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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Wise wins first Tour title at AT&T Byron Nelson

By Nick MentaMay 21, 2018, 1:22 am

On the strength of a final-round 65, 21-year-old Aaron Wise broke through for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday, taking the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest. Here's how Wise beat the field and darkness following a lengthy rain delay:

Leaderboard: Wise (-23), Leishman (-20), Branden Grace (-19), J.J. Spaun (-19), Keith Mitchell (-19)

What it means: This is Wise’s first PGA Tour win in just his 18th start as a member. Tied with Leishman to start the final round, Wise raced ahead with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 4-10 and never looked back. He'd make eight straight pars on his way into the clubhouse and the winner's circle. The 2016 NCAA Division I individual champion just locked up Tour status through 2019-20 season and guaranteed himself a spot in the PGA Championship.

Best of the rest: Leishman reached 20 under par but just couldn’t keep pace with Wise. This is his second runner-up of the season, following a solo second in the CJ Cup in October.

Round of the day: Grace carded a 62 – where have I heard that before? – with eight birdies, an eagle and a bogey to end up tied for third, his best finish of the season on Tour.

Biggest disappointment: Adam Scott looked as though he had done enough to qualify for the U.S. Open via the Official World Golf Ranking when he walked off the golf course. Unfortunately, minutes later, he’d drop from a four-way tie for sixth into a three-way tie for ninth, narrowly missing out on this week's OWGR cutoff.

Break of the day: Wise could very well have found the hazard off the tee at No. 9 if not for a well-placed sprinkler head. Rather than drop a shot, he took advantage of his good fortune and poured in another birdie putt to extend his lead.

Quote of the day: "It's a dream come true to win this one." - Wise

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Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two

By Associated PressMay 21, 2018, 1:20 am

ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.

The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.

Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.


Full-field scores from the Belgian Knockout


''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.

''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''

Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.

Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''

''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''

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Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 1:10 am

DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.

Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.

“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.

Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.

“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”

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Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs

By Ryan LavnerMay 21, 2018, 12:56 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.

Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.

“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”

It’s been that way for her teammates, too.

Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.

And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).

Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.

“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”

So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?

“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”

The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.

“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”

And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.

“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”