Tunes Toned and Tune-ing Up

By Dena DavisApril 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: As a part of the creative braintrust in the GOLF CHANNEL news department, Dena Davis thrives on uncovering compelling stories in golf for our shows, and finding unique, fresh ways to give viewers their golf news. These are her weekly thoughts, some random musings, and even a few programming notes. And she would like you to remember: It's all said in good fun.
 
Master(s) of His Domain?:
Last July, Andres Romero had already expedia-dot-com-ed his trip to Magnolia Lane after notching a third-place finish at Carnoustie. So the golden ticket the Argentine received in the magical city of New Orleans last weekend granting him access to Billy Payne and the Azalea Factory for his maiden PGA TOUR victory was, well, meaningless. However, what if it hadnt been? If only those primo passes could be transferable. For instance, given to one of the two 2008 winners on the PGA TOUR who didnt get an invite but perhaps deserved one given their seasons performances so far. Yes, Im talking about Brian Gay and Greg Kraft, who captured those opposite PGA TOUR events in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Hey, no offense to our 2005 U.S. Open Champion -- and thereby an owner of a 5-year Masters exemption -- Michael Campbell, who has never made a cut at Augusta National in six attempts. But I think Gay or Kraft would have made a lot more out of their starts at The Masters than the New Zealander who has only teed it up twice this year ' missing the cut both times on the European Tour. (Todd Hamilton could not be reached for comment.)
 
Pretty Young Thing:
Michelle Wie has a boyfriend! OMG! And hes so dreamy! Yes, but will he have more success on the professional level than his girlfriend? Perhaps not. Stanford hoops star Robin Lopez is a 7-foot center who may have more uh, tremendous upside, as a boyfriend than a pro athlete. Robin and his Twin Tower brother Brook are sensitive, wholesome boys who enjoy everything Disney and own every Michael Jackson album ever made (I want to love you, P.Y.T.!) And both are foregoing their junior years to leave the amateur ranks for the big bucks and endorsement deals (this sounds familiar, Michelle). However, Brook is further along in his skills as he is projected to go in the top 10, while Robin may not get taken until the second round. The NBA Draft is June 26th. Interestingly, the U.S. Women's Open week at Interlachen begins June 26th. I wonder if Robin will be bringing a date to Madison Square Garden.
 
On Another (Musical) Note:
I thought it was over when Roy Hibbert and his Hoyas were ousted from the tournament. No longer would I be singing out loud about the Georgetown big fella, I said a hip hop the hibbie hibba Hibbert, you dont stop the rock it, to the bang bang boogie No? Im the only one? Yeah, well, Roy Hibbert is now forever synonymous with Sugar Hill Gangs Rappers Delight in my crazy musical world. Well, this weekend promises to hold more of the same kind of ditty doozies. Get ready for repeated renditions of Sasha Kaun, let me rock ya, let me rock ya Sasha Kaun, from all your bar friends and maybe some hip sportscasters. What is it with these college hoop centers? Still, those tunes are considerably less annoying than what Ive been belting out (read: butchering) around the newsroom for over five years now ' much to the dismay of my co-workers, Dont cry for me Arjun Atwaaaaaaaal! The truth is, I never left yoooooou. Yep.
 
Does This Suit Make Me Look Fat?
'I don't eat ice cream or bacon or sausages or white bread or milk...It's simple. Fatty things make you fat,' said Gary Player to Golfweek when asked how he stays so healthy and fit at age 72, as he embarks on his 51st Masters. Yes, but what about beer, Mr. Player? Beer! Surely, a Guinness here and there wouldnt hurt? I wonder if Mr. Player would be impressed to know that on the weekends at work, sometimes we pick TOUR players for the day and drop down and do push-ups every time they make birdies? True story.
 
A Knight to Remember:
Speaking of being impressed, the first time I met Gary Player, I was a hot sweaty mess. It was a weekday night a few years ago and I stopped by work after spending several intimate hours with a treadmill, a stair-master and some weights. Being late in the evening, I figured I could just grab some things off my desk without any fanfare. I pulled up to The Channel, grabbed my employee badge and headed in. As I opened the door of the lobby, barreling in at a fast pace, there stood a South African legend in my path. I practically bounced into ' and off of ' the steely sturdy 5-foot-7 Black Knight, as if he had just set a basketball screen on me.
 
Well, of all the Hall-of-Fame golfers you would want to (literally) run into whilst looking bedraggled, hat-pulled down, and clothed in just a perspiration-drenched sports bra and gym shorts, its the fitness-fiend known as Gary Player, my friends.
 
