviation security that will take effect April 25. Travelers will now be able to board flights with up to two golf clubs. Other newly permitted carry-ons include small pocket knives, hockey sticks and ski poles.

7. Mat Kearney and Charity: We're revisiting Golf Boys to appreciate singer/songwriter Mat Kearney from Nashville who wrote the music and lyrics at the request of Ben Crane. The puns are worth a second look. Some of my favs, 'Vaca in Sang Moon Bae,' and 'I like olives in my Rory Sabbatini.' Also, 'I want to win so Aaron Baddeley,' and 'I get a massage every single Jason Day.' All proceeds benefit charity: water, which raises awareness and support for the clean-water crisis. Entertaining and environmental. I like it.

8. Third Annual Els for Autism Golf Challenge: It's the largest international charity-driven amateur golf tournament in history. Comprised of more than 20 events across North America, teams compete in a combined low-net event for prizes that include trips to Africa, South America and England, as well as a chance to join Els and other Tour players in Las Vegas. The Challenge has raised to date more than $4 million for autism between 3,300 rounds of golf and more than 13,000 donors.

9. Spotlighting The Top Three: Rory, Tiger and Luke. We get the fab three for back-to-back rounds this week as they tee it up at Donald Trump's TPC Blue Monster at Doral. Despite their top positions in the Official World Golf Ranking, there are plenty of questions surrounding them. Will McIlroy’s swing struggles continue following his walk-off in the second round at last week’s Honda Classic? And how's that wisdom tooth? Will Woods ever be able to dominate again at Doral as he did prior to 2007? And what's going on with Donald? We have only seen him play two times this year, one of them being an early out in the WGC-Match Play Championship. 

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."

Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 2:05 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.

A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.

In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.

“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”

Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.

Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.

“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”

How does she feel?

“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”

Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.

New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:32 am

NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.

Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.

She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.

“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”

Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.

CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.

Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.

Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.

“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.

Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.

“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”

You Oughta Know: LPGA's Sunday scenarios

By Randall MellNovember 19, 2017, 1:17 am

NAPLES, Fla. – The CME Group Tour Championship is loaded with pressure-packed subplots Sunday at Tiburon Golf Club.

Here’s what You Oughta Know about the prizes at stake:

Race to the CME Globe

Lexi Thompson and Sung Hyun Park are 1-2 in CME Globe points. They are best positioned Sunday to take home the $1 million jackpot in the season-long competition.

Thompson and Park are tied for fifth in the tournament, one shot off the lead. If either of them wins, she will take home the jackpot.

The way it’s unfolding Thompson is a good bet to take home the jackpot by merely finishing ahead of Park, unless they both stumble badly on Sunday.

Ariya Jutanugarn is tied for the lead. She must win to take home the jackpot, but she would also need Thompson to finish ninth or worse and Park to finish eighth or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points to make a bold Sunday charge.

Stacy Lewis is one shot off the lead with a longshot chance at the jackpot. She must win the tournament while Thompson finishes 26th or worse, Park finishes 12th or worse and nobody else among the top 12 in points makes a bold Sunday charge.

So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Brooke Henderson are among others who still have a shot at the $1 million prize, but they have fallen back in the pack and need bold Sunday charges to take home the jackpot.

Rolex Player of the Year

The Rolex Player of the Year Award remains a four-player race.

Ryu (162), Feng (159), Park (157) and Thompson (147) all have a chance to win the award.

Park and Thompson are best positioned to make Sunday moves to overtake Ryu.

Park needs to finish sixth or better to win the award outright; Thompson needs to win the tournament to win the award.

It’s simple math.

The top 10 in the tournament will be awarded points.

1st - 30 points

2nd – 12 points

3rd – 9 points

4th – 7 points

5th – 6 points

6th – 5 points

7rd – 4 points

8th – 3 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

Vare Trophy

Thompson took a 69.147 scoring average to Naples. Park needs to finish nine shots ahead of Thompson to have a shot at the trophy.

Money-winning title

Park leads the tour in money winnings with $2,262,472. Ryu is the only player who can pass her Sunday, and Ryu must win the tournament to do so. Ryu is tied for 32nd, five shots off the lead. If Ryu wins the tournament, she also needs Park to finish worse than solo second.

Rolex world No. 1 ranking

World No. 1 Feng, No. 2 Park and No. 3 Ryu are separated by just three hundredths of a point.

Because they are so close, the scenarios for overtaking Feng are head spinning.

At No. 4, Thompson is a full average ranking point behind Feng, but she could become the sixth different player this season to move to No. 1. Thompson, however, has to win Sunday to have a chance to do so, and then it will depend on what Feng, Park and Ryu do. Again, the scenarios are complex.