Pavins Major 4-Wood Defines His Career

By George WhiteJune 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
Corey Pavin has had a career full of great shots. Remember the 8-iron hole-out for eagle on the 72nd hole which led to a playoff victory at the 1992 Honda Classic? How about the 18-foot chip-in for birdie to defeat Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer in the 95 Ryder Cup? A 140-yard hole-out in the 93 Ryder Cup, or the 40-foot chip-in to win a playoff at the 1991 Bob Hope?

None is as synonymous with Pavin, though, as the 228-yard 4-wood he hit to the 18th hole of the 1995 U.S. Open. The 4-wood and Shinnecock are forever united in Open history, Pavin winning the tournament after a tense fourth round which saw several players have a chance to bring home the championship.

Pavin will play again at Shinnecock in the Open this year. But regardless of what he does, he will never hit a more critical shot in his career. It was the shot that defines his golfing life, a perfect strike hit under the most crucial circumstances imaginable.

Pavin hadnt played well to start the tournament. On the very first hole, he had driven the ball into an unplayable lie and took bogey. And on the third hole he bogeyed again, leaving him at 2 over going to the fourth ' a par-5 that was playing into a stiff breeze.

But that was where the funny stuff ceased. Pavin holed a 9-iron for eagle on the par-5 and managed to escape the day without further incident. And after the round, he uncharacteristically pounded balls trying to decipher why he had hit it so poorly. And he found an answer.

I discovered I was taking the club too outside on the takeaway, he said. So I made an adjustment and started moving it slightly inside, making a better turn on the ball. The rest of the week, I just concentrated on those two swing thoughts and I hit it much better.

Pavin slogged through Friday and Saturday in lockstep with the field. It was Greg Normans tournament, then Tom Lehmans, with a maybe thrown the way of Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson or Bob Tway. At the end of the third round, Lehman and Norman were tied for the lead, three shots ahead of Pavin, who was lying low without fanfare all week long.

No one interviewed me and I was not asked into the press room (Saturday), said Pavin. I was thinking, Gee, only three shots back and only four players to pass, and no one wants to talk to me.'

Shinnecock was a brutal foe that week. As the final round began, Pavin was 2 over. Player after player clung on by their fingernails, forgetting birdie and just trying to make par. Sunday was a lesson in patience ' pure patience.

I wanted to play smart golf, said Pavin. If I missed the green, at least I tried to miss it below the cup to give me an easier chip.

And on Sunday, I executed it better than any other round. I dont recall how many greens I hit, but I never put myself in a position to give me a difficult up-and-down.

He finally wrested away the lead on the 15th hole with a medium range birdie putt. Now he got nervous. Thats when I knew I was in the drivers seat for the first time, said Pavin. I had been chasing the leaders the entire week up to that point. I felt if I parred the last three holes, Id have a good chance to win.

The 17th hole was very nearly Pavins downfall. He had to make a crucial 6-footer for par, and his saving putt went right in the heart. It was more important than the 4-wood shot on 18, he said. That par save kept him ahead of Norman and Lehman, playing behind him.

And then, he was at 18, a 450-yard uphill par-4. By now he was two shots ahead of the field. Pavin could afford to hit his tee shot conservatively, concentrating on just getting it in the fairway.

This was before titanium drivers and souped-up balls were in full bloom. Pavins poke to the uphill fairway traveled about 230 yards, well short of the dogleg-left. If he were to reach the green with his next shot, he would have to do it with the 4-wood.

Between him and the hole was a huge expanse of rough and three bunkers. He would have to hit his shot into a right-to-left wind, carry the rough and two of the bunkers, and land the ball in a narrow opening to reach the pin cut on the far left side of the green.

Pavin considered hitting a 2-iron. He weighed the pros and cons, finally committing to the 4-wood.

It never did bother me, hitting the 4-wood instead of the 2-iron, he said. Ive hit a lot of fairway woods in my life. Lots of times, I can get a 4-wood closer than a 2-iron.

So the wood it was. He took an unusually long time before he hit, weighing all the possibilities of the 72nd hole in a U.S. Open.

It was a longish 4-wood for me ' 220 was usually my distance with that club, explained Pavin. And it was uphill. But, I was pumped up and I didnt think I could go past the hole with the 4-wood. I didnt want to go past the hole and have a tricky downhill putt.

As it turned out, I hit the shot as good as I could. I was trying to hit a hard low drive to keep it out of the wind. When I saw the ball come off the clubface, I knew I hit a good shot. And it certainly was the right club.

