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The story behind Spieth's 'Go get that' line to Greller

By Doug FergusonDecember 26, 2017, 6:15 pm

With three words, Jordan Spieth delivered a British Open moment as memorable as the 50-foot eagle putt that prompted his famous line.

''Go get that.''

He was telling Michael Greller to get his ball from the cup as Spieth stood to the side of the 15th green, still soaking up the significance of such a long eagle putt that restored his lead with three holes to play.

And there's a story behind it.

The reaction, while entirely spontaneous, might not have happened except for Spieth being in the makeshift gym all week at Royal Birkdale.

''I had been watching replays of the Open in the gym,'' Spieth said. ''There was a TV in there, and they were playing old Opens. For whatever reason, it intrigued me earlier in the week that the guys, when they made putts, they never went and picked their ball out of the hole. The caddie went and got it on long putts. And I guess that stuck in my head: 'You don't have to pick the ball out of the hole. Michael can go get it.'''

There was more to the moment, of course.

Two holes earlier, Spieth missed the 13th fairway so far to the right that it hit a spectator in the head and caromed into the dunes. When he found it, he realized the driving range was not out of bounds, took a drop, had to take relief from the equipment truck and sent Greller toward the green to scout out the shot. The whole process took some 20 minutes as Matt Kuchar waited at the green.

On the 15th hole, he was in a bunker in two and blasted out to about 6 feet, and then Spieth made his 50-foot eagle putt.

''Michael, when I looked over, he's laughing,'' Spieth said. ''For whatever reason, I didn't want to walk all the way up there. It was pretty far away. He started to walk toward the bag, but I was already walking toward the bag and I was really intense at that point. 'Michael, go get that!'

''It was half being serious, like: 'Go get it quickly because Kuch still needs to putt and we don't need to drag this on. I've already been in his way too much the last couple of holes. Let's not do that anymore.' And it was half intense - 'Pick that ball out of the hole.'''

Either way, Greller went and got it. Spieth added two birdies and his name was etched into the silver claret jug.


MASTERS UPDATE: Some of the best mail during the holidays is a simple white envelope from Augusta National, officially extending invitations to those who have met criteria for the Masters (and for past major champions no longer exempt who will be honorary invitees).

At the end of the year, 80 players already were eligible and expected to compete, a list that includes (for now) Tiger Woods.

That's two fewer than at this time a year ago, increasing the odds that the Masters again will meet its target of having fewer than 100 players at Augusta National the first full week in April. Having a small field is important to the club. The Masters has not had more than 100 players since 1966.

One spot awarded next month is reserved for the Latin American Amateur champion. No more than 13 spots will be available for winners of PGA Tour events (except for the new Dominican Republic event held opposite the Match Play). One of those is at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where all but seven players at Kapalua already are exempt.

There also is one more chance for players to qualify by being among the top 50 in the world on March 25.


TOUR LEVELS: Kevin Kisner has learned all about the different levels of the PGA Tour based on performance.

It starts with getting a PGA Tour card, a big deal until players realize they are limited in where they can play. Kisner didn't play a tournament with guaranteed money and no cut until two years ago at the Bridgestone Invitational.

The next stage is keeping a full tour card, followed by winning.

At the close of a year that saw him win Colonial for his second PGA Tour title and make his first U.S. team at the Presidents Cup, Kisner noticed something else about his change in fortunes.

''The tournaments I play now, I don't even see half the guys I used to see all the time,'' he said.

There's also the case of Scott Brown, one of his best friends who grew up with Kisner in Aiken, South Carolina, and is a member with him at Palmetto Golf Club.

''It's almost three levels of the tour,'' he said. ''But that's fine. It's part of it.''

Brown was a rookie in 2012, and Kisner had returned for a second season on the PGA Tour after losing his card. They played 23 of the same 24 events that year, the difference being Brown played the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook and Kisner played the Houston Open.

Fast forward five years, and Brown played 32 times in 2017. Kisner was only in 17 of those tournaments. The seven tournaments Kisner played that Brown didn't were three majors (Masters, U.S. Open and British Open), three World Golf Championships and the Tour Championship.

Kisner doesn't play the tournaments he did in 2012. He builds his schedule around the big events.

''Any time you move up in the world ranking, you change your schedule and your outlook,'' Kisner said. ''You start working around majors and World Golf Championships instead of playing every tournament you want to play.''


WORLD RANKING: Only one award is given for the Official World Golf Ranking, and Dustin Johnson earned that three months ago. He will be presented next year with the Mark H. McCormack trophy for most PGA Tour events in a calendar year.

But to look only at ranking points earned in 2017, it was tight at the top.

Jordan Spieth earned 450.43 points, finishing one-third of a point ahead of Johnson (450.12). PGA Tour player of the year Justin Thomas kept it even closer by earning 446.43 points. They were followed by Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.

