Watson wins Senior PGA Championship

By Associated PressMay 30, 2011, 2:20 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tom Watson had stood over putts like this pressure-packed 3-footer at the Senior PGA Championship for most of his adult life.

Why dawdle?

“I didn’t take much time with the putt,” he said with that famous toothy grin. “I took one practice stroke and figured, ‘Let’s get this over with.”’

Watson summoned up some of his old major magic, holing the short birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat David Eger on Sunday.

The 61-year-old Watson, down a shot with four holes left in regulation, became the oldest player to win a major since the senior tour was created in 1980. He also became the second-oldest winner of the Senior PGA, behind only Jock Hutchison who was 62 in 1947.

“If this is the last tournament I ever win, it’s not a bad one,” Watson said. “I’m kind of on borrowed time out here at 61.”

Watson became the third-oldest winner of a Champions Tour event. The victory came 10 years, 2 days after he won his other Senior PGA Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in 2001.

Watson may be well past his prime, but there have been very few players in history as good at sealing the deal with the outcome teetering on the brink.

Few realize that more than Eger, who worked closely with Watson and the other giants of the game in the 1980s and 1990s as a rules official.

“I watched a lot of Trevino, Watson, Irwin – a lot of great players from the golf cart,” he said. “And I got to really appreciate just how good they were – and they still are.”

Watson closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 10-under 278 and capture his 14th career major, six since turning 50 to go with five British Opens, two Masters and a U.S. Open.

“Coming into the tournament I really didn’t give myself any chance based on the way I was practicing last week in Kansas City,” he said. “But the light switch went on.”

A club rep pointed out a subtle change in his swing. From there, it was bad news for the rest of the field.

“Lo and behold, I started making good swings again,” he said, as if he were surprised.

Perhaps better known as a rules official than as a player, Eger closed with a 67.

Both Eger and Watson missed short birdie putts on the 72nd green that would have won for either in regulation, Eger pulling a 6-footer and Watson pushing one from 4 feet.

Watson went for the green with his rescue-club second shot on the playoff hole, the 18th, but it came up short and in the deep and gaping bunker that fronts the green.

“If it went into the bunker, that was just where I wanted to be,” he said.

Eger caught a bad break when his drive came to rest in a grassy finger on the edge of a large bunker along the left side of the fairway. He hit a layup and then a wedge to 10 feet, but missed the birdie attempt.

“I hit a pretty good third shot up there,” Eger said. “I thought I hit a really good putt. It just was not good enough.”

Taking little time after blasting out of the sand to 3 feet, Watson calmly stroked in the winner while the large gallery at Valhalla Golf Club cheered and applauded.

Kiyoshi Murota, who had at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, closed with a 72 and was alone in third, a shot out of the playoff.

He had promised he would play “Murota golf” in the final round.

“I played my Murota golf to the best of my ability,” he said through an interpreter. “However, my putting left something to be desired.”

Five days before he turns 66, four-time Senior PGA winner Hale Irwin had a double bogey and two bogeys in a 73 that left him at 8 under.

Eduardo Romero (68), the benefactor of a lucky bounce off the rocks that turned a bogey into a birdie at the 13th hole, and Peter Senior (69) were at 7 under. Nick Price shot a 72 and finished another stroke back.

The 59-year-old Eger has played the Champions Tour full-time for a decade. But he’s perhaps best known as a top rules official for the PGA Tour and U.S. Golf Association from 1982-95. He never finished better than a tie for fifth in 75 PGA Tour starts between 1979 and 1981. He regained his amateur status and was a three-time Walker Cup player during his days as a golf administrator. Since turning pro at 50, he has won four times on the Champions Tour, including this year’s Liberty Mutual Legends.

The leader changed every few minutes in the final round.

Eger grabbed the top spot by rolling in a short birdie putt at the 15th. But he turned right around and gave it back on the next hole when his approach came up short of the green and he made bogey.

An instant later, Watson stroked in an 18-footer for birdie from the first cut behind the 15th green to go up by a shot.

Eger responded with a 7-foot birdie putt at the uphill 16th to even things up once again.

First Eger and then Watson missed easy birdie putts that would have given them a win, and then they headed for the extra hole.

Watson seemed stupefied to find himself with the crystal trophy and the $360,000 first-place check at the end.

“Wow. Winning again at 61,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t think it’s an age thing but, God, I’ve been out here a long time.”

And he’s been winning all along.

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.



Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”


Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“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.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.