No Home-Field Advantage in These Playoffs

By Associated PressAugust 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. -- The PGA TOUR Playoffs figured to be somewhat of a homefield advantage for someone like Vijay Singh, a three-time winner at Westchester and a past champion at TPC Boston and East Lake.
Then he shot 40 on his opening nine holes and missed the cut in the first event of the playoffs.
Steve Stricker had not played at Westchester since 1995, when he tied for 60th and promptly told his wife, 'Take a picture because we're not coming back.' He had little choice but to return under the FedExCup format, and Stricker warmed to the place rather quickly when he won The Barclays for his first victory in more than six years.
'I think for the most part, most players feel like if they're playing well, they can compete at any course,' Stricker said Wednesday.
The next stop in the playoffs is the TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which starts Friday to accommodate its annual Labor Day finish.
The defending champion is Tiger Woods, who will be making his playoff debut after sitting out the first round, which caused him to fall from No. 1 to No. 4 in the standings.
Three of the top 10 players -- Adam Scott is the other -- have won at the TPC Boston. That doesn't mean much if the first week was any indication. Plus, the course has gone through another round of changes, this time by architect Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon.
Among the most significant changes:
  • No. 4 now plays at 298 yards, which will tempt players to drive the green.
  • The par-5 seventh now has a massive cross bunker some 135 yards short of the green, with the face built up so steeply that players won't be able to see the green.
  • On the par-3 16th, the green has been moved forward and to the right, closer to the pond players must carry.
  • A new green on the 412-yard 17th, along with a 70-yard bunker in front of the green.
  • Two pot bunkers in the middle of the 18th fairway, and another one in the lay-up area on the 528-yard closing hole.
    Hanse and Faxon also reshaped the bunkers to give them a New England feel, rugged and unkempt.
    The routing is the same, but it's not quite the same course where Woods closed with a 63 last year to turn a three-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over Singh.
    Woods won't see these changes until his pro-am round. Playing for the first time since winning the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, he spent about two hours on the practice range and putting green before going to a Presidents Cup meeting with Jack Nicklaus.
    David Toms was among the first and most vocal about the courses used for the PGA TOUR playoffs. He grew up in the South, and won his only major in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. That doesn't mean he is incapable of winning anywhere, but he questioned the equity of going to the same courses.
    'If you're going to make guys play, are their guys from the West Coast who would normally go to Chicago or New York? Maybe, maybe not,' Toms said Wednesday. 'You might have variety throughout the year, but you're talking about four straight weeks. For anyone, you do the best you can.'
    And Toms realizes his chances aren't necessarily hurt by going to the same four courses. He recalls hating Kingsmill the first time he played the old Michelob Championship, and it wasn't long before he won there in consecutive years.
    'It's OK, as long as the golf courses are suitable for everybody,' he said. 'I guess if you look at past experience, there might be guys that definitely have an advantage. But that's usually some of the best players, anyway.'
    So what to make of the TPC Boston?
    Toms has not been back since 2004, when he closed with a 64 to tie for 13th. He liked the rugged look of the redesign, figured that it still caters to the longer hitters, but then came to another savvy conclusion big hitters usually have an advantage everywhere.
    Scott won the inaugural Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003. He had yet to see the changes, but just being on the property some 35 miles south of Boston brings back fond memories. It was his first PGA TOUR victory.
    'It's always an advantage if you've won at a course,' Scott said.
    That would suggest the playoffs bode well for Scott, who tied for 14th at The Barclays and moved up one spot to No. 9 in the standings. He also won the TOUR Championship last year at East Lake.
    'If you enjoy being at a golf course for four straight week, I think it's an advantage,' he said. 'If you don't, it won't be much fun.'
    Like everyone else, Scott believes good play can change someone's mind quickly.
    There was talk that Southern Hills wasn't a good fit for Woods, who tied for 12th at the U.S. Open in 2001 and was at the bottom of the pack in the '96 TOUR Championship. Woods kept saying in the weeks leading up to the PGA Championship that he wasn't hitting the ball very well those two years.
    He tied a major championship record with a 63 in the second round of the PGA, and went on to a two-shot victory.
    Stricker has never missed the Deutsche Bank Championship, but he missed the cut his first three years until tying for seventh a year ago. He liked the TPC Boston, and must like it even more coming off his victory at The Barclays.
    'I don't want to stop,' Stricker said. 'I just want to keep this momentum going.'
    Related Links:
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    Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

    By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

    Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

    Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

    Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

    Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

    At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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    Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

    By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

    Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

    An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.

    The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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    NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

    The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

    After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

    Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


    TV Times (all times ET):

    11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
    4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

    4-8PM: Match-play finals

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    Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

    By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

    STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

    The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

    Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

    She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

    Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

    NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring

    “Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

    Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

    Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

    Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

    On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

    Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.