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Furyk hopes players scout Ryder Cup course

By Doug FergusonOctober 17, 2017, 10:05 pm

Le Golf National outside Paris, the host course of the Ryder Cup next year, has been part of the European Tour schedule since 1991 and last year was the 25th time it has held the French Open.

So along with the European crowd, that's one big advantage for the home team next year.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk hopes his American team can find time to see the course ahead of the September matches, even if they don't play the tournament. The French Open is three weeks before The Open at Carnoustie, held the same week as The National on the PGA Tour schedule.

''We seem to have a bunch of players that hang out together,'' Furyk said Tuesday in France. ''I would love to see them make a trip here before The Open Championship or after The Open Championship and see the golf course.''

He said he would extend the invitation to the top 15 or 20 players in the U.S. standings. Furyk understands each player sets his own schedule, which includes obligations and rest, and he said it's not going to be a requirement.

For American players, especially those on the bubble, it might not be a bad idea. Asked if it would be a strong recommendation to see the course, Furyk replied, ''I think it's going to be an ask and an invite, and I would hope to see some of those players.''

This is the second time in the last six years the Americans go overseas for the Ryder Cup in possession of the trophy. They have not won on European soil since 1993, the year Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Xander Schauffele were born.

''We have 25 years of scars to overcome,'' Furyk said. ''That being said, I will have a lot of young talent on my team. I'm anxious to see how they handle that challenge. Europe has handled those away matches far better in the last 25 years than we have.''

Europe is 3-3 on the road since 1993. The Americans are 0-5.


THE NICKLAUS CONNECTION: One of the more popular photos when Fred Ridley was appointed chairman of Augusta National is Ridley and Jack Nicklaus playing together in the 1976 Masters, the traditional pairing of the defending Masters champion and the U.S. Amateur champion.

The connection runs deeper than that.

In some respects, Ridley and Nicklaus shared the same golf coach - Jack Grout.

Ridley learned the game from Jamie Jackson, the head pro at Lone Palm in Lakeland, Florida, and later worked with Mike Killian and his mentor, Irv Schloss. But it was his teammate at Florida his senior year, Brad Baldwin, that led him to Grout.

''He had taken lessons from Jack Grout,'' Ridley said. ''Brad and I were going to the North and South Amateur in 1974 and he said, almost flippantly, 'I'm going to call Jack Grout and see if he'll give us a lesson and tune us up for the North and South.'''

Ridley was stunned that his teammate could just ring up such a famous teacher, but they headed to La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach, Florida.

''I took two days of lessons and thought, 'Golly, I've never hit it this good,''' Ridley said. ''I won two or three matches at the North and South, beat Jay Sigel, and then that summer I qualified for the U.S. Amateur.''

Ridley started law school and said his father allowed him to take the following summer off to play golf.

''That was going to be my last fling,'' Ridley said. ''I spent a lot of time with him (Grout) that summer, and then I won the U.S. Amateur at the end of the summer. Those other gentlemen were great, but Jack Grout really took my game to another level.''


REUNIONS: The Italian Open and the CIMB Classic featured reunions of sorts.

Sergio Garcia was paired in the third round in Italy with Austin Connelly. It was their first time playing together, but apparently not the first time they have met. Connelly's mother posted a photo from the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic that showed Garcia with his arm around Connelly.

Garcia was 19 and playing in his first regular PGA Tour event. Connelly was 2. The tweet prompted the European Tour to get them to strike the same pose .

Circumstances were slightly different over in Malaysia, where Scott Hend of Australia teed off in the first round with Ian Poulter and Patrick Rodgers. That brought back strong memories for Rodgers.

Walking off the second tee, Rodgers said to Hend, ''This is going to sound a bit weird, but when I was 10, you gave me a signed glove, and it was the first thing I ever got from a professional golfer.''

Rodgers told the PGA Tour he still has the glove at home.

Hend played two full years on the PGA Tour in 2004 and 2005 before returning to the Asian Tour, where he has won nine times. It was a reminder how much of an influence the smallest gestures can have.

''It's maybe easy to forget when we are out here, since it's our job, but you can make a real difference with the people that come to watch you play,'' Hend said.


AWAY ON HOLIDAY: Professional golfers spend so much time on the road that it's not unusual to miss birthdays or holidays, or in the case of Anirban Lahiri, the Hindu festival of lights known as Diwali.

Lahiri says he hasn't been home in India for Diwali since he was 14.

''When we were playing junior golf, all the tournaments were scheduled around the school holidays, and Diwali is obviously a school holiday,'' he said last week in Malaysia. ''And then when you're a pro, especially now, the Asian Tour schedule really picks up. So yeah, I've probably been on the road for the last 14, 15 Diwalis.''

Lahiri referred to it as a hazard of work, though the holiday still carries deep meaning wherever he is. Among the traditions are exchanging sweets and presents with close friends and family.

