Mahans 64 good for comeback WGC victory

By Doug FergusonAugust 9, 2010, 2:09 am

WGC-Bridgestone - 125w

AKRON, Ohio – On a day when the two biggest names in golf played like weekend hackers, Hunter Mahan grabbed the lead midway through the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational and refused to let go.

Mahan shot a 6-under 64 on Sunday and made several huge swings down the stretch to hold off Ryan Palmer by two strokes for his third career win and a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

“I was nervous,” said Mahan, a 28-year-old player who took the lead for good with his second straight birdie at the ninth hole. “I wanted it so bad and I was playing so good. I just didn’t want to make any bogeys. I didn’t want to give them any momentum out there.”

From there he played carefully but not conservatively, putting up eight pars and a birdie at the 13th hole.

At the par-5 16th, the signature “Monster” hole at Firestone Country Club, he hit a 5-wood second shot instead of laying up short of the large lake which fronts the green. He didn’t think it was much of a gamble.

“The thing was, there was no out of bounds anywhere – that we could see,” he said with a laugh. “The only place you couldn’t hit it was short, obviously. There’s just not a bad spot to be except exactly where I hit it.”

Mahan’s shot slid right of the green near a flower bed, and was stopped by a bush. He received a free drop, chipped onto the green, lagged a 60-foot putt to 2 feet and then tapped in for par. Two more pars left him at 12-under 268 and capped a huge comeback from a seven-shot deficit after the opening round. He played the final 27 holes in 10 under, without a bogey.

“To win is … the best feeling in the world,” he said. “To do it when you have to, when you’re kind of behind and you need to do something special and do it when you need it, to make putts like I needed to, it feels great.”

The $1.4 million check will go a long way toward a nice honeymoon when he and girlfriend Kandi Harris, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, get married in January.

Despite Mahan’s flawless play on Sunday, the tournament might be remembered for the failures of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Woods, a seven-time winner of the Bridgestone, had the worst tournament of his pro career, closing out a dreadful week with a 77 that left him at 298 and tied for next-to-last in the 80-player field. Struggling all week with every aspect of his game, he ended up 18 over, with 25 bogeys or worse, and finished 30 strokes behind Mahan – all career worsts.

Woods, whose world has turned upside down after revelations of marital infidelity, said he wasn’t surprised by how poorly he played.

“It’s been a long year,” he said simply.

With Woods struggling, Mickelson could have moved up a spot to become No. 1 in the world rankings. Instead, he also had an abysmal round, shooting a 78.

“You’re only as good as your last performance,” Mickelson said after falling from a tie for 10th place all the way to a tie for 46th. “This wasn’t very good.”

Meanwhile, others did well on a long course which should provide a good snapshot of what it’ll be like next week at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Palmer, tied with Sean O’Hair for the lead at the start of the final round, played the front side in 1 over. He birdied the next two holes and then parred out – never able to quite catch up with Mahan.

“It was a good day; I can’t be disappointed,” said Palmer, who had missed the cut in 10 of 12 events before the Bridgestone. “I finished second in a World Golf Championship and I played good today, being under the gun like I was. You’ve got to hand it to Hunter Mahan. He went out and did what I expected somebody to do and shot a low round. I didn’t lose the golf tournament.”

Retief Goosen (65) and Bo Van Pelt (67) shared third at 271. O’Hair’s closing 71 left him at 272. Jim Furyk, whose third shot to the green at the 16th hit the pin and ricocheted back into the water, had a 64 and shared sixth with Jeff Overton (69).

Amid all the wreckage left behind by Woods and Mickelson, Mahan stamped himself as one of the top young Americans in the game. He said a win like the Bridgestone changes everything.

“To win anytime on the PGA Tour is great, but an event like this, 80 of the best players in the world, this is something special,” he said. “All the players all over the world come here to play, and it’s definitely the best win of my career, for sure.”

Then, nodding to the unique Wedgewood urn that goes to the winner, he added, “And it’s probably the coolest trophy we get, too.”

It’ll make a nice wedding present.

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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There’s was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”

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Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.

Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.

Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.

"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.

While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.

"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."

For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes:

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Davies takes 2-shot lead into final round of Senior LPGA

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 2:00 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.

In slightly warmer weather on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the 55-year-old Davies played bogey-free over the last 11 holes and was at 6-under 138. Brandi Burton had a 66, the best score of the tournament, and was two shots behind.

Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Jane Crafter (71) were three shots behind at 141.

Juli Inkster, who was one shot behind Davies starting the second round, shot 80 to fall 11 shots behind.

''I had a couple of bogeys early on, but I didn't panic,'' Davies said. ''I'm playing with a bit of confidence now and that's good to have going into the final round.''

Davies already won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open this summer at Chicago Golf Club.

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."