Notes: Clark gave passionate plea at Tour meeting

By Doug FergusonJanuary 29, 2013, 9:39 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tim Clark would have been easy to miss among dozens of PGA Tour players who poured out of a hotel ballroom after a two-hour meeting on the proposed ban of the stroke used for long putters – except he was the only guy with a suitcase.

Clark didn't bring golf clubs to Torrey Pines, only an overnight bag. He didn't play in the tournament, but he paid his way to San Diego just so he could be at the mandatory players meeting, the one Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did not attend. The special guest was U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis, invited to explain the proposed rule on anchoring and to take any questions.

Clark wanted to be heard.

''I didn't realize until that night he wasn't in the field,'' Lucas Glover said. ''I thought it was very courageous of him to do what he did. He flew here. He spent his own money to get here and back for something he cares about. My opinion on it doesn't matter. He spoke his mind in a respectful way. He did not lash out. He asked honest questions and stated honest opinions. And I was proud of him. The way he handled himself was brilliant.''

No one has more to lose over this ban than Clark.

He has a genetic condition that keeps him from turning his forearms and wrists inward. Clark has anchored the long putter to his chest for about as long as anyone has seen him play. Despite the physical limitations – Clark has never ranked higher than 140th in driving distance - he has won The Players Championship, Australian Open, Scottish Open and twice the South African Open.

Based on several accounts of those in the room, Clark spoke with dignity and integrity.

''I think what he did to fly in for the meeting showed a lot,'' Keegan Bradley said. ''He's got something he wants to stand up for, and that's something I admire. He presented some nice points. When he talks, people listen.''

Exactly what Clark said remains private, another show of respect by his peers.

Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem is headed back to San Diego this week to meet with the USGA before its annual meeting. Finchem said the Tour's objective had always been to follow the lead of the USGA and R&A for rules. He also said there might be a place for two sets of rules in golf, though perhaps not in the case of anchored strokes.

Geoff Ogilvy felt the majority of players who don't use an anchored stroke are ambivalent about the proposed rule and that ''the passion is coming from 5 percent.''

He was impressed with Clark, especially with how prepared he was.

''He's been researching this the whole offseason,'' Ogilvy said. ''He basically put his position out there and probably positions that Mike hadn't thought about or didn't acknowledge as importantly as Tim saw them.

''What Tim did achieve ... whether he had any effect on the USGA position, a big portion of the ambivalent people were on Tim's side when they walked out of the room.''

BACK TO THE ROCK: Geoff Ogilvy went from one home to another in consecutive weeks on Tour.

Ogilvy has been living in Del Mar, Calif., about 5 miles down the coastal highway from Torrey Pines for the last couple of years. But he felt something was missing from his game. That turned out to be Whisper Rock Golf Club, where he gets plenty of competition from Tour players.

Ogilvy moved his wife and three children back to Scottsdale, Ariz., last summer before 6-year-old Phoebe started school.

''I played well last year without getting anything out of it. The scoring was bad relative to how I was playing,'' he said. ''If I had played like that five years ago, I would have been in the top five on the money list. That's how I felt, anyway.''

The tale of two cities came down to the golf he played away from the Tour.

''I used to play golf all the time with really good players,'' he said. ''All I've done over here is range sessions and putting. That got better, but the scoring got worse. And at the end of the day, it's about scoring.''

Ogilvy is keeping his house in Del Mar and will spend his summers there, when the Pacific summer is more enjoyable than the desert.

''Whisper Rock is a special place,'' he said. ''This is less about Arizona and more about Whisper Rock. It was a hard decision because we love it over here so much. But as soon as we got back, I realized it was the right thing. I get up in the morning, take the kids to school and go to the golf course.''

SOUTHERN HILLS: Southern Hills has not given up on its hopes of hosting a fourth U.S. Open.

It hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2009 and had been working to bring the U.S. Open to Tulsa, Okla., in the next available date. The club was disappointed to learn that the 2020 U.S. Open instead was going to Winged Foot.

''We knew it was coming down to us and Winged Foot,'' Southern Hills general manager Nick Sidorkis told Golf Oklahoma. ''They are two great courses with great tradition. Obviously, Tulsa is not the same as New York when it comes to corporate hospitality potential, but we know that we can hold a successful championship.''

