Johnson knocks it outta the park ... literally

By Associated PressJune 14, 2012, 2:46 am

SAN FRANCISCO - As golfer Dustin Johnson crushed drives from home plate over the right-field wall and into San FranciscoBay, pitcher Matt Cain and manager Bruce Bochy glanced at each other before looking into the stands for approval from Giants general manager Brian Sabean.

Then, the San Francisco ace grabbed a club and smacked one of his own - splashing the ball into McCovey Cove 310 yards away. That was it considering he had to pitch against the Houston Astros three hours later. Cain dazzled with his swing with a 342-yard drive during the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am back in February, yet Sabean hollered that he would turn his head when the pitcher took his drive - and the GM did just that for a moment.

Sabean's apprehension is understandable. In early April, Cain signed a $127.5 million, six-year contract, the largest deal for a right-handed pitcher in baseball history.

''I knew he was a good golfer,'' Johnson said about Cain. ''(Sabean) didn't want him (to hit). He said he was going inside.''

Reliever Clay Hensley also hit drives from the tee on home plate, and former first baseman J.T. Snow nearly drilled a spotter with a low drive on his second attempt before adjusting his swing and hitting a couple of pretty drives. A few Astros who came outside to watch the fanfare were offered a chance but declined.

''That was pretty cool,'' Johnson said ahead of his opening round at the U.S. Open on Thursday. ''This is the first time I've been to the stadium, gorgeous stadium. To hit drivers off of home plate is pretty fun, especially out into McCovey Cove. It's probably the coolest place I've hit balls, maybe besides Augusta.''

Hensley took his first round of swings - ''Let's get him his PGA Tour card!'' hollered teammate Aubrey Huff - and later stepped in for a few more, drawing an ''Ooooh, wow!'' from slugger Pablo Sandoval on a 292-yard shot. Hall of Famer Willie McCovey watched from nearby as balls splashed into his cove. Each drive was tracked for distance and speed on the main scoreboard in center field. Pitching coach Dave Righetti shot a video of the hitting show, saying, ''Let's watch the rips,'' as Hensley took his turn.

''Isn't that amazing?'' McCovey said, smiling. ''They used to do these kind of things in the minor leagues to draw crowds. It's fun to get the golfers out. This is a big week in San Francisco with the U.S. Open, a lot going on.''

Johnson, the St. Jude Classic winner Sunday in Memphis, Tenn., in his second event following a back injury that sidelined him for nearly three months, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and hoped to outdo Rory McIlroy, who did so Tuesday ahead of the Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. Johnson bounced his fastball to stand-in catcher and relief pitcher Sergio Romo, drawing cheers from the crowd.

''I saw video. It was all right,'' Johnson said about McIlroy's pitch. ''It was over the plate. I'm going to go from the mound, I've got to. All my buddies said they were going to make fun of me if I stood in the grass.''

If he weren't about to play a major, Johnson said he might consider jumping into the cage for some live batting practice.

Johnson typically takes the Wednesday before a major as an ''easy day,'' so this relaxing outing to the ballpark took some of the edge off. He also has a late tee time Thursday.

''If it was a baseball, I'd be a little bit nervous but hitting a golf ball out here, I can handle that,'' Johnson said. ''I can hit. If I wasn't playing the U.S. Open tomorrow I'd probably do it. I played up until high school, so I haven't swung a bat in a long time. I'll hit in a batting cage every once in a while, but I'm not doing it before I go out and play golf tomorrow.''

Bochy opted against hitting a couple of drives.

''I was not going to put myself in a compromising position with my golf game,'' he quipped.

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Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

On Friday, he made tour history.

“I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 

To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”