Stat attack!: Frys.com Open review

By John AntoniniOctober 13, 2014, 2:43 am

Sang-Moon Bae wasn't at his best on the PGA Tour in 2013-14. The 28-year-old South Korean made just 13 cuts in 24 starts and finished no better than T-12 at the Northern Trust Open. He needed a T-14 finish at the Wyndham Championship just to qualify for the PGA Tour Playoffs, and finished 122nd on the FedEx Cup standings. 

It’s not the type of season he envisioned after winning the 2013 HP Byron Nelson Championship. Bae was one of seven players who won in 2013 only to fall completely off Tour leaderboards last season, finishing the year without any top 10s. He doesn’t have to worry about a repeat performance this year.

Despite a final-round 73 at Silverado Resort & Spa’s North Course, Bae held on for a two-stroke victory in the PGA Tour’s 2014-15 season-opening Frys.com Open. He shot 15-under 273 to beat Stephen Bowditch by two strokes and take the very early lead in the FedEx Cup standings. We’ll see how important that is in a moment. But first, here are the other 2013 winners who stumbled last season. You’ll certainly remember one of them.

2013 PGA Tour winners with no top 10s in 2013-14

 Player 2013 wins 2013-14 starts Best 2013-14 Frys.com result
 Woody Austin Sanderson Farms 22 T-13 Hyundai T of C DNP
 Sang-Moon Bae  Byron Nelson 24 T-12 Northern Trust Won
 Ken Duke Travelers 25 T-15 Las Vegas MC
 Derek Ernst Wells Fargo 28 T-27 Barracuda T-57
 John Merrick Northern Trust 25 T-19 Phoenix MC
 D.A. Points Shell Houston 27 T-18 Wyndham MC
 Tiger Woods Shell Houston 7 T-25 WGC-Cadillac DNP

A strong start leads to a solid finish

Bae’s victory in northern California could be a harbinger of good things for 2015. Seven off the previous eight winners of the PGA Tour’s season-opening event in the FedEx Cup era would finish in the top 30 on the money list and qualify for the Tour Championship. Only Daniel Chopra, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner in 2008, failed to reach those standards.

Bae, who qualifies for the Hyundai T of C, the PGA Championship and very likely the Masters as a result of Sunday’s win, is almost assured of having a career-best season. The third-year player was 96th on the FedEx Cup standings in 2013 when he won outside Dallas.

Season-ending points and money ranks by the winner of the PGA Tour’s first event

 Year Winner Reg. season FedEx rank Final FedEx rank Final money rank
 2014 Jimmy Walker 2 7 4
 2013 Dustin Johnson 16 13 19
 2012 Steve Stricker 10 20 18
 2011 Jonathan Byrd 24 27 22
 2010 Geoff Ogilvy 39 14 29
 2009 Geoff Ogilvy 8 13 8
 2008 Daniel Chopra 40 102 52
 2007 Vijay Singh 2 10 3

Presidential dreams

We’re still a year away from the 2015 Presidents Cup, but Bae’s win should get him prime consideration for selection to the International team, even if he doesn’t make the squad on merit. The tournament will be held in his homeland of South Korea and a host country has never had a player on the team.

What’s more, since the Presidents Cup began, only one International winner has failed to make the team after winning an event prior to the Cup being held in his homeland. That was Rory Sabbatini, who won the 2003 FBR Capital Open, yet didn’t get play in the Presidents Cup when it was held at the Links at Fancourt in South Africa that fall. (Although Stephen Ames won the 2007 Children’s Miracle Network Classic, he can hardly be faulted for not making the Presidents Cup in Canada that year. The Cup was held about two months before he won at Disney that fall.)

PGA Tour winners playing the Presidents Cup in their homeland

 Year Country Home players who made the team
(bold indicates tournament winner that year)
 2011 Australia Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott
 2007 Canada Mike Weir
 2003 South Africa Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tim Clark
 1998 Australia Stuart Appleby, Steve Elkington, Greg Norman, Craig Parry

Auspicious starts

PGA Tour rookie Zachary Blair had a first-hand look at Bae’s victory Sunday, as the 24-year-old Utahan was paired with the South Korean in the final group in the final round. The day didn’t go well for Blair, who shot 74 to fall to T-12, still not a bad week for the player making his second PGA Tour appearance after a T-40 debut at the 2014 U.S. Open.

The $117,600 Blair won will go a long way toward paying for his November wedding to Alicia Watkins. The couple was scheduled to wed in October, but their plans were changed when Blair surprised even himself by qualifying for the PGA Tour via the Web.com Tour Finals Series.

He was one of seven rookies making his first or second Tour appearance at the Frys.com Open. Three of them made the cut, including Byron Smith, who began the week as the third alternate and got into the field when Alex Prugh withdrew.   

Frys.com finish of players making their first or second start on Tour

 Player Previous starts Frys finish
 Whee Kim 0 MC
 Byron Smith 0 T-19
 Daniel Berger 1 MC
 Zachary Blair 1 T-12
 Tom Hoge 1 MC
 Carlos Ortiz 1 T-57
 Zack Sucher 1 MC

Silverado success

The Johnny Miller-redesigned North Course at Silverado Resort & Spa made a successful return to the PGA Tour. The par-72 venue played to a scoring average of 71.704, slightly harder that CordeValle did a year ago (-0.296 to -0.650). It was the eighth-toughest course the PGA Tour has used in the Fall Series since the format began in 2007.

At Silverado, just 56.44 percent of drives found the fairway, which would have ranked 12th on Tour in 2014. Its greens in regulation percentage was 66.14 percent, which would have been 32nd among the courses used a year ago. 

Toughest Fall Series courses: 2007-2014

 Course Tournament Scoring average to par
 Atunyote GC 2008 Turning Stone +0.968
 Conservatory Course 2008 Ginn Sur Mer +0.956
 Seaside Course 2013 McGladrey +0.255
 CordeValle  2010 Frys.Com +0.010
Annandale GC 2007 Viking  -0.020
Kuala Lumpur G&CC 2013 CIMB  -0.035
Annandale GC 2010 Viking -0.041
Silverado North 2014 Frys.com -0.296
Seaside Course 2011 McGladrey -0.429
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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”