Notes Monty reluctantly confronts 19th cup

By Associated PressJuly 31, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' After a long and difficult round, Colin Montgomerie was less than thrilled to have to deal with one more cup.
 
After shooting an opening-round 2-over 72 Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational, Montgomerie was not pleased when he was asked to provide a urine sample as part of the PGA TOUR's new anti-doping policy.
 
The 45-year-old Montgomerie acknowledged he didnt really know what the procedure was. Then, as he left the scorers trailer, he turned to his caddie and said, This is a complete waste of time.
 
Its a brave, new world on tour. Tim Clark has yet to win on the American tour but already holds the distinction of being the first player tested by the Tour.
 
Clark was among four players tested after the first round of the AT&T National earlier this month at Congressional.
 
I think I was the first guy off the golf course that day at Washington, he said. I guess they wanted to get some negative tests in before anything happens. I guess they figured Im one of the least likely to be on something. You have to go to the gym to be on steroids.
 
Clark doesnt like the idea of drug testing, but he figures its a sign of the times. And he felt the process was fine, taking about 15 minutes before he could provide his sample.
 
FREQUENT FLYER: Sergio Garcia took a week off after the British Open, flying to his home in Switzerland before returning to Spain for several days of practice, then traveling back across the Atlantic for this weeks Bridgestone Invitational.
 
Asked if he had ever calculated how many miles he travels in a year, he cracked, Why? Why bother? You want me to go even more crazy?
 
TURNING POINT: A dismal year might just be brightening for Chris DiMarco.
 
After shoulder surgery last September, DiMarco has had difficulty getting untracked this year. Missing 11 cuts in 19 starts, he has plummeted to No. 156 on the money list.
 
Distraught after a bad second round that led to another missed cut at the Canadian Open, he drove from Toronto to Toledo, Ohio, to meet and then consult with teaching pro Rick Smith. He then had Smith tag along on a Wednesday practice round at the Bridgestone.
 
The result was an encouraging 68 in the first round.
 
I hit the ball about as solid as Ive hit it in a really long time, said DiMarco, who tied for fourth a year ago in Akron.
 
For a change, he feels as if hes on the road back to respectability.
 
Told that he needs to make up a lot of ground to qualify for the FedExCup events, DiMarco took it as a challenge.
 
If I hit the next couple of weeks like I hit it today, thats not going to be a problem, he said.
 
NOT SO ROUGH: A year ago at the Bridgestone, the rough was higher and the greens were as fast as a ball bearing on a granite floor. As a result, the players in the select field had an average score of almost 3-over'putting Firestone Country right behind the three 2007 American major championship venues in terms of difficulty.
 
Thats not the case this year, although the old course is still no pushover.
 
In Thursdays opening round, with the greens still moist from heavy rains a day earlier and the rough considerably shorter, 48 of the 80 players shot par or better.
 
PGA TOUR officials are experimenting with the height of the rough at this and other tournament sites to determine how it impacts scoring. They are also taking a look at graded rough, with the thick stuff becoming longer and more penal the farther a shot strays from the fairway.
 
Asked what players want, PGA TOUR policy board member Stewart Cink said, They want skill to play a factor in every single shot. And if you have rough like you have out here today, it takes a lot of skill to maneuver a ball on the green when youve got trees in front of you but you can do it if you hit a really good shot. I think the players really like what they see here.
 
Phil Mickelson sure did.
 
This year Firestone is one of my favorite golf courses that we have on tour, he said after a 68 that included a circus-like birdie-3 from out of the deep rough and trees on the closing hole. Last year, not so much. But this year all the guys are talking about how much they love it because we can play it. We can hit shots, we can be creative and challenge ourselves with some recoveries like on 18. That wouldnt have been a possibility last year.
 
NO NEED: Padraig Harrington joked a year ago that he was disappointed when he wasnt introduced as the reigning British Open champion on the first tee at the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
This year, after winning the championship at Royal Birkdale two weeks ago, he was properly acknowledged.
 
I didnt need that this year, he said with a laugh. I know Im the champion.
 
DIVOTS: Anthony Kim, who took 60 or 70 swings during batting practice with the Boston Red Sox on Monday night, said he remains sore and blamed that for his 71. After winning his first PGA Tour event last week at the Canadian Open, Chez Reavie got a congratulatory text message from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who plays at the same club in Arizona. Ernie Els missed a lot of short ones and still mustered a 69. Despite a double-bogey on the 18th hole, Vijay Singh had a 67. Lee Westwoods second shot at the par-5 second hole flew the green and stuck in a hat that a spectator wasnt wearing but had fastened on his belt. Only one player among the top five players on the leaderboard (Daniel Chopra) has won this year on tour.
 
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    Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

    SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

    Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

    ''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

    Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

    The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

    Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.


    Full-field scores from the American Century Championship


    ''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

    Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

    Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

    Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

    Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

    The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

    Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


    The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

    McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.