The other players in the top 10 were Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood.


TALE OF TWO YEARS: Kevin Chappell won his first PGA Tour title this year at the Texas Open, sending him to Kapalua for the first time.

But was it his best year? Better than last year?

''Good question,'' Chappell said. ''I won this year, but I didn't have as many chances.''

A year ago, Chappell was runner-up three times, losing in a playoff at the Tour Championship (won by Rory McIlroy) and to a birdie-par finish by Jason Day at Bay Hill. He had seven top 10s, was No. 8 in the FedEx Cup and finished the year at No. 32 in the world.

The Texas Open was his only serious chance to win this year. He finished at No. 27 in the FedEx Cup and ends the year at No. 34.

Chappell attributed the difference to some back issues and untimely illnesses that kept him from getting any momentum.

What made this year memorable was playing on his first Presidents Cup team. He earned the 10th and final spot by 0.073 points over Charley Hoffman, and went 1-1-1 in a resounding victory at Liberty National.

And he won't be waiting until the January to get started on a new year. He leaves for Maui right after Christmas.


DIVOTS: Twenty players who began 2017 outside the top 50 finished the year in the top 50. The biggest jump belonged to Patrick Cantlay, who had been out of golf for nearly three years and started at No. 1,866. He ended the year at No. 38. ... Tiger Woods ends the year at No. 656 in the world, just four spots lower than he began in 2017. He played seven rounds of golf and had a missed cut, a withdrawal and a tie for ninth in the 18-man field at the Hero World Challenge. ... Dustin Johnson has to keep his No. 1 ranking for seven weeks to start 2018 to become only the fifth player to hold the No. 1 ranking for an entire year.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Jason Day and Rory McIlroy ended last year at No. 1 and No. 2 in the world. Neither won a tournament and ended this year out of the top 10.


FINAL WORD: ''I know I'm constantly going to get reminded of what I did last year versus this year and whether it's better or whether it's worse. I think the hardest part is going to be staying in the moment and recognizing that it's a new year. It's a new opportunity for great things.'' - Justin Thomas.


Note: Ferguson is the golf writer for The Associated Press.

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Ko part of 5-way tie for Mediheal lead

By Associated PressApril 27, 2018, 3:20 am

DALY CITY, Calif. - Lydia Ko was back on top at Lake Merced.

Ko shot a 4-under 68 on a chilly Thursday morning at the LPGA Mediheal Championship for a share of the first-round lead. Jessica Korda, Caroline Hedwall, In-Kyung Kim and Su Oh joined Ko atop the leaderboard in the LPGA's return to Lake Merced after a year away.

''This is a golf course where you need to drive the ball well and putt well,'' said Ko, the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic winner at the course in 2014 and 2015.

Ko eagled the par-5 fifth and had four birdies and a bogey. The New Zealander has 14 LPGA wins, the last in July 2016.

''It's nice to come back to a place where you feel super-welcomed,'' Ko said. ''It just brings back a lot of great memories. ... My family and friends are here this week, so I'm hoping that I'm going to continue the solid play.''

She turned 21 on Tuesday.

''I don't think I feel a huge difference, but I know turning 21 is a huge thing in the U.S.,'' Ko said, ''So, I'm legal and I can do some fun things now.''

Korda, playing alongside Kim a group ahead of Ko, also eagled the fifth and had four birdies and a bogey. Korda won in Thailand in February in her return from reconstructive jaw surgery.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


''The score says one thing and my hands say another,'' Korda said. ''It was really cold out there today, so it was good that I stuck to kind of my process. ... Actually, this is still some of the nicer conditions that we've played in compared to the past. I'll take the cold as long as there's no rain.''

Hedwall and Kim each had five birdies and a bogey.

''I just love the city. It's really nice,'' said Hedwall, from Sweden. ''It's sort of a European-style city with all the shopping going on downtown and stuff. I love it here. I even like this weather, suits me really well, too.''

Oh had a bogey-free round. The Australian was the only one of the five players tied for the lead to play in the afternoon.

''It was cold and pretty windy out there and, because it's got a lot of elevation, it kind of swirls in the middle like in the low areas, so it was tough,'' Oh said. ''I hit the ball really solid today. Then the ones I missed, I made really good up-and-downs.''

Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull and Celine Herbin shot 69.

''This course is very challenging, especially when the wind picks up,'' the third-ranked Thompson said. ''It's chilly, so it's a little longer of a course. Some of the par 5s are reachable, so you try to take advantage of that, but pars were good and just take the birdie chances as you can get them.''

Moriya Jutanugarn, the winner Sunday in Los Angeles for her first LPGA title, had a 71 playing with former Stanford student Michelle Wie and ANA Inspiration winner Pernilla Lindberg. Wie had a 74, and Lindberg shot 79. Ariya Jutanugarn matched her sister with a 71, playing in the group with Ko.

