Owen has Company in Long Line of Meltdowns
But he was thinking clearly enough in the moments afterward to realize what it meant.
'It was one of those silly mistakes I'll be remembered for, you know?' he said.
At least he has plenty of company.
Carnoustie used to be known as the toughest links in golf. Now the mere mention of the word brings back painful images of Jean Van de Velde throwing away the British Open with a combination of stupidity and bad luck.
Nick Faldo eventually got credit for one of the great closing rounds in Masters history when he shot 67, but conversation about 1996 at Augusta National always starts with the ignominious collapse of Greg Norman.
Those were majors. This was only the Bay Hill Invitational.
That won't make it any easier for Owen.
He played better than anyone Sunday at Bay Hill, 6 under par through 16 holes with a birdie from the bunker to take a one-shot lead over Rod Pampling. And when his 3-iron came up just short of the 17th, he still had a reasonable chip that he left 3 feet short of the flag.
Pampling lipped out his 10-footer for par, giving Owen a two-shot margin and only 40 inches left for par before heading to the 18th tee. Then came the meltdown. He shoved his first putt so badly that it didn't touch the cup. Wasting no time, he stood over the 2-foot putt and watched in horror as it horseshoed around the cup.
A two-shot lead became a tie.
His first PGA Tour victory - and a trip to the Masters - became a runner-up finish that will haunt him. Asked how he would cope with the loss, Owen replied, 'I'll find out tonight, but it's not going to be easy.'
'I had it in my pocket. It was there. And I threw it away,' Owen said. 'So, we'll find out. Play again next week and see what happens there.'
That would be The Players Championship, a stage built for such memorable meltdowns. Owen should remember that he played well enough over 70 holes, a tee shot and a chip to give himself a chance to win. And a solid week at Sawgrass still might be enough to get him in the Masters.
Even then, he will be the guy who took three putts in seven seconds from 40 inches to lose Bay Hill.
'It's cruel,' said Rod Pampling, the winner who spent most of his time apologizing. 'But you know, it's golf.'
Mike Reid knows the feeling as well as anyone.
He had a two-shot lead in the 1989 PGA Championship against the late Payne Stewart when he hit into the water on the 16th and had to scramble for bogey. Then, he flubbed a chip behind the 17th green and missed a 15-foot par putt to fall into a tie for the lead.
Just like Owen, Reid bent over to tap in for bogey and watched it spin out of the cup for double bogey, losing the lead and nearly losing his mind.
'It's only a game, right?' Reid said that day, choking back tears. 'Everyone can identify with failure out here.'
Van de Velde had a three-shot lead in the 1999 British Open and tried to finish with a flourish. He hit driver off the tee and got away with it when the ball found a tiny strip of grass. Instead of laying up short of Barry Burn, he boldly fired 2-iron toward the green, only to have the ball carom off a rail on the grandstand and into the burn.
He wound up with a triple bogey - making a 6-footer for that - before losing in a playoff.
'Maybe next time I'll hit the wedge,' Van de Velde said. 'And maybe you will all forgive me.'
Owen is 34, a tall Englishman with a sound game who will get another chance. But there is scar issue starting to build, starting with his three straight bogeys that cost him the final-round lead in Houston last year.
'It wasn't my day,' he said Sunday at Bay Hill. 'I'll have to wait for my day.'
Matt Gogel blew a seven-shot lead to Tiger Woods at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2000, then won the tournament two years later when Pat Perez's temper reached mercurial proportions.
Frank Lickliter didn't have to wait that long for redemption. Remember his playoff loss in the 2001 Buick Invitational? Phil Mickelson hit his tee shot into a canyon on the 17th hole at Torrey Pines, and Lickliter inexplicably hit driver and wound up in the same gorge. And yes, it got worse. After reloading off the tee, Lickliter hit wedge into 12 feet and had that bogey putt to win. He ran it 4 feet by and missed the comebacker to lose.
'I'm in shock right now,' Lickliter said. 'Other than getting a little stupid, I felt I played pretty good.'
Four months later, he captured his first PGA Tour victory at the Kemper Open.
Owen can only hope that's what the future holds for him.
As for Pampling? He got the navy blazer and a silver sword from Arnold Palmer, and his picture in the clubhouse at the Bay Hill Lodge. That might have to do, because not many will remember who won the Bay Hill Invitational in 2006.
Only who lost it.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups
Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.
That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.
Watch the video below.
The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.
Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win
ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title
The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.
Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.
Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.
Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.
Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.
Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass
CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.
According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.
“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”
But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.
It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.
“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”
DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.
“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”
Bubba fires 63 to win his third Travelers title
Bubba Watson fired a final-round 63 to storm from six back and steal the Travelers Championship. Here’s how Bubba came from behind once again at TPC River Highlands.
Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-17), Stewart Cink (-14), Beau Hossler (-14), J.B. Holmes (-14), Paul Casey (-14)
What it means: This is Watson’s 12th PGA Tour win, his third of the season, and his third Travelers title. Watson picked up his first Tour victory at this event in 2010 – when he also came from six back – and won again in 2015 in a playoff victory over – guess who – Casey. Thinking he might need a round of 60 to scare the leader, Watson made eight birdies, the last of which came on the 72nd hole, giving him the outright lead by one. A short while later, Casey would bogey the 16th and 17th to end the drama and allow Bubba to breathe easy. With the win, Watson becomes the only Tour player to win three times this season. He moves to third in the FedExCup points race, behind two-time winners Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.
Round of the day: Cink’s round was a stroke better, but Bubba earns this title for winning the title. The left-hander made the turn in 2-under 33 and then ripped off five birdies on his back nine to take the clubhouse lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish.
Best of the rest: Cink looked as though he was going to record the second sub-60 round at the Travelers in the last three years. The 2009 champion golfer of the year played his first 10 holes in 7 under par on the par-70 layout. Cink added three more birdies but also added two bogeys to settle for 8-under 62, tying the round of the week. The 45-year-old has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts.
Biggest disappointment: Casey (2-over 72) began the day up four and couldn’t close. Even par on his round through 15 holes, he missed a 4-footer for par on 16 and found the water off the tee at 17, ending his chances. The Englishman, who ended a nine-year Tour winless drought earlier this season at the Valspar, is now 1 for 4 with a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.
Shot of the day: Watson’s wedge from 77 yards at the 72nd hole, setting up his eighth and final birdie of the day.
Quote of the day: “That’s the best shot you ever hit.” – caddie Ted Scott to Bubba Watson on his approach at 18