Downey Wins on Futures Tour

By Futures Tour MediaJune 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourLIMA, Ohio -- After four missed cuts in five tournaments, rookie Danielle Downey wondered if she was good enough to play on the Futures Golf Tour. Or skilled enough to call herself a professional.
The highest she had finished as a pro during the first five tournaments of her inaugural professional season was a tie for 57th. That was a far cry from the days when she won the New York State Amateur Championship three times, or when she won three college tournaments and posted three top-six individual finishes at the NCAA Women's Golf Championship.
'Just last week, I was questioning whether I belonged with all of these players out here,' said Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., a three-time All-American at Auburn University. 'At every level, you look back and see what you've accomplished, but none of it means anything to anyone out here.'
But a little of her history stepped into her future today when Downey became the first American to win this season after eight Futures Tour tournaments. She simultaneously claimed her first win and first top-10 finish at the $65,000 Lima Memorial Hospital Futures Classic at Lost Creek Country Club.
And she charged onto the leader board in dramatic fashion today in the rain-shortened event. Downey birdied the first hole and played her front nine at 1-under 34, making the turn at 2-under par. Then she stepped up to the 10th tee -- one of the most challenging holes on the course -- choked down a 3-iron and knocked her 186-yard, uphill tee shot into the cup of the par-3 hole for an ace. That one shot tied her for the lead at four under par.
'I just wanted to hit the green,' said Downey. 'I didn't see it go in. Then I heard everybody scream.'
But Downey wasn't finished. She rattled in three more birdies on the back nine, including a 60-foot slam-dunk on the 18th green from the front fringe. It was an exclamation point at the end of her career-low professional round. Downey fired a final-round 65 to finish the week at 7-under-par 135, on the par-71, 5,897-yard course. This year's event, presented by WLIO/NBC and the WB, was looking for a new winner in its 11th staging.
'It's a great finish for her and she had a magical day,' said former Auburn teammate Celeste Troche of Asuncion, Paraguay, who carded her own final-round 68 and tied for second at 137 (-5) with Marcela Leon of Monterrey, Mexico and non-exempt LPGA Tour member Kim Augusta of Rumford, R.I. Leon posted a career-low round of 66, while Augusta came in with a final-round 67.
Lost Creek Country Club took a beating earlier in the week when heavy rains pounded the course Friday morning, then added a total of 2 1/2 inches of rain by Saturday morning. With creeks on the course causing flash floods and floodwaters turning at least three holes into lakes, Saturday's second round was canceled, shortening the 54-hole tournament to 36 holes.
Tournament organizers were concerned when today's forecast called for more afternoon rain. Friday's first round wasn't completed until this morning. Once 30 players finished Round One, an 18-hole cut was made at 74 (+3). Seventy-one players of the 144-player field went back out on a sunny day that made Saturday's washout only a distant memory. Players were on the highways by the time another storm ripped through the area around 7:30 p.m., dumping more rain on an already saturated golf course.
'I'm so glad we finished,' said Augusta, who used 24 putts to post her season-best finish for second place. 'It was a week of patience. We can't control the weather, so you just have to make the best of it, hang in there and see what happens.'
Prior to her arrival in Ohio this week, Downey traveled home to the Rochester area and worked with her pro, John Hoecker, for three days. She turned a nasty hook into a fade, and resurrected her confidence coming into this week. Most of all, she listened to her sister Erica Downey, who suggested that Danielle try treating Futures Tour events like the NCAA Championship.
'She really opened my eyes when she asked me why I had been such a good post-season player in college,' said Downey. 'So I came out here this week pretending this was the national championship.'
That strategy and her resulting win didn't surprise Kim Evans, her former coach at Auburn University.
'It's just a matter of her getting into the groove,' said Evans of her former college player. 'She always got up for big tournaments and she has the capability of going low. One thing I've seen is if Danielle ever gets into the hunt, she'll win.'
Downey won the Southeast Conference Championship her freshman year and beat current LPGA Tour player Beth Bauer of Duke University twice for two other collegiate titles that first season. Her coaches always knew she had the goods to win. Her teammates always knew they could depend on Downey to hold up her spot on the team.
'I played with her for four years and never trusted anybody any more than Danielle on the golf course,' said former teammate, Troche, playing in her second season.
That's also why former Auburn University assistant coach Shannon Hanson, who was playing alongside her former player in today's final round, smiled as her group climbed the stairs to the 18th tee box. She told Downey to take a deep breath and enjoy her final hole.
'Danielle was solid and she handled her game very well,' said Hanson, who finished tied for 22nd. 'I wasn't even in the hunt, so of course, I was cheering for her.'
Maybe now, Downey can cheer a little for herself. Maybe those two winning games of 215 that she bowled against friends during Saturday's washout, or the $500 she collected for her first professional hole-in-one, or the $9,100 winner's paycheck now in her hands are the validation she needs to know that she's a winner.
Or the confirmation she has waited for that a new chapter of her professional journey has finally begun.
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U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

Singles results

Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up


TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.


-NBC Sports Group-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.

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Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.