Top-ranked Inbee Park matched playing partner Brooke Henderson with a 72. The third member of the afternoon group, second-ranked Shanshan Feng, shot 73.

Juli Inkster shot 72. The 57-year-old Hall of Famer grew up in Santz Cruz, starred at San Jose State and lives in Los Altos. She won the last of her 31 LPGA titles in 2006.

Stacy Lewis had a 74 after announcing that she is pregnant with a due date of Nov. 3. She plans to play through the Marathon Classic in July and return for a full season next year.

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Glover, Reavie share Zurich lead with Chinese pair

By Associated PressApril 27, 2018, 3:04 am

AVONDALE, La. - Chez Reavie had quite a few good moments at TPC Louisiana on Thursday. So did teammate Lucas Glover.

In best-ball format, the most important thing was those moments came on different holes.

Reavie and Glover teamed to shoot a 12-under 60 for a share of the Zurich Classic lead with China's Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng.

''Chez started well and I picked it up in the middle of the back nine,'' Glover said. ''He closed it off and then we both played really well on the front. Just kind of ham and egged it, I guess, as they would say.''

Reavie and Glover each had six birdies in the best-ball format, pushing through soggy weather early in the round before conditions cleared at TPC Louisiana. Six teams are two shots back in a tie for third after shooting 62.

''We were just rolling,'' Reavie said. ''I think we're comfortable. We like to laugh and have a good time when we're playing golf, and it definitely helps.''

Zhang and Dou birdied four of their final five holes. Dou made a 31-foot putt on No. 9 to cap the impressive rally and jump into the lead with Reavie and Glover.


Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


Tony Finau-Daniel Summerhays, Chris Paisley-Tommy Fleetwood, J.J. Henry-Tom Hoge, Michael Kim-Andrew Putnam, Kevin Kisner-Scott Brown and Troy Merritt-Brendon de Jonge shot 62. Jason Day and Ryan Ruffels shot 64.

It's the first time since last year's Tour Championship that the reigning champs of all four majors have been in the same field. None of them were among the leaders after the first round.

Masters champion Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay had a 65, and British Open winner Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer were at 66.

''I didn't feel like there was really any rust,'' Reed said. ''I felt like I hit the ball all right today. I felt I hit some good quality putts. A couple of them went in, a couple of them didn't.''

This is the second year that two-player teams have competed at the Zurich Classic. The unusual tournament features best-ball play in the first and third rounds and alternate shot in the second and final rounds.

U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Marc Turnesa shot a 67. PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and Bud Cauley shot a 70.

There are 80 teams in the tournament and the top 35, along with ties, will make the cut after Friday's second round.

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Lewis says she's expecting first child in November

By Randall MellApril 27, 2018, 2:18 am

Stacy Lewis is pregnant.

The 12-time LPGA winner confirmed after Thursday’s first round of the Mediheal Championship that she and her husband, University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell, are expecting their first child on Nov. 3.

Lewis learned she was pregnant after returning home to Houston in late February following her withdrawal from the HSBC Women’s World Championship with a strained oblique muscle.

“We're obviously really excited,” Lewis said. “It wasn't nice I was hurt, but it was nice that I was home when I found out with [Gerrod]. We're just really excited to start a family.”

Lewis is the third big-name LPGA player preparing this year to become a mother for the first time. Suzann Pettersen announced last month that she’s pregnant, due in the fall. Gerina Piller is due any day.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


Piller’s husband, PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, withdrew from the Zurich Classic on Thursday to be with her. Piller and Lewis have been U.S. Solheim Cup partners the last two times the event has been played.

“It's going to be fun raising kids together,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, they're best friends and they hang out. But just excited about the next few months and what it's going to bring.”

Lewis, a former Rolex world No. 1 and two-time major championship winner, plans to play through the middle of July, with the Marathon Classic her last event of the year. She will be looking to return for the start of the 2019 season. The LPGA’s maternity leave policy allows her to come back next year with her status intact.

“This year, the golf might not be great, but I've got better things coming in my life than a golf score.” Lewis said. “I plan on coming back and traveling on the road with the baby, and we'll figure it out as we go.”

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Coach scores in NFL Draft and on golf course

By Grill Room TeamApril 27, 2018, 1:47 am

To say that Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had a good day Thursday would be an understatement. Not only did his team snag one of the top defensive players in the NFL Draft - Georgia outside linebacker Roquan Smith, who the Bears took with the eighth pick of the first round - but earlier in the day Fangio, 59, made a hole-in-one, sinking a 9-iron shot from 125 yards at The Club at Strawberry Creek in Kenosha, Wis.

Perhaps the ace isn't so surprising, though. In late May 2017, Fangio made another hole-in-one, according to a tweet from the Bears. The only information supplied on that one was the distance - 116 yards.