Notes Surprise in the Ryder Cup rankings

By Associated PressAugust 5, 2010, 1:31 am

AKRON, Ohio – Even avid golf fans might be surprised to see who is No. 4 in the U.S. Ryder Cup team rankings this week.

Tiger Woods? Nope. He’s ninth. Stewart Cink? He’s at No. 13.

Try Jeff Overton, hardly the name that comes to mind when you consider the best American players in 2010.

“It’s not like I’m Tiger Woods,” he said. “Maybe if we could ever win instead of finish second, maybe we’d have a little better chance of (being known).”

Overton is listed so high among U.S. golfers for the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor because he’s played consistently well all year. He’s had three seconds and two thirds, barely missing out on his first career win several times.

On Sunday at the Greenbrier Classic, it took Stewart Appleby’s stirring 59 in the final round to beat him. The 27-year-old Indiana University graduate also was runner-up at the Zurich Classic and the Byron Nelson.

“This year I’ve been able to get inside the top three a lot, but I haven’t been able to get that win,” he said Wednesday, the day before the start of the Bridgestone Invitational. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep plugging along. Like (former British Open champion) Ian Baker-Finch said, ‘You keep knocking on the door enough times, eventually something is going to happen.”’

Overton’s scoring average is 69.81, third best on the PGA Tour. He is 12th on the money list with more than $2.4 million. He’s up to No. 47 in the world rankings after starting the year at No. 186.

A native of Illinois, he is the son of a former baseball player and quarterback at Indiana State. He said he gets his competitive fire from his dad.

He also dates an opera singer.

Asked where they met, he laughed and said, “Bloomington, Ind., the No. 1 opera school in America.”

Overton said he knows about as much about opera as his girlfriend knows about golf.

For instance, his girlfriend’s mother came out to see him play once. He made a bogey and she said, “What did he do? He made a bogus?”

So far this year, he’s been anything but bogus when climbing those Ryder Cup charts.

“(Making the team) would be half the goal, and then the next half of the goal would be to figure out a way to go win the USA some points,” he said.


 

BY ANY OTHER NAME: Sometimes a golfer needs to not be so concerned about winning in order to win.

That was perhaps the case for Justin Rose for his first decade as a professional. In six full years (and parts of four or five others), he never won on American soil. Second-place finishes at the Texas Open in ’06, Bridgestone in ’07 and Memorial in ’08 not only whetted his appetite for winning, but also increased the questions about why he wasn’t winning.

Rose turned 30 last week but he’s been celebrating all year in the U.S.

Wins at the Memorial and AT&T National have pushed him up the charts in the world rankings. He was 70th to start the year but is now 19th. After years of promise mixed with disappointment, he is considered a threat to win every tournament.

“I said before I started winning that my game was in great shape,” he said on Wednesday. “I didn’t need to do anything different; I didn’t need to work on anything. I guess it was the patience factor of just letting it happen.”

Rose was born in South Africa and raised in England. He now has homes in London and Orlando, Fla.

Some athletes begin to press when they don’t meet their own or others’ expectations. The difference for Rose was letting go.

“The switch for me was … just letting it come out on the golf course, just letting my game sort of go to the first tee, not getting in my own way,” he said. “It’s a very simple mindset to talk about, much harder to do.”


 

59 FALLOUT: It’s difficult for the typical once-a-week golfer to even contemplate how someone shoots 59.

Stuart Appleby became the fifth player to shoot a 59 in a PGA Tour event when he won the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday by going 11-under over the last 18 holes.

Appleby, set to tee it off in Thursday’s opening round of the Bridgestone Invitational, turned the front side in 6 under. The thought immediately came to him that if he maintained that he might just win the tournament.

“Then I eagled 12 and I thought, ‘I’m on record pace,”’ he said. “I thought there’s nothing at the end of the round that’s going to stand out to be a real test if I’m playing any good. There’s no 500-yard, par-4s; there’s birdie opportunities there. The course was very benign.”

Still, he needed to continue to not just play well but to make birdies. As he traversed the back nine at the Old White, the word spread about what he had within his grasp. The pressure grew, because Appleby also knew.

“I thought, well, just got to keep hitting it close and see if I can make putts – and the putts just seemed to come to me,” he said.

Always, his primary incentive was catching, then staying ahead of Jeff Overton.

“I sort of had two motivating forces,” Appleby said. “One was to try and chase, and one was to also do something a bit unique.”


 

WHO’S NO. 1? Tiger Woods has been No. 1 in the world golf rankings for the past 270 weeks. But he could fall from that perch this weekend at the Bridgestone Invitational.

If Woods wins, he stays No. 1. If second-ranked Phil Mickelson wins, he takes over the top spot. If third-ranked Lee Westwood wins, and Tiger finishes third or worse, he could be the world’s top player.

Mickelson or Westwood could also take over No. 1 if they were to finish high and Woods were well back in the pack.


 

DIVOTS: The top 50 players in the world rankings are scheduled to play in the Bridgestone which has a purse of $8.5 million and pays $1.4 million to the winner. … An older woman stood by the first tee on Wednesday wearing a pink T-shirt that said, “You Thrill Me, Phil.” … Spectators who spend $75 on tournament merchandise receive a free ticket to Sunday’s round. … Appleby met his wife, Ashley, at a nearby restaurant 10 years ago during the Bridgestone. They’ve been married eight years.

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”