Notes: A similar path diverges for Bradley, Steele

By Doug FergusonJanuary 24, 2012, 11:12 pm

There wasn’t much that separated Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele last year.

They were PGA Tour rookies and close friends. They won their first tournament in Texas about two months apart, Steele in San Antonio and Bradley in Dallas. They played in one of Phil Mickelson’s money games at The Players Championship. Both made their major championship debut at the PGA Championship, and both were in the final two groups.

Steele was tied for the lead. Bradley was one shot behind.

That’s where it all changed.

Steele stumbled out of the gate and shot a 77. Bradley took triple bogey on the 15th hole, but rallied to force a playoff and beat Jason Dufner to become only the third player in the last century to win a major in his first try.

Bradley went on to sign lucrative endorsement deals, play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, make a case for being on the Presidents Cup team and was the overwhelming winner of PGA Tour rookie of the year.

All because of one round.

“That’s a fair assessment,” Steele said, before he laughed and added, “But it was a big round!”

Bradley said one of his fondest memories from Sunday at Atlanta Athletic Club was looking at Steele on the putting green before they headed to the tee, two rookies in their first major, each with a chance of doing something special.

“I remember saying to him, ‘If I don’t win, you better.’ We both said the same thing. It was a unique experience,” Bradley said. “Any other year, his year could have been a landslide for rookie of the year. He had a great year. He’s a great player. I envy a lot of what he does on the golf course.”

Steele said it took him a couple of days to get over the disappointment of his final round, but he took valuable lessons from the PGA Championship, and he has his own good memories of that major. Steele was out of contention, but had a great view of Bradley’s triple bogey, followed by his remarkable birdie-birdie-par rally.

“It was a special moment through my eyes watching him birdie 16, and I got major goose bumps watching him make that putt on 17,” Steele said. “I was standing right next to Dufner. It was interesting to be right there, seeing it all unfold.”

They got back together at the end of the year for the Shark Shootout as partners. It ended in a most appropriate fashion. They became the first PGA Tour rookie team to win the event.


BUBBA’S CAR: Bubba Watson made a deal with his wife that if he ever won a PGA Tour event, he would be allowed to buy the 1969 Dodge Charger made popular in the “Dukes of Hazzard.”

Watson said the hard part was winning a tournament.

Then again, it took some time before he could find the right one, but it was worth the wait. During an auction last week in Arizona, the three-time tour winner bought the original “General Lee 01,” the first one used in the TV series and the car that is shown jumping over a police car during the opening credits.

In a short video he posted on Twitter, Watson is seen filling the car with gas and honking the “Dixie” horn. He paid $110,000, which industry experts said was lower than expected for the winning bid.

“It worked out in my favor,” Watson said Tuesday. “I wasn’t going to go much more money than that because they were predicting a lot higher number. But, for some reason, it just fell in my lap.”

That it did. Watson usually can’t make it to the Barrett-Jackson auction, but he chose not to play the Humana Challenge last week. He was sitting at the auction, and “General Lee 01” was the first car brought out for bid.

“I almost passed out when I saw it,” he said.

Watson doesn’t plan to just admire the car in a garage.

“I’m going to drive it, honk the horn at people and all that good stuff,” he said. “It will be at Phoenix next week. It’s good enough to drive to Phoenix. But don’t tell anybody it doesn’t have any seat belts yet.”


THE TRANSITION: Gary Woodland did most of the giving at Christmas this year, bringing family and friends to Kapalua for the start of the PGA Tour season. He also was on the receiving end of a gift that left him speechless.

His mother, Linda, assembled all the jerseys Woodland wore when he was playing on baseball and basketball teams as a teenager. She cut out the front and back of the shirts and stitched them together in a quilt large enough to cover a king-size bed.

The quilt also includes a photo of Woodland swinging the club at age 3 and mementos from his first PGA Tour win last year at The Transitions at Innisbrook, with a message at the bottom that said, “A great transition.”

Woodland was overwhelmed.

“I’ve always saved everything I had,” Woodland said. “This was pretty meaningful, the kind of thing you keep forever.”

The jerseys had different colors and different names of the teams, but the numbers never changed. Woodland wore No. 5 in baseball because his idol growing up was Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett. For basketball, it was No. 23.

“Michael Jordan,” Woodland said, as if that even had to be asked.


FASHION STATEMENT: Adam Scott was at the Australian Open watching girlfriend Ana Ivanovic, the former No. 1 who was beaten in the fourth round by Petra Kvitova. She is not the only tennis player who dates a golfer. Caroline Wozniacki, the current No. 1, has been involved with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy since last summer.

Their common interest led to an interesting conversation.

“She did ask me, ‘What kind of shoes should I take to walk on the course?”’ Ivanovic said.

Her answer: “Just the most comfortable ones.”


DIVOTS: Jaime Diaz of Golf Digest has been selected for the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Diaz started with the Oakland Tribune and has covered golf for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and Golf Digest. He will be honored April 4 at the Golf Writers Association of America annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga. … Andy Walker has been given an exemption to the Northern Trust Open, set aside for a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf. The exemption originally was called the “Charlie Sifford Exemption,” in honor of the first black PGA Tour member to win a tournament. … Rory McIlroy’s 6-iron to a foot on the 10th hole at Congressional in the final round of the U.S. Open has been voted shot of the year on the European Tour. … Johnson Wagner is 48 under par through three tournaments this year, with 10 consecutive rounds in the 60s. … Lisa McCloskey, Erica Popson and Emily Tubert were added to the eight-player American team for the Curtis Cup, which will be played June 9-10 at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Webb Simpson has played 59 official tournaments over the last two years, the biggest schedule of any player ranked in the top 20.


FINAL WORD: “I’ve kind of lost my sense of humor. When you don’t putt very well, your sense of humor doesn’t work very well.”—Ernie Els.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.