Furyk looking to find form in Transitions title defense

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2011, 4:38 pm

Transistions ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. – Coming off the best season of his career, Jim Furyk was determined to start his PGA Tour season much better than he has in previous years.

He finished 10 shots behind at the season opener in Kapalua. He missed two cuts. A strong finish at Riviera allowed him to wind up only 11 shots behind the winner. And he was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship.

“I probably have done a very poor job preparing in the offseason, something I need to address,” Furyk said. “I thought I would address it this year. But obviously, I didn’t.”

He started the year at No. 5 in the world and is now at No. 12 and falling. The Masters is around the corner.

Furyk isn’t worried.

A year ago, he didn’t crack the top 15 in any tournament until winning the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook, which starts Thursday. Except for the year he won Kapalua, he rarely gets off to a strong start.

“Only thing to do is keep plugging away and work hard, which I had been doing,” Furyk said. “Eventually, I’m old enough to know that we’re in the middle of March – not a time to push the panic button. It’s a long season. I have a lot of events to play well this year, whether that’s this week or next week or whatever it may be.

“Right now, I would like to play well here and at Bay Hill, and gain some confidence going into Augusta.”

Last year at Innisbrook, he had gone 2 1/2 years without winning when he strung together four rounds in the 60s on one of the toughest tracks in Florida and held on with a bogey at the 18th to beat K.J. Choi. That set in motion a year in which Furyk won three times, capping it off with the Tour Championship and the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.

It’s easy to look for other causes of the pedestrian play for Furyk.

He made a modest equipment change from last year in which he has a corporate deal for his cap and another one for his bag. He has switched to a TaylorMade driver and golf ball, although he is free to put anything else in his bag. For the moment, he still uses the Srixon irons by choice.

It is rare for a top player to fill most of his bag with anything, and he’s done some testing.

“There’s good tinkering and there’s bad tinkering,” Furyk said. “Having that open bag is wonderful other than the fact that everyone knows that you have an open bag and you can have a lot of toys in there at times. I’ve been testing and I’ve been going through things it. It would be better to do it at home, but quite honestly, there’s no conditions like tour conditions.”

The Transitions Championship is one step closer to the Masters, and the fields are getting stronger by the week.

Innisbrook has the No. 1 player in the world for the first time since Vijay Singh in 2005. This time it’s Martin Kaymer, and there is plenty of company in the world ranking, more reflected in its depth.

Among the top players are Nick Watney, coming off his big win last week at Doral, along with the likes of Paul Casey, Geoff Ogilvy and Bubba Watson. Filling out this field is a wonderful display of youth – U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein, 17-year-old Matteo Manassero and 19-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, trying to bring some happy news to Japan.

A few years ago, this tournament could have boasted having Sergio Garcia.

The 31-year-old Spaniard reached as high as No. 2 in the world about this time a year ago. Now he has plunged to No. 85 as he tries to work himself out of the worst kind of slump. The scores haven’t been great, but Garcia was more concerned with what was going on inside his head and his heart.

When he tees off Thursday, it will be his first tournament on American soil since he missed the cut at the PGA Championship last year. He took off 10 weeks following the final major, returning to play in Spain and a few Asian events. He played three times in the Middle East this year on the European Tour.

Garcia wanted the time off to clear his head and try to find the enthusiasm that has made him one of the top players the past decade. He enjoys being on the course, although the road back appears long, and Garcia is not in a big hurry.

“To tell you the truth, I just want to be out there and just want to enjoy playing,” Garcia said. “And hopefully, just play better as I get on. Whatever happens, happens.”

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of {Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

Getty Images

Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.

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Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 11:10 pm

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole of the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational on Thursday.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the ninth green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," Harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from the grandstand, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.