Slocum wins at Sea Island

By Doug FergusonOctober 11, 2010, 2:08 am

PGA Tour (75x100)

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Heath Slocum values winning against anybody, anywhere, on any tour.

He was tied for the lead Sunday in the McGladrey Classic, his ball just off the back of the 16th green, 60 feet from the hole. As he circled the green to study the putt from every direction, it suddenly reminded him of another big putt he had made in his career.

Only it wasn’t the putt most people would have guessed.

The guy who a year ago made a birdie on the last hole to beat Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker at The Barclays was thinking about a putt he made nine years ago on the Nationwide Tour when he won the Greater Cleveland OpenBill Haas.

“It’s funny how you remember good shots,” Slocum said. “I guess that was a while ago, but that was one that’s forever etched in my mind, just because it was my very first win.”

Slocum won for the fourth time on the PGA Tour, and it felt just as good as the others. The field at Sea Island wasn’t nearly as strong as it was last year in a FedEx Cup playoff event. The stakes weren’t as high. And when his challengers faded on the final few holes, there wasn’t nearly as much drama.

“Every win, regardless of the field … trust me, I went out there today wanting to win just as badly as I did at The Barclays,” he said. “The only difference is the attention – the people that are there, the media. That was New Jersey, with New York right there, and this is Sea Island. But they’re both fantastic.

“Any tournament you enter, you want to win. And when you do, there’s just no other feeling like it.”

Slocum was in a three-way tie for the lead in the final hour of the inaugural tournament, having led by three shots on the front nine. First, Robert Allenby blocked his tee shot into the hazard on the 18th hole and took double bogey. Then, David Toms three-putted from just inside 15 feet on the 16th hole in the group ahead of Slocum.

Slocum suddenly had a two-shot lead, allowing him a cautious bogey on the final hole to finish at 14-under 266.

He earned $720,000, which moved him to No. 29 on the PGA Tour money list with one tournament left on his schedule. The top 30 earn invitations to the Masters.

Haas, who won last week at the Viking Classic for his second victory this year, all but locked up his return to Augusta National. He drilled an approach on the par-5 15th to 10 feet for eagle to give himself a shot at back-to-back wins. The runner-up finish was worth $432,000, which moved him to No. 18 on the money list.

Most of the players in the top 30 are not playing much this time of the year, and it’s unlikely Haas will be knocked out of the top 30.

Matt Kuchar closed with a 68, which should be enough to wrap up the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. He has just over $4.9 million to lead the money list. If that stands, it will be the lowest amount to win the PGA Tour money title since David Duval ($2.5 million) in 1998, the year before the tour’s series of big TV contracts began.

Allenby (66), Toms (68) and Arjun Atwal (66) tied for third at 12-under 268.

Charles Howell IIIBo Van Pelt, who needed a birdie on the last hole to catch the leaders and drove into the water for double bogey. Van Pelt closed with a 66.

Joe Durant, who started one shot out of the lead, closed with an even-par 70 and tied for sixth. That still was enough to move the 46-year-old Durant from No. 131 to No. 115 on the money list with three tournaments left in the season.

PGA Tour rookie Troy Merritt was No. 123 on the list and played in the final group with Slocum. He was out of sorts from the start, however, shot 41 on the front nine and didn’t make a birdie until the 14th hole. Merritt shot a 75 and dropped three spots on the money list.

Slocum’s formula was to hit fairways and greens, then make enough putts to keep his nose in front. That worked to near perfection on the front nine when he made four birdies in a five-hole stretch, three of them from 8 feet and the longest from 12 feet.

He was three shots clear and looked to be in control when his approach cleared a mound by the bunker on the ninth hole and rolled toward the flag, only to funnel down to a deep swale behind the green. That led to his first bogey, and Slocum dropped another shot on the 12th hole when he came up well short on the par 3 and failed to get up-and-down.

Right when it looked as though his birdie chances were running out, he rolled in the biggest putt of the way, throwing his arms in the air in mild surprise and great relief.

“That’s the tournament winner,” he said. “You could three-putt just as easily, for sure more times than you’re going to make it. When that went in, that was huge. I was glad to see that go in.”

Tournament host Davis Love III shot 72 and tied for 33rd.

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow-play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow-play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow-play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin:

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Azinger 'lobbied' to captain Ryder Cup team a second time

By Rex HoggardOctober 22, 2018, 1:47 pm

In 2008, Paul Azinger became the first U.S. Ryder Cup captain in nearly a decade to lead a team to victory, doing so at Valhalla with his innovative “pod” system and a player-driven approach to leadership.

In the wake of that victory there were many, including the vast majority of his players, who said Azinger deserved a second chance to captain, but at the time the 12-time PGA Tour winner appeared to be undecided and the PGA of America named Corey Pavin the 2010 captain.

On Monday, Azinger was named NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst starting next year and among many revelations during an extended interview on “Morning Drive” he explained how much he wanted a second chance to captain.

“I wanted to do it again, I lobbied to do it again after we won in ’08, but I think I waited a little too long and they had already made a decision,” Azinger said. “The excuse I got was that there are more captains than there are Ryder Cups and I thought that was fair, but then they asked [Tom] Watson to do it again shortly afterward and I was like, ‘What, huh?’”

Watson was named captain of the 2014 U.S. team, which lost by five points and led to the creation of the Ryder Cup task force, which adopted many of Azinger’s ideas including his use of four-player pods.

It’s even more curious that Azinger was never given a second chance considering that Davis Love III was also named a captain twice, first in 2012 and again in ’16.

“I didn’t do it again, I didn’t carry the flag to Europe in 2010, which is fine, and now I’m never going to get to do it again,” he said.

As for who may be named the next U.S. captain after another loss to the Europeans last month in France Azinger could only speculate. “Looks like Wisconsin [site of the 2020 matches at Whistling Straits] and Steve Stricker are going to be a perfect match,” he said.