Notes: Harrington still thinks Tiger will pass Nicklaus' 18 majors

By Doug FergusonAugust 24, 2011, 1:05 am

EDISON, N.J. – Padraig Harrington still puts his money on Tiger Woods breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 professional majors.

Harrington played the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship with Woods, who missed the cut. Even so, the Irishman saw him hit enough good shots to realize his game will not be gone forever.

“I still believe when he turns up and plays well in a given week, I think he’s well capable of winning any major he plays in,” Harrington said Tuesday. “He still has a good ball flight. He still hits it well. Once he puts it together in a given week, he can win and will going forward. … OK, it wasn’t his week that week. But when it is his week, he will win again.”

Harrington said the difference now is that if something can go wrong with Woods on the course, it will. Woods was atop the leaderboard through five holes of the opening round, and one tee shot into the water changed everything. He opened with a 77 and finished outside the top 100 in a major for the first time.

“This is what I would have seen at the PGA,” Harrington said. “Certain he played better, much better than his score. Whereas when he was on top of his game, he always scored really well. It was very rare that you would ever see Tiger Woods walking off a golf course where he had not got the most out of his round, where he certainly didn’t at the PGA. He got the minimum out of his rounds.”

Harrington said Woods appeared frustrated with the technical part of his game, which did not surprise him. Harrington knows better than most, since he always is tinkering with his swing.

“When you’re kind of happy with your game, you tend to get the most out of it,” he said. “You feel like you shot 70 and you end up shooting 68. And when you’re not happy with your game, you feel like you shot 70 and you end up shooting 72. I experience that myself a lot. That’s kind of what I see in Tiger’s game.”

WORLD CUP: Some of the top Americans have been bailing out on the World Cup since it changed formats and moved to China. Matt Kuchar sees nothing but a “cool opportunity.”

Kuchar, who is at No. 12 in the world ranking, has accepted a spot on the U.S. team and will be joined by Gary Woodland. The World Cup is Thanksgiving week, Nov. 24-27, at Mission Hills in China. It will be held the week after the Presidents Cup in Australia

Kuchar played in the World Amateur Team Championship in 1998 when he was at Georgia Tech, and he played in the Walker Cup the following year. He did not represent his country again until the Ryder Cup last year.

“I think to be one of those two guys representing your country is really an honor,” he said.

Woodland is No. 38 in the world, a winner this year in Tampa and a rising talent in the American ranks who is known for his power.

“I think he’s going to be a guy we are going to see more and more playing some great golf,” Kuchar said. “And so I’m pretty excited to have a guy that plays as well as he does and hits it as far as he does as my partner. I think I can be the steady one that makes a lot of pars and watch him just make golf look pretty easy.”

MR. SEPTEMBER: And to think that Steve Stricker used to avoid golf in September.

Ten years ago, he went nearly all of September and October without touching a club, nearly costing himself a spot in the Tour Championship. Stricker is usually home that time of the year, getting ready for hunting season.

That changed with the FedEx Cup in 2007, and it’s worked out just fine for Stricker. Going into The Barclays, he is the only player who has competed in all 64 rounds of the playoff events.

In those 16 tournaments, Stricker has finished out of the top 20 only twice and has two wins. He has earned over $5.7 million in the playoff events, an average of $365,580 per start.

SOLHEIM SURPRISE: Based on the numbers alone, it would seem Americans have seen stronger days at the Solheim Cup.

Only two of the 10 players who qualified have won on the LPGA this year - Stacy Lewis at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Brittany Lincicome at the ShopRite Classic. One of the captain’s picks, Ryann O’Toole, has only played seven events in her LPGA career.

And then there’s Christina Kim. In her 14 tournaments this year, she has broken 70 only twice, missed five cuts, has yet to finish in the top 12 and is No. 58 on the money list with just over $80,000. And she qualified for the team.

If anything, however, it’s a reflection of tough economic times on the tour. When the qualifying ended, there were only 14 tournaments, with 10 of those in the United States. Yani Tseng, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, has won four times (including two majors), while Karrie Webb of Australia also has won twice.

FAXON APP: On the day before Brad Faxon made his debut on the Champions Tour, he joined ShotVision in launching a short-game instruction app for the iPhone and iPad that offers more than 100 videos in super high definition.

Faxon, who has nine wins worldwide and played on two Ryder Cup teams, is renowned for his short game, particularly his putting. The menu offers putting drills, the proper grip, putting from six distances and short-game instruction on bunkers, chipping, flop shots and pitch shots. Each instruction comes with various angles.

Different about this app is there is no sound - only video. It pauses at various points and script shows up on the screen to explain the swing. The idea is to teach more through visualization.

The app is called “Brad Faxon - ShotVision Golf” and costs $4.99.

DIVOTS: One of the best things to happen to Keegan Bradley since he won the PGA Championship? “I looked at my phone and I had a text from Tom Brady, my absolute childhood hero. To get a text from him reaching out to me was a highlight of my career.” … Ernie Els, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk are the only players to have competed in every Tour Championship since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. Els (No. 118) and Furyk (No. 60) are outside the top 30 going into the playoffs. … Franklin Templeton is returning as the title sponsor of the Shark Shootout through 2012. It will be played this year Dec. 9-11 in Naples, Fla. … Paul McGinley (Great Britain & Ireland) and Jean Van de Velde (Continental Europe) will be captains for the Vivendi Seve Trophy to be played Sept. 15-18 in France. … The Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla., will host the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Eleven of the 35 rookies on the PGA Tour qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

FINAL WORD: “As much as I believe there’s no limit to what I can achieve, I’m pretty realistic knowing that going on 34, that it’s going to be hard for me to accomplish what Tiger has done in his career.” - Luke Donald.

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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.”