After Further Review: DJ has learned to close

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 12, 2016, 1:41 am

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Dustin Johnson's newfound ability to close ...

Greatness separates itself in the clutch.

In basketball, it’s the guys who live to take the last shot and more often than not make it. In baseball, it’s the guys who hit the walk-off game winners. In football, it’s the guys who make the big plays in two-minute drills.

In golf? Yes, it’s players who can hit brilliant shots at the finish, but more often than not the great closers don’t have to be brilliant in the end. They just have to avoid beating themselves. This is where Dustin Johnson is separating himself now, with his combination of brilliance and steadiness when the pressure mounts.

After struggling in final rounds and beating himself on too many grand stages, he looks comfortable under pressure. He showed it closing out the U.S. Open at Oakmont this summer and again closing out the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick on Sunday. He’s learning golf’s greatest skill, the ability to separate himself in those moments when it’s the most difficult to separate. - Randall Mell

On DJ's bid for Player of the Year ...

An unscientific poll of players last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship suggested that the PGA Tour Player of the Year award would be decided over the next three events.

Dustin Johnson was a slight favorite, but nearly every player who was asked said the decision could be swayed if Jason Day, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, were to win one of the three remaining FedEx Cup playoff events.

On Sunday at the BMW Championship, Johnson seemed to finally put the debate to rest. With a late eagle to seal a three-stroke victory, the American claimed his third Tour title this season, a total highlighted by his major breakthrough at the U.S. Open.

With that third victory, he also seems to have locked up the Player of the Year award. - Rex Hoggard

On Davis Love's unenviable task ...

Darren Clarke had plenty of good options to round out his European Ryder Cup team. The same can’t be said for his American counterpart.

Of Davis Love III's most likely choices – Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler – only Kuchar is moving on to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Furyk didn’t even make the BMW after starting his season in May; Fowler played the last five weeks in a row in a desperate attempt to make the team, but he finished better than 22nd only once during that span.

The point of waiting so long to announce the picks was to identify the hottest players. Suffice to say, Love’s newest additions aren’t peaking at the right time. – Ryan Lavner

On why Love may skew conservative ...

Don’t act surprised if Davis Love III’s three Ryder Cup picks Monday morning don’t exactly re-invent the wheel.

Entering this week, Rickie Fowler seemed like a lock. Now J.B. Holmes appears to have a late burst of momentum and Matt Kuchar remains a steady, albeit safe, option. But those clamoring for an outside-the-box pick, or even two, should remember that the U.S. task force process started by tabbing Love for a second term despite a losing effort four years ago.

Some will say he deserved another shot, and has the support of the team room. That may be true, but it’s unfair to give Love another crack and then expect him to turn his strategy and tactics on their collective head. He’s still the same man that walked off that last green at Medinah.

So when Phil Mickelson alludes to the fact that Love’s first three picks are essentially a fait accompli, lending credence to the thought that he’ll look to add some familiar faces, it shouldn’t come as a shock. Chances for overhauling change with these choices went out the window when Love was called back for another go-around.  – Will Gray

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters: