Roberts Hoping to End Skid at Home

By Associated PressMay 26, 2004, 4:00 pm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Loren Roberts has never seen the TPC at Southwind course play this tough.
 
'It's playing like a major championship. The greens are firm. The ball is running through the fairways. ... It's going to play a lot tougher than in the past,' Roberts said Wednesday after a practice round in the pro-am. 'I like it.'
 
Roberts would know.
 
He lives near the course and has missed the St. Jude Classic, which begins Thursday, only once since the PGA tournament moved here in 1989. He also hopes the harder greens will put a premium on putting and play to the strengths of the 'Boss of the Moss.'
 
'Obviously, you know I'd like to win this tournament more than anything outside of a major,' Roberts said.
 
An eight-time winner, Roberts hasn't won on tour since the Valero Texas Open in 2002. His best finish this year is a tie for 10th at the Nissan Open, and he tied for 12th last week at Colonial.
 
Knowing this course hasn't helped Roberts before. He hasn't really been close to the victory he wants so much, with his best finish a tie for fifth in 1984 followed by two ties for seventh on a 7,103-yard course that caters to big hitters.
 
'The way the course is set up now everyone's in the ball game,' Roberts said. 'I've never seen it play so firm and fast.'
 
This is the tournament known as a scorer's paradise, a place where golfers shoot at the pins on usually soft and receptive greens. John Cook shot 26 under in winning here in 1996, while Jay Haas went 21 under in 1992.
 
The course record is 61, shared by Jay Delsing (1993) and Bob Estes (2001), while 10 others have shot 62 on this forgiving course where avoiding the water really comes into play only on the par-3 11th, whose green is a smaller version of the 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass.
 
But tournament organizers, who finally have the May date they wanted to escape the sweltering days of summer, are preparing to make it even tougher in an attempt to attract the tour's top players who have bypassed this event yet again.
 
Starting next week, the course will be shut down to replace the bent grass greens with Bermuda, par will be reduced from 71 to 70 by turning the par-5 5th to a par-4, at least four new tees will be built, bunkers moved and trees planted to tighten fairways to put the emphasis on accurate shots.
 
Roberts said that might attract a stronger field.
 
'Good players like to go play where 69 is a good score,' Roberts said.
 
Even with firmer greens, that doesn't include Memphis this week.
 
None of the year's top 10 money-winners are here. Ernie Els and Vijay Singh are playing in England at the Volvo PGA Championship. Haas, who tied for ninth here last year, chose to make his debut on the Champions Tour for the Senior PGA Championship.
 
That leaves defending champion David Toms and Fredrik Jacobson as the only golfers among the top 30 in the world rankings at this event sponsored by FedEx. Tournament officials luckily have local favorites in Roberts, John Daly, David Gossett and PGA champion Shaun Micheel to provide some star power.
 
Micheel said boosting the purse of $4.7 million like Charlotte did for the Wachovia Championship earlier this month might help, and the tour could consider rules requiring golfers to play each event every few years. He said he also could lobby his fellow golfers for Memphis.
 
'They're doing the right thing by starting with the golf course,' Micheel said.
 
Daly, who probably needs to finish in the top three here to move into the top 50 in the world and qualify for the U.S. Open, said any wind will make it even tougher.
 
'The par-3s are playing real hard because they're not holding, and it's tough to judge the distances out there,' Daly said. 'And a lot of these holes you can't land the ball short to roll it up either, so it's going to play three or four shots harder this year than it has been.'
 
Divots:@ Jacobson, No. 22 in the world rankings, was a late entry into this event where he finished tied for third last year. He thought he might have to bypass this tournament because his wife was expecting their first child this week, but she gave birth to Alice Sofia the first week of May.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - FedEx St. Jude Classic
  • Full Coverage - FedEx St. Jude Classic
     
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    Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

    Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

    Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

    “It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

    No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


    Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


    On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

    “Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

    “Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

    A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

    “But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

    It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

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

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM 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: $6 million

    Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

    Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Henrik Stenson

    • Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

    • Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


    Sergio Garcia

    • Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

    • Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


    Webb Simpson

    • Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

    • 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.