Whoa there, champ! He said to me, chuckling, Youre looking strong! And I just stood there frozen in my tracks, wide-eyed and grinning. (I had met Tiger, Jack, and Arnie without losing the ability to talk in their presence, but with Mr. Player, a guy who Id always admired for his incredible work ethic and exuberant passion for golf ' and life, my mouth was completely caught off guard.) Eventually I was able to spit out a meek Hi, and then something to the effect of, Yes um I worked out.
 
And then it was over. He was out the door. And I had just met a man I considered a hero and Id forgotten to shake his hand or tell him my name. I'm never getting that moment back.
 
Going Yard:
On Sunday, Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-out solo home run into the left-field stands in the bottom of the ninth to give his Washington Nationals a dramatic opening night victory and christening the fancy fresh ballpark with the walk-off dinger. Heres hoping well see similar heroics by a golfer in Texas this Sunday; perhaps with a memorable winning putt on the 72nd hole at the new Rees Jones' Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club, sending someone straight to Amen Corner for the first time. Houston, Hallelujah!
 
Things Im Not Buying Into:
  • Colin Montgomeries Payne-ful Pity-Party - Come on, man! Get ahold of yourself. Have you no shame! I usually love Mrs. Doubtfire in all of his curmudgeon glory (I might be one of the few), but you cannot start calling out The Masters committee --and Asian players who received special invites -- grumbling that you didnt get in because youre not Chinese? Because of television rights? Dude. What have you done on a golf course lately? Youre ranked 75th in the world and plummeting pronto-like. And may I remind me you, that youve missed the cut at this particular major Toonamint four times in the last five years? And Im not even going to embarrass you by bringing up the fact that the three Asian players youre complaining about: Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Liang Wen-hong of China, and Jeev Milkha Singh of India, have all out-played you this year, with better finishes in PGA Tour starts?
     
  • Stef-FIN Curry is 20 years old? - I dont believe it. Youre telling me this baby-faced peach-fuzz-above-the-lip kid is the same age as old-man-get-off-my-lawn-kid! Greg Oden? Its a good thing Dells son is coming back to Davidson (my prediction for Cinderella two weeks ago, ahem) for another year. Imagine how good hes going to be once he hits puberty! Ha. Did you see what I did there? Combined last years trendy college hoops age-joke with this years so yeah.
     
  • Chocolate Skittles? - Seriously? Really. REALLY? Was there a need? Why are you putting chocolate on my Skittles? That makes them non-Skittles in my book ' youre completely altering their God-given genetic makeup. Skittles should taste like Skittles, not like chocolate. Am I right? Answer me that. (No, not you, Mr. Player. Skittles make us fat.)
     
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    Watch: Wagner saves season with walk-off eagle dunk

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 2:45 am

    Johnson Wagner kept his FedExCup Playoff hopes alive on Friday at the Wyndham Championship ... and he did it in dramatic fashion.

    Needing a birdie on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number, Johnson used a 9-iron from 153 yards out to dunk his approach for eagle to get inside the cut line.

    Johnson's eagle at the last gave him a 66 for the day and earned him two more rounds to try and get inside the FedExCup top 125 for next week's start of the postseason, The Northern Trust.

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    S.H. Park, Salas co-lead rain-soaked Indy Women

    By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 1:42 am

    INDIANAPOLIS - Sung Hyun Park relied on the same, steady style that has helped make her one of the LPGA's top players. When her putts kept rolling in Friday, she was virtually unbeatable.

    Park shot a 9-under 63 for a share of the lead with Lizette Salas during the suspended second round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    ''The best round of the year,'' the South Korean player said through an interpreter. ''My putting overall was what really helped.''

    Salas, the first-round leader after a 62, had a 69 to match Park at 13 under at Brickyard Crossing. Danielle Kang and Nasa Hataoka were two shots back.

    ''It was going to be hard to top that 62 yesterday but I stayed patient,'' Salas said. ''This was a completely different golf course, so I had to change my mentality a little bit and I had to forget about the 62 in a way and just go back to what I was doing.''

    Park has two majors and four overall LPGA victories the last two years, winning the U.S. Women's Open and CP Women's Open last year and the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic and KPMG Women's PGA Championship this season.

    Nothing rattled Park on a sticky, overcast day.

    ''I worked on my short game the most, especially measuring the distances,'' Park said. ''It paid off.''

    After more rain drenched the already saturated layout around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Park completed the round by putting out in a downpour that forced the afternoon groups to contend with a delay of nearly four hours.


    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


    In between the showers, the world's fourth-ranked player performed like a two-time major champion.

    She birdied three of the first five holes to reach 7 under, started the back nine with three straight birdies then took the lead with her ninth and final birdie of the day on the par-4 17th.

    Salas took a different tack one day after tying Mike McCullough's course-record 62.

