Scott grabs solo lead at WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By Doug FergusonAugust 6, 2011, 6:15 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Ryo Ishikawa amazed even his peers in a charity-driven sport when he pledged in March to donate his entire earnings on the golf course to the tsunami relief fund in his native Japan.

He could double the donation Sunday in a World Golf Championship that is surprising even him.

Coming off a missed cut in Japan, never better than 20th in stroke play in America, the 19-year-old sensation made six birdies and twice escaped trouble in the trees Saturday for a 6-under 64 that put him in the final group and only one shot behind Adam Scott in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Along with a $1.4 million payoff, Ishikawa could become the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event in 100 years.

“I think it’s a little too early to think about winning this whole thing as of now,” Ishikawa said. “But I do feel that I was able to play at a pretty good level, a pretty high level today. Actually, I’m a little surprised of how I performed out there.”

Scott turned his fortunes around when he decided to stick with what was working, and switched to a fade off the tee. He poured in four birdies on the back nine for a 4-under 66, giving the 31-year-old Australian a shot at his first World Golf Championship.

Scott was at 12-under 198, the lowest 54-hole score at Firestone in 10 years. He will play in the last group with Ishikawa. In front of them will be Jason Day, whose 66 put him one shot behind. Day and Scott tied for second in the Masters earlier this year.

About the only thing Tiger Woods can now get out of this week are four rounds and some points to help him qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs at the end of the month. Woods, a seven-time winner at Firestone who hasn’t played in nearly three months, struggled again with his putting and shot 72. He was 13 shots behind in a tie for 38th in the 76-man field.

“I’ve just got to put together a good round and let it build,” Woods said.

Scott in the lead should be compelling enough, especially with Woods back to golf. It was only two weeks ago when Woods announced he had fired his caddie, Steve Williams, and Scott then hired him on a full-time basis.

But that’s become old news because of one of the youngest players in the field.

Ishikawa might be the only other player in golf to appreciate what it’s like to get attention like Woods. He has been a star in Japan since he won his first tournament as a 15-year-old amateur, and his 10 wins on the Japan Golf Tour include shooting a 58 in the final round to win The Crowns.

He has earned so much respect from his peers that Scott, even though he was leading, was not the least bit bothered to spend most of his interview talking about the kid once known as the “Shy Prince.”

“I first saw him in Japan when he was 15, and he had already won an event over there. I mean, this kid is really amazing,” Scott said. “I think this week is really big for him. It’s great that he’s playing well over here probably for the first time, if I’m not mistaken, first time he’s really challenging at a world event.

“He’s only 19. He’s got everything in front of him.”

Ishikawa doesn’t get much attention in these parts because he has struggled in America, with only one top 10 in 2010 when Ishikawa reached the third round of the Match Play Championship. This is his 22nd tournament in America, and he started feeling comfortable only when he tied for 20th at the Masters this year.

The spotlight? He’s been coping with that for a long time.

He gets the kind of media coverage in Japan that Woods gets around the world. It’s not unusual to see Ishikawa sit in a folding chair after every round to accommodate dozens of Japanese media.

Now comes the hard part.

A win would make him the youngest winner of a PGA Tour event since John McDermott at the 1911 U.S. Open at 19, who was one week younger than Ishikawa.

As for the money? He already has donated about $740,000 this year from his earnings, which include a pair of runner-up finishes in Japan. Along with his money pledges for making birdies and eagles, the total donation is pushing $1 million.

“There are people that have no homes right now, and we actually don’t know how long it’s going to take for Japan to recover,” Ishikawa said through a translator. “So I would just like to give my support to Japan.”

Ishikawa opened with three birdies on the front nine and never eased back, making enough escapes out of the trees and a few more birdies. It was his best round since he opened with a 65 at Doral, right after he learned of the tsunami.

His expectations are limited for Sunday.

“I think the golf I’m playing now is unstable in a sense,” Ishikawa said, noting he went from a runner-up finish to qualify for this event to a missed cut. “And so considering that, I’m not really sure as to how I will perform tomorrow, to be honest with you.”

Day took an early lead with an eagle on the par-5 second hole, gave it back with consecutive bogeys to start the back nine and finished with a flourish, three birdies over his last five holes for a 66.

It wasn’t enough to put Day in the final group with Scott. They played together in the final round of the Masters, and both looked as though they might win until Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes for a two-shot victory.

“He really impressed me at Augusta on Sunday when I think back to how he played,” Scott said.

The third round was played early to avoid a forecast of thunderstorms. Sunday returns to regular twosomes, and Scott doesn’t expect a duel at the top. If conditions stay dry, and the fairways get faster, it puts a premium on just about everything. Nine players were within five shots of the lead.

PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley had a 68 and was two shots behind, along with Martin Laird (67). The group another shot behind included world No. 1 Luke Donald, who had a 64 despite a bogey on the last hole, and Rickie Fowler, who holed out from the fairway for eagle for the second straight day. He needed that for a 69, although he is still only three shots behind as he goes for his first win.

Woods opened with a bogey that started with shots to the right and left of the fairway, and he didn’t hit a single fairway on the front nine. He attributed that to hitting the ball straighter, which is something he’s not used to doing.

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith admitted sleeping on the lead of the biggest tournament available to him might be a problem.

''I can't say, 'Oh, it won't bother me.' But to me, it's fun,'' Smith said after shooting a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.

''To see my name on the board out there, it's not like I'm blind to the leaderboard, that was cool,'' said Smith, who is playing in his fourth Senior PGA and third at Harbor Shores - where he has made the 36-hole cut the previous two times.

''All my members are taking pictures and I know at home my members are pulling up that screen and like I tell them, going to the middle and looking down. So it probably took them a while to find my name today."

Petrovic, who was among the leaders in the Regions Tradition last week before a poor final round, said it was a little bit of a surprise when he heard Smith was at 7 under through 17 holes.

''There was a little bit of buzz, we were talking about it,'' he said. ''I heard somebody say 7 under and I said 'who is it? And we looked up, but we didn't know who the player was. In a tournament like this, you know how it is, there's always one guy, one smart-alec that shoots 7, 8 under in the first round.''

Smith, who birdied five consecutive holes starting at the seventh, played college golf at UCLA and knocked around the mini tours and South Africa for several years without ever gaining his tour card. He was college teammates with some of the players in the field, including Corey Pavin, Duffy Waldorf and Steve Pate, but said he no longer seeks the tour life.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


''It's just not me anymore,'' he said. ''So that's why maybe I do have an advantage this week because it's just fun to me. It's like my wife said - just enjoy the ride.''

Petrovic had seven birdies in his round while McCarron and Lonard played bogey-free rounds. Short holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par 4 12th and made eagle on the par 5 ninth hole, his last hole of the day.

McCarron is the only one of the six leaders with a major on his resume. He won the Senior Players Championship last year, and played The Players Championship recently.

''It was a lot of fun being on that stage, of course being at The Players with the best players in the world playing one of the best golf courses in the world,'' he said. ''I think the preparation there and just being on that stage helped me going into last week in Alabama, and certainly this week.''

The top two money winners on the PGA Tour Champions are not in Benton Harbor. Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.

Paul Goydos, a five-time senior winner including the 2016 Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and Chris Williams of South Africa shot 67. Joe Durant, David Toms, Kenny Perry, Jerry Pate and Fred Funk were among 15 players at 68.

Colin Montgomerie, who won the first of consecutive Senior PGA titles here in 2014, shot 69, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off a win last week in the first major of the year at the Regions Tradition, opened with a 70.