Westwood back in Memphis to defend title

By Associated PressJune 8, 2011, 8:21 pm

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Lee Westwood enjoys defending titles. So with the St. Jude Classic scheduled just before the U.S. Open, returning to the TPC Southwind course was a pretty easy decision.

“This was one of the first ones that went in,” Westwood said Wednesday. “It’s a priority for me to try to come and defend whenever I can, and I like to play the week before a major championship. I was fairly sure I was going to use this as one of my three invites.”

Westwood is limited each year on the number of PGA events he can play since the Englishman gave up his U.S. membership in 2008. But he said he’s only missed one chance to defend a title in about 35 opportunities, and that happened only because two tournaments were scheduled the same week.

So I’ve always tried to get back,” Westwood said.

He also likes the 7,239-yard, par-70 course as a tuneup for the U.S. Open. Count Westwood among those who like the mental tuneup of having to sink 3-foot putts. While the TPC Southwind course is different from Congressional, Westwood calls it a demanding test.

“It certainly demands that you hit the fairways and hit the greens, which is pretty much the blueprint for playing good U.S. Open golf as well,” Westwood said.

Nobody has successfully defended a PGA Tour title yet this year, Westwood will face a field featuring five of the world’s top 32 in Robert Karlsson, David Toms, Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy and Zach Johnson.

Toms could be a big threat, having won here in 2003 and 2004. He also won Colonial late last month and was second at The Players and ranks second in greens in regulation and third in driving accuracy.

“I look forward to the challenge,” Toms said. “It’ll be tough to win this golf tournament with all the good players, and I’ve just got to go out there and play well and see how that stacks up.”

The field also includes Sergio Garcia, past champion Brian Gay, Padraig Harrington and Brandt Snedeker, who won The Heritage in April. Local favorite John Daly is here again too.

Considering the luck he had here a year ago, no wonder Westwood was determined to return.

Westwood had signed his card and was ready to leave a year ago when advised to stick around. Robert Garrigus blew a three-stroke lead on the 72nd hole, and Westwood won his second PGA Tour title in a three-way playoff in what he called an amazing finish.

“Sometimes you don’t win tournaments you think you should have won, and sometimes you win tournaments that some other guy should have won,” Westwood said. “If you put yourself in the position often enough, that’s going to happen.”

Westwood went on to take the No. 1 ranking away from Tiger Woods, though he now ranks second to Luke Donald after losing a playoff in the European Tour’s PGA Championship. Westwood finished tied for 11th at The Masters and also has won the Indonesian Masters in April and in South Korea this year.

Garrigus responded well after melting down on the par-4 No. 18. He drove into the water and hit his third shot into the trees left that forced him to pitch out. He walked off the green with a triple-bogey 7 back to the 18th tee for a playoff with Westwood and Karlsson. He bogeyed the first hole to finish the collapse.

He credited Chris DiMarco among others with reminding him how hard he worked to get the lead. Then he went against all advice to avoid watching TV.

“Everybody was telling me not to watch The Golf Channel and not to watch PTI and all that stuff, but I watched it giggling because I knew I was going to win again and it was just a matter of time,” Garrigus said.

He finished 2010 by winning the tour’s final event at Disney, and he opened this year losing a playoff to Jonathan Byrd in the Tournament of Champions. Now he’s back at a course where he feels very comfortable, especially in targeting holes on the greens with his ability to spin the ball with his middle irons.

Garrigus has been grouped with Westwood and Karlsson for the first two rounds starting Thursday, which he expected. He’s busy dealing with what he called mixed emotions feeling like he’s the defending champ and not Westwood.

But he knows how he’ll feel when he reaches the 18th tee.

“I’m not going to screw it up this time. I know what to do and where to hit it and in what situation, and last year helped my career leaps and bounds even though I lost in the playoff and made 7 on the last hole,” Garrigus said.

Golfers will have to deal with sizzling heat too with temperatures expected to hit the mid-90s. Mix in the humidity, and Garrigus predicted he’ll need to drink 15 bottles of water a day alone to stay hydrated.

Both Westwood and Karlsson compared playing in Memphis to the conditions in Indonesia and Malaysia.

“That’s part of playing this event,” Karlsson said. “You just have to take it and prepare as well as you can and make sure you stay hydrated and not get too caught up in outside conditions.”

Divots: Denver quarterback Tim Tebow played in Wednesday’s pro-am with former coach Urban Meyer, and he drew a bigger crowd warming up on the practice range than Westwood did as he headed to the putting green. … Vijay Singh’s withdrawal allowed Michael Letzig into the field. D.A. Points, Ricky Barnes and Jose Marie Olazabal also withdrew.

 

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Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said after getting sprayed with champagne. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short over the past few years.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under. On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

Two years ago, he arrived in Portugal needed a good result just to keep his card. He shot a final-round 64. 

On Friday, he made tour history.

“I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse,” he said. 

To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”