    Rather than take advantage of the course's soft greens, the 29-year-old American needed patience Friday. She opened with 12 consecutive pars then made three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. After her first bogey of the tournament, on the par-4 eighth, Salas closed out the round with another birdie to tie Park.

    Salas hasn't won since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship, but she's developed a real affinity for the Indy course where she's had five consecutive sub-par rounds dating to last year's fifth-place finish.

    Kang, who kept Salas composed during a 77-minute rain delay Thursday, had a 68 to get to 11 under.

    ''I've been giving myself a lot of birdie chances,'' Kang said. ''That was my goal this week. I just have been feeling like I was in a little bit of a funk, so I told my caddie we were just going to pick a number, play my game, forget all the swing thoughts, forget everything and just kind of play it by feel.''

    Kang hasn't recorded a bogey over the first 36 holes and is in contention for her first tour victory last year's KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

    Hataoka shot 69.

    Angel Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who was tied for second with Hataoka after the first round, was 10 under with eight holes left. Yin was tied for fifth with Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand and Amy Yang of South Korea, who also had eight holes to go.

    Defending champion Lexi Thompson started on the back nine and birdied the par-3 12th and the par-4 16th. She was 6 under with 10 holes remaining in the second round.

    And the course could change dramatically as it dries out.

    Saturday's forecast calls for partly cloudy conditions with highs in the low 80s and Sunday is supposed to be mostly sunny with highs in the mid-80s.

    Park promises to be ready for whatever weather arrives.

    ''I'm going to do really well,'' she said. ''I feel really good about my game, especially my short game. And it's just about the weather now, so hopefully the weather is good.''

    Getty Images

    Snapshot of 2018 U.S. Amateur semifinalists

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 18, 2018, 1:39 am

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – A U.S. Amateur Championship that began with 7,463 entries has been whittled down to just four players.

    Saturday morning’s semifinals not only will determine the two finalists for the most prestigious title in amateur golf, but also the players who will receive a likely invitation to the 2019 Masters and U.S. Open – the greatest consolation prize in all of sports.

    It's Devon Bling vs. Isaiah Salinda. 

    And Cole Hammer vs. Viktor Hovland. 

    Here’s a snapshot of those left competing at Pebble Beach:



    DEVON BLING

    In Bling’s player profile, he wrote that his mother, Sara, always wanted to see him compete in USGA championships.

    Unfortunately, she never got the opportunity – she passed away in 2013, to a mysterious ailment, when Devon was only 13.

    “It took us totally by surprise,” he said Friday night. “In an instant, she was there and totally healthy, and the next day she was gone.”

    The sense of loss was massive – Sara was always there, shuttling Devon to tournaments, walking with his group, supporting him.

    “Losing her was extremely difficult for my family,” he said. “I know she’s still in my heart and looking down on me, and I’m just hoping to make her proud.”

    Bling, now a sophomore at UCLA, has blossomed into a solid player who had yet to take his star turn. That’s beginning to change here at Pebble Beach, where his brother and father are whooping for his many great shots.

    They had plenty of reason to cheer Friday, after Bling flipped a late deficit and beat Davis Riley, 1 up, to advance to the semifinals.

    Bling led at only one point all match – when it mattered most, after the 18th hole.

    He took an aggressive line on the par-5 finishing hole, taking driver left of the tree in the middle of the fairway, while Riley, playing conservatively after twice putting driver into the water during practice rounds, flared his long iron into the greenside bunker. Bling rifled his approach into the greenside bunker and splashed out to 3 ½ feet for the decisive birdie.

    “I couldn’t be happier,” he said.



    VIKTOR HOVLAND

    Most golf fans’ only introduction to Hovland came last month. Playing on a sponsor exemption at the European Open, the Oklahoma State junior double-pumped during his backswing, regrouped and then drilled his tee shots.

    It was a swing drill that had crept into his full swing.

    “That helped for a little while,” Hovland said. “I found the center of the clubface and found the shot that I could hit on almost every hole.”

    Aggressive, straight tee balls have been the key to his success this week at Pebble Beach. He’s been able to set the tone and continue to apply pressure on his opponents by consistently finding the fairway.   

    Paired with a scorching-hot putter, Hovland sure doesn’t have the look of a player who counts only one tournament title outside of his native Norway.

    He's been manhandling his opponents at the U.S. Amateur.

    After trouncing Austin Squires, 7 and 6, on Friday – matching the largest margin of victory in a U.S. Amateur quarterfinal – Hovland has now led after 45 of 57 holes.

    He led throughout a Round of 16 thumping of Kristoffer Reitan.

    He led throughout a quarterfinal dismantling of Squires, too.

    In his last two matches, he’s a combined 9 under par and has won 16 of his last 23 holes.