At exactly 5:56 p.m., the ball bounced once 10 feet in front of the green and ended up 5 feet from the pin. It was entirely fitting that Pavin, one of the games best putters, would dunk it for birdie. But he grazed the right edge, leaving open the day for a possible miracle finish. Norman had to make birdie on the 18th to tie, and he didnt come close. Pavin became the U.S. Open champion.

Since then, fate hasnt been kind to Pavin. The advances in ball and club technology have slowly left him behind. Long-hitting Hank Kuehne or John Daly would probably play that 228-yard shot today with no more than a 5-iron. Pavin himself averages 12 yards longer in driving distance ' 267 this year compared to 255 in 95, but he has slipped 24 places toward the rear, 183rd this year, 169th in 95.

Length, though, shouldnt be that big a problem says Pavin. When I won at Shinnecock, I read about the course being too long for me ' and I won, he says. I dont feel like theres any course I cannot win on.

Spoken like a true David in an arena full of Goliaths. Corey Pavin, above all, has the heart to make up for what he lacks in distance.

Hes just really competitive in everything he does, says Paul Azinger. Bottom line ' intestinal fortitude. He has tons of it.
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    Trio lead Kia Classic; Davies shoots 82

    By Associated PressMarch 23, 2018, 3:01 am

    CARLSBAD, Calif. - Laura Davies had a nightmare round days after contending for a title at age 54, and Caroline Hedwall, Jackie Stoelting and Hee Young Park topped the Kia Classic leaderboard.

    Davies shot a 10-over 82 on Thursday at rainy Aviara Golf Club - four days after tying for second behind Inbee Park in the Founders Cup, and five days after shooting a 9-under 63 in the Phoenix event.

    Fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg, Davies opened double bogey-bogey-par-bogey. She bogeyed Nos. 9, 10 and 12, had another double on 15 and bogeyed 16. The 82 was the World Golf Hall of Famer's highest score on tour since also shooting 82 in the 2013 Marathon Classic. On Monday, she jumped 208 spots to No. 155 in the world.

    Hedwall, Stoelting and Park shot 66 in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills. Ariya Jutanugarn, also coming off a second-place tie in Phoenix, was a stroke back with 2015 champion Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim and Nicole Broch Larsen.

    Hedwall closed her bogey-free round with birdies on the par-5 eighth and par-4 ninth. The Swede played her final 10 holes in 6 under. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of the damp conditions.

    ''I hit it really well and started making a couple putts in my back nine,'' Hedwall said. ''I'm really happy with how I'm playing and looking forward to the rest of the days.''

    Stoelting finished with a birdie on the par-4 18th. She had seven birdies and a bogey.

    ''I hit a lot of fairways,'' Stoelting said. ''I don't necessarily hit if far, but keeping it in the fairway is super key this week. The rough is much thicker this year than last year.''

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Hee Young Park birdied the final three holes, finishing on No. 9.

    ''The greens are really soft,'' Park said. ''So, easier on the second shot.''

    The 40-year-old Kerr had a bogey-free round.

    ''I like this golf course,'' Kerr said. ''I think it's a tough golf course and you can't fall asleep on any shot. I mean, it's just a really great course. The layout. The rough is high. You got to pay attention. I think that's maybe why I play a little better here than some other places.''

    Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 31 on the front nine.

    ''It's rain today and a little bit windy, but my irons help me a lot,'' Jutanugarn said. ''Just start to make some putts. ... It's pretty tough for me. I always feel like the course here is really hard because the greens really bumpy, and you're not going to hit far here.''

    Lydia Ko and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu topped the group at 68.

    Ko also played her final nine in 31. She missed the cut last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix.

    ''I holed some really good putts on my back nine,'' Ko said. ''I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key.''

    She won the 2016 event at Aviara.

    ''This is a pretty tough golf course,'' Ko said. ''Putting is a huge key around this course where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.''

    Jennifer Song and Jeong Eun Lee also shot 68. Brooke Henderson had a 69, and Lexi Thompson a 70.

    Inbee Park was at 71 with Singapore champion Michelle Wie and 2014 Kia winner Anna Nordqvist. Top-ranked Shanshan Feng had a 72, playing alongside Park. Defending champion Mirim Lee shot 74.

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    With old clubs returned, Kim (and new clubs) starts strong at Kia

    By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 1:53 am

    Almost two months after her golf clubs went missing, the same clubs she used to win last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, In-Kyung Kim was happily reunited with them this week.

