Notes Brett Meet Tiger Caddie Gate

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)AKRON, Ohio -- Brett Wetterich will be on the plane Sunday night to Ireland with the rest of the Ryder Cup team, but first he has to take care of some business.
 
Like meeting Tiger Woods for the first time.

And perhaps getting some pointers on match play.
 
None of the Americans on this team are more unknown than Wetterich, who might be the first player to go from Q-school to making the Ryder Cup team in the same year.
 
'Thank God for the new points system,' he said Tuesday at the Bridgestone Invitational. 'I didn't have many points last year. I had a great year, and it worked out good for me.'
 
Know this about Wetterich -- he can hit it a mile and make birdies.
 
Wetterich is fourth on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 308.2 yards, and has decent accuracy for such power. Perhaps more importantly, he is third in making birdies, which should come in handy at The K Club.
 
The new points system emphasized this year's performance, and Wetterich earned his spot. He was fourth in New Orleans, won the Byron Nelson Championship and tied for second at Memorial.
 
He was 10th in the standings going to the PGA Championship, but two quadruple bogeys knocked him from the top of the leaderboard to a 76 in the first round, and he missed the cut. Wetterich spent Sunday watching the final round, paying close attention to Tim Herron, Steve Stricker and Davis Love III, the only players who had a remote chance of catching him.
 
'I was a little nervous,' he said. 'But there's nothing you can do. I played bad and I didn't do my part, so it wasn't up to me what was going to happen.'
 
Wetterich says he has never met Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, although he has passed by him in the locker room. It was surprising that he never played match play, even in the U.S. Junior Amateur or U.S. Amateur.
 
'Nope,' he said. 'I never qualified for match play. But I think I'll be good at it. I'll have some bad holes, but I usually make my share of birdies.'
 
Told that American teammate Vaughn Taylor also has not experienced match play, Wetterich smiled.
 
'I like Vaughn,' he said.
 
CADDIEGATE
Michelle Wie fired her caddie despite have a chance to win three LPGA majors on the 18th hole.
 
Perhaps more surprising is Lorena Ochoa dumping her caddie while leading the LPGA Tour money list.
 
Golfweek magazine reported that Ochoa fired Lance Bennett after the Mexican star finished second to Sorenstam in Sweden. Ochoa now is No. 2 on the money list, a mere $1,017 behind Karrie Webb.
 
'I'm disappointed it ended the way it did because of all the success we've shared this year,' Bennett told the magazine. 'This is the last thing I ever believed would have happened. But hey, she has to do what she feels is best for her.'
 
CONFIDENCE BOOST
Scott Verplank became the first captain's pick to have never played in a Ryder Cup in 2001. Two weeks later, he won the Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
 
Stewart Cink was a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup in 2004, then won the next week at Firestone.
 
Is it merely a coincidence?
 
'No,' Verplank said. 'It's such an honor, and it's such a huge vote of confidence to be picked by a guy who's running the team. There's a lot of choices, and to be singled out ... that's a pretty ringing endorsement.'
 
WELCOME BACK
Corey Pavin was last at Firestone in 1996 after winning the Colonial.
 
He returned this week having won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, and so much has changed. It's now called the Bridgestone Invitational, a World Golf Championship event worth $7.5 million that pays $1.3 million to the winner and $30,250 for last place.
 
Pavin earned $60,900 when he finished ninth 10 years ago.
 
And then there's the course, one of the longest on tour 10 years ago at 7,149 yards. Now it measures 7,360 yards.
 
'They've taken a wealth of trees out of the golf course and they've added some length,' Pavin said. 'I'm not sure when they did that. It could have been eight years ago. It's as good as I can remember this course ever being.'
 
MAJOR PERFORMANCE
No one finished in the top 10 at all four majors this year. In fact, there were only 10 players who even made the cut in all four majors.
 
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk were the only Americans to cash a check in every Grand Slam event. Tiger Woods won two majors and tied for third at the Masters, but he missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
 
The other eight players to make every cut in a major were U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Mike Weir, Robert Allenby, Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Ernie Els.
 
COMPUTER GAMES
The PGA Tour allows a computer to crank out the pairings each week, but it sure didn't look very random at the International. With two events remaining to qualify for the Ryder Cup team, 10 of the top 20 players in the standings were either paired together or with captain Tom Lehman.
 
Phil Mickelson played with Lucas Glover and Davis Love III; J.J. Henry was in the same group as David Toms. John Rollins, 11th in the standings, somehow wound up with Lehman.
 
The PGA Tour tournament director that week, Slugger White, says it was truly a coincidence.
 
'The computer doesn't know the difference between the Ryder Cup and a coffee cup,' White said Tuesday. 'It was untouched by human hands, I promise you.'
 
DIVOTS
Nine players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team once played on the Nationwide Tour, the exceptions being Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Scott Verplank ... The Byron Nelson Championship raised $6.33 million for charity, the fifth time that The Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas (which runs the tournament) has crossed the $6 million mark. ... Comedian George Lopez will be celebrity host of the Bob Hope Classic. ... Woods' victory at Medinah gave him five this year on the PGA Tour, the seventh time he has won at least five. Sam Snead holds the record with eight years of at least five victories.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
In winning his last three tournaments, Tiger Woods ranked No. 1 in driving accuracy at the British Open, driving distance at the Buick Open and greens in regulation at the PGA Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
'He's done so much winning and he's won so many different ways, there isn't any situation that catches him off guard.' -- Hank Haney, the swing coach for Tiger Woods.
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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.

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Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”

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Bradley leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 12:28 am

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Michael Bradley shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions' Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 52-year-old Bradley had five birdies and a bogey in the rain-delayed round to reach 11-under 133 at En-Joie Golf Club. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, he's seeking his first victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Bart Bryant and Marco Dawson were tied for second. Bryant, the 2013 winner at En-Joie for his lone Champions title, had a 67. Dawson shot 70.


Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


Wes Short Jr. (65), Clark Dennis (70) and Tom Gillis (69) were 9 under, and Kenny Perry (69) was 7 under with first-round leader Doug Garwood (73), Mark Calcavecchia (69), Woody Austin (71), Jerry Haas (68) and Scott Parel (68). Perry won the 3M Championship two weeks ago in Minnesota.

Bernard Langer, the 2014 winner, was 5 under after a 69. Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 71 to get to 1 under. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, was 6 over after rounds of 73 and 77.

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Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.


Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list


The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.