Snedeker rallies denies Donald top spot

By Associated PressApril 25, 2011, 2:46 am
The HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The toughest part of Brandt Snedeker’s day was spent in the clubhouse.

Snedeker posted an out-of-nowhere 7-under 64 on Sunday to come from six shots behind to finish in the lead at The Heritage nearly two hours before the round ended.

So Snedeker headed inside to watch, wait and see if he’d get back on the course. He eventually did, beating Luke Donald in a playoff Sunday and denying the Englishman a chance at No. 1.

“It was brutal,” Snedeker said of his time in front of the TV.

“I don’t want them to do bad, but I don’t want them to do great, either.”

In the end, Snedeker had the great finish, surviving against one of the world’s best in a gritty three-hole playoff for his second career PGA Tour win and first since the 2007 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., in his rookie season.

“To win this time, after all the hard work I put in the last three or four years, trying to improve, trying to get better,” he said. “I feel like my game is finally there.”

It certainly was at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Snedeker birdied seven of his first 12 holes to grab the lead just as the final pair of Donald and defending champion Jim Furyk teed off. Then Snedeker closed the final round with a 12-foot birdie putt on the signature, closing lighthouse hole at No. 18.

“It’s a storybook ending really, to be playing Luke in a playoff, to even have a chance to win was exciting to me,” he said.

Donald would’ve risen to the top spot in the world from No. 3 had he won. His countryman, Lee Westwood, moved from No. 2 to No. 1, replacing Martin Kaymer, after winning the Indonesian Masters earlier Sunday.

Donald saved par from difficult spots on the 71st and 72nd holes to force the playoff, then did it again on the second extra hole. But his luck ran out on Harbour Town Golf Links’ closing lighthouse hole, No. 18, when he got a partially buried lie in a front bunker.

Donald blasted out about 15 feet from the flag and his chip for par from just off the green hit the back edge of the cup and bounced away, giving Snedeker the victory.

Snedeker said he was more worried about getting to New Orleans for next week’s event when he woke up Sunday than contending for the title Sunday.

Tommy Gainey finished a stroke back after a 68.

Donald was the steadiest player most of the week at Harbour Town. He had birdies on the fourth and fifth holes to get to 13 under, but dropped back after bogeys on the seventh and 10th holes. He caught Snedeker with a birdie on No. 13, then parred his way in for the playoff.

“It was going to be some big rewards if I won today,” Donald said. “But I’ll try and find the positives from this week and move on.”

At least Donald leaves No. 1 at something, making $615,000 to top of the PGA Tour money list.

This figured to come down to a final-round duel between the final pair of third-round leader Donald and Furyk, who was only a stroke behind at the start, until Snedeker’s run.

“Kind of came out of nowhere,” Snedeker said.

Donald certainly kept him on the edge of his seat.

After Donald’s final birdie of regulation, he missed makable birdie tries on the 15th and 16th holes. Then Donald looked like he’d shoot himself out of it, sending his tee shot on the par-3 17th off the back, then landing his approach into the bunker in front of No. 18. Both times Donald chipped within 4 feet to save par.

Snedeker and Donald traded birdies on the first extra hole, the 18th, and pars on the second one, the 17th.

Snedeker hit the green on the last playoff hole and two-putted for par to win $1,026,000. The biggest question facing Snedeker now is whether he’ll be back to defend his title.

The Heritage is without a title sponsor, something PGA Tour and event leaders say is essential for its return in 2012. There was talk all week of a Sunday surprise, an announcement of a backer to give assurances to pros. None was forthcoming, though, and tournament director Steve Wilmot said “the sponsorship search continues in earnest.”

Gainey, bidding to become the first South Carolina native to win the state’s PGA Tour event, missed a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole that would’ve put him to the playoff.

“I would have loved to have won,” said Gainey, who gained fame as “Two Gloves” on Golf Channel’s “Big Break” series. “I think it’s the second best tournament on tour” behind the Masters.

Furyk finished with his highest score, 76, his past 33 rounds at Harbour Town to fall from contention. “I just kind of got on a bad roll and it snowballed on me today,” he said.

Tim Herron (67) and Ricky Barnes (69) tied for fourth, two shots out of the playoff.

Snedeker said he faced softer conditions with his earlier tee time that fueled his hot start. He had birdies on the second, third and fourth holes to move within two of the lead, then added birdies on Nos. 6, 7, and 9 to finish the front side at 30 and put himself alongside Donald on top of the leaderboard.

Things weren’t as easy for Snedeker on the back. He bogeyed the 13th and 16th holes, but rallied one last time with the birdie on the difficult 18th.

When it was over, he shook hands with Donald and told him to keep his chin up. “I just told him he’s going to be No. 1. Sorry it didn’t go the right way for him,” Snedeker said.

DIVOTS: Ian Poulter, 16th in the world this week, struggled on the weekend with a 75-71 after going 7 under the first two rounds. Maybe the problem was supernatural. Poulter tweeted several times that he thought the house he was in this week was haunted. Poulter says the house had a dead-bolted door and every time he gets up “the door is unlocked and slightly open.” He says it happened seven times this week. Spooky. … U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, No. 5 in the world, also had troubles on the weekend, going 74-74 after opening 5-under par.

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.