Kaymer takes over No 1 in the world

By Doug FergusonFebruary 27, 2011, 5:13 am

2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – Stoic as ever, Martin Kaymer rolled in an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole Saturday and treated it like another day at the office, removing his cap to shake hands with his latest victim.

Kaymer is not ready to celebrate becoming the new No. 1 player in golf.

Right now, he just wants to be No. 1 at the Match Play Championship.

The 26-year-old German outlasted Bubba Watson to end a long day at Dove Mountain and reach the championship match, assuring that he will be No. 1 in the next world ranking.

Kaymer becomes the 14th player to top the ranking and the second-youngest player to be No. 1. Tiger Woods was 21 when he first reached No. 1 in the world in June 1997.

But the celebration will have to wait. Next up for Kaymer is Luke Donald, who set an Accenture Match Play Championship record by needing only 73 holes in five matches to reach the final.

“When I hear those things, that I’m No. 1 in the world on Monday … I’m in the middle of a tournament,” Kaymer said. “It would be fantastic tomorrow if I could win. Then it really feels like I deserve to be No. 1. I’m not saying that I don’t deserve it, but it would make me feel better if I would win instead of finishing second tomorrow.

“So yes,” he said with a smile, “it’s a little strange.”

There should be no debate whether the “Germanator” deserves to be No. 1. He ends the 17-week reign of Lee Westwood, who only had three wins on his world ranking ledger when he became No. 1.

Kaymer has won seven times in the last two years, including his first major at the PGA Championship in August, when he holed a clutch putt on the final hole and beat Watson in a three-hole playoff at Whistling Straits.

Asked who he thought was No. 1, Kaymer replied, “Still Lee Westwood – until Monday.”

“When the rankings say that I’m the No. 1, then I’m the best player in the world,” he said. “And if they say so, then that’s the truth. Maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday, when I see my name up there, I’ll definitely take a picture of that moment.”

Kaymer is the second German to reach the top of the ranking. Bernhard Langer was the inaugural No. 1 when the world ranking was created at the 1986 Masters, although Langer lasted only three weeks.

“It’s a very proud moment,” Kaymer said. “Not only for me, for my family, for the people who helped me and for Germany.”

More hard work awaits.

No one has been more dominant at Dove Mountain than Donald, who has yet to trail in any of his five matches. Donald only had to play 27 holes in his quarterfinal win over Ryan Moore and his demolition of Matt Kuchar in the semifinals.

It marks the second straight year for an all-European final in this World Golf Championship. A year ago, Ian Poulter defeated Paul Casey in the championship match.

Watson, who came into Saturday having played only 43 holes in three matches, faced 37 holes in a long and wild day. Watson was 5 down with eight to play against J.B. Holmes when he staged an amazing comeback. Holmes hit into the desert at the wrong time and lost in 19 holes.

Kaymer and Watson were all square going to 15 when it turned in favor of the “Germanator.”

Watson tried to play a massive slice on the 334-yard hole with his driver, but it sailed far to the left and into a desert bush. He had to take a penalty drop and gave away the hole. Then with Kaymer long and right on the par-3 16th, Watson also missed the green and failed to get up-and-down for par, giving Kaymer a 2-up lead with two holes to play.

Watson made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th to stay in the match, but his shot from a fairway bunker on the 18th spun off the false front of the green. Kaymer went long, chipped to 8 feet and made the par.

“The matches I had were very difficult,” said Kaymer, who also went 18 holes in a 1-up win over Miguel Angel Jimenez in the quarterfinals earlier Saturday.

Not so for Donald, who headed to the gym during the final hour of the Kaymer match to work up a sweat. He hasn’t gotten too much of a workout on the golf course through five matches.

A win for Donald would move him up to a career-best No. 3 in the world.

“That would be an added bonus,” Donald said. “I’ll be concentrating on trying to beat whoever I’m playing against and trying to pick up a trophy.”