    “I think I’ve definitely had the game to win more, but I’ve made a few bad decisions here and there and it adds up to you start being too far behind,” said Hovland, who won a college event last season at the Floridian. “My putter also hasn’t been good enough. My ball-striking hasn’t been super flashy, but it’s been consistent. It’s hard to win tournaments if you’re not putting well.”

    He's swinging freely and making plenty of putts so far.



    COLE HAMMER

    The hottest player in amateur golf ran his match-play record this year to 17-1 after a 3-and-2 victory over Alex Fitzpatrick.

    Playing the younger brother of 2013 U.S. Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Hammer went 3 under for his first five holes Friday and never gave his opponent a chance. He kept the ball in play, putted for birdie on nearly every hole and scrambled on the rare occasion he was out of position. In a near-impossible spot short and left of the ninth green, he played a soft pitch that landed on the crest of the hill and funneled into the cup for an unlikely birdie.

    “It was one of those one-in-a-million shots that just happened to go in,” he said.

    They all seem to be dropping recently.

    The incoming freshman at Texas won the Azalea Invitational at the start of the year, teamed with Garrett Barber to take the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, reached the semifinals of the U.S. Junior, went wire to wire at the Western Amateur and now has reached the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur.

    “I’ve played a ton of match play this year and come back from deficits,” he said, “and that speaks to the confidence I have and knowing I can get it done.”



    ISAIAH SALINDA

    After narrowly escaping in his Round of 16 match, Salinda once again dodged a worthy opponent on Friday afternoon.  

    Salinda built a 4-up lead through five holes but was only one hole clear as he headed to the back nine. On six separate occasions, Gordon hit the lip of the cup on a putt or chip, allowing Salinda to stay in front down the stretch.

    On 16, the Stanford senior finally put Gordon away: From 150 yards, he hit a controlled 9-iron that landed in the perfect spot, spun left and came within an inch of dropping for eagle. The conceded birdie gave him a 2-up cushion that he used to eventually win, 2 and 1.

    “He’s a really good player,” Salinda said, “and I expected him to fight back.”

    Salinda, who recently won the Pacific Coast Amateur, is playing in his first USGA event. Six times he’s been the first or second alternate out of a U.S. Junior or U.S. Amateur qualifier in Northern California. The trick this time was to head to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he qualified after playing the Trans-Miss Amateur.

    Salinda won’t need to worry about qualifying next year – he’s already exempt into next year’s event.

    He could earn a spot in even bigger events – the 2019 Masters and U.S. Open – with another win Saturday.

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    Garcia among bubble boys keeping playoff hopes alive

    By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 12:34 am

    Sergio Garcia gave himself a chance to keep his perfect FedExCup Playoffs record going with his rally Friday at the Wyndham Championship.

    D.A. Points moved into position to make a historic leap into the postseason.

    And Johnson Wagner dunked his last shot of the day from long range to keep his hopes of making the playoffs alive.

    But the day didn’t end nearly as well for Tyrone Van Aswegen’s FedExCup hopes.

    Van Aswegen didn’t do himself any favors trying to hold on to the 125th spot on the FedExCup points list. He missed the cut by a shot.

    Only the top 125 advance to The Northern Trust and next week’s start to the playoffs.

    Van Aswegen wasn’t alone among “bubble boys” missing the cut. No. 122 Jhonattan Vegas, No. 123 Seamus Power, No. 124 Martin Piller, No. 126 Chad Campbell and No. 127 Robert Garrigus all failed to make the weekend.

    Garcia is among 13 players who have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs every year since they began in 2007, but his run was in jeopardy of ending starting the week. He’s 131st on the FedExCup points list

    With a 65 Friday following his opening round 66, Garcia is in more than a great position to advance. He’s in position to win the Wyndham. He is tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. The day ended with Garcia projected to move up to 118th on the FedExCup points list.


    Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

    Current FedExCup points list


    “I'm just going to try to keep building on the things that I did well these first two days,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. Like I said at the beginning of the week, if I have a great weekend, then it will be great. If I don't have a great weekend, it will still be great because

    I'll get to rest.”

    Points started the week 214th on the FedExCup points list. With back-to-back 64s, he trails only Brandt Snedeker going into the weekend. He can crack the top 125, but only with a win. Nobody has ever started the Wyndham Championship that far back in points and qualified for the playoffs. Davis Love III was 186th when he won and advanced in 2015.

    Wagner, 136th on the FedExCup points list, went to spectacular lengths Friday to keep his playoff hopes alive. He was outside the cut line until holing his 153-yard approach at the last.

    Bill Haas, who is among those 13 players to have qualified for the playoffs every year, started the week 150th in points. He can keep his perfect playoff record going with a big weekend. He shot 68 Friday to make the cut. He’s tied for 52nd in the tournament.