Bradley should be a lock for Presidents Cup team

By Doug FergusonAugust 16, 2011, 8:41 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Until winning the PGA Championship, the coolest thing in golf that happened to Keegan Bradley during his amazing rookie season was getting a phone call from Fred Couples in May after he won his first PGA Tour event.

But if he doesn’t get another phone call from Couples next month, that would be just cold.

Bradley’s second win of the year moved him up to No. 18 in the Presidents Cup standings, giving him three more tournaments - all of them with $8 million purses - to try to move into the top 10 and become the first tour rookie to qualify for a U.S. team. If not, Couples makes two captain’s picks on Sept. 26.

Except the way Couples is talking, he only has one pick. The other already is set aside for Tiger Woods.

“He doesn’t have to prove a lot to any captain, I don’t think,” Couples said at the Memorial, when Woods was in the middle of his three-month break from golf to heal injuries in his left leg.

Even when Woods returned to competition two weeks ago at Firestone, Couples again suggested that Woods only had to indicate his desire to play for him to be added to the Presidents Cup team.

“As far as I’m concerned, if he is not in the top 10 … he will be on our team, no doubt,” Couples told The Golf Channel.

That would mean Couples is willing to spend a captain’s pick on a guy who has played two full tournaments since the Masters, breaking par only once in eight rounds.

It means he will pick a player who might have competed only once in about three months before the Presidents Cup. Woods is under contract to play in the Australian Open in Sydney on Nov. 10-13, which is one week before the matches at Royal Melbourne.

And it will mean taking a guy who not only hasn’t won in 21 months, but who has finished within three shots of the lead in just one of his last 19 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour.

This wasn’t a problem last year for Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin. When it was time to make his four selections, Woods had shown signs of turning his game around with consecutive finishes in the top 15 against two of the strongest PGA Tour fields of the year. Plus, there were no other Americans who had distinguished themselves as logical picks.

This year is different.

Among those outside the top 10 in the standings going into the final month of qualifying are Rickie Fowler, who won his last four holes to keep alive U.S. hopes in the Ryder Cup last year, and Gary Woodland, a winner this year and an intimidating player in match play with his length.

And then there’s Bradley.

It is not unprecedented for a player to win a major and get left off a Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup team in the same year. Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel won the last two majors of 2003, and Jack Nicklaus didn’t pick either one.

Then again, that was their only win of the year.

Bradley previously won at the Byron Nelson Championship in May after a sudden-death playoff, and if that wasn’t enough to show his resolve, the PGA Championship should have answered any remaining questions.

He is plenty long off the tee, saving his best drive for the 16th hole when he was coming off a triple bogey and needed a birdie to turn around his fortunes. His belly putter, although maybe not aesthetically pleasing, works for him, especially the way he holed so many important putts.

Does Couples really have any other choice but to take Bradley?

The standings are based on PGA Tour earnings dating to the 2009 Barclays, with double the money for the current year. Woods, who earned 53 percent of his points in the four FedEx Cup playoff events at the end of 2009, is No. 28 and likely to fall even farther down the list. The lowest-ranked American ever chosen was Paul Azinger, who was No. 24 in 2000.

Bradley’s stunning turnaround Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club - three birdies over his last six holes to go from a five-shot deficit with three holes left to a playoff victory in the final major of the year - illustrate just how much golf has changed.

For one thing, American golf is either very deep or very mediocre, which could mean the same thing.

The Americans had gone six majors without winning, its longest drought since the Masters began in 1934. And it was ended by a 25-year-old rookie who was No. 108 in the world and playing in his first major.

Anyone see that coming?

No one has taken over as a dominant force in golf since Woods ran into trouble, first with his health, then with his personal life.

Three of the top four players in the world ranking have not won a major.

Bradley was the seventh straight first-time major champion, the longest streak in the modern configuration of majors that date to 1934. He was the 13th winner in the last 13 majors, the longest stretch without a repeat major winner since it went 15 in a row in the mid-1990s.

This is what golf looks like without Woods.

It won’t look any different just by putting him on the Presidents Cup team.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”