Stadler holds off Couples to win Encompass

By Associated PressJune 23, 2013, 10:54 pm

GLENVIEW, Ill. – Craig Stadler had been there before and remembered.

It was 21 years ago that Stadler faced a similar putt to hang on for victory on a Sunday afternoon. He had a 12-foot par putt remaining to win the Encompass Championship, and the setting was familiar to so long ago.

''It looked really familiar to the putt I made a billion years ago at Akron,'' Stadler said after dropping the curling putt for a one-stroke victory over Fred Couples at North Shore Country Club. ''Kind of left to right, just kind of dripped it in the low side.''

In 1992, Stadler sank a putt much like that one to win the World Series of Golf at Firestone Country Club by a stroke over Corey Pavin.

''I just kind of talked to myself a little bit walking back to it,'' Stadler said. '''You made that one, make this one, what the heck.''

He made it to win on the Champions Tour for the first time in eight years and collect the $270,000 first prize, finishing with a 1-under 71 to total 13-under 203. But it was more of an adventure on the back nine than the 60-year-old Stadler expected after a building a five-stroke lead through the first eight holes of the final round.

''I just kind of hit it down the middle and wonder where it goes,'' Stadler said of his driving, which was erratic down the stretch. ''I've never done that in 50 years, but that's where I'm at now.''

Stadler's eight years and almost nine months between victories is the longest stretch in Champions Tour history. He played in 170 events on the tour between victories and battled health issues the past three years.

J.C. Snead had gone almost seven years between titles from 1995 to 2002.

Stadler settled down after bogeys on the 13th and 14th, making par on the next three holes even though he wasn't always in the fairway.

Following a perfect drive on 18, he pushed his approach into the right greenside bunker. After putting his third shot 12 feet past the hole, he faced a putt that brought back a positive memory and took him back to the winner's circle.

''When's the last time I had anything to win a golf tournament?'' Stadler said. ''It was a while ago. So be it. I missed every putt on the back nine and finally made one that counted.''

Stadler hadn't scored an individual top 10 since tying for seventh in last year's 3M Championship. Working with teacher Billy Harmon beginning three months ago helped bring Stadler's game back to championship level.

Couples' final-round 66 was the best of the day and put him at 12 under, but he bogeyed the final hole.

Mark O'Meara, Bernhard Langer, David Frost and Jeff Sluman were among seven players tied for third at 205.

Stadler held a five-stroke lead on Couples at the turn after birdieing the first, second, fifth and sixth holes. He appeared to be cruising to victory until stumbling, beginning at the ninth. Bogeys at the 12th, 14th and 15th followed.

Couples birdied his first three holes, going out in 5-under 31 but had gained only one stroke on Stadler at the turn. He got up within a stroke of the lead until that bogey at the par-4 18th.

''I just kind of shanked it,'' Couples said of his wedge approach into a bunker. ''It was really a bad swing on as easy a shot as you'll ever have.''

O'Meara birdied the par-3 17th to jump to 11 under and finished with a 68. Langer, among the first-round leaders, posted a 69, while Frost bogeyed the final hole to score 70 for his 205. Sluman squandered birdie chances down the stretch en route to a 71.

''Obviously I wanted to make the putt on 18 and have a chance at a playoff, but to see him make that putt, it was really, really important to him and the crowd was really pulling for him,'' Sluman said. ''I couldn't be happier for him. You've got a great champ.''

Stadler began to diminish his lead on the par-4 ninth, when his approach flew over the green and he stubbed the subsequent chip shot. He two-putted from 12 feet for bogey.

As Couples birdied the 11th and 14th to jump to 13 under, Stadler was missing three straight fairways and sliding to 14 under. But Couples failed to convert birdie chances on three late holes, then bogeyed the 18th from the middle of the fairway.

Final-round charges by Langer and Mark Calcavecchia brought them closer to Stadler but not so close that they threatened the lead. Calcavecchia was 12 under with four holes to play but bogeyed three of the last four holes to finish tied for 10th.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.