A homecoming the Aussies do not want to miss out on

By Doug FergusonSeptember 6, 2011, 8:05 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Robert Allenby was more dejected than angry after the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship. He finished out of the top 50 for the second straight playoff event. Time is running out for him.

Only this had nothing to do with the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize.

“It’s about a tournament that doesn’t pay a dime,” Allenby said.

Allenby is among three Australians – Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley are the others – who care more about going to Royal Melbourne for the Presidents Cup than to East Lake for the Tour Championship and a shot at golf’s biggest payoff.

U.S. captain Fred Couples made it hard on himself for promising a pick toTiger Woods, who has gone two years without a win and has played only two tournaments the last five months. That leaves Couples only one more pick, with complaints sure to follow that someone was unfairly left out.

International captain Greg Norman might have it tougher. He has two picks, and three Aussies who might need them.

Making it even more compelling is that all three grew up in Melbourne, where the Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 17-20. And all three of them were in the gallery in 1998, when the matches were last held at Royal Melbourne.

With two weeks left to qualify, one could get left out.

The Presidents Cup might not mean much to everyone, but it does to them. It means everything. That’s why Allenby was so melancholy after he finished at the TPC Boston, and the normally cheerful Baddeley barely cracked a smile when he shot his second straight 75 and tied for last.

“Definitely a big goal,” Baddeley said. “It was a disappointing week.”

Baddeley, who won this year at Riviera and has revived his game since returning to swing coach Dale Lynch, has done well enough that he is No. 25 and comfortably made it to the third playoff event next week outside Chicago – the final event before the Presidents Cup teams are determined.

That wasn’t the case for Ogilvy, whose year has been bizarre since slicing open his finger on a piece of coral in the Pacific Ocean two days before the season opener in Hawaii.

He was No. 91 in the FedEx Cup standings, and only the top 70 moved on to Chicago. Ogilvy had to birdie one of the last two holes at the TPC Boston to advance, and it didn’t look good when he hit his tee shot on the 17th behind a rock, leading to a one-shot penalty. He made a 20-foot putt to escape with par, and then made a 6-foot birdie on the last hole.

That gave him one more week, either to move into the top 10 in the team standings, or to audition for Norman.

Ogilvy is likely to be a pick. He doesn’t want it come down to that.

“Obviously, you would want as many Australians on the team as you could. That’s only natural,” said Ogilvy, who has a house off the fairway at Royal Melbourne. “But you also have to balance that with the 12 best players to give you a chance to win. If there was an obvious great player – Ernie Els or somebody who was out – it would be hard to pick two Australians ahead of that. If everything else is equal, you’d pick the Australians.

“But,” he added, “nothing is ever equal.”

Ogilvy was a 21-year-old who had just turned pro when the Presidents Cup first came to Australia. He remembers missing the cut in New Zealand and flying home to watch Australia’s biggest golfing event ever at the time.

“I never had seen anything like that,” he said. “I had never heard noise like that. It was an amazing affair.”

Ogilvy is only a fraction of a world ranking point behind Louis Oosthuizen, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs. That’s why it was so important to get to Chicago, giving him another shot at making the team. Even so, he still can’t believe he’s in this position. The notion of missing the Presidents Cup never crossed his mind in January.

“I never felt better about my golf game – ever,” he said. “If you had asked me in Maui the morning I hurt my finger, I would have said this was the best year I was going to have. I felt that way. But life happens. You hurt yourself. Then you hurt yourself again. It’s nothing half the tour doesn’t put up with each year.”

Once the right finger healed, he injured his shoulder at the Masters and wasn’t fully healthy until the summer, just in time to cope with a parasite that affected his stomach.

Allenby knows about injuries.

He once was hailed as the next Greg Norman, particularly when he nearly won the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne as an amateur. Then came a horrific car accident in late 1996 that nearly killed him. Allenby was just getting back to form when the Presidents Cup came to his hometown in 1998. He was there, but only as a spectator.

Allenby gets a rap in America for not winning enough – his last PGA Tour win was in 2001. It’s a different story Down Under. He has 14 wins in Australia, including 2005 when he won the Triple Crown – the Australian Masters, Australian Open and Australian PGA.

“I’m just trying to play as good as I can and work my way into the top 10 instead of having to rely on being a pick. It makes for a tough decision for Greg,” Allenby said. “I haven’t played bad. I’m hitting the ball as good as I’ve ever hit it, but I’m not making any putts. I think I’m forcing it. Greg knows how much this means to me.”

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."