Wagner fulfills great expectations at Sony Open

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2012, 8:57 am

HONOLULU (AP)—The mustache is here to stay. Johnson Wagner hopes the samecan be said of his golf game.

Wagner usually doesn’t start a new PGA Tour with great expectations, onlythis year was different. For starters, he was expecting to catch plenty of grieffor the mustache he grew on a whim over Thanksgiving, and he was right.

“I probably got `Magnum P.I.’ in Maui a hundred times,” Wagner said. “AndI had never really watched the show. So I Googled images of Tom Selleck and Itook it as a compliment. Tom Selleck is a stud.”

Wagner also was expecting to win early in the year, based on how hard heworked in the offseason and his unusual confidence level.

Right again.

Trailing by two shots going into the final round, Wagner played bogey-freeover the final 12 holes and closed with a 3-under 67 on Sunday to win the SonyOpen for only his third PGA Tour title.

The perks were immediate.

Wagner crossed off one of his goals by earning an invitation to the Masters,and this time he can enjoy it. The only other time he played Augusta Nationalwas in 2008, and he got in by winning the week before at the Houston Open.

He also gets to book a return to Hawaii next year for a two-week workingvacation, starting with the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. His other goalsof getting into the top 50, getting into more majors, will take more work.

But what a start.

“I’ve worked very hard this offseason, and it’s just really nice to see itpay off so early,” Wagner said.

Six players had at least a share of the lead in the final round, yet thefinal few holes lacked much drama. Wagner took the lead for good with a birdiefrom the greenside bunker on the short par-4 10th. He didn’t make any mistakes,and no one else made enough birdies in what turned out to be a winning recipe.

Harrison Frazar took the outright lead with a birdie on No. 10, but had tosettle for pars the rest of the way for a 67. Charles Howell III was paired withWagner and stayed with him until a three-putt par on the par-5 ninth. He birdiedthe last hole for a 69. Sean O’Hair narrowly missed a 30-foot eagle putt on thelast hole and shot 67, while Carl Pettersson overcame a double bogey on hissecond hole with four birdies on the last six holes for a 67.

They all tied for second.

“My first top-10 as an American,” said Pettersson, the Swede who became aU.S. citizen during the offseason.

Wagner got some help.

He started the final round two shots behind Jeff Maggert and Matt Every ,both of whom fell apart early. Maggert made two big par putts to start hisround, but he put too much pressure on himself around the greens and it finallycaught up with the 47-year-old when he started missing short putts. He shot 74.

Every ended a trying week, which began with him bumbling his way through twointerviews over his PGA Tour suspension stemming from his arrest on amisdemeanor marijuana charge during his rookie season.

By Saturday evening, with a share of the lead, he said that “I’m just readyto get it over with.”

His chances of winning were over quickly. He made bogeys on the opening fourholes by failing to get up-and-down from a bunker on No. 1, driving into thewater on No. 2 and three-putting on No. 4. But even after a three-putt from 4feet on No. 6 for double bogey, he was still in the hunt, along with so manyothers.

Wagner looked up at the leaderboard next to the ninth green and saw that theleaders coming back to the field, and that raised his hopes immediately. He madebirdie from the bunker on the ninth, made birdie from the bunker on the nexthole and then effectively put the tournament away with a 15-foot birdie puttfrom the fringe on No. 15, and a tee shot into the wind on the 16th that avoidedtrouble.

“He played fantastic, right down the stretch,” Howell said, who playedalongside Wagner. “He hit a really good drive up 16, which he needed to hit.And then his shot on 17 to the middle of the green to make 3 there. That was thelast place I think he could have lost it. He played 18 with 5 to win. That mustbe a pretty good feeling, I don’t know. I’ve heard it is.”

It was the second time Howell has been runner-up in the Sony Open, and the13th time in his career. Frazar also was a runner-up for the second time atWaialae, having lost in a playoff to Ernie Els in 2004.

Now, Wagner is hopeful of a big year.

Somewhere in the offseason, when he was working out three times a week,flying to Florida to meet with his swing coach, and jotting down notes about hisattitude and his goals, he decided not to settle for mediocrity.

He was confident enough to tell family and friends to expect a win early inthe season. And it was a message he shared with Johnny Harris, who runs QuailHollow where Wagner often plays.

Before leaving for Kapalua, Wagner said he told him, “If I get into theMasters, are you going to sponsor my brother and I in a foursome down there fora couple of days?”

Those who qualify for the Masters can play the course with members beforethe tournament.

“He was like, `You go do it and I’ve got you, podner,”’ Wagner said. “SoI’ll be going down to Augusta a few times.”

And that mustache is going with him.

“Kind of made a deal with myself in December that if I was to get into theMasters, then I was going to keep the mustache for at least this year,” hesaid. “Everybody said, `Oh, is it a November mustache? Well, it’s December,time to shave it.’ I said, Look, this is not a one-month mustache. This ispotentially a 10-year mustache.’

“So I think it’s going to be around for a while.”

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.

Getty Images

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.''

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 11:10 pm

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole of the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational on Thursday.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the ninth green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," Harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from the grandstand, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.