Southern Hills hosted seven majors – three U.S. Opens, most recently in 2001 won by Retief Goosen, and three PGA Championships, the last one in 2007 won by Woods. Sidorkis said it would not pursue other big tournaments until the USGA told the club it is not interested and that hasn't happened.

''Our endeavor is we want to host the national championship. We're going to continue until they tell us otherwise,'' he said.

FOG MULLIGAN: When fog wiped out Saturday's round at Torrey Pines, the 87 players who made the cut played straight through the next two days to try to get in 72 holes. There wasn't time to make a 54-hole cut to the top 70 and ties, ordinarily the case when more than 78 players make it to the weekend.

That's worth keeping in mind later in the year.

Had there been a 54-hole cut, 10 players would have been eliminated after the third round and given one FedEx Cup point. Given the extra round, James Driscoll shot a 68 and Hank Kuehne had a 70. They received 16 points. Doug LaBelle shot 71 and received eight points.

It might not seem like much now, but keep in mind that Jhonattan Vegas missed out on the playoffs by two points and that Kyle Stanley was seven points short of qualifying for the Tour Championship.

DIVOTS: Lee Trevino is this year's recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award. He will receive the highest honor from the PGA of America at the PGA Championship on Aug. 7 at Oak Hill, where Trevino won the 1968 U.S. Open. ... No one was more irritated by CBS Sports wanting the late start to the Monday finish at Torrey Pines than Ben Curtis. He is playing the Dubai Desert Classic this week, and the late start meant getting into the Dubai on Wednesday morning for the pro-am, instead of Tuesday night. ... Woods has more than half of his 75 Tour victories in three states – 14 in California, 13 in Florida and 12 in Ohio. ... And then there were three: Kyle Stanley, Tommy Gainey and Scott Stallings are in the Phoenix Open, making them the only players at all five Tour events this year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods has won 80 percent of his stroke-play titles on Tour playing in the final group.

FINAL WORD: ''I'm trying to shoot the lowest score I possibly can. I don't know if I look calm or intense or relaxed or jovial, whatever it is. I'm trying to beat everyone in this field, and that hasn't changed and it won't change.'' – Woods.

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Garcia bounced in Austin: 'On to Augusta'

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 6:55 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – For the 16th time in his career, Sergio Garcia’s week at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play ended earlier then he would have hoped, but this time he has plenty of distractions to ease the sting.

Garcia lost his Saturday morning match to Kyle Stanley, 3 and 1, marking the 15th time in his Match Play career he’s failed to advance to Sunday, but at least he has plenty to keep him busy with a newborn at home and his return to the Masters looming in two weeks.

“On to Augusta,” said Garcia, who is not playing next week’s Houston Open. “It's exciting. Obviously when we get there, it's going to be interesting to see how we feel and everything. But it is definitely exciting.”

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Garcia defeated Justin Rose in a playoff to win last year’s Masters, his first major triumph, so his return to Augusta National will be unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

His duties as defending champion will include hosting Tuesday’s Champions Dinner. No word on Garcia’s menu for the event, but various sources have confirmed it will be something “Spanish.”

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Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Sweet 16

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

Here is how things played out in the Round of 16 on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The week began with 64 players taking on Austin Country Club,but the field is dwindling. Click here for Day 3 match results:

Match 97: Bubba Watson (35) def. Brian Harman (18), 2 and 1. Watson was 1 down going to the eighth hole, but he won four of the next five holes to turn around this battle of lefties. A 12-foot putt for eagle at the 12th dropped, giving him a 3 up lead coming home. It was Watson’s second eagle of the day. He looks as if he’s still riding the confidence from that Genesis Open victory last month. Watson will advance to play Kiradech Aphibarnrat in the quarterfinals.

Match 98: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Charles Howell III (59), 1 up. Aphibarnrat won in a late comeback, winning the final two holes. He holed a 9-foot putt for birdie at the 17th to square the match and won with an 8-foot birdie at the last. He had not led all day, not until that last birdie putt dropped. The 28-year-old Thai improved to 4-0 on this world stage after sweeping his group in the round-robin play. A four-time European Tour winner, Aphibarnrat is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He will meet Bubba Watson in the quarterfinals.

