Notes Noh playing fearless in PGA Championship

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2010, 4:16 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Seung-yul Noh says he’s not very famous back home in Korea. That’s reserved for stars like K.J. Choi and Y.E. Yang.

The 19-year-old Noh is lurking on the leaderboard at 5-under 139 after a 68 in his second round on Friday at the PGA Championship. Noh, who wants to known by his initials S.Y., will likely be somewhere near the top when Saturday’s third round begins, even though he insisted he isn’t looking at the leaderboard yet.

Noh hasn’t quite reached celebrity status in South Korea, but that may change with a strong performance at Whistling Straits.

“I don’t play much on the PGA Tour, so that’s why I’m not very famous back in Korea,” Noh said through an interpreter. “After this, maybe I’ll be famous.”

Maybe that’s not something he’ll want, either. Yang said after he won the PGA Championship last year, he needed six bodyguards for a trip back home and their clothes were in tatters after fans tried to get to Yang to celebrate their star.

This is Noh’s first PGA Championship after winning the Malaysian Open to make him the second youngest winner ever on the European Tour.

Noh started hitting golf balls near his home in Gangwando, South Korea, when he was 7 and had a strong amateur career before turning pro three years ago.

He declined to say he thinks he could win the tournament, but he’s got his style of play down pat. “I play fearless,” he said.


NOT SO FULL MONTY: Colin Montgomerie will have to wait until the second round is completed Saturday to find out whether he will finish in last place among 156 players. He shot an 83 on Friday afternoon and was at 18-over 162.

He was primarily entered as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, and that’s his focus – along with a flurry of reports about his personal life. Montgomerie was asked after he finished his first round 78 if he had prepared and what were his expectations.

“There weren’t. I couldn’t. I’m sorry,” he replied.

It was his fourth consecutive year at the PGA that he failed to break par.

All that boosted his spirits was the play of his potential team – Francesco Molinari a co-leader after the first round, Rory McIlroy playing well in another major.

One player who won’t be in Wales – and this is no surprise – is Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard, who has played every Ryder Cup since 1999, said last week he was taking a two-month break after the PGA Championship unless the Ryder Cup got in the way.

Asked if he could see Garcia on the team, Montgomerie replied, “At this stage, it is not looking likely, no.”


CLARKE’S RESTART: Darren Clarke was 3-under par, one shot out of the lead, when he left Whistling Straits on Thursday night with five holes left in his first round. He wound up at 2-over 74 and had no idea what went wrong.

Clarke had a 30-foot par putt for his first shot Friday, and knew bogey was likely.

Then came a missed tee shot on the 15th (bogey), a poor chip on the 16th (bogey) and a bad break in the bunkers on the par-3 17th, which led to a double bogey.

Clarke pulled his tee shot to the left and down the slope into a bunker. Someone had walked through it, and his ball wound up in a deep heel print.

“It was one of those that was supposed to be raked and someone had walked through it,” he said. “Just one of those mistakes. There are so many out here, they are going to miss one now and again. Just unfortunate I was the guy in it.”

He was lucky to move it a a few feet, chipped on and made double bogey.

“I was hoping for better, but that’s the way it is,” Clarke said. “I’d love to find an excuse, but I can’t.”

What about the heel print?

“A good shot doesn’t go down there,” he said. “A good shot goes on the green.”

DALY DONE: John Daly notified organizers late Friday that he would not be back Saturday after finishing the par-3 seventh hole because of a shoulder injury. He was 5 over in his second round to that point after shooting a 76 in his opening round Thursday.

Daly was in a group with Padraig Harrington and Davis Love III.

The 44-year-old Daly won the 1991 PGA Championship, earning a lifetime exemption to the event. He’s been cut or has withdrawn in 13 of the 17 appearances since his victory, never finishing higher than tied for 32nd place.


SLICK SLIDE: Keith Ohr needed a savvy slide to get out of a slick situation on the 11th hole in his second round Friday.

Ohr’s tee shot came to rest on the last foot of the left edge of the fairway at Whistling Straits and as he took a stance atop some railroad ties that wall a bunker about 10 feet below, he lost his balance. Ohr skillfully got both feet flat on the side of the ties, like a skier going backward, and landed on both feet.

He wasn’t hurt. He walked back up to the fairway, made sure he kept his balance on his second shot and continued on his way.


FAIR EXCHANGE: Phil Mickelson, aiming for the world’s No. 1 ranking, gained a fan despite his errant ways. Mickelson struck a fan on the 15th hole on Friday, immediately making amends.

He signed a glove writing “sorry” in capital letters and put a sad, frowning face inside the “O.” The man he hit had a big smile, and didn’t appear seriously injured.


DIVOTS: The fog has delayed the first two days of play a total of 5 hours, 56 minutes. … The first round ended at 1:02 p.m., more than 30 hours after it was scheduled to begin. … The scoring average in the first round was nearly a quarter of a stroke higher than the first round of the 2004 PGA Championship on the same course.

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow-play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow-play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow-play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin:

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Azinger 'lobbied' to captain Ryder Cup team a second time

By Rex HoggardOctober 22, 2018, 1:47 pm

In 2008, Paul Azinger became the first U.S. Ryder Cup captain in nearly a decade to lead a team to victory, doing so at Valhalla with his innovative “pod” system and a player-driven approach to leadership.

In the wake of that victory there were many, including the vast majority of his players, who said Azinger deserved a second chance to captain, but at the time the 12-time PGA Tour winner appeared to be undecided and the PGA of America named Corey Pavin the 2010 captain.

On Monday, Azinger was named NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst starting next year and among many revelations during an extended interview on “Morning Drive” he explained how much he wanted a second chance to captain.

“I wanted to do it again, I lobbied to do it again after we won in ’08, but I think I waited a little too long and they had already made a decision,” Azinger said. “The excuse I got was that there are more captains than there are Ryder Cups and I thought that was fair, but then they asked [Tom] Watson to do it again shortly afterward and I was like, ‘What, huh?’”

Watson was named captain of the 2014 U.S. team, which lost by five points and led to the creation of the Ryder Cup task force, which adopted many of Azinger’s ideas including his use of four-player pods.

It’s even more curious that Azinger was never given a second chance considering that Davis Love III was also named a captain twice, first in 2012 and again in ’16.

“I didn’t do it again, I didn’t carry the flag to Europe in 2010, which is fine, and now I’m never going to get to do it again,” he said.

As for who may be named the next U.S. captain after another loss to the Europeans last month in France Azinger could only speculate. “Looks like Wisconsin [site of the 2020 matches at Whistling Straits] and Steve Stricker are going to be a perfect match,” he said.