Big Opportunity at Buick Challenge

By Associated PressAugust 25, 2004, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)CROMWELL, Conn. -- The tournament that almost wasn't gets under way Thursday with a new name, a bigger purse and a wide open field.
 
The Buick Championship, formerly the Greater Hartford Open, was in danger of extinction after 52 years until the car company rescued it last year. While tournament officials scrambled to keep the popular event going, the players weren't worried.
 
'The players take it for granted that it was just going to continue because we know what a great tournament it is,' Kirk Triplett said Wednesday. 'The one thing this tournament has going for it and has always had going for it is tremendous support for the community.'
 
Triplett is making his 14th appearance here and has had four top 10 finishes.
 
Ryder Cup member Fred Funk, also among those chasing the $756,000 first-place check, hopes to work on his game at the TPC at River Highlands. He's had four top-10 finishes this season including a second at Milwaukee, but acknowledges he's lost some focus during his swing. Funk has missed the cut nine times in 22 events.
 
'I really haven't played very consistent this year at all,' he said. 'You need something to focus on during your golf swing, whether it's a takeaway thought, a transition thought, or a follow-through thought. I was trying to create the golf swing
instead of letting it hapen.'
 
Jerry Kelly, by contrast, has been a model of consistency. Kelly has missed just one cut in 22 tournaments. His best finish was fifth, in three different tournaments.
 
'I think it's a testament to the all-around game because I really struck it poorly at a lot of events,' Kelly said.
 
Kelly played college golf at the nearby University of Hartford. Despite being in familiar territory, Kelly has made the cut here just once in four appearances. This year, he's joined by fellow Hartford teammates Patrick Sheehan and Tim Petrovic. The three helped out at a golf clinic Tuesday night at their alma mater.
 
'It's great having the guys,' Kelly said. 'It's quite an accomplishment to have three guys from one team coming back and playing in your college city. I think it's pretty cool.'
 
The tournament will remain a Buick event through 2006 and offers $4.2 million in prize money, an increase of $200,000 over last year.
 
But timing is everything and sandwiched between the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup, many of the biggest names on tour have taken a pass, including two-time champ Phil Mickelson. Tiger Woods, a staple in the Buick stable, has never played Hartford and didn't break the streak this year.
 
Defending champion Peter Jacobsen has a commitment to play in a Champions Tour event this week in his hometown of Portland, Ore.
 
Triplett was part of the field for 13 straight years before missing the event last year. In his absence, Jacobsen captured his second GHO title, 19 years after his first.
 
'I missed not being here last year,' Triplett said. 'I saw Peter Jacobsen win and said, `If he can win, I can sure win.''
 
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    Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

    By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

    There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

    Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

    The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

    Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

    If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

    “The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

    The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

    Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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    Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

    There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

    Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

    While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

    Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

    1. Brooks Koepka

    2. Dustin Johnson

    3. Patrick Reed

    4. Justin Thomas

    5. Jordan Spieth

    6. Rickie Fowler

    7. Bubba Watson

    8. Webb Simpson

    ---

    9. Bryson DeChambeau

    10. Phil Mickelson

    11. Matt Kuchar

    12. Brian Harman

    On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

    Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

    European Points

    1. Tyrrell Hatton

    2. Justin Rose

    3. Tommy Fleetwood

    4. Francesco Molinari

    ---

    5. Thorbjorn Olesen

    6. Ross Fisher

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Rory McIlroy

    3. Alex Noren

    4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    ---

    5. Ian Poulter

    6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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    Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

    By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

    Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

    The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.



    The second is from Sunday night.



    And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

    Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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    Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

    By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

    After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

    Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.


    Updated Official World Golf Ranking


    It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

    Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

    Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.