Notes Aussie Masters eyeing Tiger coveted week

By Doug FergusonNovember 17, 2010, 2:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Tiger Woods returning to Australia for the third straight year is a fairly safe bet considering the Presidents Cup will be held in 2011 at Royal Melbourne.

The question is how many times he plays Down Under, and that depends largely on the schedule.

IMG runs the Australian Masters, which it has invigorated by strengthening the field and the sandbelt courses on which it is played. Organizers want the same date for next year, only they suddenly have competition.

With the Presidents Cup set for Nov. 17-20, whatever event is the week before might get several players from the U.S. and International teams.

“We would like this date. It’s critical to us,” said Mark Steinberg, head of IMG’s global golf division. “We feel like we took on the risk by moving to this date a few years ago, going up against some big events, and we made it successful. We feel we deserve to keep the date, now that it’s a coveted date for next year.”

A year ago, the Aussie Masters was held the same week as the Hong Kong tournament, and both were co-sanctioned by the European Tour. This year, it went up against the Singapore Open, a top European Tour event that featured three major champions this year.

The Australasia Tour is contemplating putting the Australian Open (played in Sydney) or the Australian PGA Championship (Coolum) a week before the Presidents Cup. If that’s the case, Woods almost certainly won’t be playing.

Woods would like to see the Masters the week before the Presidents Cup, especially since it will be played at Kingston Heath, voted the top course in Australia. It would be back-to-back weeks on the famed sandbelt.

“I think it would not only be a great tournament, but great preparation for all the American players to come down and play,” he said.

The Australasian Tour is to meet Dec. 8 and should decide then what tournament goes in that spot.

IMG is contemplating creating exemptions for all Presidents Cup players.

Woods received a $3 million appearance fee – half of that paid by the Victorian government – but in his first year, a government study showed the economic return was more than $30 million. Despite sloppy weather, and Woods in Australia no longer a novelty, crowds still were far larger than Australia usually gets.

Steinberg said IMG was willing to make a multiyear commitment to the date and consider raising the purse from $1.5 million.


DISNEY DOINGS: For all the complaints about overseas tournaments taking away from Disney, why would the tournament want to change what it had this year? An exciting finish not just for the event, but for the final spots on the money list.

The PGA Tour tracks the movement of the 125th spot on the money list each week, and historically it does not change by more than $25,000. But on the final day of the season, the one-week change was a whopping $63,649.

Troy Merritt at No. 121 should have been safe all along, but he nearly tumbled out of the top 125 – he made it on the number – because so many players outside the top 125 were in contention. That’s a rarity.

Five players from the top 10 on the leaderboard started the week outside the top 125. That enabled three of them – Roland Thatcher, Michael Connell and Mark Wilson – to secure their cards for next year.


MASTERS LOOKAHEAD: J.B. Holmes made an eagle on his 17th hole (the par-5 eighth) at Disney to put himself in position for a Masters invitational. Then came a bogey from the bunker on his last hole, and he was out.

Heath Slocum, who played his final six holes in 1-under par and made a 7-foot par save on his final hole, tied with Holmes at 6-under 282 and retained the 30th spot on the PGA Tour money list by $1,439 over Holmes. The top 30 players receive invitations to the Masters.

Perhaps it’s only fitting Slocum edge him out, since he won a tournament this year (McGladrey Classic at Sea Island).

Holmes’ only way to Augusta National now is top 50 in the world the week before the Masters – he’s at No. 65 now and will slide even further over the next month – or to win a tournament.


A LESSON IN SCHEDULING: One key to Lee Westwood’s success was cutting back on his schedule – finding the right balance that keeps him sharp competitively but still feeling fresh when he plays. It’s one reason he no longer takes up PGA Tour membership.

But when told that Ryo Ishikawa of Japan played 17 consecutive weeks last year, Westwood signaled his approval.

“I played 17 in a row in 1996, and I won my first European Tour event that last week at the Scandinavian Masters,” said Westwood, who was 23 at the time. “It just felt like the right thing to do.”

