Notes Tiger Travel Plans Romance for Annika
Woods said Tuesday he might play the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England next year for the first time since he lost in the finals to Mark O'Meara in 1998. The tournament is to be played Sept. 14-17, which is one week before the Ryder Cup in Ireland. The week after the Ryder Cup is the American Express Championship in London, and Woods is the defending champion.
'I'm looking at that right now,' Woods said. 'I could do a three-week stint there. You don't have to travel far.'
Woods played the week before the Ryder Cup the last time it was held in Europe. He won the American Express Championship at Mount Juliet in Ireland, then went on to The Belfry for the '02 matches.
He caused a stir that week in Ireland when he said a World Golf Championship title was more important to him than winning the Ryder Cup. 'Why? I can think of a million reasons,' Woods said, referring to the $1 million prize.
The World Match Play Championship has the richest payoff in golf, with more than $1.7 million going to the winner.
ANNIKA MOVES ON
Annika Sorenstam is feeling comfortable enough about her personal life that her boyfriend, Mike McGee, has become slightly more visible at tournaments. The Swedish star talked about her relationship in a recent interview with the Aftonbladet newspaper in Stockholm.
McGee is an agent for International Golf Partners, and the son of former PGA Tour player Jerry McGee. Sorenstam said they have known each other for about six years from parties and LPGA Tour functions.
'But it wasn't until last winter that we reconnected so that our friendship grew strong and, well, now this is what came out of it,' she said.
Sorenstam said her divorce from David Esch was final on Aug. 22. McGee followed her matches at Solheim Cup. He also was at the ADT Championship, escorting her to the LPGA awards banquet at Mar-a-Lago.
She said it was a matter of time before people noticed they were together.
'I think what we have is great, but it hasn't been anything I have wanted the whole world to know about,' she told the newspaper. 'I am still struggling to move on. You can't get over a divorce in just a few months. But being with Mike makes it a little easier. He helps me move on.'
ALLENBY ON TRACK
Robert Allenby is going after the Down Under version of a Triple Crown this week at the Australian Masters, having won the Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship the past two weeks.
More importantly, he might be able to punch his ticket to the real Masters.
His two-week winning streak brought him up to No. 47 in the world ranking, and based on math involved in point reductions over the two-year formula, it appears he will stay in the top 50 when the year ends.
Augusta National invites the top 50 from final world ranking published in 2005.
'I know with the golf I have played over the last couple of weeks, I need to stay positive and I need to believe in myself a little more,' he said. 'If I can do that I know I can win more tournaments in the U.S. and hopefully a major.'
Former LPGA Tour commissioner Ty Votaw has a ring on his finger, but don't jump to any conclusions just yet.
Votaw, who has been dating Sophie Gustafson the last two years, got engaged to the long-hitting Swede two weeks ago during the ADT Championship. Why the ring?
'In Sweden, the guy wears an engagement ring, too,' Votaw said.
The proposal came before taking her to a Bruce Springsteen concert in south Florida, and Votaw said his only regret was not knowing what the Boss would be playing that night.
One of his songs from the album 'The River' is titled, 'I Want to Marry You,' although Springsteen rarely sings that when he's on tour. But he did that night.
'Sophie turned to me and said, 'It would have been really romantic if you had asked me during this song,'' Votaw said. 'But I had already asked, and she accepted.'
Wedding plans have not been set. Votaw, meanwhile, is still between jobs. He left after seven years as commissioner in September, and there is talk he will join the PGA Tour in some capacity, but nothing has been announced.
Former Masters champion Fred Couples played Augusta National in late October and offered what should be a familiar scouting report on the par-3 fourth, which now plays about 240 yards.
'It's hard,' Couples said. 'It's very hard.'
The club altered six holes during the summer, although the two likely to get the most attention are No. 4 and No. 7, both of which were lengthened by 40 yards. The seventh hole had been a 3-wood and a sand wedge. Couples hit a driver and a 7-iron during his latest trip.
'But No. 4, I just felt like under the wrong circumstances, it's just going to be awfully hard,' said Couples, who hit a 2-iron. 'But everyone's got to do it. Stronger players can maybe hit a 3-iron up high and stop it. But with the utility clubs, those go just as high and soft. There will be a bit of club changing.'
After 15 years of weekend coverage on ABC, the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship will be televised by CBS Sports. The LPGA Tour's first major of the year will begin March 30 and end April 2, the Sunday between the NCAA Final Four semifinals and the championship game. The talent has not been determined. CBS Sports televises its showcase golf event the following week at the Masters. ... The Nationwide Tour Championship is moving out of Alabama. It will be held at the Houstonian Golf and Country Club in Houston next year, and Barona Creek Golf Club in San Diego in 2007. ... Five players already have earned more in the silly season than Nick Price, who finished 125th on the PGA Tour money list. ... John Daly will be playing in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, his first trip to the Middle East.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Twenty-five years after he first led the PGA Tour in driving distance at 274.3 yards, Dan Pohl became the first Champions Tour player to average more than 300 yards off the tee (300.5 yards).
