Golfs magic number doesnt seem so magical

By Doug FergusonAugust 4, 2010, 12:26 am
AKRON, Ohio – The PGA Tour used to be so hard that it was boring to play, much less watch.

It was only three years ago at Firestone – Tiger Woods was the only player to break par that week – that Steve Stricker spoke for dozens of players when he said just about every tournament felt like a major.

It sure hasn’t seemed like that lately.

“This is a little different,” Stricker said with a smile Tuesday when reminded of his comments.

Now, every tournament feels like the Bob Hope Classic.
Paul Goydos
Paul Goydos shot 59 at the John Deere Classic. (Getty Images)
Consider the flurry of low scores over the last four weeks on the PGA Tour:

  • Paul Goydos became the first player in 11 years to shoot golf’s magic number when he opened with a 59 at the John Deere Classic. Even more amazing was it only gave him a one-shot lead over Stricker, who shot 60 and went on to win the tournament.
  • Rory McIlroy didn’t flirt with a 59, but he had a great chance to set a major championship record at the British Open until he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 17th at St. Andrews. He was mildly disappointed with a 63.
  • Carl Pettersson had to settle for a 60 in the third round of the Canadian Open when his 30-foot birdie putt from just off the front of the 18th green caught part of the lip.
  • D.A. Point had a chance to shoot 59 at the Greenbrier until he three-putted for bogey on the par-5 17th and shot 61. It wasn’t even the low score of the third round – J.B. Holmes shot a 60 that day. Both scores were trumped in the final round Sunday when Stuart Appleby birdied his last three holes for a 59, rallying from a seven-shot deficit to win.

What exactly is golf’s magic number these days?

Ryo Ishikawa might argue that it’s 58, for that’s what he shot in the final round to win on the Japan Golf Tour in May. If you allow Bobby Wyatt to join the conversation, the teenager could lobby for his 57 last week at the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship.

All of which leads to another question.

Has golf become too easy?

“You still have to make the score,” David Duval said. “You still have to hit the shots.”

Duval shot his 59 in the final round of the Bob Hope Classic in 1999, becoming only the third player in PGA Tour history to shoot 59. That was 11 years ago. Two players matched that in a span of four weeks.

“I guess it’s the law of averages. We were due to have a couple of good ones,” Goydos said Monday. “Maybe the bigger story is not why there was an 11-year drought, but why we went more than two weeks without one? Or you could always make the argument that everyone figured that if Goydos could do it, anyone could do it.”

Ernie Els recalls the one time he had a shot at 59.

“At Royal Melbourne of all places,” Els said. “Those Aussies were (beside) themselves. Nobody could shoot 60 at Royal Melbourne. And they were trying to talk on my backswing the last three holes. … I had two chances coming in. Didn’t quite do it. I think I felt embarrassed for them.”

Now, however, Els is searching for reasons just like everyone else.

“I don’t know if the tour is trying to get some people to watch television again because they’re seeing a lot of birdies,” he said with a half-smile that made you wonder if he really was serious. “But I’m not sure what my take is. There’s even two 60s, 61s. It’s starting to look like the Nationwide Tour.”

Theories abound, only because everyone wants answers in a sport that rarely provides them.

Yes, these guys are good. They are better than ever, and there are more of them than ever before. They play with less fear and attack every pin. The equipment is better than ever.

What can’t be overlooked is golf’s greatest defense against low scores – firm greens and wind.

Both have been on holiday of late.

“John Deere was like playing in a vacuum,” said Goydos, who could lift, clean and place his ball when he shot 59. “It was like dome golf.”

Appleby has been playing golf every week since May, so he’s an expert on conditions. He was in the same group when Stricker shot his 60 at the John Deere, and he played with Points during his round of 61.

“There’s a common theme,” Appleby said. “The golfers aren’t any better. We’re getting better each year, but course preparation and weather is everything. … You have to make everything, and you can only do that on basically receptive greens. None of these rounds are shot on firm greens, I can assure you of that.”

