Notes: 'Group therapy' for Dufner; DJ heading to Euro Tour?

By Doug FergusonAugust 16, 2011, 11:55 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Jason Dufner went from a devastating playoff loss at the PGA Championship to the next stop on the PGA Tour, but not before a brief detour for some group therapy.

A big group.

Dufner went to Auburn and has remained close with some of the football coaches, who called him Monday and asked him to come by the football complex. The Tigers had an off day, but Dufner got quite a surprise when he walked into one of the auditoriums.

“The whole team was in there, and they gave me a standing ovation,” Dufner said Tuesday. “So that’s pretty cool. I don’t know a lot of those guys personally as far as the players go. … You wouldn’t expect a 320-pound defensive lineman to be watching golf on Sunday, but they were. And for the coaches to take time out of their meetings and practice on Sunday saying, `We were checking text messages, watching when we could,’ that was a pretty neat experience for me.”

Dufner is the kind of player who doesn’t get too high or too low, and usually doesn’t let his mind get beyond the next shot. He had a four-shot lead with four holes to play when he made three straight bogeys and wound up losing to Keegan Bradley by one shot in a playoff.

Dealing with the loss apparently has been harder on those around him.

“Everybody that’s come up to me, I almost feel like it’s a funeral or something tragic,” he said. “I don’t feel that way at all. It was a great experience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to win that event, but I had a great chance, best opportunity probably to win a tour event, so I feel good.”

“Maybe some guys are different. Maybe some guys would feel like it was a tragedy. But I don’t really look at it that way,” he said. “I’m disappointed with not being able to finish that tournament off with a W, but I’m a professional golfer. I’m going to continue to be a professional golfer.”

DUSTIN TO EUROPE?: The PGA Tour gets Rory McIlroy. The European Tour might be getting Dustin Johnson.

It’s not a straight-up trade since players have joint memberships, but Johnson is leaning toward joining the European Tour for the 2012 season. He already has played three European Tour events this year in South Korea, Germany and Sweden. Counting the four majors and World Golf Championships, he only needs a couple more to be a full-time member.

“I like traveling and seeing the world,” Johnson said before leaving the PGA Championship.

Johnson said he doesn’t have to decide until December.

The appeal is his enjoyment of European Tour events, and he considers the Race to Dubai an additional perk.

“You get two shots to win a money title,” he said. “Both would be nice to win.”

McILROY PLANS: U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy still hasn’t figured out his 2012 schedule when he takes up PGA Tour membership, although it doesn’t sound as though he’s going to play the bare minimum tournaments required.

“My guess is he might play more anyway,” said Chubby Chandler, his agent at International Sports Management.

There will be a few changes. Chandler said McIlroy likely will not play the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, which he did two years ago when he was a PGA Tour member. He also plans to swap out the Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. McIlroy finished fifth at Muirfield Village, but it was his third straight week before a major.

“We’ll write a letter to Mr. Nicklaus, and Mr. Palmer will be really happy, won’t he?” Chandler said. “But I think Rory feels a responsibility as a U.S. Open champion to play more.”

Depending on how he fares, McIlroy won’t have to play all four FedEx Cup events. After all, two of the four champions wound up missing the first playoff event - Tiger Woods in 2007 because he didn’t enter, and Jim Furyk last year because he was disqualified for missing his pro-am time.

Chandler said Masters champion Charl Schwartzel won’t be playing the Barclays next week.

“Until the PGA Tour works out a (points) system that entices the guys to play, they won’t take advantage of it,” Chandler said.

MASTERS DOWN UNDER: The Australian Masters might have the No. 1 player in the world for the second time in three years.

Only this time, it will be Luke Donald.

Despite getting bumped on the schedule to a month after the Presidents Cup in Melbourne - it had been held the last two years the week before the matches - the Australian Masters will have Donald, Ian Poulter, Italian teen Matteo Manassero and defending champion Stuart Appleby on Dec. 15-18 at Victoria Golf Club.

Tiger Woods was No. 1 when won the Australian Masters in 2009 before record crowds at Kingston Heath. It remains his last win. Woods was No. 2 in the world when he defended his title last year at Victoria.

Woods is no longer with IMG, which runs the event. He instead has signed on to play the Australian Open. Donald and Manassero are IMG clients.

DIVOTS: Pine Valley is No. 1 in Golf Magazine’s 15th biennial list of top 100 courses in the United States and the world. The magazine relied on a panel of 100 voting members, including major champions and architects. Pine Valley, Cypress Point and Augusta were the top three in the U.S. and world lists. In America, Shinnecock Hills and Pebble Beach rounded out the top five, while the world list had St. Andrews and Royal County Down. … The Old Course at St. Andrews has raised its green fee by about $15. It now cost about $250 in the peak time of the year. … The Phoenix Open raised just over $4 million to give to local charities. Since the tournament first signed on a title sponsor in 2003, it has raised more $46.4 million.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods played eight times on the PGA Tour this year and earned $629,863 from a combined purse of $62.8 million. As a 20-year-old rookie in 1996, he played eight times and earned $790,594 from a combined purse of $11.95 million.

FINAL WORD: “I don’t see how you can see anything negative from losing in a playoff in a major, other than not winning.” - Jason Dufner, who lost in a playoff at the PGA Championship after losing a four-shot lead with four holes to play.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”