    She fetched them and her golf bag two days ago at the Carlsbad, Calif., police department.

    A man bought them as a used set from a sporting goods store in the area, with Kim’s LPGA I.D. still in the golf bag.

    Notably, Kim celebrated with a return to the leaderboard Thursday in the first round of the Kia Classic.

    Kim opened with a 5-under-par 67, though she didn’t use her newly rediscovered clubs. She stayed with the replacement set that she put together after her clubs went missing. Her Women’s British Open clubs never showed up after she got off a plane in Southern California upon her return home from the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic.

    “It was really difficult at first,” Kim said of getting used to her new set of clubs. “I really worked hard, like worked a lot, went to the factory like a dozen times.”

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Kim said she made several visits to the factory folks, trying to get the loft and lies of her new clubs just the way she wanted, close to the configuration that helped her win the Women’s British Open.

    “They were like, `I.K., are you ever happy?’” Kim said.

    Actually, only five of Kim’s “lost” clubs turned up with her golf bag at that sporting goods store. Still, Kim was happy to get three wedges, two hybrids and her golf bag back.

    “It’s kind of good to have a conclusion,” Kim said.

    Kim can thank a “What’s in the bag?” segment with Ladies European Tour TV analyst Alison Whitaker for leading to the retrieval of her clubs. Kim explained to Whitaker how her clubs went missing during the telecast of the HSBC Women’s World Championship three weeks ago.

    A golf fan in the San Diego area saw Golf Channel’s telecast of that segment.

    “One of his friends bought the tour bag,” Kim said. “The other friend knew about my story, and he was like, `No, dude, that's not for selling. It's stolen.’”

    Kim was delighted to meet the men who returned her clubs when she picked them up at the Carlsbad Police Department.

    “Just good for me,” Kim said.

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    Ko (68) off to best start of year at Kia Classic

    By Randall MellMarch 23, 2018, 12:39 am

    Lydia Ko didn’t take long to put last week’s missed cut behind her Thursday at the Kia Classic.

    She got off to her best start of the year.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko finished the day in a tie for eighth, just two shots off the lead at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif.

    “I would say I didn't hit the ball fantastic, but just being able to hole some good birdie putts was key,” Ko said.

    Ko scrambled her way to her low opening round of the year in light rain. She hit just seven of 14 fairways and 11 greens, but only needed 25 putts.

    “This is a pretty tough golf course,” Ko said. ”I think putting is a huge key around this course, where if you do miss a green, making those clutch par putts and then making those birdie opportunities that you get.”

    Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

    Aviara’s poa annua greens have been known to give players fits, but Ko had her flatstick working. After making the turn at 1 over, she made five birdies on her second nine.

    Ko, 20, won at Aviara two years ago but missed the cut there last year.

    “I love Carlsbad,” Ko said “I would say it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s nice to come back to a place where you’ve played well and love the area.”

    Ko, seeking her first victory since July of 2016, has her new coach, Ted Oh, working with her in Carlsbad this week. Oh made the trip to Asia last month, helping Ko to her tie for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. But, she missed the cut in Phoenix last week in her next start.

    “All I can do is try my best,” Ko said. “Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this good momentum going.”

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    Match-by-match: WGC-Dell Technologies, Day 2

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 12:32 am

    Here is how things played out on Day 2 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, as 64 players take on Austin Country Club with hopes of advancing out of pool play. Click here for Day 1 match results:

    Group 1: Adam Hadwin (38) def. Dustin Johnson (1), 4 and 3: After a dominating performance at last year’s Match Play, where he never trailed in any match, Johnson is already mathematically eliminated. He got routed on Thursday by Hadwin, after the Canadian built a 2-up lead at the turn and then poured it on with wins on the 11th and 13th holes.

    Group 1: Kevin Kisner (32) def. Bernd Wiesberger (52), 5 and 4: Kisner made three consecutive birdies midway through the front nine to set the tone, then kept the pressure on Wiesberger, who knocked off DJ on Wednesday, to earn the full point and stay in the mix to advance.

    Group 2: Justin Thomas (2) def. Patton Kizzire (48), 3 and 1: After DJ’s early exit, Thomas now has a clear path to world No. 1, if he can win the Match Play this week. Thomas did his part, improving to 2-0 after taking a 3-up advantage and then making birdie on 16 and 17 to close out Kizzire. That sets up a winner-take-all match against Francesco Molinari on Friday.

