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NCAA favorite Oklahoma St. wins 7th straight event

By Ryan LavnerApril 10, 2018, 5:31 pm

With less than two months left in the college season, Oklahoma State looks like a prohibitive favorite to win the NCAA Championship.

Especially on its home course.

The Cowboys, No. 1 in the Golfstat rankings, won their seventh consecutive event Sunday at the Aggie Invitational. That win streak matches the longest single-season mark in program history, set in 1986-87. That team also captured the first two events of the following season, stretching its win streak to nine total.

The seven-stroke victory in Bryan, Texas, was Oklahoma State’s eighth of the season while playing one of the country's most difficult schedules. No other Division I program has more than five.

“The guys are really playing well,” said head coach Alan Bratton. “It’s fun to be a part of.”

The only event the Cowboys haven’t won this season was the Fighting Illini Invitational in the fall, where they finished third, 13 shots behind Texas A&M. They played that event without one of their best players, sophomore Viktor Hovland.

With four events left on the schedule, including the NCAA Championship at its home course, Karsten Creek, Oklahoma State has a chance to become the winningest team in program history, surpassing the 1985-86 squad, which won 10 times.

Still, OSU needs to finish strong to even be considered one of the best teams this decade.

The 2012-13 Cal team won 11 times, posted a head-to-head record of 206-3-1 (the three losses by a total of five shots), beat their opponents by a combined 8,238 strokes and had a lineup with three first-team All-Americans and a pair of second-teamers. That team didn’t win the championship, however, losing to Illinois in the NCAA semifinals. In 2013-14, Alabama won an NCAA record 11 times in a row across two seasons.

But in the college golf community, there’s already a strong sense of déjà vu this spring.

During the 2010-11 season, Oklahoma State also had the best team in the country – a group that included current PGA Tour players Peter Uihlein, Kevin Tway, Morgan Hoffmann and Talor Gooch – and a home-course advantage at the NCAAs. But that spring, in the semifinals, the Cowboys lost a heartbreaker to Patrick Reed-led Augusta State.

This year’s team, statistically, might be even better.

All five of OSU’s starters has a sub-72 scoring average, led by Hovland’s 69.28 and freshman Matthew Wolff’s 69.77, both of whom are ranked inside the top 6 nationally. Zach Bauchou (No. 20) and Kristoffer Ventura (No. 47) are also in the top 50, while freshman Austin Eckroat is ranked 67th.

"Every year is different," Bratton said, "but so far, so good with this one. I like the chemistry of this group. Along with the talent level, the chemistry has helped raise our level of play." 

Oklahoma State’s bid for an eighth consecutive victory begins Saturday at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.