Match 99: Kyle Stanley (45) def. Sergio Garcia (7), 3 and 1. Stanley birdied the eighth, ninth and 10th holes to go 3 up, and then he held off Garcia’s run at him, eliminating the world No. 10 with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes. With the victory, Stanley has a chance at a nice Texas two-step, a chance to eliminate the two highest ranked players left in the field, the only players left among the top 10 in the world ranking. But, there’s hard work to do in the quarterfinals, where Stanley will meet world No. 2 Justin Thomas.

Match 100: Justin Thomas (2) def. Si Woo Kim (50), 6 and 5. Thomas remains on fire in this format, steamrolling Kim a day after completing a round-robin sweep of his group by blowing away Francesco Molinari, 7 and 5. The Kim match felt like it was over shortly after it started, with Thomas making the turn 5 up. Thomas will advance to play Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals.

Match 101: Cameron Smith (46) def. Tyrell Hatton (12), 2 and 1. Smith found himself behind early, falling 2 down after Hatton opened with back-to-back birdies, but Smith quickly rallied to win one of the best matches of the day. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 1 up. Hatton lost despite making seven birdies on the round. He lost despite making birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to the red-hot Smith, who made eight birdies. Smith will meet Alex Noren in the quarterfinals.

Match 102: Alex Noren (13) def. Patrick Reed (19), 5 and 3. In this Fire vs. Ice match, Ice won, with Noren making easy work of Reed. Really, though, Reed never got a flame going, and Noren wasn’t going to help him the way Jordan Spieth did a day before. Reed was 2-over on his card before finally making his first and only birdie of the day at the 13th. Somewhere, European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn must have been smiling, watching Noren easily take down the formidable American match-play dynamo. Noren will meet Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals.

Match 103: Ian Poulter (58) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 2 and 1. Poulter’s match-play mojo is going strong again, with the Englishman summoning the intensity that has made him so formidable in the Ryder Cup over the years. He was on fire Saturday, making eight birdies over the first 15 holes, if you count the concession he received hitting a wedge to 18 inches at the 13th hole. Poulter put a special putter in the bag this week, using the same flat stick that helped him lead the Euros to their historic comeback victory against the Americans at Medinah in 2012. Though Oosthuizen made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, he still couldn’t make it close. Poulter will meet Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals.

Match 104: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Matt Kuchar (16), 1 up. Kuchar applied all kinds of pressure on Kisner on the back nine, but he couldn’t get Kisner to fold in the best match of the day. Kuchar was 2 down with four to go but managed to pull all square going to the last. After missing a 15-footer for birdie at the 18th, Kuchar watched Kisner sink a 12-footer for his birdie to win. Kisner will meet Ian Poulter in the quarterfinals.

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JT advances to quarters, closing in on No. 1 ranking

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 5:40 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Justin Thomas continued his impressive run at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and finds himself another step closer to overtaking Dustin Johnson in the World Golf Ranking.

Thomas rolled past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the first knockout stage and will face Kyle Stanley in the Elite Eight. He must advance to Sunday’s championship match to overtake Johnson as the new world No. 1.

“It wasn't anything crazy or special. Just played solid golf tee to green. And it was forcing him to make a lot of putts,” said Thomas, who has played 61 holes this week, won 24, lost six and hasn’t trailed in four matches.

Stanley, who needed a playoff victory over Paul Casey on Friday to advance to the weekend, defeated Sergio Garcia, 3 and 1.

Bubba Watson also continued his solid play, rallying from an early deficit to beat Brian Harman, 2 and 1. He will play Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who defeated Charles Howell III, closing with back-to-back birdies for a 1-up victory.

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But as impressive as Thomas has been, Sweden’s Alex Noren has quietly continued to impress, going undefeated in pool play and closing out Patrick Reed on the 15th hole for a 5-and-3 victory.

“He's such a tough competitor,” said Noren, who will face Australian Cameron Smith in the quarterfinals. “I managed to hole a few birdie putts. When we both had good chances, he just missed and I managed to make those.”

Former Match Play champion Ian Poulter also advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Louis Oosthuizen. He will play Kevin Kisner, who converted a 10-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Matt Kuchar, 1 up.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”