Glover nips Byrd in playoff at Quail Hollow

By Doug FergusonMay 9, 2011, 2:42 am

Wells Fargo ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Lucas Glover figures he has played more than 100 rounds with Jonathan Byrd, from junior golf when they were teenagers to their years together at Clemson and nearly a decade on the PGA Tour.

The stakes were never as high as they were Sunday in the Wells Fargo Championship.

Glover was never better.

Clinging to a one-shot lead, Glover closed with three gutsy pars of the brutal finishing stretch at Quail Hollow, slamming his fist when he made the last one from 7 feet for a 3-under 69 and what looked to be a sure win. Then came Byrd, with two great pars of his own, followed by a shot into 15 feet that he made for birdie on the 18th for a 72 to force a playoff.

Glover wound up a winner with a par on the first extra hole, ending a drought of 41 tournaments that stretched nearly two years back to his U.S. Open win at Bethpage Black in 2009.

It was the eighth playoff this year on the PGA Tour, and the third in a row.

“I’m elated,” Glover said. “Any time you win, you’re pleased. It means you beat everybody. You did what you set out to do on Thursday morning when the bell range. Against this field and on this golf course and in a tournament of this magnitude, I’m thrilled.”

And against one of his best friends?

That might have helped. Glover, in his first PGA Tour playoff, felt a sense of calmness playing against Byrd, who had won his last two tournaments in extra holes. And it showed.

In regulation, Glover hooked his tee shot so far left that it settled under a spectator. He was given a drop, then watched the ball roll down the bank toward the stream as he got ready to hit it. Because he never grounded his club – that was his plan, given the lie on a side of a steep hill – he played the next shot without penalty.

“Better stance, worse lie,” he said.

He managed a 6-iron just over the green, hit the most difficult chip he had all day to 7 feet and escaped with another par. In the playoff, however, Glover striped his tee shot down the middle and two-putted from 25 feet.

Byrd, who went from a fairway bunker to the hazard left the green – just short of the stream – hit a difficult chip 25 by the hole and wound up with a bogey.

“I’m a little disappointed just because you’re here to win,” Byrd said. “You love to compete, especially when you get in a playoff. You birdie the last, you feel like, ‘Hey, this is just going to work out.’

“If I couldn’t win, I couldn’t pick anybody else I’d want to win other than Lucas, so I’m very happy for him.”

Glover, who finished on 15-under 273, became the first player in the nine-year history of the tournament to post all four rounds in the 60s. He never would have seen this coming.

He has been going through a divorce the past several months – “I’ll probably leave that over there, if it’s all right,” he said, declined to comment on his personal life – and had only one top 10 over the last year. He missed the cut in his last three events and didn’t have much confidence when he showed up at Quail Hollow.

But he figured out Tuesday on the range that the club wasn’t square, it felt better Wednesday in the pro-am and off he went. This wasn’t the U.S. Open, although the way he was tested over the final hour of a wild day, it felt just as difficult.

Rory Sabbatini, who closed with a 65 and was 13-under 131 on the weekend, wound up alone in third and will move into the top 50 of the world. Now he has to stay there for two more weeks to be exempt for the U.S. Open.

Bill Haas had a 70 to finish alone in fourth. Pat Perez, who set a tournament record with 26 birdies, had an outside chance at winning until closing with three straight bogeys to tie for sixth.

“It just proves that I can’t close, so I’m pretty confident on that,” Perez said, blunt as ever. “You’re never going to win if you play like I did today. That’s just terrible. Embarrassing.”

Glover was four shots behind when he made his move by chipping in for birdie on the eighth and holing a 30-foot eagle on the 10th that gave him the outright lead that he never lost the rest of the way.

Then came a wild ride – bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie – that brought him to the treacherous finish. He saved par from well behind the 16th green. He two-putted from just under 100 feet on the 17th, making a 6-footer for par, then escaped No. 18 with the biggest par of all.

“With a one-shot lead, those three holes you’ve got to execute,” Glover said. “Did I execute the full swing? Who’s to say? But I executed my short game, and I made my putts.”

Byrd was back on the tee when he heard the roar of Glover’s par, knowing he needed birdie.

Glover all but predicted he would.

They had joked before the third round that they would be paired together on Sunday late in the afternoon. They probably didn’t have this late in mind.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we plan on seeing each other tomorrow around 2 – and it was 6,” Glover said. “I think that may be why I knew he was going to make birdie on 18.”

Sabbatini was among five players atop the leaderboard in a wacky final round, and the action was relentless.

It started with the spunky South African, who had only been talked about this week over his profanity-filled argument with Sean O’Hair last week in New Orleans that could lead to a suspension. Sabbatini posted at 14-under 274, and it looked as though it might be enough for a playoff as the Glover, Byrd, Haas and Perez kept finding trouble along the last five holes.

Byrd looked to be in control until closing out the front nine with back-to-back bogeys, then making another one on the 14th when his shot from the right rough also found the water. But he followed with a birdie on the 15th, then punched out of the trees on the 16th and hit his shot from 167 yards to 2 feet for an unlikely par, and closed with a dramatic birdie.

“I’m just a little disappointed with how I played the rest of the 15 holes earlier in the day,” Byrd said.

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Cops called in bizarre ending to Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 20, 2018, 7:16 pm

In a one-paragraph post on its website, the Florida State Golf Association declared Marc Dull the winner of the 37th Mid-Amateur Championship on May 13 after his opponent – in a tie match with two holes to go – was unable to return because of an “unfortunate injury” sustained during a lengthy weather delay.