Westwood felt he was young enough that playing such a big schedule was not a burden.

“I think some young kids don’t play enough,” he said.

Tiger Woods played at least 26 events his first three full seasons (including unofficial events). He said he spoke with Ishikawa about his schedule after their exhibition in Japan a few weeks ago.

What amazed Woods was hearing Ishikawa tell them that he prefers to work on swing changes at tournaments, in competition, instead of solely on the range. That’s where a big schedule helps the Japanese star, who won Sunday for the third time this year.


SHANGHAI PRECEDENT: PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is not ready to count the HSBC Champions as official money on the PGA Tour, even though it’s a World Golf Championship, because it comes so late in the year – a week before the season-ender at Disney.

But there is precedent.

When the WGCs began in 1999, the American Express in Spain was held the week after the Tour Championship and counted toward the money list. The idea was to give the PGA Tour two blockbuster weeks at the end to decide the money title.

A number of Americans decided not to go to Valderrama, and the money list was never affected because Tiger Woods won by millions. Even so, there were players in Spain who could have affected the rest of the money list.

“I think the money list is less important than it used to be,” Finchem said. “As I said, we don’t view it as a big deal. We just made the call on this one, and for this period of time, we’re not going to do it. I don’t know what to tell you except we’ll continue to look at it.”


DIVOTS: Stewart Cink finished at No. 52 on the PGA Tour money list, his first time out of the top 50 since 2002 and only the second time since his first full season on tour in 1997. … The Masters (11-under 277) is the only tournament where Tiger Woods finished double digits under par this year. … Steve Elkington and Joe Durant finished inside the top 125 on the money list despite starting the year with only past champions status. Elkington got in 22 tournaments and finished 99th, while Durant played 19 times and wound up 124th. … Robert Garrigus became the first player since John Daly in 1995 to lead the PGA Tour in driving distance and win a tournament in the same year.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Sean O’Hair is the only American in the top 50 who is not yet eligible for the Masters.


FINAL WORD: “That aura thing, it helped him play better, but it didn’t make anyone else play worse.” – Geoff Ogilvy, on Tiger Woods.

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Watching Koepka, Fleetwood knew he was one shot short

By Will GrayJune 17, 2018, 11:33 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – In the end, even a record-tying performance wasn’t enough for Tommy Fleetwood at the U.S. Open.

Fleetwood started the final round at Shinnecock Hills six shots off the pace, but he quickly moved up the board with a run of four birdies over his first seven holes. He added four more in a row on Nos. 12-15, and he had a 9-footer for birdie on No. 18 to become the first player to ever shoot a 62 in the U.S. Open.

He missed, and that proved to be the difference – for both the record and the tournament.

Fleetwood waited around in player hospitality for the next three hours while the leaders finished, alternating between watching the golf (with sandwich in hand) and playing with his newborn son, Frankie. He was on the chipping green when Brooks Koepka completed play at 1-over 281, successfully defending his title and finishing one shot ahead of Fleetwood.

“Brooks kept giving me like a little bit of hope, and then he’d hole a putt just to stab you in the stomach a little bit,” Fleetwood said. “I always just had that feeling that I was one shy, so I never really got massively, massively excited.”


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This was the first year the U.S. Open would have gone to a two-hole, aggregate playoff, so Fleetwood needed to stay loose for a possible overtime that in previous years would have instead been an 18-hole playoff on Monday. He emerged from the locker room and headed to the range to warm up after Koepka birdied No. 16 to take a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

“I just thought, 'I should really go up, because you never know,'” Fleetwood said. “I mean, the worst thing that could happen is if something did happen and I wasn’t really ready, so it’s better warming up with that intention.”

The solo runner-up is a career-best major finish for Fleetwood, who also finished fourth last year at Erin Hills. He now shares a piece of tournament history, becoming just the sixth player to shoot a 63, joining a list that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas.