Record scoring is not the worst thing to happen to golf in a year when Tiger Woods isn’t driving much interest inside the ropes. And it beats the complaints from 2007, when rough was so thick the only option was hacking out to the fairway.

Tyler Dennis, vice president of competition for the PGA Tour, noted that two of the tournaments over the last month were played on new courses – St. George’s for the Canadian Open, the Old White for the Greenbrier Classic.

He recalls his first trip to the Greenbrier when the staff talked about making Old White an exciting, dramatic course that was fun to play and kept the element of a classic design.

“The score didn’t cross anyone’s mind,” Dennis said. “But that’s been the philosophy when the rules staff sets up a course. We want it to be a great venue and we want variety throughout the year. And we want to provide a competitive and fair test. The words ‘score’ and ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ … don’t play into it at all.”

What to expect this week at Firestone, a 7,400-yard course that plays to a par 70?

“We get to a beast like this … I would hate to see a 59 this week,” Els said. “Because then I’ll know I’m playing a different game.”
Geoff Ogilvy and family at the 2009 WGC-Accenture Match Play. Getty Images

Notes: Ogilvy moving family to Australia

By Doug FergusonMay 22, 2018, 6:55 pm

Geoff Ogilvy's immediate future involves fewer golf tournament and longer flights.

Ogilvy has been contemplating in the last few years moving back home to Australia, and after discussing it with his Texas-born wife, Juli, they plan to return to Melbourne shortly after Christmas.

Their daughter, Phoebe, turns 12 in October and will be starting the seventh grade in Australia. They have two sons, Jasper (10) and Harvey (8). The Ogilvys figured that waiting much longer to decide where to live would make it tougher on the children.

''We just talked about it, for lots of reasons, and we kept making pros and cons. Juli was strong on it,'' Ogilvy said. ''We're excited. I'm at the point where I'm not going to play 27 times a year. It's going to be brutal to play from there. But you've got to choose life.''

Ogilvy won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and he counts three World Golf Championships among his eight PGA Tour victories. He also has won the Australian Open and the Australian PGA Championship and has reached No. 3 in the world.

His last victory was in 2014, and Ogilvy has slipped to No. 416 in the world.

He has been dividing some of his time with a golf course design business with projects that include Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas, (including a ''Little Nine'' course that opened last year), a renovation in China and a 36-hole course called Peninsula Kingwood in Melbourne.

Ogilvy, who grew up at Victoria Golf Club, still has a home on the 14th hole of the West Course at Royal Melbourne. If he didn't move back home, Ogilvy figured he would be spending six months in Melbourne and six months in Scottsdale, Arizona.

''It's a feeling more than anything,'' he said. ''Scottsdale is dreamy. We live a great existence. I know what I'm getting there. If we didn't move back, we'd be a six-and-six family. The kids get out of school, and they're bounced back and forth. It's not good for continuity.''

As for golf?

Ogilvy narrowly kept his full PGA Tour card last year and this season has been a struggle. He hasn't sorted out what kind of schedule he would keep, understanding it would involve long trips from Sydney to Dallas.

The immediate goal would be to play a heavy fall schedule and miss most of the West Coast swing to get acclimated to the move.

''And then we'll start working it out,'' he said.


US OPEN QUALIFYING: The U.S. Open likes to consider its championship the most democratic of the majors, and it has it just about right again this year. With the addition of 23 players who became exempt by being in the top 60 in the world ranking, 77 players in the 156-man field are exempt from qualifying. That number could go up slightly with another cutoff for the top 60 the Sunday before U.S. Open week.

The U.S. Open is the only American major that does not offer automatic exemptions to PGA Tour winners. Five such winners from this season still face qualifying, including Patton Kizzire, who has won twice (OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Sony Open). The others are Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr., Andrew Landry and Aaron Wise.

Kizzire is at No. 63 in the world, followed by Wise (66) and Landry (69). All have three weeks to crack the top 60.