Donald has been nothing short of brilliant on his record-setting march to the final.

When he holed a short birdie putt on the par-5 13th to close out Kuchar, it was his 13th birdie in 27 holes he played in quarterfinal and semifinal matches. Donald has played only 73 holes in five matches, the fewest of anyone to reach the championship match in the 13-year history of this tournament. The previous record was 77 holes by Woods in 2003.

Donald became only the second finalist to have never seen the 18th hole in competition. Geoff Ogilvy in 2007 was the other. With the format change from 36 holes to 18 holes for Sunday, he could go the entire tournament without playing No. 18.

“Hopefully, I don’t get to it again tomorrow – the right way,” Donald said.

He has been so dominant that Donald has not trailed on a single hole all week – on only five of 73 holes has his match been all square.

“I’ve been stringing together a lot of good rounds, making birdies and not too many mistakes,” he said. “I’ve been tough to beat this week, and hopefully that can continue.”

Donald won three straight holes around the turn to build a big lead against Ryan Moore in the quarterfinals, winning 5 and 4. He looked even better against Kuchar, seizing the lead with a tee shot into 4 feet on the par-3 third hole, starting a stretch in which he won seven of the next eight holes.

“Had I got somebody else on today’s round, I may have still been able to come out with a win,” Kuchar said. “You face Luke Donald on a day he’s really hot, you pack your bags early.”

Donald has been hot all week.

Now comes Kaymer, whom he described as a steady, consistent player, as the last two years have shown.

“Like me, but hits it further,” Donald said with a smile.

There are a few other differences, too. Kaymer has a major, and he is about to be No. 1 in the world.

Cut and not so dry: Shinnecock back with a new look

By Bradley KleinMay 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - The last time the USGA was here at Shinnecock Hills, it nearly had a train wreck on its hands. The last day of the 2004 U.S. Open was so dry and the turf so firm that play was stopped in the morning just to get some water on the greens.

The lessons learned from that debacle are now on display three weeks before Shinnecock gets another U.S. Open. And this time, the USGA is prepared with all sorts of high-tech devices – firmness meters, moisture monitors, drone technology to measure turf temperatures - to make sure the playing surfaces remain healthy.

Players, meanwhile, will face a golf course that is 548 yards longer than a dozen years ago, topping out now at 7,445 yards for the par-70 layout. Ten new tees have assured that the course will keep up with technology and distance. They’ll also require players to contend with the bunkering and fairway contours that designer William Flynn built when he renovated Shinnecock Hills in 1930.

And those greens will not only have more consistent turf cover, they’ll also be a lot larger – like 30 percent bigger. What were mere circles averaging 5,500 square feet are now about 7,200 square feet. That will mean more hole locations, more variety to the setup, and more rollouts into surrounding low-mow areas. Slight misses that ended up in nearby rough will now be down in hollows many more yards away.



The course now has an open, windswept look to it – what longtime green chairman Charles Stevenson calls “a maritime grassland.” You don’t get to be green chairman of a prominent club for 37 years without learning how to deal with politics, and he’s been a master while implementing a long-term plan to bring the course back to its original scale and angles. In some cases that required moving tees back to recapture the threat posed by cross-bunkers and steep falloffs. Two of the bigger extensions come on the layout’s two par-5s, which got longer by an average of 60 yards. The downwind, downhill par-4 14th hole got stretched 73 yards and now plays 519.

“We want players to hit driver,” says USGA executive director Mike Davis.

The also want to place an emphasis upon strategy and position, which is why, after the club had expanded its fairways the last few years, the USGA decided last September to bring them back in somewhat.

The decision followed analysis of the driving statistics from the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills, where wide fairways proved very hospitable to play. Players who made the cut averaged hitting 77 percent of fairways and driving it 308 yards off the tee. There was little fear of the rough there. “We didn’t get the wind and the dry conditions we anticipated,” says Davis.

