Getty Images

Flesch wins first Champions event over 38 holes

By Associated PressApril 15, 2018, 2:06 am

DULUTH, Ga. – Steve Flesch needed 38 holes Saturday to win the Mitsubishi Electric Classic for his first PGA Tour Champions victory.

The 50-year-old Flesch won with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff with Scott Parel at TPC Sugarloaf in the event completed a day early because of forecast rain and lightning. Bernhard Langer dropped out on the first extra hole.

''You never know if you're ever going to win again,'' Flesch said. ''Honestly, it's been harder than I anticipated winning on this tour. The guys are so good. That Langer guy is hard to beat.''

Parel bogeyed the par-5 18th on the second playoff hole after his approach hit the bank short and left and went into the water.

''I just was in between clubs a little bit,'' Parel said. ''I had like 209 (yards), which is probably about as bad a yardage that I can have, so I had to kind of choke up on a hybrid a little bit and not try to hit it too hard. If I hit it right, a normal shot's going to be in the bunker, which is no bargain. I just didn't hit it as crisply as I needed to.''

Flesch hit long and right into the back bunker, and blasted out to 3 feet. The left-hander won in his 22nd start on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Classic


''When Scott hit it in the water, the most important thing for me was to obviously not hit it in the water.'' Flesch said. ''So, I just changed my line where I aimed. I didn't aim it as close to the hole. I made sure that my mistake was going to be long in the bunker and just clear the water.''

Facing a forecast of 1 1/2 inches of rain overnight Sunday and the threat of lightning Sunday, tournament officials decided Friday to play both the second and third rounds Saturday.

''Any 36-hole day is really tough,'' Flesch said. ''Being able to use the carts today certainly helped with some of the hills out there here at Sugarloaf. It's more mentally taxing to me than physically taxing, especially if you're in the mix kind of like that all day. I know I'll sleep great tonight, but mentally I'm more exhausted than physically.''

Because of the possibility of the playoff finishing Sunday, the players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway during the extra holes.

Flesch and Parel birdied the 18th to start the playoff. Flesch and Parel each reached the green in two, with Parel leaving a 60-foot eagle try 3 feet short, and Flesch rolling a 50-footer to a foot. Langer laid up and missed a 15-foot birdie try.

Parel matched the course record with an 8-under 64, making a 15-foot birdie putt on 18 in regulation to post at 11 under. Flesch and Langer missed chances to win on 18 in regulation. Flesch missed a long eagle try, and Langer's 15-foot birdie putt went to the left. Flesch shot 68, and Langer had a 69.

Flesch opened with a 66 and shot 71 in the morning to enter the final round a stroke behind Langer, Jay Haas and Jerry Kelly.

The 52-year-old Parel's only tour victory came in 2013 on the Web.com Tour.

''Obviously, I would have liked to win, but Steve played great, too, and hit some great shots in the playoff.'' Parel said. ''He deserved it. I feel like I'm close, so we'll just keep trying to make birdies out here and see what happens.''

Langer missed a chance to break a tie with Hale Irwin for consecutive seasons with a victory at 12. The 60-year-old German star has 36 senior victories, winning at TPC Sugarloaf in 2013.

''I've been playing all right for most of the year, just my short game wasn't good enough,'' Langer said. ''The short game was better, I made a few putts.''

Haas, the first-round leader after a 65 at age 64, shot 71-71 on Saturday to finish two strokes out of the playoff. He dropped back with bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16. Mike Fetchick is the oldest winner in tour history, taking the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors Invitational at 63 years to the day.

Wes Short Jr. was fifth at 8 under after a 70, and Vijay Singh had a 68 to get to 7 under. 

Getty Images

Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

Getty Images

Sources: Woods returning to Wells Fargo

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods is expected to return to competition at next week's Wells Fargo Championship, according to multiple Golf Channel sources. The news of Woods' participation was first reported Thursday on "Golf Central."

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods has until 5 p.m. ET Friday to officially commit to next week's field. When reached for comment by GolfChannel.com, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, explained that Woods' plans were not yet finalized.

"We don't know right now (if Woods will play)," Steinberg said. "We'll know later this afternoon. We're working on a couple things."

A trip to Charlotte would be another sign that the 42-year-old is ready to return to a customary schedule, as next week's event would be followed by Woods' expected return to The Players for the first time since 2015. Woods has already committed to the U.S. Open, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major victory.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Getty Images

USGA receives more than 9,000 U.S. Open entries

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

The field of contestants for golf's most democratic major has been set.

The USGA announced that it received 9,049 entries for this year's U.S. Open, with the deadline for entry expiring at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. That total includes 515 applications on the final day, 115 in the final hour and a buzzer-beater from Drew Caudill, a 32-year-old pro from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who beat the entry deadline by only 23 seconds.

This marks the seventh straight year that the USGA has received more than 9,000 entries, but the total marks the second straight year of a decline in applications. At least 9,860 players entered each year from 2013-16, topping out in 2014 when 10,127 applications were received. But last year there were 9,485 entries for Erin Hills, and this year's return to Shinnecock yielded only one more application than the USGA got in 2005.

For the vast majority of entrants, the next step is a spot in 18-hole local qualifying which begins April 30 and runs through May 17. The fortunate few advance from there to 36-hole sectional qualifiers, played May 21 in Japan and June 4 across 11 other sites in the U.S. and England.

A total of 54 players are already exempt into the 156-man field, including 12 former winners. The only remaining ways to earn an exemption from qualifying are to win either The Players or BMW PGA Championship next month, or be ranked inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The U.S. Open will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., which is hosting the event for the first time since 2004.

Getty Images

Report: Houston Open may move to Memorial Park in '19

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 3:48 pm

Still without a permanent spot on the PGA Tour schedule, the Houston Open appears to be on the move.

According to a report from the Houston Business Journal, there is a proposal in place to shift the tournament downtown in 2019, returning to Memorial Park Golf Course which previously hosted the event from 1951-1963.

While formal relocation plans have not been announced, the tournament officially reached the end of an era this week when the Golf Club of Houston, which has hosted the event since 2003, informed the Houston Golf Association that it would no longer serve as tournament host moving forward.

"We received notice this week from the Golf Club of Houston regarding the club's decision to no longer host a PGA Tour event," read an HGA statement obtained by GolfChannel.com. "Currently, the HGA's focus is on securing a long-term title sponsor. The Golf Club of Houston has been a great venue for the Houston Open dating back to 2003 and we look forward to maintaining a great relationship with the club."

Such a move would be a win for Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, who has expressed an interest in returning the tournament within city limits. The Golf Club of Houston is located in Humble, a suburb 20 miles northeast of downtown.

"This move would place the tournament on center stage in downtown Houston, creating a central location for the city to rally around," read marketing materials cited in the Business Journal report. "Houston Proud Partners of the Houston Open would have the opportunity to collaborate with the Houston Golf Association on this historic move and make a lasting statement that would be seen for generations."

The Houston Open's lineage dates back to 1946, but its future remains in question. Shell Oil ended its 26-year sponsorship of the event in 2017, and this year it was played without a title sponsor and financed in part by the HGA.

The tournament has also carved out a niche with its pre-Masters slot on the schedule, where it has been played every year but once since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. But next year that coveted position will go to the Valero Texas Open, leaving Houston's place on a revamped 2019 schedule in question.

The Houston Open remains one of only two tournaments on the current Tour calendar without a title sponsor. Earlier this week Charles Schwab signed a four-year deal to sponsor the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019, and a report this week indicates the other unsponsored event, The National, may be on the verge of moving from the Washington, D.C. area to Detroit.