    Group 2: Francesco Molinari (21) def. Luke List (60), 3 and 2: Molinari dropped seven birdies on List and won the 13th, 14th and 16th holes to move to 2-0 this week.

    Group 3: Chez Reavie (43) def. Jon Rahm, 1 up: On the verge of surrendering a big lead against Rahm, Reavie’s par on 18 was enough to secure a 1-up victory. He led 3 up with three to go, but Rahm birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to send the match to the last. But there, from just short of the green, Rahm hit his pitch shot well past the flag and couldn’t make birdie. Now 0-1-1, Rahm, last year's finalist, is now eliminated.

    Group 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (28) def. Keegan Bradley (63), 1 up: Bradley once again kicked away a late lead. One day after coughing up a 2-up lead with three to play, he squandered a 1-up lead with three to play against Aphibarnrat. Bradley made bogey on 17, then was stymied behind a tree after his drive on 18. Barnrat rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to improve to 2-0.

    Group 4: Jordan Spieth (4) def. Haotong Li (34), 4 and 2: Spieth held up his end of the deal, winning the fifth hole with a birdie and never trailing from there. He poured it on late with the Chinese star, winning the 13th, 14th and 16th holes. He'll play Reed, his Ryder and Presidents Cup partner, on Friday in a winner-take-all match.

    Group 4: Patrick Reed (19) def. Charl Schwartzel (49), 1 up: In a wild match that saw that only three halved, Reed hung on to defeat Schwartzel, 1 up. Two up with three holes to play, Reed lost the 16th, escaped with a bogey halve on the 17th and then was out of position on the final hole. But he nearly holed his wedge shot, rattling the stick and leaving his ball on the front edge for a conceded birdie and narrow victory.

    Group 5: Cameron Smith (46) def. Hideki Matsuyama (5), 1 up: One down with five to play, Smith won the 14th with a par, then chipped in for birdie on 16 to take a 1-up lead. At 2-0, he’s now in control of the group.

    Group 5: Patrick Cantlay (30) def. Yusaku Miyazato (53), 1 up: In control throughout, Cantlay bogeyed the 17th hole to return the match to all square. On the home hole, he busted a drive to the front-left corner of the green, then made birdie to win and improve to 1-1.

    Group 6: Rory McIlroy (6) def. Jhonattan Vegas (44), 2 and 1: Needing a victory to avoid an early exit, McIlroy won two consecutive holes before the turn and then added a win on 13 to give himself the cushion he needed down the stretch, holing a 6-footer for par on 17 to close out Vegas. McIlroy now has a chance to advance with a victory over Harman on the final day of pool play.

    Group 6: Brian Harman (18) def. Peter Uihlein (57), 4 and 2: Harman never trailed in knocking off Uihlein, who soundly defeated McIlroy on Day 1. With 1 ½ points, Harman is in the driver’s seat, but he needs at least a halve against McIlroy on Friday (and a Uihlein loss) to advance.

    Group 7: Sergio Garcia (7) def. Dylan Frittelli (41), 2 up: All square with six holes to go, Garcia birdied 13, won 14 with a par and then drove the 18th green for a conceded birdie to close out Frittelli, the former Texas Longhorn, and improve to 2-0 this week. He'll play Schauffele in a winner-take-all match on Friday.

    Group 7: Xander Schauffele (20) def. Shubhankar Sharma (62), 3 and 1: Schauffele improved to 2-0 this week by thoroughly handling Sharma, the darling of the recent WGC-Mexico event, never leading by fewer than 2-up on the back nine and playing 3 under.

    Group 8: Jason Dufner (42) def. Jason Day (8), 3 and 1: Dufner took down one of the pre-tournament favorites with a steady closing stretch. Five of his six wins came after Day bogeys, but Dufner turned an all-square match on 14 tee into a 3-and-1 victory.

    Group 8: James Hahn (56) def. Louis Oosthuizen (25), 3 and 1: Hahn jumped all over the South African, winning the first three holes and never holding less than a 2-up lead on the back nine. With his victory, each player in the group has a 1-1 record.

    Group 9: Tommy Fleetwood (9) def. Kevin Chappell (33), 7 and 6: Avenging an opening-day loss, the Englishman won the first four holes and needed to make only three birdies in a monster rout of Chappell. The 2017 Presidents Cupper made five bogeys and conceded two other holes but still has a chance to win the group.  

