Notes: DJ's new junior event has eyes on China

By Doug FergusonNovember 11, 2015, 12:37 am

SHANGHAI - Dustin Johnson has already made a name for himself in China with his golf. He won the HSBC Champions two years ago, and was closing in on the lead Sunday until a bad break with his wedge. The ball hit the pin and caromed into the water on the par-5 eighth hole, turning a sure birdie into a double bogey.

The next step could be making an impact with juniors. His coach at Coastal Carolina, Allen Terrell, has been coming to Shanghai for six years to teach at Sheshan International and to educate families on how their children can get golf scholarships in America. Terrell runs the Dustin Johnson Golf School in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Johnson says they are looking into prospects for starting such a school in China.

The first step is a golf tournament.

The inaugural Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is Feb. 13-15 at the TPC Myrtle Beach, and Terrell said there will be qualifiers held in China that would allow Chinese juniors to compete in the tournament. The tournament will be Presidents Day weekend, and also around the time of the Chinese New Year.

''Dustin always wanted to have a junior tournament, and then we have a strong influence from China,'' Terrell said. ''A group from China bought 23 golf courses in Myrtle Beach. We're trying to bring Chinese families over, show them around and explain the college system.''

The PGA Tour launched its China circuit last year and it produced Haotong Li, who played well on the Web.com Tour this year and tied for seventh in the HSBC. Terrell said he first came over as a coach because he saw China as an untapped market. Other golf programs haven't made much of a difference.

''Look at the number of players from China playing in college,'' he said. ''It's a small percentage. The transition is difficult. A lot of them haven't made it more than one year, and that's going to hurt China down the road. We're hoping to bridge that.''


FALLING PHIL: Phil Mickelson dropped to No. 27 in the world this week, the wrong kind of milestone.

The last time he was out of the top 25 was Sept. 10, 1995. That was right after Tiger Woods won his second straight U.S. Amateur. It was two years after Jordan Spieth was born. Greg Norman was three months into his longest reign (96 weeks) at No. 1 in the world.

Because he is not playing again until the CareerBuilder Challenge in the California desert, Mickelson could be out of the top 50 the next time he tees it up. He hasn't been outside the top 50 since the week before Thanksgiving in 1993.


GENDER BLENDERS: LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan believes there's a place for men and women to share the same stage in golf.

He's just not sure when.

Among the ideas that have been kicked around over the years is for the PGA Tour and LPGA to compete on the same course at the same time, perhaps at a winners-only event or in a match play format. They could play their own set of tees and compete separately, different from the Mixed Team event from nearly two decades ago.

The U.S. Open and Women's Open was a big hit in consecutive weeks at Pinehurst No. 2 last year. And the Olympics will feature men and women on the same course is successive weeks next year in Rio.

But playing the same course at the same time? Whan says PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem ''shares that interest.''

''I work on next year's schedule, Tim works on 2019, so we have a slightly different sense of urgency in getting there,'' Whan said. ''I've brought a few specific suggestions of tournaments where I thought we could do something together. It's not tomorrow. But I feel comfortable we'll get there.''


SURPRISE CALL: HSBC Champions winner Russell Knox has been managed by R.J. Nemers his entire career, and he still doesn't know how it happened.

Nemers founded Icon Sports, which recently was acquired by IMG, and he counts Ian Poulteramong his longtime clients. But his phone call to Knox came out of blue. He was at PGA Tour Q-School for the second time and failed miserably.

''I was at second stage and almost finished last,'' Knox said. ''I was miles away from getting to the final stage. I went home and was depressed because I would have to wait another year to get on the Web.com. My phone rang and it was R.J. He said, 'We're interested in signing you. We think we're going to make it.' I had never spoken to an agent. I always thought it was the coolest thing if you had an agent.

''It was the nicest thing anyone had done for me.''

Knox played four years at Jacksonville University and even now can't figure out why Nemers would be interested.

''I told him that 25 guys just make it through to the final stage from my site, and there are six or eight other sites. 'Why are you picking me?''' Knox said. ''He said, 'We think you're going to be better than them.' He'll be my agent for life.''


PRICE SUPPORT: Peter Thomson was captain three times in the Presidents Cup, which included the lone International team victory. Gary Player also was International captain three times, including the tie in South Africa.

Adam Scott is in favor of Nick Price getting a third shot at it.

The International team nearly pulled off a remarkable rally in South Korea until Chris Kirk made a 15-foot birdie putt that led to a 15 1/2-14 1/2 victory. Price was adamant that the number of matches be lowered to help make it a closer contest, and it's difficult to deny that made a difference this year.

What didn't change was the outcome, and Scott believes Price should get one more chance.

''I think that would be great if he is,'' Scott said. ''I think he did a fantastic job for us this year. He learned so much after his first one and put that experience to good use. My personal feeling is I'd love to have Nick be the captain again and try and get a win for him. It would be something special for all the players, but something very special for Nick and his career.''


DIVOTS: Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar will have new caddies for 2016. Mahan and John Wood parted after nine years, and Wood went to work for Kuchar, who split with Lance Bennett. Mahan said he had a couple of caddies in mind. ... Sei Young Kim has wrapped up the points-based Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year on the LPGA tour. Kim won three times this year. ... Branden Grace is buying a house in the West Palm Beach, Florida, area for his first full year on the PGA Tour. His only other home is in South Africa. The tournaments he has never played that excite him the most? The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. ''I've never played Pebble Beach,'' Grace said. ''I know it's with amateurs, but it's Pebble Beach.'' ... Sports Illustrated selected Jack Nicklaus to receive its newly named Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Three of the four World Golf Championships were won by players from Britain and Ireland - Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland), Shane Lowry (Ireland) and Russell Knox (Scotland).


FINAL WORD: ''A full month of killing birds, drinking beer and watching football. All the stuff I wish I was doing now.'' - Kevin Kisner, on plans for his offseason.

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”