''It's fun because it's family times and it's friends time. I miss that,'' he said. ''So in a way, it's Diwali every time I go back for me because I get to do all those things that other people get to do at Diwali.''


DIVOTS: Of the 80 juniors who qualified for the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National next year, three are returning for the third time - Megha Ganne of Holmdel, New Jersey; Treed Huang of Katy, Texas; and Vanessa Borovilos of Toronto. Huang won his age group (7-9) in 2014. ... Hideki Matsuyama went over the $20 million mark in career PGA Tour earnings with his tie for fifth last week in Malaysia. ... With her runner-up finish last week, LPGA Tour rookie Sung Hyun Park became the first woman to top $2 million this year. ... Padraig Harrington is playing in Spain for the first time in nine years at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The average of the PGA Tour player of the year over the last four seasons is 25.8.


FINAL WORD: ''The perception sometimes of the team coming together ... has a lot to do with the outcome. We always look a lot happier during a winning year. We always look a touch more sad during a losing year. It seems as though winning cures all.'' - Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk.

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After Further Review: Nelson lost in the shuffle?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2018, 3:40 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the Nelson's future ...

If the goal was “different” by bringing the AT&T Byron Nelson to Trinity Forest, consider it achieved. But bringing a world-class field south of Dallas could still be tricky.

Yes, the tournament can always rely on local resident and AT&T spokesman Jordan Spieth to throw his hat in the ring. But even with Spieth strolling the fairways this week, the field strength was among the worst all season for a full-point event.

The debut of the sprawling, links-like layout likely did little to sway the undecideds, with only the third round offering the challenging conditions that course co-designer Ben Crenshaw had envisioned. And the schedule won’t do them any favors next year, as a revamped itinerary likely puts the Nelson right before the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

The course will inevitably get better with age, and Spieth expects positive word of mouth to spread. But it might be a while before the stars truly align for an event that, for the moment, feels lost in the shuffle of a hectic schedule. – Will Gray


On Jordan Spieth's putting ...

Jordan Spieth’s putting is plainly bad right now, but it isn’t going to stay this bad forever.

He is the second ranked player on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, just like he was last year. This putting slump has lingered, but it’s unfathomable to think this guy just forgot how to putt.

Sooner rather than later he’s going to remember he’s Jordan Spieth and the 40-footers are going to start pouring in. He’ll be telling Greller to go get the ball because he’s too far away and the tee is in the other direction.

Bottom line, the ball striking is for real and the putting slump will pass. He’ll win soon – maybe even as soon as this week. – Nick Menta


On golf and gambling ...

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court over tuned a federal ban on sports betting in most states, a move the PGA Tour and many professional sports leagues embraced as a tool to both build fan interest and grow revenue.

Experts estimate sports betting could become a $150-$200 billion annual industry, and even a small piece of that could be significant for golf, but there will be risks.

Unlike any other sport, golf is played on multiple fields simultaneously, which inherently creates risks when gambling is introduced to the equation. Although the Tour has gone to great pains to head off any potential problems, like all bets gambling comes with great rewards, and great risks. – Rex Hoggard

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Wise continues whirlwind ascent with first win

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 3:13 am

DALLAS – Still shy of his 22nd birthday, Aaron Wise continues to prove himself to be a quick learner.

Wise went from unheralded prospect to NCAA individual champ seemingly in the blink of an eye while at the University of Oregon. After eschewing his final two years of eligibility in Eugene, he won in Canada on the Mackenzie Tour in his third start as a professional.

He continued a quick learning curve with a win last year on the Web.com Tour to propel him to the big leagues, and he didn’t flinch while going toe-to-toe with Jason Day two weeks ago, even though the result didn’t go his way.

Faced with another opportunity to take down a top-ranked Aussie, Wise made sure he got the job done Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson – even though it took until dark.

With mid-day rains turning a firm and fast layout into a birdie barrage, Wise seamlessly switched gears and put his first PGA Tour title on ice in impressive fashion with a bogey-free 65. Deadlocked with Marc Leishman to start the day, Wise made six birdies in his first 10 holes and coasted to a three-shot win as the leaders barely beat the setting sun to avoid an anticlimactic Monday finish at Trinity Forest Golf Club.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


As it turned out, the hardest part of the day was enduring the four-hour weather delay alongside his mother, Karla, as his afternoon tee time turned into a twilight affair.

“She was talking to me in the hotel about what a win could mean, what a second could mean, kind of taking me through all that,” Wise said. “I was like, I’ve got to calm down. I can’t just sit here. I said, ‘You’ve got to go.’ I kind of made her leave the room.”

Wise displayed some jitters right out of the gates, with a nervy three-putt par on the opening hole. But with several players going on birdie runs to turn what seemed like a two-man race into a much more wide-open affair, Wise went on a tear of his own with four birdies in a row on Nos. 7-10.

