Johnson already looking ahead from PGA blunder

By Doug FergusonAugust 18, 2010, 2:18 am

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – On the day after a nightmare-inducing end to the PGA Championship, Dustin Johnson was on his boat off the coast of South Carolina, about as far from a bunker as he could possibly be.

“Just kickin’ it,” Johnson said.

In his vernacular, that meant throwing down cold beers and relaxing with his friends, not kicking himself for a two-stroke penalty in a bunker that became the defining moment at Whistling Straits and cost Johnson a chance in another major.

Monday was filled with phone calls and text messages – Phil Mickelson, Camilo Villegas and Butch Harmon among them – to offer support and praise for the way Johnson handled such a kick in the gut.

He went from standing over a par putt to win his first major to erasing the 5 on his card and changing it to a 7.

Whether he should have been penalized two shots for touching the sand with his 4-iron on the 18th hole is not up for debate. Johnson knows the rules, which is why he didn’t even bother asking for a television replay. His mistake was not knowing he was in a bunker.

It’s a safe bet all those fans didn’t know they were standing in a bunker, either.

What should not be lost in the circus of Sunday is what the future holds for the 26-year-old American.

Johnson played in the final group of two majors this year, and that was no accident. Over the last decade, only three other players have been in the last group of a major twice in the same year without winning – Ernie Els (2004), Phil Mickelson (2001) and David Duval (2000). That’s pretty stout company.

“He could have won two majors this year,” said Butch Harmon, who began working with Johnson in May. “As I told him in my text, ‘You proved to the golf world that you’re one of the best players in the world, not just another good player.”’

Few other players are tested between the ears as much as they are inside the ropes. Harmon is not the least bit worried about how Johnson will recover from this, nor should anyone else be.

“Look how he’s moved on from Pebble,” Harmon said. “He’s very resilient. He has an incredible demeanor to handle these things.”

Two months ago, Johnson had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He threw it all away with a triple bogey on the second hole, then dropped more shots trying too quickly to atone for his mistakes. He wound up with an 82, then faced questions the next two months about how long it took him to get over such a collapse.

Apparently, “one day” wasn’t the answer anyone wanted.

“It doesn’t bother me if people ask,” Johnson said. “I just don’t get why somebody wouldn’t believe me when I say I’m over it. You have to go forward. In every sport, you have to go forward.”

Johnson looks back only to learn.

The day after the U.S. Open and the day after the PGA Championship were entirely different, for no other reason than Johnson was asking most of the questions after Pebble Beach. Everyone else was doing it for him after Whistling Straits.

“Monday after Pebble, I remember sitting around thinking, ‘I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to figure out a way to get it done in that situation.’ Obviously, I did that. I proved that Sunday,” Johnson said. “The experience at Pebble helped me so much on Sunday. I knew what to expect. I knew I would make mistakes because it’s going to happen. I knew I would still have plenty of holes to play.”

And what was he thinking about Monday after the PGA?

“The first thing is what happened on 18,” he said. “Then after that, I got to thinking about everything good that came out of that. I did play very well coming down the stretch, and I’m proud of that.”

What should not be forgotten is how he arrived at the 18th tee with a one-shot lead.

Johnson was three shots behind with six holes to play. He didn’t panic when birdie putts inside 10 feet hit the lip on the 14th and 15th holes. Then came a blind shot from far below the 16th green. In grass that covered his shoes, Johnson hit a sand wedge to 2 feet for birdie to tie for the lead, then followed with a 6-iron to 12 feet for birdie on the 17th.

The last he saw of his tee shot on the 18th, it was headed into the gallery.

The bunkers at Whistling Straits will be debated until the PGA Championship returns in 2015. What gets misinterpreted is the notion that Johnson could have avoided this mess if he had only read the rule sheet posted in the locker room all week.

Nonsense.

It’s a safe bet that 75 percent of the field never read the sheet and still knew the rule.

Johnson said he knew without reading that every bunker at Whistling Straits was a hazard. If he had memorized the local rule the way school kids memorize the Pledge of Allegiance, he would have played it the same way.

“Rules are rules,” he said. “Obviously, I know the rules very well. I just never thought I was in a bunker, or I would have never grounded my club. Maybe walking up to the ball, if all those people hadn’t been there, maybe I would have recognized it as a sand trap. I knew there wasn’t any waste bunkers. But all the bunkers on the course had a darkish color to the sand. This was white dirt.”

It looked to him as if it had been covered in grass before being trampled by thousands of fans during the week.

None of that matters now.

“I’m not trying to blame anyone else,” he said. “It’s no one’s fault but mine.”

Johnson got to the airport in time to see Bubba Watson hit into the water and Martin Kaymer win a three-hole playoff that didn’t include him. He said it was tough to watch without wondering how he would have fared.

He saw highlights again Monday without a noticeable change in his pulse.

Time to move on.

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”