And after torching a demanding layout to the tune of eight birdies, he insisted he won’t dwell much on the final putt that got away – even though Koepka’s closing bogey meant that it ultimately made the difference.

“The putt on 18, I actually wanted more for the 62 at the time, and then it became a thing for the tournament,” Fleetwood said. “Obviously, that’s the putt that will play on your mind because that was the last shot you hit and that was your chance. But I missed some putts in the week, and I made some putts. I think everybody did. And your score is your score. And for me, just getting that close to winning a major again, I think that is the ultimate thing I’ll take from it.”

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DJ and more congratulate Koepka on social media

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2018, 11:31 pm

Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive U.S. Open title at Shinnecock Hills. Dustin Johnson, his friend and playing competitor on Sunday, was quick to congratulate Koepka. And he wasn't alone.






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Firefighter Parziale ties for low am with dad on bag

By Associated PressJune 17, 2018, 11:07 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Leaning on his club, Matt Parziale crossed one leg over the other and placed the free hand on his hip. His caddie mirrored his position and used Parziale's bag as his source of support. The two looked almost identical, just one older than the other.

Being related will do that.

Parziale's dad, Vic Parziale, has been with his son throughout his entire U.S. Open journey, starting Monday and ending Father's Day. Matt finished 5 over par Sunday to tie for low amateur at 16 over for the tournament.

''We do stand alike out there,'' Vic said. ''It's funny.''

Said Matt: ''I don't like it, but that's how life goes.''

He's kidding. The idea of turning into his dad doesn't scare him.

''He's the best guy I know,'' Matt said. ''If I can be half that good, I'll be doing all right.''


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It's a classic like father, like son relationship.

Matt, 31, is a full-time firefighter back home in Brockton, Massachusetts. Vic retired from the same station last year after 32 years.

The two, obviously, also share a love for golf.

''He stinks now,'' Matt said. ''I'd have to play pretty bad to let him win. He used to be much better than he is now.''

Matt says he was 14 the first time he beat his dad. Vic says his son was 15. Either way, once Matt beat Vic's 73 by a stroke as a teenager, it was game over.

Vic never beat his son again.

''Golf skipped a generation for sure,'' Vic said. ''Because I don't play like him.''

As the first mid-amateur to make a cut at the U.S. Open in 15 years, Matt's second round was his best, carding a 73 with a birdie on No. 18 that guaranteed him a spot in the final rounds.

On the last day, Matt shot a 75 to end up at 296, the same mark fellow amateur Luis Gagne scored. Will Grimmer was the only other amateur to make the cut, and he finished 23 over at 303. The tournament started with 20 amateurs.

This was Matt's first U.S. Open. He played at the Masters earlier this year, but did not advance after two rounds. Vic was his caddie there, too.

''Mostly, I just carry the bag and keep my mouth shut,'' Vic said.

His specialty is wind: Matt does go to his dad for advice there. It helped this week.

''I don't get paid,'' Vic said. ''I don't want to be, of course. I just love doing it.''

The two have worked alongside each other for as long as either can remember. After college at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, Matt turned pro but called it quits after a couple years when it didn't pay off financially. That's when he became a firefighter.

But Matt never fully gave up golf, regaining his amateur status and going on to win the U.S. Mid-Amateur championship back in October. Vic caddied, of course.

''It's not something that happened over night,'' Vic said. ''He just wasn't lucky getting here. He really worked hard on his game.''

Being a firefighter actually allows him to practice and compete often. Matt works two 24-hour shifts a week.

He's not returning straight to his full-time job immediately, though. His upcoming golf schedule is packed. Starting Wednesday, Matt will compete in the Northeast Amateur tournament. Then he'll have the U.S. Amateur - after he gets married on Aug. 3 - and more.

Wherever and whatever, Vic will be standing nearby.

''He's always given me the opportunity to succeed,'' Matt said. ''None of this is possible without his support and his help.''

