Perry birdies final hole to win 3M Championship

By Associated PressAugust 3, 2014, 9:38 pm

BLAINE, Minn. - Kenny Perry got the ''warmup'' he was looking for heading into the PGA Championship in his home state of Kentucky.

Capped by a 15-foot putt, Perry scrambled for a birdie on the 18th hole Sunday to beat hard-charging Bernhard Langer by a stroke in the Champions Tour's 3M Championship.

The 53-year-old Perry closed with a 7-under 65 for his second victory of the year and seventh overall on the 50-and-over tour. He finished at 23-under 193 at TPC Twin Cities.

''This was a warmup week for me to work on my short game,'' Perry said. ''From 100 yards and in this week I was better than I ever can remember in my career. I was hitting it around the pin and I was converting. I was making putts.''

But, to be successful at Valhalla, Perry knows he'll have to drive it exceptionally well and successfully hit his hybrids.

''It's going to be a great challenge,'' Perry said. ''Hopefully, I can carry some of this momentum over.''

Perry lost a playoff to Mark Brooks in the 1996 PGA at Valhalla, and helped the United States win the 2008 Ryder Cup at the course.

Langer, the Senior British Open winner last week by a tour-record 13 shots, shot 63. He overcame a four-shot deficit on the back nine and was tied with Perry going to the par-5 18th.

In the second-to-last group, Langer's second shot just cleared the water hazard and landed in the tall grass. He chipped on from an awkward stance and two-putted for par.

''My goal today was to shoot 8 under thinking 21 under should have a chance to win. I shot 9 under, outdid myself, and still didn't win,'' he said. ''What Kenny did this week is pretty exceptional.''

One group behind, Perry hit his second shot into the grandstand behind the green. After a drop, he pitched to about 15 feet and made the putt.

''It was an easy putt for me,'' he said. ''I don't always make them, but I feel like I should make them and I knocked it right in the middle.''

Jeff Maggert, Gene Sauers and Marco Dawson tied for third at 20 under. Maggert and Sauers shot 65, and Dawson had a 67.

It was the eighth straight year the tournament's winning score was at least 15 under, including three totals of better than 20 under. David Frost set the record at 25-under 191 in 2010. The scoring average of 69.609 is the lowest in the tournament's 22-year history.

Perry, who also won the Regions Tradition in May, birdied four of six holes around the turn for a four-shot lead over Langer, Maggert, Dawson and Sauers.

But Langer, who won the event in 2009 and 2012, birdied five of the first six holes on the back nine, including a lengthy putt on No. 14, to get within one.

''I was just trying to make birdies, just trying to go deeper and deeper,'' Langer said. ''I looked at the leaderboard somewhere around the eighth hole and saw that I was four behind or whatever and I figured I got to go really low here if I want to have any hope.''

A birdie putt at 17 moved Langer into a tie less than a minute before Perry, who hadn't been scoreboard watching on the back nine, made a par putt on No. 16.

''I was just cruising, thinking pars were good. I'm thinking if I par in it's over, and then I look up on 17 and we're tied,'' said Perry, who finished second, third and seventh in the event the past three years.

He began the day with a one-stroke lead over Dawson. While Perry birdied Nos. 7 and 8 and made par on the par-4 ninth, Dawson went par-par-bogey to give Perry a three-shot cushion. Dawson's tee shot on No. 9 found the weeds, forcing him to hit back into the fairway on his second shot.

Sixty-nine-year-old Hale Irwin bettered his age for the third straight day with a 68 to tie for ninth at 14 under. The last player to better his age three times in an event was Gary Player at the 2009 Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Wes Short Jr., who shot a 62 to miss the course record by a stroke, matched Irwin at 14 under.

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Bhatia loses U.S. Am match after caddie-cart incident

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 2:21 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – One of the hottest players in amateur golf had his U.S. Amateur run end Wednesday under unusual circumstances.

Akshay Bhatia, the 16-year-old left-hander who has been dominating the junior golf circuit over the past year, squandered a late lead in his eventual 19-hole loss to Bradford Tilley in the Round of 64.

Bhatia was all square against Tilley as they played Pebble Beach’s par-5 14th hole. After knocking his second shot onto the green, Bhatia and his caddie, Chris Darnell, stopped to use the restroom. Bhatia walked up to the green afterward, but Darnell asked what he thought was a USGA official for a ride up to the green.

“The gentleman was wearing a USGA pullover,” Darnell explained afterward. “I asked if I could get a ride to the green to keep up pace, and he said yes. So I hopped on the back, got up to the green, hopped off and thought nothing of it.”

Conditions of the competition prohibit players and caddies from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized.

It turns out that the cart that Darnell rode on was not driven by a USGA official. Rather, it was just a volunteer wearing USGA apparel. A rules official who was in the area spotted the infraction and assessed Bhatia an adjustment penalty, so instead of winning the hole with a birdie-4 to move 1 up, the match remained all square.


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Even more interesting was what Darnell said happened earlier in the match.

“I had already seen the other caddie in our group do it on the ninth hole,” Darnell said. “Same thing – USGA pullover, drove him from the bathroom up to the fairway – so I assumed it was fine. I didn’t point it out at the time because everything seemed kosher. He had the USGA stuff on, and I didn’t think anything of it.”

