Course of Action TOUR Returns to TPC Louisiana

By Associated PressApril 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Bill Murray ate a char-broiled Louisiana oyster as he walked toward the 18th green, then hurled the shell into a water hazard, shouting, 'Now go and grow others!'
 
He flexed his biceps after his chip up a steep embankment landed on the green, then pointed at the sky after a two-putt, his typically goofy antics amusing the gallery at a charity pro-am event preceding the PGA TOUR's latest stop at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
 
It was more than a trivial moment of levity for course officials at the TPC Louisiana, where there wasn't much to laugh about after Hurricane Katrina tore through here 19 months ago.
 
This was supposed to be the course that would secure New Orleans' spot on the PGA TOUR calendar. Instead, it hosted only one Zurich Classic before Katrina toppled about 2,000 trees along the fairways, scattered drain-clogging debris and left numerous fairways under water.
 
The public course was closed for 10 months, forcing the PGA TOUR to go back to English Turn so a rebuilding New Orleans could keep its economically vital TOUR dates in 2006. After about $2 million in repairs, even a few improvements, the pros have returned to the distinctive TPC Louisiana, a Pete Dye-designed course carved out of cypress swamp.
 
'Obviously there was some devastation here and there was a lot of money spent to get this golf course up to speed,' David Toms, a Louisiana native and 2001 winner in New Orleans, said after a practice round. 'It's very important for the whole country not to forget this city.'
 
A number of players were eager to forget this place after it hosted its first PGA TOUR event in the spring of 2005. At about 7,600 yards, the course plays long, yet presents an array of steep 'pot' bunkers and other fairway obstacles that leave little margin for error on drives.
 
'I can remember a couple of drives that I hit that I thought were decent shots ... and getting into spots where all I could do was chip out of the bunker sideways,' Toms recalled of his 2005 appearance here, when he missed the cut.
 
At the very least, it's now easier to play a shot out of the woods, which were thinned out by Katrina, and the canopy along the edges of the fairways is less likely to interrupt the flight of the ball.
 
Yet other changes have made some holes even tougher. When toppled cypress trees were hauled away, course officials saved the lumber, embedding vertical planks into what look like green and tan striped bulkheads rising from water hazards near the ninth and 17th greens. They also used the salvaged wood for new tee signs and yardage markers.
 
On the par-3 No. 9, the bulkhead replaced a bunker that had surrounded the left side of the green. So those who fall short on their 200-yard tee shots this year will likely hear the sound of the ball knocking on cypress, followed by a splash.
 
'Either you hit it where you want to hit it or the bail out on the right over there,' said Boo Weekley, last weekend's winner at Hilton Head, S.C., who arrived here tired after a spike in media appearances following his first PGA TOUR triumph.
 
The victory by Weekley, whose down-home Southern speaking style and self-effacing humor have made him an increasingly popular character on tour, was a timely one for organizers of this tournament. Some of the bigger names in golf won't be here for Thursday's opening round. No Tiger Woods. No Phil Mickelson.
 
Toms, an LSU graduate whose presence always seems to inspire shouts of 'Go Tigers' by local fans, may be the most popular player, followed perhaps by Weekley, who grew up about a three-hour drive away in the Florida panhandle. He expected about 50 friends and relatives to be in New Orleans to watch him play.
 
'I've been here a few times growing up. I love New Orleans,' Weekley said.
 
Then there's last year's winner, Chris Couch, who wasn't sure whether to consider himself the defending champion because he won on a different course. Tim Petrovic is the only player to win a TOUR event at the TPC Louisiana, and he's back in the field this year.
 
'Tim is a good buddy of mine,' Couch said. 'I told him, 'I don't know who the defending champion is this week. I think it's more you than me.''
 
In New Orleans, who makes up the field is of less interest than the fact that normalcy seems to have reclaimed yet another part of this area's storm-ravaged landscape for an event that brings worldwide attention to rebuilding efforts.
 
About 30 acres of dead turf have been nurtured back to a lush, healthy green. About 300 new trees -- 12 feet to 18 feet high now -- have been strategically planted to help restore some of the course's pre-Katrina character. The clubhouse, largely spared by the storm save a few roof leaks, has been spruced up.
 
And the local club professional, New Orleans-native Luke Farabaugh, is back to helping people enjoy the golf instead of filling out insurance documents and dealing with contract debris-removal workers.
 
'The world of golf is looking at us today, saying, 'Man, remember what happened to them 19 months ago? And look at them today,' Farabaugh said. 'It's a great sense of pride we all take.'
 
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    Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

    WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

    It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

    Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

    ''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

    The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

    It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

    ''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

    ''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

    A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

    ''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

    Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

    ''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

    ''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

    Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

    Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

    ''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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    Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

    SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

    Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

    ''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

    Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

    The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

    Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.


    Full-field scores from the American Century Championship


    ''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

    Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

    Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

    Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

    Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

    The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh hit a perfect approach to set up the winning playoff birdie. His celebration as the ball rolled into the cup was nowhere near as spectacular.

    Singh closed the door on Jeff Maggert on the second playoff hole to win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday, giving an understated fist pump as his birdie putt dropped from about 2 feet. It was the first major title on the PGA Tour Champions for the 55-year-old Fijian, a past winner of the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    ''It's a little different,'' Singh said. ''It's a senior major, you know, so it's - any time you win a tournament no matter what it is, you feel accomplishment, and that's what I feel. I feel like I played well, and it's a win. A win is a win.''

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268 at Exmoor Country Club. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert began the day tied with McCarron and Bart Bryant for the lead. Singh was one shot back, but a crowd at the top of the leaderboard thinned out, turning it into a two-man race.

    ''I wasn't really watching the scoreboard or Vijay,'' Maggert said. ''Like I said, I thought I needed to shoot 5-, 6-, 7-under today to really kind of ice it. So I was really focused in on making seven or eight birdies today. ... You know, I thought some other scores would come into play there toward the end, but the last two or three groups looked like they were struggling, other than me and Vijay.''

    Singh and Maggert posted identical scores through the first 15 holes. But Maggert bogeyed 16, and then missed chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

    ''We played toe-to-toe all day,'' Maggert said. ''He hit a nice shot on 18, and I had a chance to make a few putts throughout the day, but they just didn't go in.''


    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


    Singh made just one bogey this week, and that came in the third round. He had five birdies Sunday and made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But Singh blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par and send a senior major to a playoff for the first time since the 2015 Regions Tradition.

    Singh played sporadically on the over-50 tour during his first few years of eligibility but is playing more often against men his age these days.

    ''To win the first major on this tour, I'm really excited about that,'' Singh said. ''Winning my first tournament at the beginning of the year was big, and now I've won this one, so I look forward to winning a lot more now. I always say, the first one, you get the first one out of the way, you can win a lot more after that.''

    McCarron was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

    Bryant (72) and Kenny Perry (68) finished in a pack at 16 under. Illinois golf coach Mike Small (71) finished one shot behind them, while three-time champion Bernhard Langer closed with a 74 to finish at 12 under after starting the day two strokes back.

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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.