Monty, Langer set to clash at hot U.S. Senior Open

By Associated PressJune 24, 2015, 11:59 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The biggest challenge facing the field at the U.S. Senior Open is to beat the heat and two timeless wonders who continue to find their way to the top of the leaderboard at major championships.

Sweating out each could prove equally problematic.

With a triple-digit temperature forecast Thursday and Friday in California's capital city, the toughest test on the Champions Tour has some added sizzle.

Bust out the sunscreen and sunglasses. Load up on water and soak up the shade. Between the competition and the conditions, this U.S. Senior Open should be a scorcher.

''We old guys like heat. We don't like cold. We like it hot. Keeps our bones and everything loose,'' quipped 65-year-old Tom Watson, an eight-time major champion on the PGA Tour. ''You get it below 80 degrees, and we start putting our cashmeres on.''

Navigating through the 72-hole grind of the national championship for seniors is always difficult. Doing it in 100-plus degree heat against a pair of past champions consistently wearing down opponents is another matter.

Besides the thermometer, all eyes will be on defending champion Colin Montgomerie and 2010 U.S. Senior Open winner Bernhard Langer at Del Paso Country Club, a green oasis in rain-deprived Northern California (the club says its water is drawn from an old, private well).

Montgomerie and Langer have combined to win six of the previous seven senior major championships. They're the leading money-getters on tour and the favorites to finish on top again.

''They seem to just continue to play the same all the time. They both are in contention on a weekly basis,'' said 50-year-old Lee Janzen, one of the youngest players on the Champions Tour.

The 52-year-old Montgomerie, who finished in a tie for 64th at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay on Sunday, captured his second consecutive Senior PGA Championship this year. The Scot beat Gene Sauers in a three-hole aggregate playoff to win last year's U.S. Senior Open in scorching heat at Oak Tree in Oklahoma.

The 57-year-old Langer won his second straight Senior Players Championship this year. The German has won five senior majors, tied for fifth most. Jack Nicklaus is the record-holder with eight.

Langer and Montgomerie, friends and former Ryder Cup partners, are grouped with amateur Patrick Tallen in the first two rounds. They're scheduled to tee off in the afternoon Thursday, when the forecast high is 104 degrees.

''I'm not a big fan of heat,'' said Langer, a two-time Masters champion who lives in hot and humid South Florida now. ''I'd rather put a sweater on and play in the 60s and 70s.''

While Montgomerie has won three senior majors the past two years, Langer has been the barometer on the Champions Tour since joining in 2007.

His six-stroke victory at the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago at Belmont Country Club was his 24th win on the Champions Tour. He has been the money leader six of the last seven years and is second on the money list this season behind Montgomerie, who has played one more tournament.

''It will be fun. It is fun playing with him. You know exactly where you are, where you stand the first two days,'' Montgomerie said.

The challengers for Langer and Montgomerie are vast and varied.

There are 28 past USGA champions, 27 amateurs and 84 sectional qualifiers among the field of 156. That includes three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin and players such as Miguel Angel Jimenez and Kenny Perry who have contended in majors on the PGA Tour in recent years. It does not include Fred Couples; the 1992 Masters champion withdrew because of a back injury.

The nearly 7,000-yard, par-70 course has some uneven lies but is about as straightforward as California courses come. The trick is to stay out of the long, lush rough and control the speed on the fast fairways and fickle greens - all of which will be tougher as the temperature rises and the competition heats up.

''Just stay in the shade as much as possible because it will be quite a while out there,'' Montgomerie said. ''The course is playing difficult. It could take up to five hours to play, unfortunately, and that's a long time to have the concentration out there that one needs to win this type of championship.''

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

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“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.