Bhatia won the 15th hole to go 1 up, but lost the 17th and 19th holes with bogeys to lose the match. He didn’t blame the outcome on the cart incident.  

“What can you do? I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in this tournament, so I’m not too upset about it,” he said. “It’s just frustrating because I deserved to win that match. That wasn’t the outcome I wanted, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., has been a dominant force in the junior ranks, going back-to-back at the Junior PGA (including this dramatic hole-out), capturing the AJGA Polo, taking the Sage Valley Invitational and reaching the finals of the U.S. Junior.

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1, 2, 3 out: Thornberry, Suh, Morikawa lose at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 1:14 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The top three players in the world had a tough afternoon Wednesday at Pebble Beach.

Braden Thornberry, Justin Suh and Collin Morikawa – Nos. 1-3, respectively, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking – all lost their Round of 64 matches at the U.S. Amateur.

Thornberry lost, 2 and 1, to Jesus Montenegro of Argentina. As the No. 1 amateur in the world, the Ole Miss senior was in line to receive the McCormack Medal, which would exempt him into both summer Opens in 2019, provided he remains amateur. But now he’ll need to wait and see how the rankings shake out.

Suh and Morikawa could have played each other in the Round of 32, but instead they were both heading home early.


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Suh, a junior at USC, never led in his 1-up loss to Harrison Ott, while Cal's Morikawa lost to another Vanderbilt player, John Augenstein, in 19 holes.

Englishman Matthew Jordan is the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he didn’t make the 36-hole stroke-play cut.

The highest-ranked player remaining is Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, who is ranked fifth. With his college coach, Alan Bratton, on the bag, Hovland beat his Cowboys teammate, Hayden Wood, 3 and 2, to reach the Round of 32.

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Fiery Augenstein outduels Morikawa at U.S. Amateur

By Ryan LavnerAugust 16, 2018, 12:55 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Around the Vanderbilt golf team John Augenstein’s nickname is “Flash,” and it’s easy to see why.

The swing loaded with speed.

The on-course charisma.

The big shot in the big moment.

The Commodores junior added another highlight to his growing collection Wednesday, when he defeated world No. 3 Collin Morikawa in 19 holes during a Round of 64 match at the U.S. Amateur.

Out of sorts early at Pebble Beach, Augenstein was 2 down to Morikawa after butchering the short seventh and then misplaying a shot around the green on 8.

Standing on the ninth tee, he turned to Vanderbilt assistant coach/caddie Gator Todd: "I need to play the best 10 holes of my life to beat Collin."

And did he?

“I don’t know,” he said later, smirking, “but I did enough.”

Augenstein won the ninth hole after Morikawa dumped his approach shot into the hazard, drained a 30-footer on 10 to square the match and then took his first lead when he rolled in a 10-footer on 14.

One down with three holes to go, Morikawa stuffed his approach into 16 while Augenstein, trying to play a perfect shot, misjudged the wind and left himself in a difficult position, short and right of the green. Augenstein appeared visibly frustrated once he found his ball, buried in the thick ryegrass short of the green. He told Todd that he didn’t think he’d be able to get inside of Morikawa’s shot about 6 feet away, but he dumped his pitch shot onto the front edge, rode the slope and trickled it into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

“Come on!” he yelled, high-fiving Todd and tossing his wedge at his bag.

“It was beautiful,” Todd said. “I’m not sure how he did that, but pretty cool that it went in.”  


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Morikawa answered by making birdie, then won the 17th with a par before both players halved the home hole with birdies.

On the first extra hole, Augenstein hit his approach to 15 feet while Morikawa left it short. Morikawa raced his first putt by 6 feet and then missed the comebacker to lose the match.

It may not have been the best 10-hole stretch of Augenstein’s career, but after that pep talk on 9 tee, he went 4 under to the house.

“He’s a fiery little dude,” Morikawa said of his 5-foot-8-inch opponent. “You don’t want to get him on the wrong side because you never know what’s going to happen. He’s not going to give shots away.”

The first-round match was a rematch of the Western Amateur quarterfinals two weeks ago, where Augenstein also won, that time by a 4-and-2 margin.

“It’s the most fun format and where I can be my true self – emotional and aggressive and beat people,” Augenstein said.

That’s what he did at the 2017 SECs, where he won the deciding points in both the semifinals and the finals. He starred again a few weeks later at the NCAA Championship, last season went 3-0 in SEC match play, and now has earned a reputation among his teammates as a primetime player.

“I’ve hit a lot of big shots and putts in my career,” said Augenstein, ranked 26th in the world after recently winning the Players Amateur. “I get locked in and focused, and there’s not a shot that I don’t think I can pull off. I’m not scared to fail.”

The comeback victory against Morikawa – a three-time winner last season at Cal and one of the best amateurs in the world – didn’t surprise Todd. He’s seen firsthand how explosive Augenstein can be on the course.

“He’s just fiery,” Todd said. “He does things under pressure that you’re not supposed to do. He’s just a special kid.”

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.