Punch Shot: Bold predictions for 2015

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 2, 2015, 1:00 pm

It's a new year and anything can happen. So we asked our writers for their bold predictions for 2015. Here's what they said:

By REX HOGGARD

Phil Mickelson will win the U.S. Open in June and complete the career Grand Slam.

While it seems likely the bookmakers won’t share our optimism for Lefty’s Open chances considering his love/hate relationship with his national championship, it will be those less-than-stellar odds that finally deliver the Open title to Mickelson.

While the flawless symmetry of the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he’d posted the first of six runner-up finishes at the championship in 1999, seemed poetically perfect for Mickelson’s breakthrough, the pressure proved to be too much for him and he finished 16 strokes off the pace.

Mickelson will turn 45 two days before Round 1 at Chambers Bay. Only Hale Irwin – who is the oldest to win the U.S. Open (in 1990) at the age of 45 years, 15 days – has collected the title past his 45th birthday.

But when the golf world arrives in the Pacific Northwest the spotlight, and the pressure, will have largely moved on to other points of interest.

Without that scrutiny weighing on him, Mickelson, who dedicated himself to a new workout regimen in the offseason and said he plans to reexamine his schedule in order to peak during the majors, will finally collect a title that has painfully eluded him for 2 ½ decades.


By JASON SOBEL

Making a bold prediction is sort of like Goldilocks rummaging through the house trying to find the perfect bed and the right bowl of porridge. Rory McIlroy will win a few tournaments? Not bold enough. Some no-name from Luxembourg will claim the green jacket? Whoa, that’s way too bold.

You’ve got to find a happy medium that is bold enough to raise some eyebrows and yet not so bold that it’s an outlandish suggestion. All of which leads to mine for the 2015 campaign: The International team will win the Presidents Cup. Finally.

I’m basing this on nothing but the law of averages. This biennial competition has been contested 10 times previously and the “rest of the world not including Europe” squad has won just one of 'em.

This time, though, there should be enough firepower to beat what should be another strong U.S. roster in South Korea. Nick Price’s lineup will once again be led by Adam Scott and Jason Day; Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen have become stalwarts; and Graham DeLaet and Hideki Matsuyama could each be top-10 players by next autumn.

The struggle, as usual for the International side, will be filling out the bottom half of its batting order. Just as the U.S. Ryder Cup team needed a jolt of enthusiasm from rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, they could use an infusion of energy from the likes of Anirban Lahiri, Matt Jones and Carlos Ortiz; granted, none have the talent of Reed and Spieth, but the formula should be analogous. 

Don’t fret for the U.S. side, though. Even if it loses for the second time ever, there’s always time to create a task force before the next one.


By RYAN LAVNER

Dustin Johnson wins twice in 2015.

DJ hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since August, when he took a self-imposed leave of absence to deal with “personal challenges.” He figures to return sometime in February, and by all accounts he’s stayed sharp with his game and rededicated himself to his craft.

That should be bad news for the rest of the PGA Tour, because despite his “personal challenges” Johnson has been one of the most consistent players in the world – he’s won at least once every year since turning pro in 2007.

With better decision-making both on and off the course, Johnson might finally be able to maximize his awesome talent. I bet that process begins this year.


By RANDALL MELL

Michelle Wie wins two majors.

There was so much to like in Wie’s game in 2014, from her renewed confidence in her driver to her career best scoring average and putting stats, but what you had to like most was the look in her eyes. She was in no way content winning twice, with one of those her first major championship, the U.S. Women’s Open. Watching with her confidence coming back, you see the ambition in her eyes again. You see a player who at times looks like she wants to plow through the field to get to a trophy. And you hear a player talking openly about wanting to be No. 1 in the world.

Wie’s “table-top” putting stroke may look odd, but it held up at Pinehurst No. 2, in a U.S. Women’s Open, where the nerviest putts in the world have to be holed to win. She has the game, confidence and drive to keep winning big events this year.


By WILL GRAY

Ernie Els will win again on the PGA Tour.

The Big Easy is 45, but there’s still plenty of gas left in his tank. While Els hasn’t garnered many headlines since his win at the Open in 2012, he has had plenty of time to adjust to some new equipment, including a new putter in advance of the 2016 anchoring ban.

