Notes The Word of Week isKikuyu

By Associated PressJune 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Ben Curtis was still wearing a San Diego Chargers shirt and cap after his practice round on Wednesday when Nate Kaeding, the kicker for Southern Californias only NFL team, walked up and said, You look good in that Chargers gear.
 
Kaeding and punter Mike Scifres then presented Curtis with a powder-blue Chargers shirt to add to his wardrobe for the U.S. Open starting Thursday on Torrey Pines South Course.
 
Curtis, an avid football fan who won the British Open in 2003, wears the apparel of the local NFL team during PGA TOUR stops. Reebok, which outfits NFL teams, is one of Curtis sponsors.
 
Reebok is doing more this week than just providing shirts and hats. Curtis shirts will feature an embroidered blue ribbon on the left sleeve, signifying his support for prostate cancer research. Reebok will donate $5,000 to the Prostate Cancer Foundation for every birdie Curtis makes at the Open, or a minimum of $20,000, and will also give $1 million if he makes a hole-in-one on Sunday.
 
Its a great deal, a great cause, Curtis said. Reebok called last week and wanted to do something special for Fathers Day weekend. We thought this would be the best thing.
 
Kaeding likes what Curtis is doing, especially this week.
 
I cant imagine how many millions of people will be watching this tournament, and at a great venue like this, to have the Chargers colors represented, especially by a major championship winner like Ben, is great for the organization, Kaeding said. This whole event is so great for the city of San Diego in general, so to be part of it is great.
 
Kaeding thinks kicking a field goal is a little tougher than standing over a crucial putt, but what these guys do, thats pretty tough, too, because youre all by yourself there, no teammates to help you out, none of that.
 
There are also similarities in repeating a swing, Kaeding said.
 
Sometimes youve got to do it with an immense amount of pressure on you and that kind of changes the circumstances a little bit, he said.
 
LINEUP CHANGE:
Sean OHair withdrew Wednesday because of a pulled chest muscle and was replaced by Gary Wolstenholme, a 47-year-old career amateur from England.
 
The 25-year-old OHair won the PODS Championship in March, his second PGA TOUR victory.
 
AND THE WORD OF THE WEEK IS'KIKUYU:
Theres lots of kikuyu grass in the fairways and rough on the Torrey Pines South Course, and golfers and TV commentators will no doubt be talking about it a lot.
 
I think perhaps to put it in the shortest description, Pat Gross, our agronomist, has described kikuyu as Bermuda on steroids, USGA president Jim Vernon, who lives in Pasadena, said at a news conference Wednesday. It sends out very aggressive runners. Its a fairly broad leaf and a very tough leaf. It is a very thick, wiry grass. For those of us who play golf here in Southern California, we know all about it, and I certainly have a very good patch of it in my backyard, as a matter of fact.
 
The upshot, of course, is this: To get your club through that grass takes a very aggressive swing, Vernon said. And theres a certain technique to it. It takes a certain amount of practice, especially around the greens, to have a better idea of how that ball might come out of the kikuyu.
 
When the PGA TOURs Buick Invitational is played early in the year, its on overseeded rye.
 
For the Open, golfers will encounter kikuyu, poa annua and rye in the roughs.
 
And these three grasses really introduce a lot of inconsistency in the rough, the USGAs Jim Hyler said. And the players will be challenged quite a bit when they do hit it in the rough about how their ball will react when they try to play a shot out of it.
 
With a hot spell this spring, the kikuyu has really popped, Hyler said.
 
CHRONICLES OF CALC:
Few players speak as bluntly as Mark Calcavecchia, even when it comes to his chances of winning'or not'this week.
 
Calcavecchia said his body is not in the best shape.
 
Whats hurting?
 
My foot, knee, back, shoulder and brain, he said.
 
Otherwise, everything else is fine?
 
My confidence is at an all-time low, he added.
 
He has been at Torrey Pines all week but still has not played the full 18 holes. Part of that is finding a good time to stop his practice round. He has played the first six holes, then No. 10 and part of the 14th.
 
I hit a 4-iron into the 14th, then walked over to the right and went straight to the shuttle, he said.
 
But at least he had a chance to play the 13th, a par 5 with a new tee box that stretches the hole to 614 yards. Calcavecchia decided to walk to the back tee and hit a driver. And then what?
 
I was looking for a cart to get back to the fairway, he said.
 
He also practiced this way for the British Open at St. Andrews. Staying in the Old Course hotel, he rolled out of bed and over to the second tee, then quit on the 17th because the green was near his room. The only time he played the 18th during a practice round was when he had to register for the tournament.
 
GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR TOM:
 
One of the charms of Torrey Pines will be missing during the Open. There will be no hang gliders floating silently overheard as they often do during the Buick Invitational.
 
The Torrey Pines Gliderport, just south of the golf course, is closed due to security and because officials needed the space for other uses during the Open.
 
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    Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

    Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

    Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

    “I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

    Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

    The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

    “If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

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    Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

    Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

    Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

    7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

    Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

    Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.


    12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

    This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.


    1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

    This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

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    Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

    There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


    Purse: $7 million

    Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

    Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.


    Notables in the field

    Jordan Spieth

    • Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

    • 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

    • Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)


    Brooks Koepka

    • Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

    • First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

    • First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)


    Justin Thomas

    • Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

    • Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)


    Rory McIlroy

    • Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

    • Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)


    Jason Day

    • Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

    • Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season


    Patrick Reed

    • Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

    • Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)

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    Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:16 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.

    The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.

    Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.

    “It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”


    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.

    “It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”

    USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.

    Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.

    “It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”