By the numbers: Top stats of the year

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2016, 4:30 pm

Arnold Palmer’s golf bag from the 1975 Ryder Cup was placed on the first tee on Friday morning of the Ryder Cup Matches at Hazeltine. So, it was only fitting that the United States swept the opening session of the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1975, when Palmer was captain.

Palmer's team defeated Great Britain & Ireland, 21-11 that year at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania. Forty-one years later Love's team rode an identical 4-0 start to a 17-11 win against Europe.

That's not the only similarity between those matches, either.

Every U.S. player won at least one match at Hazeltine. The last time that happened for the American side? In 1975.

Those Ryder Cup facts lead off our collection of stats of the year. Here are some more numbers to chew on:

• Although his team lost, Belgian Thomas Pieters put together arguably the greatest rookie performance in European Ryder Cup history, becoming the first European/GB&I rookie to win 4 points in a single Ryder Cup.

Palmer's storied career

As we remember Palmer, who died Sept. 25 at age 87, here are some numbers from the legendary career of the King:

• 1960s: Associated Press Athlete of the Decade

• 1960, 1962: PGA of America Player of the Year

• 1960: Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year

• 1974: Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame

• 2004: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

• 2009: Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

• Palmer is one of only three golfers to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with Jack Nicklaus (2005) and Charlie Sifford (2014).

• 7: Number of majors won by Palmer, all between 1958 and 1964. In that time period, the most majors won by anyone else was three (Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus).

Major accomplishments

• Henrik Stenson won The Open at Royal Troon with a score of 264, the lowest 72-hole total in major championship history. The next-lowest major-winning scores are 265 (David Toms, 2001 PGA) and 267 (Steve Elkington, 1995 PGA; Greg Norman, 1993 The Open).

• Stenson became the second player in major championship history to shoot 63 in the final round of a victory, joining Johnny Miller, who did it in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

• Phil Mickelson’s 11th runner-up finish in a major championship (The Open) broke a tie with Arnold Palmer for second most in men’s golf history. Jack Nicklaus has the most, with 19. Mickelson has now finished runner-up to the two lowest total scores in the history of 72-hole major championships (Stenson, 264, The Open, 2016; and Toms, 265, PGA, 2001).

Golf in the Olympics

• In Rio de Janeiro, Justin Rose won the first Olympic gold medal in men’s golf in 40,867 days. Rose has spread his 16 professional victories across nine different countries: (U.S., 7; South Africa, 2; and Australia, Brazil, England, Hong Kong, Japan, Scotland and Spain, 1 each)

• Inbee Park became the second woman to win a golf major and an Olympic gold medal. Babe Didrikson Zaharias won 10 majors and 2 gold medals in track and field in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. 

Langer's three-peats

• Bernhard Langer won the Schwab Cup for the third consecutive season. However, it was not the only race Langer won for the third straight year. He also ranked first on the PGA Tour Champions in scoring average, earnings, greens in regulation, ball striing, birdie average and par breakers.

• For the third consecutive year, Langer finished first and Colin Montgomerie finished second in the PGA Tour Champions season cup standings:

On the college front

• For the second consecutive year, the 13th-ranked team according to Golfstat came to the Women’s NCAA Championships, eliminated a Pac-12 rival top seed, and won the program’s first national championship. This year it was Washington, which beat No. 1 UCLA in the semifinals. In 2015 it was Stanford, which beat No. 1 USC in the semis.

• The Oregon men became the second team to win both the individual (Aaron Wise) and team national championships as the host school in the men’s NCAA Championship. Ohio State also accomplished the feat in 1945, with John Lorms taking the individual title.

Ko makes history

• Lydia Ko won her second career major championship at the ANA Inspiration. With her victory, she became the youngest player - man or woman - to win multiple majors, since Tom Morris Jr. Morris was 18 years, 4 months and 27 days old when he won his second major, the 1869 Open Championship. Ko was 18 years, 11 months and 10 days old when she won the ANA Inspiration.

• Ko is closing in on matching her age (in years) with her career LPGA wins. A look at when some of the greatest of all time in men’s and women’s golf accomplished that rare (and obscure) feat:

Tiger Woods, 24 wins at age 24

Nancy Lopez, 25 wins at age 25

Mickey Wright, 26 wins at age 26

Kathy Whitworth, 27 wins at age 27

Jack Nicklaus, 29 wins at age 29

Lydia Ko: 14 wins at age 19 (will turn 20 on April 24)

Jutanugarn breaks through

• Ariya Jutanugarn became the first player in LPGA history to earn her first three career victories in three straight tournaments held. She also became the first player since Suzann Pettersen in 2007 to win five or more times in a season after never winning previously in the LPGA. Pettersen won five times that year. Other previous non-winners to break through with five or more wins in the last 40 years were Nancy Lopez (nine wins in 1978) and Debbie Austin (five wins in 1977).

Youth rules the LPGA

• 26 of the 33 official LPGA tournaments this season were won by a player 23 or younger. Seven were won by someone 19 or younger and only one was won by someone 30 or older. The Average age of an LPGA winner was 22.3 years.

Dustin Johnson wins the U.S. Open

• At Oakmont, Johnson became the fifth different player in the last 100 years to win the U.S. Open the year after finishing runner-up, joining Tiger Woods (2007-08), Payne Stewart (1998-99), Jack Nicklaus (1971-72) and Bobby Jones (did it three times).

• Shane Lowry became the third player in U.S. Open history to lose a lead of 4 strokes or more entering the final round. Payne Stewart led by 4 after 54 holes in 1998, and Mike Brady led by 5 in 1919. Both finished second. Lowry finished T-2.

Willett takes the Masters

• Danny Willett became the third Masters champion to shoot a bogey-free 67 or better in the final round, joining Phil Mickelson (67 in 2010) and Doug Ford (66 in 1957).

• Twice, a defending Masters champion has held the outright 54-hole lead. In neither instance did the player go on to win. Jordan Spieth led by one in April, shot 73 and finished tied for second. Ben Hogan also led by one in 1954, but he shot 75 and finished second.

McIlroy wins at East Lake

• Rory McIlroy's Tour Championship victory was the 13th PGA Tour win of his career. Over the last 30 years, only Tiger Woods (39) and Phil Mickelson (14) have more PGA Tour wins before age 28 than McIlroy.

• McIlroy also has three more wins than any other player currently in his 20s. Jason Day, 29, has 10, Jordan Spieth, 23, has eight and Patrick Reed, 26, has five.

Matsuyama's charge

• In the HSBC Champions in China, Hideki Matsuyama became just the second player to win a WGC event by 7 strokes or more. Tiger Woods is the other, having done it four different times.

• Matsuyama is now tied with Shigeki Maruyama for most PGA Tour wins by a player from Japan (3).

Compiled from information provided by the Golf Channel research unit.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer on Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and season points leader, birdied the final hole for a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star closed the front nine with consecutive birdies, but had several birdie putts slide on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie on the par-4 15th and also birdied the par-5 closing hole.

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

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

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

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

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”