That gave him a window over Leishman and the rest of the chase pack, and he never looked back.

“I talked to myself and kind of made myself trust my putting,” Wise said. “These greens out here are really tricky, and for me to roll those putts in on 8 and 9 really kind of separated things.”

Leishman had held at least a share of the lead after each round, and the 34-year-old veteran was looking for his third win in the last 14 months. But a bogey on No. 10 coincided with a Wise birdie to boost the rookie’s advantage from two shots to four, and Leishman never got closer than three shots the rest of the way.

“He holed putts he needed to hole, and I didn’t,” Leishman said. “Hit a couple loose shots where I could have probably put a bit of pressure on him, and didn’t. And that’s probably the difference in the end.”

Instead of sitting next to a trophy in Dallas, Wise could have been closing out his senior season next week with an NCAA appearance at Karsten Creek. But the roots of his quick climb trace back to the Master of the Amateurs in Australia in December 2015, a tournament he won and one that gave him confidence that he could hold his own against the best in the world. He returned to Eugene and promptly told his coach, Casey Martin, that he planned to turn pro in the spring.

The same dogged confidence that drove that decision has been the guiding force behind a whirlwind ascent through every rung of the professional ladder.

“I just have a lot of belief in myself. I didn’t come from a lot. A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t get to travel a bunch when I played junior golf,” Wise said. “Kind of all along it’s been very, very few moments to shine and I have had to take advantage of them.”

Despite that belief, even Wise admits that he’s “shocked” to turn only his second real chance to contend at this level into a maiden victory. But fueled by the memories of a close call two weeks ago, he put the lessons learned at Quail Hollow to quick use while taking the next step in an increasingly promising career arc.

“It was awesome, everything I dreamed of,” Wise said. “To walk up 18, knowing I kind of had it locked up, was pretty cool.”

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Grace celebrates birthday with final-round 62

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:51 am

DALLAS – Branden Grace celebrated his 30th birthday in style, making the biggest charge of the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Grace closed out a 9-under 62 as the sun began to set at Trinity Forest Golf Club, moving from outside the top 10 into a share of third place, four shots behind Aaron Wise. It equaled Grace’s career low on the PGA Tour, which he originally set last summer at The Open, and it was one shot off Marc Leishman’s course-record 61 from the opening round.

“Good birthday present. It was fun,” Grace said. “Little bit of imagination, little bit of luck here and there. You get more luck on the links golf course than maybe on a normal golf course.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Weeks after Grace’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, he now has his best result on the PGA Tour since winning the RBC Heritage more than two years ago. As a world traveler and former Presidents Cup participant, the South African embraced an opportunity this week to go off the beaten path on an unconventional layout.

“It feels like a breath of fresh air coming to something different. Really is nice. I really enjoyed the golf course,” he said. “Obviously I think we got really lucky with the weather, and that’s why the scores are so low. It can bite you if it settles in a little bit in the next couple years.”

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Scott barely misses qualifying for U.S. Open

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:33 am

DALLAS – A birdie on the 72nd hole gave Adam Scott a glimmer of hope, but in the end even a closing 65 at the AT&T Byron Nelson wasn’t enough to earn an exemption into next month’s U.S. Open.

Scott entered the week ranked No. 65 in the world, and the top 60 in next week’s rankings automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. The cutoff was a big reason why the 2008 tournament champ returned for Trinity Forest’s debut, and midway through the final round it seemed like the Aussie had a shot at snagging a bid at the 11th hour.

Scott needed at least a solo ninth-place finish to pass an idle Chesson Hadley at No. 60, and while his 5-footer on the 18th green gave him a share of sixth place when he completed play, he ultimately ended up in a three-way tie for ninth at 15 under – barely short of a spot in the top 60.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


“I tried to make the most of really favorable conditions today, and I did a pretty good job of it. Just never really got a hot run going,” Scott said. “I feel like I struggled on the weekend reading the greens well enough to really get it going, but I think everyone but the leaders did that, too. They’re not the easiest greens to read.”

Scott has played each of the last three weeks in an effort to earn a U.S. Open exemption, and he’ll make it four in a row next week when he returns to the Fort Worth Invitational on a course where he won in 2013. Scott still has another chance to avoid sectional qualifying by earning a top-60 spot at the second and final cutoff on June 11 following the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Scott has played 67 majors in a row, a streak that dates back to 2001 and is second only to Sergio Garcia among active players. While he’s prepared to play each of the next three weeks in a last-ditch effort to make the field, he’s taking his schedule one event at a time with the hope that one more good result might take care of business.

“I’ll play next week and hopefully play really well, and give myself a bit of cushion so I can take a week or so off and try to prepare the best I can for the U.S. Open,” Scott said.