Moving ahead to Shinnecock Hills, he and the setup staff wanted to balance the need for architectural variety with a traditional emphasis upon accuracy. So they narrowed the fairways at Shinnecock Hills last September by seven acres. They are still much wider than in the U.S. Opens played here in 1986, 1995 and 2004, when the average width of the landing areas was 26.6 yards. “Now they are 41.6 yards across on average,” said Davis. So they are much wider than in previous U.S. Opens and make better use of the existing contours and bring lateral bunkers into play.

This time around, with more consistent, healthier turf cover and greens that have plenty of nutrients and moisture, the USGA should be able to avoid the disastrous drying out of the putting surfaces that threatened that final day in 2004. The players will also face a golf course that is more consistent than ever with its intended width, design, variety and challenge. That should make for a more interesting golf course and, by turn, more interesting viewing.

Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys Documentary Series Continues Tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 21, 2018, 8:27 pm

Monday’s third installment in the four-part series focuses on the Big 12 Championships and NCAA Regional Championships

Reigning NCAA National Champion Oklahoma Sooners and Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys Prepare for Showdown Friday at the 2018 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships

ORLANDO, Fla., May 21, 2018 – Tonight’s third episode of the critically-acclaimed documentary series Driven: Oklahoma State Cowboys (8 p.m. ET) wraps up the conclusion of the 2017-18 regular season and turns to post-season play for the top-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and reigning NCAA National Champions Oklahoma Sooners.

Drivenwill take viewers behind the scenes with the conclusion of regular season play; the Big 12 Conference Championship, where Oklahoma captured their first conference championship since 2006; and the NCAA Regional Championships, where Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – both No. 1 seeds in their respective regionals – were both victorious and punched tickets to the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships.

The episode also will set up the showdown starting Friday at the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships, where Oklahoma State will attempt to dethrone Oklahoma as national champions, all taking place at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., Oklahoma State’s home course. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be paired together for the first two rounds of individual stroke play Friday and Saturday.

Driven’s fourth and final episode will air on NBC on Saturday, June 16 at 5 p.m. ET, recapping all of the action at the NCAA Golf National Championships and the two programs’ 2017-18 golf seasons.

Golf Channel is airing back-to-back weeks of live tournament coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Golf Channel’s coverage begins today (4-8 p.m. ET) to crown the individual national champion and track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22-23 will include all three rounds of team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion. Next week (May 28-30), the same programming schedule will take place for the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships.

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Mann's impact on LPGA felt on and off course

By Randall MellMay 21, 2018, 8:00 pm

Just a few short hours after winning the U.S. Women’s Open in 1965, Carol Mann was surprised at the turn of emotion within her.

She called her friend and mentor, Marlene Hagge, and asked if they could meet for a glass of wine at the Atlantic City hotel where players were staying.

Hagge was one of the LPGA’s 13 founders.

“I’ll never forget Carol saying, `I don’t mean to sound funny, because winning the U.S. Women’s Open was wonderful, but is that all there is?’” Hagge told GolfChannel.com Monday after hearing news of Mann’s death.

It was one of the many defining moments in Mann’s rich life, because it revealed her relentless search for meaning, within the game, and beyond it.

Mann, an LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer, died at her home in Woodlands, Texas. She was 77.

“Carol was a very good friend, and a really sincere and good person,” Hagge said. “She was intelligent and insightful, the kind of person who always wanted to know the `why’ of things. She wasn’t content to be told this is the way something is. She had to know why.”

Mann’s search for meaning in the sport took her outside the ropes. She was a towering presence, at 6 feet 3, but her stature was more than physical. She won 38 LPGA titles, two of them major championships, but her mark on the game extended to her leadership skills.

From 1973 to ’76, Mann was president of the LPGA, leading the tour in challenging times.

“Carol was a significant player in the growth of the LPGA,” LPGA Hall of Famer Judy Rankin said. “She was involved when some big changes came to the tour. She was a talented woman beyond her golf.”

