Notes Euros feeling good at Oakland Hills

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' When the Ryder Cup was held at Oakland Hills in 2004, the Europeans left with an 18 1/2 -9 1/2 victory, the second of their three straight over the United States.
 
The top points producers on that team are back for the PGA Championship that starts Thursday on the same course.
 
Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood both had 4 1/2 of a possible five points over those three days.
 
The look of the course is pretty much the same. Its obviously a lot tougher than it was at the Ryder Cup, said Garcia, who was 24 then. Obviously the rough is thicker. They have added some good length. Bunkers are a little bit deeper.
 
Westwood, who is seven years older than Garcia, broke into a wide smile when asked about the 2004 Ryder Cup.
 
I had had a bit more to drink than Ive had right now. Although I think we all were sort of pretty well on our way, he said referring to huge bottles of champagne that were sprayed and imbibed with great gusto. Its just great memories, really.
 
Westwood was asked if being back on the course for a practice round brought back any specific thoughts of holes from that day.
 
Its not the way my mind was working. I was just kind of focusing on this week and not what happened in the past on the golf course, he said. Only probably on the 18th green where I stopped sort of preparing for this weeks tournament and I just said to my caddie, `Do you remember that putt that Sergio holed there? It was only because he nearly hit me with the putter when he tossed it up in the air. Thats the only reason I remember that.
 
Eight of the 12 players on that European team are here this week and a ninth, Luke Donald, was forced to withdraw because of a wrist injury.
 
At least one former PGA champion believes the Europeans should be brimming with confidence from four years ago.
 
If they dont, its their own damned fault for not having it, because they really took it to us, said Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA champion who wasnt a member of the U.S. team in 2004.
 
PRACTICE? PRACTICE?
 
The image of golfers taking the opportunity to play practice round after practice round at a major championship venue was shattered by Rocco Mediate.
 
One of the sports most popular players since his U.S. Open playoff loss to Tiger Woods in June, Mediate was ready for Thursdays opening round of the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills after a total of nine practice holes on the course known as The Monster.
 
Im tired, Mediate said Wednesday after talking for a while about his hectic life since becoming such a celebrity following the 19-hole playoff loss to the worlds No. 1 golfer. I played last July in the British Open qualifier here and the golf course is right in front of you. The greens are difficult, but they are still right in front of you. I remember them all.
 
Its not rocket science. Its just youve got to be under these holes. You cannot play them from over the greens. Theres no tricks, obviously, just a lot of long clubs for me, and I enjoy hitting them.
 
Mediate was asked for an example of how crazy things have become for him since the 46-year-olds remarkable performance at Torrey Pines.
 
Walking to dinner last night, one guy stopped the car on the street, sent his son over. I signed the autograph and he got back in the car, Mediate said. It was kind of freaky, actually. It was fine. There wasnt much going on. It wasnt a busy street.
 
CENTENNIAL PGA
 
The 100th anniversary of the first PGA Championship will be celebrated by staging the last of the four majors near where the organization was formed: Baltusrol.
 
The course in Springfield, N.J., just across the river from New York where The PGA of America was formed in April 1916. The first PGA Championship was held six months later at Siwanoy in nearby Bronxville.
 
Its one of the classic clubs in this country, and if you walk up on a point on the Upper Course, you can see the Manhattan skyline, Joe Steranka, the CEO of the PGA of America, said Wednesday. So being in the New York metropolitan area for us was important, to be able to be near the birthplace. I know well have a lot of activities in the year leading up to that centennial championship.
 
That PGA Championship will be not the 100th edition, however, since none was held in 1917, 1918 and 1943.
 
Baltusrol hosted its only PGA Championship in 2005, with Phil Mickelson winning by one stroke over Steve Elkington and Thomas Bjorn in a rare Monday finish. Bad weather blew in late Sunday, forcing 12 players to return the day to complete their rounds.
 
That championship brought a whole group of people into the field and was one of the most dramatic moments, Steranka said. Well try to finish it on Sunday this year, though.
 
BIG MONTH
 
Chad Campbell has a lot on his mind this month ' the PGA Championship, trying to make the Ryder Cup team, the PGA Tour playoffs for the FedEx Cup. And in the middle of this, hes preparing for fatherhood.
 
His wife, Amy, is expecting a boy on Sept. 4.
 
She more worried about the schedule than I am, Campbell said.
 
He said he likely would play the Deutsche Bank Championship, which ends Sept. 1, then skip the BMW Championship in St. Louis. That might affect his FedEx Cup standings, but it shouldnt have any bearing on the Ryder Cup. If he doesnt make the team, the captains picks are announced after the Deutsche Bank.
 
LATE CHANGE
 
Shingo Katayama, No. 52 in the official world golf rankings, withdrew from the PGA Championship on Wednesday due to recurring back problems. He was replaced by Michael Allen of Scottsdale, Ariz. The 156-player field now includes 93 of the worlds top 100.
 
Other withdrawals in the last week include Brett Wetterich (back), Jason Bohn (back), Luke Donald (wrist) and Alex Cejka (arm).
 
Cejka was in the field as an alternate, replacing Donald.
 
Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods is not in the field after undergoing knee surgery soon after winning the U.S. Open in June.
 
NO TIGER
 
Tiger Woods will miss the Ryder Cup, and U.S. captain Paul Azinger cant see how that will help.
 
Some have speculated that Woods absence ' he has never had a winning record at any Ryder Cup ' might motivate the Americans and put more pressure on Europe, which has won the last three times.
 
I dont see one, single positive that Tiger Woods isnt on our team, Azinger said. I cant imagine how you can argue a team would be better off without arguably the greatest player ' potentially the greatest player ' who has ever lived. As far as Im concerned, it really puts Europe in an advantageous place. It puts Europe in a favorite role. Theres just no question about it.
 
PRIZE MONEY
 
The PGA of America approved prize money Wednesday of $7.5 million for the PGA Championship, up $500,000 from last year. First place is worth $1.35 million.
 
Its the first time since 2003 that all three U.S. majors had the same purse.
 
The British Open had the largest amount of prize money this year, mainly because of the exchange rate. Padraig Harrington earned nearly $1.5 million from a prize fund of $8.24 million.
 
Typical of the majors, even those missing the cut will earn $2,500.
 
BACK STRETCH
 
The PGA Championship comes toward the end of an impressive string of marquee sporting events in the Detroit area. The 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills started the run and was followed by baseballs All-Star game the next year and the 2006 Super Bowl. Following the 2009 Final Four, the Motor City might have a long wait for another scheduled sporting event that has wide appeal.
 
Oakland Hills members are open to hosting another major ' a seventh U.S. Open or fourth PGA Championship ' but not until sometime between 2016 and 2022. Local officials are hoping to land another Final Four between 2012-16.
 
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    Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

    SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

    Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

    Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

    He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


    ''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

    Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

    Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

    Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

    Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

    By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

    In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

    Made Cut

    Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

    “I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

    Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

    A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

    The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

    The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

    “I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

    Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

    “The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

    It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

    “It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

    Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

    For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

    Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

    Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

    It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


    Missed Cut

    By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

    Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

    While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

    Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

    Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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    S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

    By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

    SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

    Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

    Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

    ''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

    Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


    ''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

    She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

    Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

    Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.