A World of Possibilities

By Associated PressJuly 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- The AT&T National is missing eight of the top 10 players in the world, only one of them on crutches.
As everyone knows, Im not going to be there to play in the event, Tiger Woods said.
He wont be at Royal Birkdale or Oakland Hills for the final two majors. He wont get to wear a tuxedo for the gala dinner at the Ryder Cup. And he wont be at East Lake for the TOUR Championship to see who will be the first to kiss the FedExCup.
The PGA TOUR sees this as a wonderful opportunity to showcase so many other stars in golf. But why should that be anything new? There have been 28 tournaments this year, and Wood played only six of them before season-ending surgery on his left knee.
The real opportunity belongs to the players.
Who stands to gain the most from the worlds No. 1 player spending the next six months on his couch?
Everyone, Robert Allenby said Tuesday on a quiet practice range at Congressional, where Woods was nowhere to be found except on the promotional posters. Theres anywhere between $300,000 to $1 million every week thats up for grabs.
He was close.
In the 11 tour events that Woods played after he heard his ACL pop while jogging after the British Open last year, he picked up seven checks worth at least $1 million, and the smallest was $285,000 for a fifth-place finish at Doral.
The British Open is in two weeks. It will be the first major without Woods since Mark Brooks won the 1996 PGA Championship, a week before Woods captured his third straight U.S. Amateur.
Woods was a 5-to-2 favorite at Royal Birkdale after winning the U.S. Open. Three days later, when he announced he was done for the year, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els were installed as co-favorites at 12-to-1.
You look at guys who havent won majors, Hunter Mahan said. You think of Adam Scott and Sergio. But if they do win, there will be an asterisk because Tiger wasnt there. Theyre going to be the Houston Rockets of the mid-90s when they won back-to-back titles after Michael Jordan retired.
Winning a claret jug without Woods around would not bother Allenby.
If I win, Im going to have it on my mantle, drinking the best wine in the world out of it, he said. Everyone else can go get stuffed.
Who has the most to gain?
The answer starts with Phil Mickelson, and not just because he is No. 2 in the world.
Lefty probably wont be able to replace Woods atop the world ranking unless he wins a major, a World Golf Championship and one or two other events worldwide, which is more than hes ever done in one season.
But there is much more on the table.
Only a dozen players have won more PGA TOUR events than Mickelson, who has 34 career victories and three majors. Just his luck he came around in the era of Woods, which is why someone of that caliber has never won a PGA TOUR money title, player of the year or the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average.
One of his best years was in 1996 when he won four times, and Mickelson looked like a shoo-in to win the money title. But in the final event of the year, Tom Lehman won the TOUR Championship to earn $540,000, edging out Mickelson by $82,630.
Then Woods came along, and that was that.
Mickelson finished No. 2 on the money list four more times, including 2001, when he still thought he had a chance late in the season for player of the year. He was only $229,366 behind Woods and in the hunt at a World Golf Championship.
If I can have a good finish this week and get to No. 1 on the money list, I think that I would have shot, Mickelson said that day.
Two days later, Woods won Firestone in a seven-hole playoff.
Mickelson, who has won at Riviera and Colonial this year, trails Woods by just over $1.8 million on the money list and he still has at least six tournaments left, all of them with at least $7 million purses. He might not have a better chance than now.
Then again, a resurgent Kenny Perry is about $400,000 behind Mickelson after two victories in the last five weeks. The 47-year-old Perry is also closing in on Mickelson for lowest scoring average on tour.
Phil would be the one expected to do it, Fred Funk said. But if one of the other guys did it, I think that would be a bigger story than if Phil did it.
Woods absence certainly wouldnt hurt Ernie Els. The Big Easy has been runner-up to Woods seven times, more than any other player. British bookmakers think enough of Els to make him a co-favorite at Royal Birkdale, and he probably will have just as good a chance at Oakland Hills for the PGA Championship.
Garcia is the best player without a major, and he already acknowledged Woods absence in a playful manner when he thanked him for not being at Sawgrass when Garcia won THE PLAYERS Championship.
Pat Perez heard a rumor that Woods had such a big lead that he could still win the FedExCup. Woods might be the No. 1 seed, but he has no mathematical chance of even reaching the Tour Championship.
Oh, really? Perfect, Perez said.
But the more he thought about Woods being gone, the more he wished he were here.
Everyone is trying like hell to beat him, which is hard, Perez said. But to be the best, youve got to beat the best. He gives everybody something to work for. I hope he plays another 10 years.
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    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

    Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

    The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

    McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.