Fowler-McIlroy showdown highlights Tour's health

By Bailey MosierMay 7, 2012, 6:42 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Knock, knock. (Who’s there?) Orange. (Orange who?) Orange you glad to see Rickie Fowler finally win?

For the 318,000-plus Twitter followers, countless little Rickies and thousands more adoring fans, Sunday’s Wells Fargo finale was Orange Dreamsicle sweet.

It’s taken Fowler three years since turning professional to notch his first PGA Tour victory, but with all the cynics and the critics, you’d think it had been an eternity.

Fowler finally “shut (critics) up a little bit” with his playoff win over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points, solidifying the street cred so many failed to give him.

Hoggard: Tour brethren celebrate Fowler's win

Sunday at Quail Hollow it was two 23-year-olds who took center stage – with apologies to 35-year-old Points – and it was exactly the type of pedal-to-the-metal finish we would expect out of Fowler.

The emotions that flooded Fowler were as varied and as vibrant as ROYGBIV when he squared off against McIlroy, five months his junior in age yet already his senior in accomplishments. But Fowler kept his composure, knocked his approach to 4 feet at the first extra hole and when he rolled in the birdie, his hard work culminated, his dreams materialized.

After witnessing Rickie’s reign at Quail Hollow, it’s tempting to paint the PGA Tour with ‘new era in golf’ storylines and undertones, to preach about how great the future will be.

Truth is, the present is pretty remarkable.

A wide spectrum of storylines has fueled the season, from the redemption of Kyle Stanley to the romanticism of Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson’s conviction to Tiger Woods’ conundrum, the fortitude of Jason Dufner to the fickleness of the world’s top ranking.

That No. 1 spot is currently held by McIlroy, a consolation prize to his playoff loss.

While Fowler is definitely the flavor of the moment, McIlroy has established himself – regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking says on a weekly basis – as the game’s best player.

McIlroy’s runner-up showing at Wells Fargo was his fourth top-3 finish in five PGA Tour starts this season, which includes a victory at the Honda Classic. His game and mentality are maturing and he’s settling into a rhythmic pace.

He now heads to TPC Sawgrass, where he opted out a year ago, citing scheduling conflicts and his limited number of starts as a non-member of the Tour.

This year, he enters the Tour’s flagship event not only as a card-carrier, but a new man in many respects and, essentially, the Tour’s next golden boy.

Meanwhile, Woods, the man who once was – or still is, depending on your point of view – the Tour’s golden boy comes into the week looking anything but polished. His year has included a win at Bay Hill, his worst finish at the Masters as a professional and a missed cut at Wells Fargo.

No, writers aren’t contractually obligated to mention Woods in every column. His inclusion in this piece is further highlight the Tour’s health. With or without Woods, at his best or a struggling mess, the Tour has thrived in 2012.

Now, as we come off our orange rush and look ahead to The Players, we cannot ignore that one question: Is this a new era in golf?

Is this the beginning of an era in which Woods and Mickelson should no longer be considered the weekly favorites? Or have we already embarked on that journey and we’re just now starting to realize where we are?

It may be time to steer our faith and following in a different direction. In the past we’ve bet the house on Sunday red. Are we now putting it all on orange?

That’s not to suggest that with one Tour victory, Rickie is suddenly the new Tiger. That would be like comparing apples to, well, oranges. The suggestion is that times are changing and the change is good.

The PGA Tour’s present is a vibrant as Fowler’s wears. To continue down this pleasant path in the long term, there must be youthful leaders, those with talent, charisma and victories.

Two such men were on display Sunday. One was declared No. 1, the other crowned champion.

Getty Images

Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee birdied the 18th hole Sunday for a one-stroke victory over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship.

Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round around the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18, a reachable par 5. Her second shot landed a few feet to the right of the green, and she calmly chipped to about 3 feet

She made the putt to finish at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. It was the Australian standout's fourth career victory and first since 2016.

Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Getty Images

Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

Getty Images

Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst shot an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

The 52-year-old Englishman finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).

Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory. He won six times on the European Tour and has three European Senior Tour victories.

BYU men's golf team BYU

Sunday rule proves no advantage for BYU at NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 27, 2018, 10:06 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – For all the kvetching about the advantage BYU would gain by not playing on Sunday with the other teams at the NCAA Championship, one small thing was conveniently forgotten.

What happens if the Cougars were actually disadvantaged?

That’s what appears to have happened here at Karsten Creek.

Because the Mormon-run school prohibits athletics on Sunday, the NCAA accommodated BYU using its “Sunday Play” rule for the first time in the match-play era. (It was the team’s first NCAA berth since 2006.) That meant that BYU played its practice round last Wednesday, before the start of the final match of the NCAA Women’s Championship. The next day, the Cougars played their Sunday round – the third round of stroke-play qualifying – a half hour after the other 29 teams completed their practice round.

Some coaches grumbled about the issue of competitive fairness: What if BYU played in calm conditions for its third round on Thursday, while everybody else competed in rain and 30-mph winds come Sunday?

BYU coach Bruce Brockbank has been on the NCAA competition committee for the past four years, but even he was curious about how it would all play out.

For the practice round, the NCAA informed the Cougars that they needed to be off the course by 1:30 p.m. local time, a little more than a half hour before the start of the women’s final between Arizona and Alabama. All six players got a look at the course in 5 hours and 30 minutes – or an hour and 15 minutes less than the official Thursday practice round – and needed to run between shots on the 17th and 18th holes to finish on time.

Brockbank tried to prepare his players for what they would face Thursday. It’s a different experience without a playing marker – not seeing another shot affected by the wind, not watching another ball break on the greens, not falling into a rhythm with pace – but perhaps no amount of simulated rounds would have helped.

Playing as singles, with only a rules official and a walking scorer by its side, BYU began its NCAA Championship at 4 p.m. local time Thursday. The Cougars got in only a few holes before the horn sounded to suspend play. It turned out to be a two-hour weather delay, and players slapped it around a sloppy, soggy course until dark, with their last single on the 11th hole.

They returned the next morning, at 6:55, and wrapped up their round in an hour and a half before turning around for another 18.

Their final tally? They shot 24-over 312 – easily the worst third-round score of any team.

“We obviously didn’t handle it very well,” Brockbank said, “but it definitely wasn’t an advantage.”

BYU rebounded the next two rounds, with scores of 298-286, putting the team squarely inside the top-15 cut line.

“And six or seven hours,” he said, “we were right there with the best teams in the country.”

But then the third-round scores got posted, and it was clear that they had no chance of advancing past the 54-hole cut.

“It was pretty frustrating to watch our guys,” he said. “We just didn’t handle it very well.”

The same was true for the team’s best player, senior Patrick Fishburn. With just the first and second round counting, Fishburn (67-72) was in a tie for second, one shot off the individual lead, heading into Sunday. Then his third-round 78 from Thursday was posted, and he tumbled down the leaderboard, needing help just to advance to the final round of stroke-play qualifying.

“I’d rather have it this way,” Brockbank said. “If we had shot 5 under par and everyone else is over par, I don’t want to hear that wrath. The coaches wouldn’t put up with that. The fact that we’re not a factor, it’ll go away. But if the day did go well, it would have been a different story.”

Still, it was a strange dynamic Sunday, as a team competing in the NCAA Championship never even made it to the course – Brockbank preferred that the guys stay away from Karsten Creek, if only for appearances.

They went to a local church for three hours, then ate lunch and retired to the team hotel, where they watched TV and studied and played chess. Fishburn has another round to play Monday, but he didn’t even hit balls.

“I don’t think he’s even concerned about that – it’s just a nice, quiet Sabbath day,” Brockbank said. “But as a coach, it’s definitely a little odd.”