Until 2011, the U.S. Open offered exemptions to multiple PGA Tour winners since the previous Open. It leans heavily on the world ranking, as do the other majors. It also awards recent major champions and top finishers from the previous U.S. Open, along with the Tour Championship field from the previous year, to reward a consistently strong season.

''All of the tours around the world have bought into the official world golf ranking rankings,'' said Jeff Hall, the USGA's managing director of rules and open championships. ''And this provides just the right place for us to be with exemptions. We don't have to get into the weighting of one tour over another, this championship versus that event, a week-to-week event. We focus on the official world golf rankings and it seems to get us the right players for our championship.''



FICKLE GAME: Careers can change quickly in golf. No one can attest to that as well as Michael Arnaud.

The 36-year-old Arnaud had never finished better than a tie for fifth in his 49 starts on the Web.com Tour, and that was three years ago. His career earnings were just over $130,000. He had only made it into one previous event this year, and he wasn't in the field at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in South Carolina last week until Kent Bulle withdrew on the eve of the event.

Arnaud tied the course record with a 60 in the second round. He closed with a 63 and won by five shots.

He won $126,000 and moved to No. 13 on the money list, giving him a reasonable chance to reach the PGA Tour if he finishes the season in the top 25.

''A lot of people kept pushing me when I wanted to step away from it,'' Arnaud said. ''My wife was one of those that told me to take the chance and go. Low and behold it really paid off.''


SHINNECOCK SAVANT: Rory McIlroy is excited to get back to Shinnecock Hills for the U.S. Open, a course he already has played a few times.

Equally excited is his manager, Sean O'Flaherty, who knows the course on New York's Long Island better than McIlroy.

O'Flaherty spent two summers as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills.

He went to college at Trinity in Dublin, had friends in the Hamptons and came over during the summer months in 2002 and 2003 to work as a caddie.

''I got to know a lot of members,'' O'Flaherty said. ''I can't wait. To me, it's the best course in the world.''


DIVOTS: Justin Thomas won the Honda Classic on Feb. 25 at No. 4 in the world. No one from the top 10 in the world has won a PGA Tour event since then, a stretch of 12 tournaments. ... Guy Kinnings is leaving IMG after nearly 30 years to become the deputy CEO and Ryder Cup director of the European Tour. He will report directly to European Tour chief Keith Pelley. ... The LPGA tour will play in China during its fall Asia swing at the Buick LPGA Shanghai at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. The tournament will be Oct. 18-21, one week before the men play the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International in Shanghai. ... Alice Chen of Furman has been selected for the Dinah Shore Trophy, awarded to top college women who excel in golf, academics and work off the golf course. ... The Irish Open is going to Lahinch Golf Club in 2019, with former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley serving as the tournament host.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Matt Kuchar, Peter Uihlein and Jhonattan Vegas are the only players to compete in all five Texas events on the PGA Tour this year.


FINAL WORD: ''The sum of his shots seems to add up to slightly less than the sum of the shots from another guy.'' - Geoff Ogilvy on Jordan Spieth.

Getty Images

Arizona's run continues, knocks off top seed to reach semis

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 6:35 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – The No. 1 seed in match play has still never won the women’s NCAA Championship.

That dubious distinction continued Tuesday at Karsten Creek when Arizona knocked out top-seeded UCLA on the final hole of the final match.

With the matches tied at 2 apiece, the anchor match between Arizona junior Bianca Pagdanganan and UCLA freshman Patty Tavatanakit was tied on the 18th hole, a par 5 that’s reachable in two shots by many.

Tavatanakit was just short of the green in two and Pagdanganan, the Wildcats’ hero from Monday when she made eagle on the last hole to give her team a shot at match play, blasted her second shot onto the green. Tavatanakit failed to get up and down – missing a 4-footer for birdie – and Pagdanganan two-putted for birdie to give Arizona the victory.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage


“We’re lucky to be in match play,” Arizona coach Laura Ianello said. “Let’s ride the highs. Why not?”

