Notes Too soon for Cink Lefty the math professor

By Associated PressJuly 30, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Based on his record, Stewart Cink wont win this week at the Bridgestone Invitational.
 
But dont bet against him in two weeks at the Wyndham Championship ' right after the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
 
All of my tournament wins have come the week after majors, including one on the Nationwide Tour, Cink said Wednesday during preparations for the Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club.
 
Cink captured his fifth PGA TOUR title last month at the Travelers. Naturally, that came seven days after the final round of the U.S. Open.
 
He also has won the Greater Hartford in 1997 the week after the U.S. Open; at Hilton Head in 2000 and again in 2004 the week after the Masters; and the 2004 NEC Invitational, the predecessor of the Bridgestone, which followed that years PGA Championship.
 
You play in a major, and after that you feel like youre pretty well prepared to play in any tournament, Cink said, attempting to explain his majors-plus-one success.
 
Cink is satisfied with his career. Its just that hed like to win a major instead of always basking in the afterglow of one.
 
As long as I keep on having wins, Im OK with it, he said. But eventually Id like to try to shift it back a week and win a major. My timing has always been bad.
 
FAVORITE SON
 
When the Ryder Cup takes place outside Louisville in September, native Kentuckian Kenny Perry will be more than just a member of the U.S. team. Hell also be an unofficial tournament host.
 
Perry has played some of the best golf in his career (he turns 48 soon) to earn a spot on the team. Of course, he wants to win but he also wants the event to be a huge success at Valhalla because of the thousands of fans from Kentucky wholl be cheering his every shot.
 
It may be too much pressure, too much burden, that I cant handle it. I dont know, Perry said.
 
There are many reasons why the Ryder Cup will be special for him.
 
My (85-year-old) dad is going to be there, he said. Weve got a special exemption for him to ride in a golf cart on each hole. He hasnt gotten to see me ' I dont know the last time he was at a golf tournament.
 
Its just going to be a neat week.
 
MICKELSONS MATH
 
Phil Mickelson and his short-game guru, Dave Pelz, work with a software program that analyzes tour statistics and applies them to various top venues.
 
The Left-handed professor offered an example of the wonders revealed by the program ' and closed with a pop quiz.
 
If you increase any statistical category across the board, it lowers scores, Mickelson explained. OK, 10 percent fewer putts, 10 percent more greens, 10 percent closer to the hole, 10 percent more fairways ' every one lowers scores except longer driving distance.
 
Warming to the subject, he added, Theres one golf course in America where 10 percent longer driving equates to lower scores. What would you think it would be?
 
After a pregnant pause, he smiled and said, Augusta National.
 
NATIONAL ICON
 
Even before he captured his second consecutive British Open two weeks ago at Royal Birkdale, Padraig Harrington was one of the most famous celebrities in his Irish homeland.
 
In the media frenzy after his latest victory, he has faced his share of almost an embarrassing amount of praise from a proud nation.
 
A question came up at home about how do I rate now in terms of sportsmen in Irish history, Harrington said. As much as its a valid conversation for two guys sitting in the pub over a pint to discuss whether Im as good as somebody else was, its not for me to get into.
 
Instead, Harrington has tried to remember what got him those two major championships.
 
Im not the guy who can fly in on a Wednesday evening and not play his practice rounds and not do the right things ' and all of a sudden have a good week, he said. Im the guy I got here and was practicing on Monday. I know if I want to play good golf, Ive got to do the same things I do every week and be prepared to go out there.
 
WIE VS. MEN
 
With Michelle Wie playing this week at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, Stewart Cink wished her the best ' while offering a gentle criticism.
 
Wie has missed the cut in all seven previous forays on the PGA TOUR and has struggled so far in her young LPGA Tour career.
 
I hope she makes the cut in one of these (mens) tournaments and maybe that will satisfy her, or her parents or whoever are behind it, Cink said. I hope theyre satisfied soon and she can just be allowed to grow up and play golf against her competitors. The LPGA Tour offers a lot of competitiveness out there, and shes obviously had her struggles. I just hope that she can be allowed to just blossom into the great player that she can be.
 
NO BAGS TO CHECK
 
It wasnt until after Padraig Harrington and his wife were standing at the baggage claim in Chicago that he realized that he had left his clothing bag back in his bedroom in Dublin.
 
My wife looked at me and said, Youre lucky you won the Open two weeks ago. Were going to give you a pass on this one, he said with a laugh.
 
DIVOTS
 
Anthony Kim is still sore after taking batting practice with the Boston Red Sox on Monday night. Harrington is building a house in North Carolina to have a base over here to bring the family and get away from it. Cleveland native Charlie Sifford, the first black to earn a Tour card and to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, was honored by the tournament as its 2008 Ambassador of Golf. No. 1 Tiger Woods is home recuperating from knee surgery, but the next 19 players in the world rankings are in the 80-player field at the Bridgestone.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

    Getty Images

    Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

    Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

    Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

    Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

    “I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

    Getty Images

    Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

    Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

    “I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

    “We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

    Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

    Getty Images

    Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

    By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

    This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

    Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

    “My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

    Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

    “Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”