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Koepka wins U.S. Open for second straight year

By Nick MentaJune 17, 2018, 10:40 pm

Brooks Koepka on Sunday shot a final-round 68 to become just the seventh man in history to win the U.S. Open in back-to-back years. Here’s how Koepka managed to conquer a schizophrenic Shinnecock Hills and the field:

Leaderboard: Koepka (+1), Tommy Fleetwood (+2), Dustin Johnson (+3), Patrick Reed (+4), Tony Finau (+5)

What happened: Tied for the lead to start the day and playing in the second-to-last group with his good friend Johnson, Koepka raced out in front with birdies on three of his first five holes en route to a front-nine 2-under 33. Up one at the turn over Johnson, Reed and Fleetwood - who was already in the clubhouse following a round of 7-under 63 - Koepka birdied the par-4 10th and then pulled off a series of saves that ultimately won him the championship. He holed a 13-footer to save bogey at No. 11, saved par via a deft flop shot from the back of the green at 12, and then – after letting a birdie opportunity slip by at 13 – managed to get up and down from 67 yards for par at the 14th. Following a par at No. 17, the victory march was briefly in doubt when Koepka hooked his approach to the 18th green nearly into the grandstand. Unshaken, he pitched on to 14 feet, lagged his par putt, and tapped in for bogey to finish 1 over.

One clear of Fleetwood through 15, Koepka stuffed a wedge from 122 yards to inside 4 feet at the par-5 16th and cleaned up the birdie putt to go up two with two to play.


What it means: This is only Koepka’s third PGA Tour victory, but of course it’s his second major title and second U.S. Open. The 28-year-old, who missed four months this year with a wrist injury, joins Willie Anderson (1903-05), John McDermott (1911-12), Bobby Jones (1929-30), Ralph Guldahl (1937-38), Ben Hogan (1950-51) and Curtis Strange (1988-89) as the only men to successfully defend their U.S. Open titles.

Round of the day: Six back to start the final round at 9 over par, Fleetwood took advantage of a literally watered-down golf course to tie the U.S. Open single-round scoring record with a 63. Last year’s Race to Dubai winner made eight birdies and lone a bogey. The 62-watch was on after Fleetwood circled Nos. 12-15 for four birdies in a row. Unfortunately for Fleetwood – and fortunately for Johnny Miller – the Englishman missed birdie putts from 13 feet, 20 feet and 9 feet on his last three holes, with his final attempt on the 72nd hole losing speed and missing low.

Told after the round that he was just the sixth player in history to record a round of 63 in the U.S. Open, Fleetwood was quick to answer, “Yeah, but I wanted 62.” He would wait another three hours to watch Koepka best him by one.


Biggest disappointment: In a way, it’s Fleetwood, who came thisclose to history on two fronts and walked away with neither the outright record nor the U.S. Open trophy. That said, it’s hard to fault the guy who shot 63. And so, this category has to belong to Johnson, the 2016 champion at Oakmont who entered the weekend ahead by four and closed with 77-70 to lose by two. He mixed four birdies with four bogeys Sunday, his final birdie at the last proving too little, too late. His biggest issue? The 72 putts he took over the weekend on Shinnecock's browned greens. This is the third U.S. Open in the last eight years (2010, 2015, 2018) to slip through his fingers on Sunday.

Other names of note: Reigning Masters champion Reed got off to a blistering start with birdies on five of his first seven holes to tie for the early lead. But a bogey at No. 9 would prove the beginning of his end. He paired a front-nine 31 with a back-nine 37 to shoot 2-under 68 and finish solo fourth. Conversely, the two men in the final pairing, Finau and Daniel Berger, both stumbled out of the gate, each playing the first six holes in 2 over, surrendering a lead they would never get back. Finau (71) fought back to even on the day but made an expensive double at No. 18 to drop from T-3 to solo fifth. Berger (73) parred 18 to stay in a three-way tie for sixth. Both men recorded their best career finishes in a major.