'In my wildest dreams, I could never imagine winning this many times and this many majors in my 20s.' -- Tiger Woods, who has won 46 times and 10 majors. He turns 30 on Dec. 30.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.
Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.
He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.
Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.
“Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”
This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.
“I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”
The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.
And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.
“The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”
DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media
Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.
Just wasn’t my day but ended on a high note. Congrats to @BKoepka on a well deserved win!— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) June 17, 2018
Final round 73 (total +7 T10) Enjoyed the @usopengolf test as always. Congratulations @BKoepka on back to back #USOpen wins. Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there, and thank you #teamfor all the support and messages. JR pic.twitter.com/21wlFFsY8f— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) June 17, 2018
Congratulations @BKoepka— Thomas Bjorn (@thomasbjorngolf) June 17, 2018
Amazing performance to go back to back...
Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.
Being related will do that.
Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.
''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''
Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''
He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.
''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''
It's a classic like father, like son relationship.
Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.
The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.
''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''
Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.
Vic never beat his son again.
''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''
As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.
On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.
This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.
''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.
His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.
''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''
The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.
But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.
''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''
Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.
He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.
Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.
''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''
Koepka wins U.S. Open for second straight year
Brooks Koepka on Sunday shot a final-round 68 to become just the seventh man in history to win the U.S. Open in back-to-back years. Here’s how Koepka managed to conquer a schizophrenic Shinnecock Hills and the field:
Leaderboard: Koepka (+1), Tommy Fleetwood (+2), Dustin Johnson (+3), Patrick Reed (+4), Tony Finau (+5)
What happened: Tied for the lead to start the day and playing in the second-to-last group with his good friend Johnson, Koepka raced out in front with birdies on three of his first five holes en route to a front-nine 2-under 33. Up one at the turn over Johnson, Reed and Fleetwood - who was already in the clubhouse following a round of 7-under 63 - Koepka birdied the par-4 10th and then pulled off a series of saves that ultimately won him the championship. He holed a 13-footer to save bogey at No. 11, saved par via a deft flop shot from the back of the green at 12, and then – after letting a birdie opportunity slip by at 13 – managed to get up and down from 67 yards for par at the 14th. Following a par at No. 17, the victory march was briefly in doubt when Koepka hooked his approach to the 18th green nearly into the grandstand. Unshaken, he pitched on to 14 feet, lagged his par putt, and tapped in for bogey to finish 1 over.
One clear of Fleetwood through 15, Koepka stuffed a wedge from 122 yards to inside 4 feet at the par-5 16th and cleaned up the birdie putt to go up two with two to play.
What it means: This is only Koepka’s third PGA Tour victory, but of course it’s his second major title and second U.S. Open. The 28-year-old, who missed four months this year with a wrist injury, joins Willie Anderson (1903-05), John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Guldahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89) as the only men to successfully defend their U.S. Open titles.
Round of the day: Six back to start the final round at 9 over par, Fleetwood took advantage of a literally watered-down golf course to tie the U.S. Open single-round scoring record with a 63. Last year’s Race to Dubai winner made eight birdies and lone a bogey. The 62-watch was on after Fleetwood circled Nos. 12-15 for four birdies in a row. Unfortunately for Fleetwood – and fortunately for Johnny Miller – the Englishman missed birdie putts from 13 feet, 20 feet and 9 feet on his last three holes, with his final attempt on the 72nd hole losing speed and missing low.
Told after the round that he was just the sixth player in history to record a round of 63 in the U.S. Open, Fleetwood was quick to answer, “Yeah, but I wanted 62.” He would wait another three hours to watch Koepka best him by one.
Biggest disappointment: In a way, it’s Fleetwood, who came thisclose to history on two fronts and walked away with neither the outright record nor the U.S. Open trophy. That said, it’s hard to fault the guy who shot 63. And so, this category has to belong to Johnson, the 2016 champion at Oakmont who entered the weekend ahead by four and closed with 77-70 to lose by two. He mixed four birdies with four bogeys Sunday, his final birdie at the last proving too little, too late. His biggest issue? The 72 putts he took over the weekend on Shinnecock's browned greens. This is the third U.S. Open in the last eight years (2010, 2015, 2018) to slip through his fingers on Sunday.
Other names of note: Reigning Masters champion Reed got off to a blistering start with birdies on five of his first seven holes to tie for the early lead. But a bogey at No. 9 would prove the beginning of his end. He paired a front-nine 31 with a back-nine 37 to shoot 2-under 68 and finish solo fourth. Conversely, the two men in the final pairing, Finau and Daniel Berger, both stumbled out of the gate, each playing the first six holes in 2 over, surrendering a lead they would never get back. Finau (71) fought back to even on the day but made an expensive double at No. 18 to drop from T-3 to solo fifth. Berger (73) parred 18 to stay in a three-way tie for sixth. Both men recorded their best career finishes in a major.