Left unreported was what allegedly happened.

According to a police report (see below) obtained by GolfChannel.com, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office received a call that afternoon from Dull’s opponent, Jeff Golden, who claimed that he’d been assaulted in the parking lot at Coral Creek Club, the tournament host site in Placida. In a statement provided to police, Golden said that he was sucker-punched in the face by Dull’s caddie, Brandon Hibbs.

Both in his statement to police and in a subsequent phone interview afterward, Golden, 33, said that the alleged incident stemmed from a rules dispute on the ninth hole during the championship match. As he surveyed his putt, Golden asked Dull whether the cup was damaged or if there was loose debris around the edge.

“Don’t worry about it,” Hibbs reportedly told Golden. “If you’re going to make it, you’re going around it.”

With tensions already running high because of what he perceived as breaches of etiquette by his opponents, Golden informed the rules official in the group that he believed Hibbs’ statement constituted advice. The penalty was a loss of hole, giving Golden a 2-up lead at the turn.

At that point, Hibbs told police, he recused himself and returned to the clubhouse. Dull and Golden continued their match, heading to the 17th hole all square when they were pulled off the course because of inclement weather.

Golden told police that he headed to the parking lot at 2:45 p.m. to retrieve some dry clothes from his car when Hibbs “approached him, apologized, then punched him on the left side of the face,” causing him to fall to the ground.

“I had a moment where I was happy to see him, because the first thing he said to me was, ‘I want to apologize,’” Golden said last week in a phone interview. “By the time he finished I was being punched.”

Asked why he believed Hibbs would strike him, Golden said: “It was from the earlier ruling, 100 percent. He had anger toward me because I called him out on a ruling.”

In a statement given to police, Hibbs, 36, said that he had “been in the clubhouse the entire time and did not batter [Golden], nor was he in the parking lot.” Hibbs, who caddies with Dull at Streamsong Resort in Central Florida, did not return a message seeking comment.

Police wrote in the report that there were no witnesses to the alleged attack, nor was there any surveillance video from the parking lot. While observing Golden the officer noted “no swelling or abrasions to the face,” but there was “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip.” Hibbs’ hands and knuckles showed “no scrapes or abrasions.”

Golden, however, said that there were three bloodstains on his shirt and punctures inside his mouth that proved he’d been struck. He also described himself afterward as “dizzy” and seeing “weird shades of colors,” and that the area between his wrist and thumb was “very sensitive” from catching his fall. Still feeling woozy, he met with his doctor the day after the alleged incident and also underwent a CT scan on Friday.

“I was extremely shaken up,” he said. “I had concussion symptoms.”

Golden declined to press charges – he said later that he wasn’t given the option, because of a lack of physical evidence – and refused medical attention.

Reached by phone last week, Dull said that he had no knowledge of the alleged attack and was only made aware once the police arrived. He said he had waited out the delay in a storm shelter.

“It was shocking,” he said. “[Hibbs] said to me, ‘I didn’t touch the guy.’”

Once the police left, it was up to the FSGA to determine how to proceed.

With the course now playable after a two-hour delay, under the Rules of Golf, the players were expected back on the 17th hole.

Golden asked Dull whether he would concede the match.

“I said that I wasn’t going to concede,” Dull said. “Why would I concede the match when I was sitting in the shelter, and when I come back someone is accused of being hit?”

So Golden then decided to concede, handing the Mid-Am title to Dull, the reigning FSGA Amateur Player of the Year.

“I just wanted to get home,” Golden explained later.

Asked last week for more details about the final result, Jeff Magaditsch, the organization’s director of tournament operations, said in an email that Golden “expressed concern about a wrist issue” and that “not much additional information is available.”

A day later, once the details of the police report became available, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that Golden “didn’t want to play anymore.”

“Regrettably, the golf course was very playable and Jeff understood that he needed to resume the match,” he said. “I think he was just ready to go.”

When asked to comment on the alleged attack, Demick said that the police “found absolutely no evidence of an assault.”

Last week Golden, who qualified for the 2007 U.S. Open and is now a tennis pro at Palencia in St. Augustine, appealed the FSGA’s decision, writing in a letter that tournament officials shouldn’t have accepted his concession.

Dull said that he was “annoyed by the whole incident.”

“I think it taints the entire championship,” he said. “It’s unfortunate. No golf tournament should end that way.”

Getty Images

Delayed start for Nelson might mean Monday finish

By Will GrayMay 20, 2018, 6:04 pm

DALLAS – Inclement weather  pushed back final-round tee times at the AT&T Byron Nelson by more than four hours, increasing the likelihood of a Monday finish in the tournament’s debut at Trinity Forest Golf Club.

With the field already scheduled to play in threesomes off split tees, the opening tee times for the day got pushed back from 9:23 a.m. CT to 1:23 p.m. because of steady rain in the area. The delay means that the final group won’t start their round until 3:35 p.m. local time.

With sunset in the Dallas area scheduled for 8:23 p.m., the leaders will likely have just under five hours to complete their rounds or face returning to the course Monday morning. Threesomes have been used for each of the first three days, and in part because of the intricacies of the new layout rounds have routinely approached 5 hours and 30 minutes in duration.

Should play spill over into Monday, those playing next week’s event will face one of the Tour’s shortest commutes, with Fort Worth Invitational host Colonial Country Club less than an hour away.

Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise share the 54-hole lead at 17 under, four shots clear of the field. They’ll be joined in the final trio by Australia’s Matt Jones, who is tied for third with Kevin Na.

Getty Images

Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.

 

A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

Getty Images

Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Web.com Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”