Am Tour: Erdman shoots tournament record 66 to climb back into contention

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 22, 2015, 6:06 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Not only is this the largest Championship flight in recent years at Golf Channel Am Tour National Championship, it's delivered some of the tournament's most spectacular scores.

Jordan Massey, who we profiled earlier this week, carded a 36-hole tournament record (68-69=137). Then, in round three on the Stadium Course at PGA West, two-time National Champion Paul Erdman, from Erie, Colo., shot a tournament record single round score of 66. 

After an opening round 79, which the Colorado resident chalked up to a failure to adjust to yardages at sea level, Erdman found his distances in Round 2 and arrived at Round 3, seemingly out of contention and totally relaxed. 

"I couldn't have dreamed there would be a 12-shot swing," said Erdman. "I kept making putts, making birdies. I had no idea I was 8-under going into 17."

Then, "Alcatraz", the famous island green on the Stadium, bit him. He found the water right and made a double bogey.

With the runaway leader Massey stumbling to a 78, Erdman, who won the Championship flight in 2011 at PGA West and 2014 in Scottsdale, is three shots back. That's the same deficit he had heading into the final round in '11.

Kody Conover rallies, guarantees victory 

You may remember Am Tour member Kody Conover, who Mike Bailey profiled in the 2014 National Championship in Scottsdale and was also featured in this Morning Drive feature by Rich Lerner:


 


Well, Kody is back at Nationals in 2015, having won two major tournaments (he won five tournaments in a row in 2014). Playing in the Sarazen flight (handicaps 12-15.9), he had high hopes for Nationals, but an opening round 103 set him considerably off the pace in his flight. His caddie and father Clifford said the round was simply a matter of ball position and perhaps being a little bit excited for the tournament.

But Kody has stormed back in the last two rounds. He shot a 94 in Round 2 and then went even lower with an 83 on the Palmer Course today.

He may be in 48th place and 37 shots off the lead heading into the final round, but as one of Am Tour's most prolific golfers, he's still plenty confident in his chances.

"That 103 I had was a bad round for me," said Conover. "But I'm going to come back and shoot a 61 to win."

Fireworks at the 15th

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1226231","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"262","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

There was plenty of hootin' and hollerin' at the par-3 14th hole of the Palmer Private course this afternoon in the Sarazen flight grouping of Mel Imad, David Holcomb and Jay Harjo.

Imad, from Virginia Beach, Va., aced the dramatic par-3 that plays along the side of the mountain. It was his first ever hole-in-one.

It was a group effort on the tee. Holcomb, playing first, hooked his tee shot into the bunker. Watching the shot, Imad then made the decision to play a little further right of the pin.

"I hit an easy 9-iron and aimed to the right," he said. "Hoping it will roll to the left. I hit it perfect, two feet right of the hole, it rolled left and disappeared."

As they arrived onto the green, a crowd had gathered and photos were taken. Even a bighorn sheep was perched above the green in the rocks.

Then Holcomb went down into the bunker and holed his shot for birdie, which sent all onlookers into a frenzy.

Well, maybe not the bighorn. They've been all over the Palmer and Nicklaus courses at PGA West recently, including this flock that wandered onto the first green of the Nicklaus course this afternoon: 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1226236","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"262","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"480"}}]]

Getty Images

Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

Getty Images

Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

Getty Images

Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”