Mann oversaw the hiring of the tour’s first commissioner, Ray Volpe, a former NFL marketing executive. Their moves helped steer the tour out of the financial problems that threatened it.

“Carol was willing to do something nobody else wanted to do and nobody else had the brains to do,” Hagge said. “She loved the LPGA, and she wanted to make it a better place.”

At the cost of her own career.

Juggling the tour presidency with a playing career wasn’t easy.

“My golf seemed so secondary while I was president in 1975,” Mann once told author Liz Kahn for the book, “The LPGA: The Unauthorized Version.”

That was a pivotal year in tour history, with the LPGA struggling with an ongoing lawsuit, a legal battle Jane Blalock won when the courts ruled the tour violated antitrust laws by suspending her. With the tour appealing its legal defeats, a protracted battle threatened to cripple LPGA finances.

It was also the year Mann led the hiring of Volpe.

“I could barely get to the course in time to tee off,” Mann told Kahn. “There was so much other activity. I burned myself out a bit.”

Still, Mann somehow managed to win four times in ’75, but she wouldn’t again in the years that followed.

“I had launched a ship, and then I had to let it go, which was not easy,” she said of leaving her tour president’s role. “I was depressed thinking that no one on tour would say thank you to me for what I had done. Some would, others never would, and 10 years later players wouldn’t give a damn.”

Mann’s reign as a player and a leader aren’t fully appreciated today.

“A lot of players in the ‘60s haven’t been fully appreciated,” Rankin said.

Mann won 10 LPGA titles in 1968, the same year Kathy Whitworth won 10. Mann won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average that year. She won eight times in ’69 and was the tour’s leading money winner.

“Those were the toughest times to win,” Hagge said. “You had Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright, who is the best player I ever saw, and I saw them all. You had so many great players you had to beat in that era.”

Mann’s good humor came out when she was asked about her height.

“I’m 5-foot-15,” she liked to say.

After retiring from the tour at 40, Mann stayed active in golf, working as a TV analyst for NBC, ABC and ESPN. She found meaning in her Christian faith, and she was active supporting female athletes. She was president of the Women’s Sports Foundation for five years. She wrote a guest column for the Houston Post. She devoted herself to the World Golf Hall of Fame, taught at Woodlands Country Club and became the first woman to own and operate a course design and management firm.

“I’ve walked on the moon,” Mann once said. “I enjoy being a person, and getting old and dying are fine. I never think how people will remember Carol Mann. The mark I made is an intimate satisfaction.”

 

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Nelson win moves Wise to 12th in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 7:12 pm

Aaron Wise received plenty of perks with his title Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but the victory also brought with it a healthy bump in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings.

The 21-year-old notched his maiden win at Trinity Forest in impressive fashion, holding off Marc Leishman in near-darkness. After starting the week at No. 46 in the points race for Paris, Wise is now all the way up to 12th with the top eight players after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically for the team.

Jimmy Walker moved from 18th to 15th with a top-10 finish in Dallas, while an idle Tiger Woods dropped one position to No. 32.

Here's a look at the updated standings, as the top 11 names remained in order this week:

1. Patrick Reed

2. Justin Thomas

3. Dustin Johnson

4. Jordan Spieth

5. Bubba Watson

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Brooks Koepka

8. Phil Mickelson

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9. Webb Simpson

10. Matt Kuchar

11. Brian Harman

12. Aaron Wise

It was also a quiet week on the European side of the race, where the top four from both the European Points and World Points list in August will join a roster rounded out by four selections from captain Thomas Bjorn.

Here's a look at the latest European standings:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Jon Rahm

4. Ross Fisher

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5. Matthew Fitzpatrick

World Points

1. Rory McIlroy

2. Tommy Fleetwood

3. Sergio Garcia

4. Alex Noren

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5. Ian Poulter