From One Aussie to Another...

By Doug FergusonSeptember 24, 2011, 10:00 pm

ATLANTA – The cup is close enough now for Hunter Mahan and Aaron Baddeley to seriously consider how much it’s worth to them.

Even if they’re not thinking about the same cup.

Baddeley knew when he showed up at the Tour Championship that it was his last chance to convince captain Greg Norman that he was worth a spot on the Presidents Cup team in his native Melbourne.

He made quite an impression Saturday at East Lake, running off four straight birdies on the back nine for a 6-under 64 and a share of the lead.

 “That’s a huge goal of mine, to make that team and play down in Melbourne,” Baddeley said. “It was definitely on the forefront of my mind to be able to knuckle down, play well this week and show Greg that I’ve got some form.”

Mahan is No. 21 in the FedEx Cup, and after he narrowly wrapped up a spot on the U.S. team, said last week he looked forward to the Tour Championship and “not having to worry about 10 things.”

Now he’s got 10 million things to think about.

Of the top five players in the FedEx Cup, only Luke Donald remains in serious contention. That means Mahan has a shot at the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus if he were to win the Tour Championship (and its paltry $1.44 million payoff).

“I honestly didn’t think that was a possibility,” Mahan said after holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 66.

Mahan and Baddeley were at 9-under 201.

Jason Day recovered from a ragged start and had a 69, leaving him only two shots back. The 23-year-old Australian was tied with K.J. Choi, who also started poorly and shot 70.

Donald, the world No. 1 who still can add his name to the prestigious list of players to have captured the FedEx Cup, had a 70 and was only three shots behind.

Bill Haas, who had a chance to make the Presidents Cup team last week until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill, was among those tied for the lead until the final two holes. He went bunker-to-bunker on the 17th and had to scramble for bogey, and then hit his tee shot on the 18th into the crowd, missed a 4-foot putt and made double bogey.

Haas was followed by his father, Jay Haas, an assistant captain for the Presidents Cup. He had to settle for a 69 and was so steamed that he refused requests for interviews.

Ten players were separated by five shots – the margin by which Baddeley trailed going into the final round – and the group includes Phil Mickelson, who won this event two years ago. He had a 67 and was only four shots behind.

“I feel like the first three rounds, I had three possibilities of 63, 64 that I turned into 68, 69,” Mickelson said. “If I can just not do that and keep it where I feel the round should be, I think I can make a run tomorrow.”

The pressure is building on so many fronts going into Sunday, and while it’s easy to focus on the $10 million to the winner of the FedEx Cup – $9 million of that in cash – for some it’s a cup that doesn’t pay anything.

Baddeley, a winner at Riviera early in the year, grew up in Melbourne and desperately wants to be part of his first Presidents Cup team at Royal Melbourne. He is among three Australians – Robert Allenby and John Senden are the others – under consideration for two of Norman’s picks. They will be announced Tuesday.

Baddeley spoke to Norman at the start of the week and knew the Shark would be watching. It didn’t make Baddeley nervous, it made him determined.

“For me, it’s a motivator,” Baddeley said. “I want to play good. I want to be on that team, so I knew I had to play well this week. It’s time to bear down. I got some good work done on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I was ready for Thursday.”

Most of that practice time was spent on putting. Baddeley is among the best in golf, though he felt something was missing. He worked on getting the club more balanced, paying particular attention to his right hand on the putter. He seems to have figured it out, making a 35-foot putt on No. 7, and a pair of 20-footers on the 14th and 15th.

The rest of his game was sharp, too. From 176 yards in a fairway bunker on the 13th, he stuffed a 7-iron to inside 10 feet for yet another birdie.

Mahan also got in some late practice, mainly trying to get the club more square at impact because of a change in his release since working with Sean Foley. He got into the picture by hitting his approach on the eighth to inside a foot, and then drilling a fairway metal from 274 yards to 20 feet for an eagle on No. 9.

Throughout the day, the projections for who might win the FedEx Cup were like watching the stock market. As many as five players moved to the top, although nothing really matters until Sunday.

Webb Simpson is No. 1 on the list, and he finished with a birdie on the 18th to get into a tie for 15th. If he were to finish in the top 12, he could still claim the $10 million even if Mahan wins the Tour Championship.

“It’s kind of weird,” Mahan said. “I could still win – I could play flawless golf tomorrow, win by five – and finish fifth in FedEx Cup points. I could finish 10th in FedEx Cup points. It’s one of those things where you can’t even worry about it just because you can’t do the math that fast.”

Adam Scott remains hopeful, at least of the Tour Championship. He was in the lead until a 39 on the back nine, compounded by a three-putt double bogey on the 14th. He wound up with a 74 and was five shots behind.

“Very disappointing,” Scott said. “Going to come tomorrow and have the round of my life, hopefully.”

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With baby on the way, Piller WDs from Zurich

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

AVONDALE, La. – With wife Gerina set to give birth to their first child, Martin Piller figured he’d need to check his phone every few holes at the Zurich Classic.

He didn’t even make it that far.

Piller withdrew before the start of the first round Thursday.

Piller’s partner, Joel Dahmen, who only got into the field because of Piller’s status as the team’s A player, was allowed to remain in the event.

Piller was replaced in the field by Denny McCarthy. The new team of McCarthy-Dahmen will tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET.

The format change at the Zurich should make things easier for the new teammates. The first round is now best ball, not alternate shot.

The only event that Gerina, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cupper, has played this season was the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January. The couple’s baby was due May 3, and she said that she plans to take off the entire year.

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China's Jin (64) leads by one in Beijing

By Associated PressApril 26, 2018, 12:28 pm

BEIJING – Daxing Jin took a one-stroke lead at the China Open after shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round.

Jin's bogey-free round at the Topwin Golf and Country Club included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth. The 25-year-old Jin is playing in only his eighth European Tour event and has made the cut only once.

Matt Wallace (65) had an eagle-birdie finish to move into a tie for second with Nino Bertasio, who also produced a bogey-free round. Alexander Bjork and Scott Vincent (66) were a further stroke back.

Defending champion Alexander Levy, who won last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, is in a large group five shots off the lead at 3 under.

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Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 12:13 am

Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.

She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.

She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.

Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.

She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.

When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.

At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.

“Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.

All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.

“A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”

Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.

Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.

“She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.

Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.

“You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”

Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.

What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.

“Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”

Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.

Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.

“I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”

Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.

Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.

Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.

Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.

“I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”

Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.

“When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”

Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.

“Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”

Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.

“I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”

Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.

“I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”

Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.

“That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”

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Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
Texas USC Stanford Furman
Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
       
Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)