Arizona will now face Stanford in the semifinals. The Cardinal, the 2015 champion and 2016 runner up, has qualified for match play in each of the past four seasons. They beat Northwestern, 3-2, in the quarterfinals to advance.

USC will face Alabama in the other semifinal, meaning three Pac-12 teams have advanced to the Final Four. The Crimson Tide had an easy go of it in their quarterfinal match against Kent State, winning 4-1. The decisive victory gave Alabama extra rest for its afternoon match.

USC beat Duke, 3-1-1, in the other quarterfinal, pitting teams that have combined to win nine NCAA titles in the past 20 years. But neither team has had much success in the past four years since the championship turned to match play. Not only has neither team won, neither has even reached the championship match.

Duke’s Leona Maguire won the first match and the second match was halved, but USC swept the last three matches with Gabriela Ruffels, Alyaa Abdulghany and Amelia Garvey all winning to propel the Trojans into the semifinals.

Alabama (2) vs. USC (3)

2:30PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (A) vs. Jennifer Chang (USC)

2:40PM ET: Kristen Gillman (A) vs. Amelia Garvey (USC)

2:50PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (A) vs. Allisen Corpuz (USC)

3:00PM ET: Lakareber Abe (A) vs. Alyaa Abdulghany (USC)

3:10PM ET: Angelica Moresco (A) Gabriela Ruffels (USC)


Stanford (5) vs. Arizona (8)

3:20PM ET: Emily Wang (S) vs. Gigi Stoll (A)

3:30PM ET: Shannon Aubert (S) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (A)

3:40PM ET: Mika Liu (S) vs. Haley Moore (A)

3:50PM ET: Albane Valenzuela (S) vs. Sandra Nordaas (A)

4:00PM ET: Andrea Lee (S) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (A)

Getty Images

NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 5:50 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals were contested Tuesday morning with semifinals in the afternoon. The finals are being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals (Click here to watch live)

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Spieth grouped with Kisner, Stricker at Colonial

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 5:34 pm

It's a short commute for the PGA Tour this week, as Colonial Country Club sits less than an hour away from last week's host site, Trinity Forest. Here's a look at some of the marquee, early-round groupings at the Fort Worth Invitational, where local favorite Jordan Spieth will look to contend at "Hogan's Alley" for the fourth straight year (all times ET):

8:55 a.m. Thursday, 1:55 p.m. Friday: Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler

Rahm impressed in his Colonial debut last year, finishing T-2 in his first trip around one of the Tour's most historic venues. He returns this week and will play alongside DeChambeau, who missed the cut in his first two Colonial appearances but has played well this year, and Fowler, who makes his first trip to Fort Worth since missing the cut in 2014.


Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


9:06 a.m. Thursday, 2:06 p.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Steve Stricker

Spieth has had great success at Colonial, with his 2016 title sandwiched between a runner-up in 2015 to Chris Kirk and one last year behind Kisner, who returns to defend his title on the heels of two straight missed cuts. Stricker, who won here in 2009, returns for the fourth straight year after a T-7 finish last year.


1:55 p.m. Thursday, 8:55 a.m. Friday: Aaron Wise, Zach Johnson, Justin Rose

At age 21, Wise became the Tour's latest winner when he cruised to a three-shot victory Sunday in Dallas, and he'll play the first two rounds alongside a pair of major champs. Johnson won here in 2010 and 2012 and remains the tournament's leading money-winner, while Rose opted to skip the European Tour's flagship event to make his first start in Fort Worth since 2010.


2:06 p.m. Thursday, 9:06 a.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott

Simpson tees it up for the first time since his victory at TPC Sawgrass, and he does so on a layout where he has cracked the top five each of the last two years. Koepka will be making his Colonial debut, while Scott returns to a course where he won as world No. 1 back in 2013 as he continues his quest to crack the OWGR top 60 to earn a spot in the U.S. Open.