    Group 9: Ian Poulter (58) def. Daniel Berger (26), 2 and 1: Playing this event for the first time since 2015, Poulter improved to 2-0 on the week with a solid victory over Berger, one of many young American up-and-comers. Using the same putter that he put in play at the epic 2012 Ryder Cup, Poulter won three of the first four holes and never backed down. He is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday. 

    Group 10: Paul Casey (10) def. Kyle Stanley (45), 4 and 2: A winner at the Valspar, Casey stayed hot in Austin, taking a 3-up lead at the turn and improving to 2-0 this week. He needs only a halve on Friday to advance.

    Group 10: Russell Henley (51) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick (31), 2 and 1: Shaking off a narrow loss to Casey on Wednesday, Henley took control of an all-square match by winning the 12th and 14th holes and then rolling in a tricky 25-footer on the 17th green to put away Fitzpatrick. Still alive in pool play, Henley needs to beat Kyle Stanley, and hope Casey loses, to force a playoff.

    Group 11: Bubba Watson (35) def. Marc Leishman (11), 3 and 2: Coming off an impressive opening victory, Watson erased an early deficit, then won Nos. 12-14 to put away Leishman, who is now eliminated. Watson is guaranteed at least a playoff Friday.

    Group 11: Branden Grace (23) def. Julian Suri (64), 2 and 1: After a shaky start, Grace made four birdies over his last 11 holes to knock off the surprise Day 1 winner, Suri, who was the last man into the field. Watson is still in control of the group heading into the final day.

    Group 12: Tyrrell Hatton (12) def. Brendan Steele (36), 3 and 2: All square through 12 holes, the Englishman made four birdies and an eagle over his last eight holes to improve to 2-0 this week. Hatton needs only a halve Friday to advance.

    Group 12: Alexander Levy (55) def. Charley Hoffman (22), 1 up: Levy led from the sixth hole, but Hoffman slowly cut into the deficit and took the Frenchman to the final hole. Levy’s par was enough to notch his first point and stay alive in pool play.  

    Group 13: Alex Noren (13) def. Thomas Pieters (39), 5 and 4: Noren made quick work of Pieters in what could be a match of future Ryder Cup teammates. Noren built a 4-up lead after seven holes and then cruised from there, moving to 2-0 this week and eliminating Pieters. In 30 holes this week, Noren has made 12 birdies and no bogeys.

    Group 13: Tony Finau (29) def. Kevin Na (61), 3 and 2: In a contrast of styles, the powerful Finau birdied the first three holes and never looked back against Na, setting up a battle of unbeatens in a winner-take-all match on Friday.

    Group 14: Phil Mickelson (14) def. Satoshi Kodaira (40), 1 up: Four down through seven holes, Mickelson was on the verge of being eliminated before running off a series of wins, including on 16 and 17 to push the match to the final hole. Then, on 18, he pitched to 8 feet and drained the birdie putt to complete the remarkable comeback.

    Group 14: Charles Howell III (59) def. Rafa Cabrera Bello (17), 3 and 1: After knocking off Mickelson on Day 1, Howell pulled away from Cabrera Bello late, winning the 14th, 15th and 17th holes – only one of which with birdies – to take control of the lead. At 2-0, Howell is assured of at least a playoff.

    Group 15: Webb Simpson (37) def. Pat Perez (15), 3 and 1: Matched up against the fiery Perez, Simpson seized control of the match with wins on the 11th and 12th holes, sank a 20-footer on 15 and then won the 17th after Perez put his tee shot in the hazard. Now 1-0-1, he’ll have a winner-take-all match against Kim on Friday.

    Group 15: Si Woo Kim (50) def. Gary Woodland (24), 5 and 3: Kim won the first hole and never looked back, grabbing a 3-up lead at the turn and leading by as much as 5 up after 12 holes. He is now 2-0. 

    Group 16: Matt Kuchar (16) def. Yuta Ikeda (47), 1 up: Though he wasn’t nearly as hot as in his opener against Johnson, Kuchar played solidly, going 3 under (including concessions) and making par on 17 to edge ahead of Ikeda and eke out a narrow victory. 

    Group 16: Ross Fisher (27) def. Zach Johnson (54), 2 up: After a remarkable comeback against Kuchar to earn a halve on Day 1, Johnson couldn’t summon the same magic on Thursday. Though he won the 15th to cut Fisher’s advantage to 1 up, Johnson couldn’t convert birdie putts on the last three holes.