LPGA Considering Driver Testing
That could change by the end of the year.
'We're looking at it,' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said. 'The odds are pretty good we'll see it at some point.'
Driving distance is a bigger issue on the PGA Tour, where last year nine players averaged more than 300 yards off the tee. Spurred by innuendoes from Tiger Woods that some players were using nonconforming drivers, the PGA Tour rolled out the pendulum tester in January.
Only about 15 percent of the players have voluntarily submitted their drivers for testing, although manufacturers are testing the clubs before players get to an event.
The portable test also is available on the Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour.
So far, the long ball hasn't been an issue in women's golf.
'We don't see the statistical anomalies of players who were hitting it one distance, then going 20 to 30 yards farther,' Votaw said. 'We don't have a buzz, a lot of players whispering, 'Gee, no way she's hitting it that far.' There may be whispers, we just haven't heard them.'
Votaw said he was concerned about the costs and logistics of the device, but once he learned each pendulum tester was only about $4,000, he started to consider making it available on the LPGA Tour.
Women don't generate as much clubhead speed as the men, which allows for greater springlike effect. Plus, equipment companies aren't out en masse at LPGA events, and the competition isn't as great to get them to use their clubs.
Still, the test was designed to make sure the clubs conform, no matter who was swinging them.
Votaw compared the situation to a stretch of highway where there has never been an accident.
'Do you put a highway patrolman out there with a radar to make sure everyone is driving the speed limit, when all evidence points to it being a safe highway?' he said.
So why bother with the pendulum tester?
'Because it might be interesting to see how fast they're going,' Votaw said.
TRAVELIN' MAN: Ricky Barnes' bogey on the 18th hole of the FBR Open was costly.
A top-10 finish at Phoenix would have given the former U.S. Amateur champion a spot in the field at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and it would not have counted against the seven sponsor's exemptions he can take this year.
Alas, Barnes dunked his tee shot in the water, took bogey and fell out of the top 10 by one shot.
Instead of playing at Pebble Beach, he boarded a plane for Australia to play in the Heineken Classic.
'It'll be a reality check, because I needed to make a par on the last hole and I would have saved myself 15 hours in the air,' Barnes said.
CURTIS CUP: U.S. captain Martha Wilkinson Kirouac expects to preside over one of the youngest Curtis Cup teams ever - something that might have made her nervous a year ago.
But having watched some of America's teens compete, her confidence is high.
'They're not lacking,' Kirouac. 'You can't hold age against them.'
Among the candidates to make the U.S. team, which likely will be announced this weekend, are Michelle Wie (14), Paula Creamer (17), Jane Park (17) and Arizona sophomore Erica Blasberg (19).
Kirouac's job could get even more interesting if Carol Semple Thompson, 55, gets picked for her 13th Curtis Cup.
It's one thing to have a teammate young enough to be your daughter.
But young enough to be your granddaughter?
CAPTAIN'S STYLE: Based on the last two guys Hal Sutton played for in the Ryder Cup, captains aren't always the way they were as players.
Curtis Strange, a two-time U.S. Open, was renowned for his fierce focus during the biggest events, a guy that utterly despised making anything worse than par.
Sutton expected that personality at The Belfry in 2002, but found a captain who was more relaxed and in tune with the players. Part of that was because Strange and European captain Sam Torrance tried to restore civility and perspective to the matches.
'Curtis was not as intense of a captain as he was a player,' Sutton said. 'That's not a knock against Curtis. I thought Curtis did a great job from a player's perspective, but he was a little different than he was as a player.'
Then there's Ben Crenshaw, known as 'Gentle Ben.'
He was hardly that, according to Sutton.
'I would call him 'seriously calculated' in some ways,' Sutton said.
Sutton was playing well in the '99 matches at Brookline. He and Maggert had just finished winning an alternate-shot match on the second day when Crenshaw said he needed them to play again in the afternoon.
Sutton was ready to go. Maggert said he was tired and needed to sit.
'Ben looks at me and he said, 'Well, who do you want to play with, because I'm going to have to put you out there,'' Sutton said.
Sutton suggested Payne Stewart. Crenshaw said Stewart was spraying the ball all over the place and sent him out with Justin Leonard.
'I thought I might have a little influence on Ben,' Sutton said. 'I don't know why he asked me in the first place. He had no intentions of doing what I said. I kind of liked that about Ben.'
DIVOTS: The Evian Masters has raised its purse to $2.5 million, second-highest on the LPGA Tour behind the U.S. Women's Open. ... Judy Rankin will receive the Linda Vollstedt Award next Monday in Phoenix for service and leadership in women's sports. ... The USGA might hand out exemptions to the U.S. Open during its annual meeting this weekend in Orlando, Fla. Among those under consideration are Tom Watson. ... Casey Martin is in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on a sponsor's exemption. ... The winner of the Ford Championship at Doral will get a Ford GT. Priced just under $140,000, it will be the most expensive car awarded on the PGA Tour. ... Retief Goosen has shot par or better in his last 25 rounds on the PGA Tour.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eight men played in the first four PGA Tour events of the year. Jonathan Kaye and Retief Goosen were the only ones to make every cut.
FINAL WORD: 'I must have picked up 10 yards, because last year Hank Kuehne hit it 70 yards by me. And today, he only hit it 60 by me.' - Scott Verplank.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1
AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.
In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.
“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”
Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.
After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”
Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana
PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.
Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.
''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''
Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.
A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.
''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''
The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.
''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''
Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.
''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''
McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.
''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''
Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.
Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner
AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.
“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’
“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”
Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.
“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”
Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar
AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.
“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”
By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.
“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.
Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.