Now 63rd in the Official World Golf Ranking, Els is coming off a season that included only three top-10 finishes, and the globetrotter will likely continue to split time between the U.S. and Europe. But with 19 PGA Tour wins, Els doesn’t need a lot of starts to have a chance to contend, nor will he feel uncomfortable with his name on the leaderboard come Sunday.

The putter has been the issue for Els in recent years, but his tee-to-green game is still good enough to contend with some of the game’s best. At some point this year, the flat stick will get hot and Els will lift a trophy on U.S. soil for the first time since March 2010.

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Texas Open purse payout: Landry doubles earnings

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 11:42 am

Andrew Landry won the Valero Texas Open for his first career PGA Tour victory. In the process, he doubled his season earnings. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at TPC San Antonio.

1 Andrew Landry -17 $1,116,000
T2 Trey Mullinax -15 $545,600
T2 Sean O'Hair -15 $545,600
4 Jimmy Walker -14 $297,600
5 Zach Johnson -13 $248,000
6 Joaquin Niemann -12 $223,200
7 Ryan Moore -11 $207,700
T8 Chris Kirk -10 $179,800
T8 Andrew Putnam -10 $179,800
T8 Kevin Streelman -10 $179,800
T11 Ben Crane -9 $136,400
T11 Billy Horschel -9 $136,400
T11 Martin Laird -9 $136,400
T11 Richy Werenski -9 $136,400
15 Brandt Snedeker -8 $111,600
T16 Aaron Baddeley -7 $96,100
T16 David Hearn -7 $96,100
T16 Grayson Murray -7 $96,100
T16 Vaughn Taylor -7 $96,100
T20 Dylan Frittelli -5 $67,167
T20 Retief Goosen -5 $67,167
T20 Chesson Hadley -5 $67,167
T20 Denny McCarthy -5 $67,167
T20 Johnson Wagner -5 $67,167
T20 Nick Watney -5 $67,167
T26 Corey Conners -4 $46,810
T26 Jim Furyk -4 $46,810
T26 Keith Mitchell -4 $46,810
T26 J.J. Spaun -4 $46,810
T30 Kevin Chappell -3 $37,665
T30 Austin Cook -3 $37,665
T30 Ernie Els -3 $37,665
T30 Jamie Lovemark -3 $37,665
T30 J.T. Poston -3 $37,665
T30 Brendan Steele -3 $37,665
T36 Zac Blair -2 $26,694
T36 Harris English -2 $26,694
T36 Jason Kokrak -2 $26,694
T36 Nicholas Lindheim -2 $26,694
T36 Troy Merritt -2 $26,694
T36 Sam Ryder -2 $26,694
T36 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $26,694
T36 Brian Stuard -2 $26,694
T36 Kevin Tway -2 $26,694
T45 Keegan Bradley -1 $17,732
T45 K.J. Choi -1 $17,732
T45 Si Woo Kim -1 $17,732
T45 Hunter Mahan -1 $17,732
T45 Ben Martin -1 $17,732
T45 Ben Silverman -1 $17,732
T51 Ricky Barnes E $14,508
T51 Zecheng Dou E $14,508
T51 Beau Hossler E $14,508
T51 Matt Kuchar E $14,508
T51 Danny Lee E $14,508
T51 David Lingmerth E $14,508
T51 Graeme McDowell E $14,508
T58 Abraham Ancer 1 $13,578
T58 Lanto Griffin 1 $13,578
T58 Anirban Lahiri 1 $13,578
T58 Adam Schenk 1 $13,578
T58 Daniel Summerhays 1 $13,578
T58 Julian Suri 1 $13,578
T64 Joshua Creel 2 $12,958
T64 Charley Hoffman 2 $12,958
T64 Peter Malnati 2 $12,958
T64 Andrew Yun 2 $12,958
T68 Matt Atkins 4 $12,462
T68 Steve Marino 4 $12,462
T68 Rod Pampling 4 $12,462
T68 Michael Thompson 4 $12,462
72 Ethan Tracy 8 $12,152
MDF Cameron Champ 2 $11,966
MDF Xander Schauffele 2 $11,966
MDF Joel Dahmen 3 $11,594
MDF Bill Haas 3 $11,594
MDF Brandon Harkins 3 $11,594
MDF Hudson Swafford 3 $11,594
MDF John Senden 4 $11,284
MDF Brice Garnett 8 $11,160
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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

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

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.