Notes Mud Balls Causing Concern

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ernie Els warned it could be a sloppy, muddy opening round at The Players Championship.
Turns out, the Big Easy was right.
Several players, including Els, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, had problems with mud clumps sticking to golf balls and altering shot flights Thursday at the TPC's Stadium Course.

Woods mentioned the glop four times during his brief interview after the round.
``I just tried to get by with some mud balls,'' said Woods, who shot a 2-under 70.
Rain hit the Jacksonville area Monday and Tuesday, drenching a course designed to handle the water. Still, the fairways were mushy, meaning second shots were adventures pros aren't accustomed to -- and certainly not at a tournament considered by many the fifth major.
Singh said he had a lot of ``suspect lies.''
``You can hit all the fairways you want in conditions like this,'' he said, ``it doesn't matter (because) there's mud on the ball.''
Singh overcame the problems for a 5-under 67, three shots behind leader Steve Jones.
On Woods' final hole, the ninth, he said he cut a shot he normally wouldn't to offset the mud on the ball's right side. ``It started out cutting and ended up hooking left,'' he said.
Woods made the birdie.
On Tuesday, Els cautioned that muddy balls could bring trouble. He shot a first-round 71.
``If we have mud on the ball, there is no way you can control it, period,'' Els said. ``And on this golf course, which is tough enough already, you hit it in the fairway, you want to have a good lie.''
Not everyone agreed. Fred Funk, who calls Ponte Vedra Beach home, said the conditions were better than he expected. ``It was surprising how dry it was for the amount of rain we had,'' he said.
Els won't sleep easy, though. He feels the worst is ahead.
``When they cut these fairways, I really think we're going to get some mud on the ball then because it's really going to compress as it hits,'' he said after his round.
If Brett Quigley succeeds this week, he'll know who to thank.
``My crazy uncle, for sure,'' said Quigley, referring to Uncle Dana, who's won nine times on the Champions Tour, including this year's MasterCard Championship.
The younger Quigley said his uncle pushed him to get off the range and onto the course during the winter. It must have helped. Quigley shot a 5-under 67 and stood three strokes off the lead at The Players Championship.
Brett typically takes four weeks off after the season and then starts his range work. His uncle challenged him to change this year. Brett listened and says it's paying off in an improved game.
``I probably only practiced two hours in two months,'' Brett said. ``Instead I played every day and hit a bunch of shots and learned how to score again.''
The fans gathered around the first tee recognized the face and the name of David Duval, who grew up in Jacksonville and remains a favorite in these parts. But he was introduced as being from Denver, where he moved last year after getting married.
And the game doesn't look familiar.
Duval won The Players Championship in 1999 to rise to No. 1 in the world, but is mired in a massive slump brought on my injuries and confidence. The only good part about his 76 was playing even par on the back nine, helped by a 20-foot eagle putt on the 16th.
``I'm playing good golf,'' Duval said. ``I've just got to do it out on the golf course.''
John Daly played the first hole twice Thursday.
He hit the ball down the fairway and had a two-putt par on No. 1. Then on the adjacent par-5 second, his tee shot went left into a tree, ricocheted left, bounced off a cart path and landed in the rough on the No. 1, about 20 yards away from his opening drive.
Blocked by trees, he figured his best option was to play down the first fairway. He went too long into the rough, then chip over the trees just short of the hazard on the second fairway, hit onto the green and made bogey.
``Always wanted to play the first hole backward,'' Daly said to himself after hitting the third shot.
Mark Calcavecchia shot 71 and called it a miracle.
His back has been bothering him all week, and a hard swing out of the rough on No. 4 nearly brought him to his knees.
Just his luck, the back specialist for partner Tommy Armour III was following that group and was able to work on Calcavecchia's back as he headed to the fifth tee.
``It's safe to say I played in the most pain I've ever felt,'' Calcavecchia said. ``I don't know if I can tough it out for three more days. I've got 23 hours to recover.''
Hunter Mahan, a college golf star at Oklahoma State two years ago, had a 68 in his first round at the Stadium Course. He had four straight birdies from Nos. 3-6. ... Luke Donald says he doesn't plan to leave Chicago, near his college of Northwestern, anytime soon despite the trouble getting in some rounds during winter. Donald says he's looking to buy a second home in Florida.
Related Links:
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    Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

    By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

    Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

    European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

    Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.

    Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

    Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

    Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

    Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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    Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

    By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

    RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

    Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

    Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

    ''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

    The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

    ''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

    Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.

    Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

    ''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

    Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

    ''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

    The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

    ''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

    The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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    After Further Review: American success stories

    By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

    Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

    After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

    Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

    It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray

    On the resurgence of American women  ...

    American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

    The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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    In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

    By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

    Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.




    Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

    “I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

    Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

    It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

    “I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

    “I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

    Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

    “Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

    Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.

    Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

    “I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

    Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

    This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

    Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

    Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

    Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

    Kang did.

    “Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

    Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

    “I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

    “More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”