Furyk says hopeful buzz about Heritage sponsor

By Associated PressApril 21, 2011, 1:25 am
The HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Jim Furyk noticed there were several more politicians and decision makers on hand than usual when he arrived at Harbour Town Golf Links. And the Heritage defending champion hopes that means good things for the tournament’s future.

The Heritage, played here since 1969, might not return in 2012 if it doesn’t find a title sponsor to underwrite the approximately $8 million a year to hold the event. Verizon, its backer since 1987, pulled out after last year’s tournament.

“Everyone seems positive,” Furyk said Wednesday. “I know they’re working together and working very hard to find a sponsor. I’m not sure what the hang-up is or what you can really find wrong with the area or the golf course.”

Furyk doesn’t see much wrong, especially after the FedEx Cup champion’s Heritage victory last spring. He won in a playoff with competitor Brian Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself for touching a loose reed in the hazard area left of the course’s signature lighthouse hole, No. 18.

Furyk has had five top 10 finishes at Harbour Town, including the win, two seconds and a fourth, since 2003.

“It’s on a very short list of my favorite events, probably my top three,” said the former U.S. Open champion. “I had a couple of close calls here, and an event I always wanted to win before my career was over. It was nice to close the door last year and finally get that done.”

Furyk will have several top competitors trying to keep him from another victory. Luke Donald, No. 3 in the world, heads a field that includes seven players in the top 20. Graeme McDowell (No. 5) and Matt Kuchar (No. 10) are also entered. The others are Furyk (No. 13), Ernie Els (No. 15), Ian Poulter (No. 16) and Francesco Molinari (No. 19).

Also in the field is Jason Day, who tied for second at the Masters and is playing for the first time since that dramatic Sunday at Augusta National.

Andy Pazder, PGA Tour executive vice president and chief operating officer, says the field won’t hurt the cause courting potential sponsors this week. Player after player told Pazder how much they enjoy coming to the Pete Dye’s layout on Calibogue Sound and Camilo Villegas changed his schedule to make sure he teed off at Harbour Town.

“We extremely confident we can find a long-term partner and title sponsor here,” he said. “We’ve got a number of active discussions under way.”

Tournament director Steve Wilmot feels that confidence, too. “But on the drive home, we still don’t have a sponsor,” he said.

Still, the tenor of negotiations with prospective companies have intensified the last four-to-six weeks, keeping him hopeful despite the scores of pitches he’s made over the past 19 months since Verizon announced its plans to leave.

Several state leaders, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have come down to help with the cause. In July, the Heritage Classic Foundation released a study that found last April’s golf tournament brought nearly $82 million to South Carolina and its coastal region. The survey was conducted by Clemson’s International Institute for Tourism Research and Development with help from USC Beaufort.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has said several times she would not use taxpayer money to fund future Heritage tournaments. Duane Parrish, the head of South Carolina’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, reiterated that stance again Wednesday.

“We’ll find someone,” Parrish said. “This is too great of a price value for an organization to entertain, to get the exposure.”

The Heritage Classic Foundation used $4 million from its reserves for this year’s tournament. Local governments have also pitched in $1 million. That’s not a formula that can continue.

“Do I wish we could announced something Sunday? Sure, but we’re not,” Wilmot said.

Furyk would hate to see the Heritage disappear – and not just because he’s earned more than $2.3 million in prize money in 12 trips to Harbour Town.

Losing this event “probably sends a false message, in my opinion, that the tour isn’t as strong as it has been,” he said.

Day thinks he and his competitors will do their parts to get people talking about Harbour Town. “Hopefully, we can get some good play this week and hopefully, we can pick up a sponsor,” he said.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."