Punch Shot: Major champions in 2016

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 4, 2016, 5:00 pm

Jordan Spieth (Masters, U.S. Open), Zach Johnson (Open Championship) and Jason Day (PGA Championship) won major titles in 2015. Who will win the four biggest events in 2016? Our writers weigh in.

By RYAN LAVNER

Masters: Rory McIlroy. Entering 2016 with plenty of motivation, the former world No. 1 should be in fine form after logging seven starts before Augusta. There is always a concern that he wants the Slam too much, but he has trended in the right direction over the past few years at the Masters.

U.S. Open: Jason Day. He’s going to win an Open eventually, and beefy Oakmont should set up perfectly for his power game. In five Open starts, he has finished inside the top five three times.

Open Championship: Dustin Johnson. He has better imagination than he’s given credit for, and he’ll need it at Troon. Don’t forget, he was in good position to atone for his U.S. Open collapse before a 75-75 finish at St. Andrews. Still, he has four top-15s in his last six Opens.

PGA Championship: McIlroy. Predicted a monster year for the former world No. 1, and two majors certainly fits the bill. He typically plays well at the PGA after heating up during the summer – all but one finish inside the top 20 – and this year should be no exception.


By RANDALL MELL

Youth will distinguish itself again in 2016 with the majors swept by four 20-something stars.

In a dreamy major season, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day will all win majors.

Masters: McIlroy claims the career Grand Slam, becoming the sixth player in history to do so. He joins Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods sweeping the four majors in men’s golf.

McIlroy’s game is built to win at Augusta National, with his power, his ability to score on the par 5s and to hit short irons into tough hole locations. He wasn’t quite ready to win at Augusta National in 2011, when he lost a four-shot lead in the final round shooting 80. He will be teeing it up for the eighth time in the Masters next spring, and he’ll be coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes at Augusta National.

U.S. Open: Spieth makes it back-to-back U.S. Open titles with a victory at Oakmont, where his great putting stroke will set him apart. Oakmont’s challenging greens require the kind of touch, skill and attitude Spieth will bring.

Open Championship: Fowler steps up to claim his first major at Royal Troon in Scotland. He won on some big stages in 2015, beating strong fields with terrific closing efforts at The Players Championship, the Scottish Open and the Deutsche Bank Championship. Royal Troon’s the place to do it. It has a history of crowning first-time major winners.

PGA Championship: Day won’t leave 2016 disappointed at the majors. He’ll claim another PGA Championship. His fate at Baltusrol will depend on how the PGA sets up the course, whether it goes more USGA than PGA in fairway and rough setup, and whether that setup allows Day to shrink the course with his driver. Either way, Day should be at another level again as defending champ.



By REX HOGGARD

While another historic run at the single-season Grand Slam seems unlikely, the play of Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day in the last few years suggests a multi-major winner in 2016 is not out of the question.

Masters: McIlroy, who rebounded from an injury-impacted year to win the European Tour’s season finale in 2015, will take the year’s first major at Augusta National, where he’s finished in the top 10 the last two years and took a four-stroke lead into the final round in 2011.

U.S. Open: Oakmont Country Club may be the most demanding test in the U.S. Open rotation, but Dustin Johnson has shown that he is at his best when the conditions are most challenging. The bomber finally avoids another costly miscue to win his first major.

Open Championship: After missing last year’s Open at St. Andrews, McIlroy heads to Royal Troon in search of redemption and etches his name into the claret jug for the second time to cap another spectacular year.

PGA Championship: The last time the year’s final major was played at Baltusrol, Phil Mickelson took the title in 2005, and it will be another creative southpaw, Bubba Watson, who will win this year’s PGA Championship and expand his major portfolio.


By WILL GRAY

Masters: Patrick Reed. If he’s going to take home Player of the Year honors, as I predicted earlier this week, he’ll need to include a major in his trophy haul. What better place to do it than Augusta National, just down the road from the school he led to two NCAA titles and a course where his tight draw can be carved to perfection. A post-round ceremony where he receives the green jacket from former Ryder Cup teammate Jordan Spieth will be icing on the cake.

U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama. Make no mistake, Oakmont will take a toll on the field this summer. But few players are as well-equipped to weather that particular storm as Matsuyama, whose tee-to-green consistency will be a huge asset on the penal layout. Oakmont has been the site of surprise victories from foreign players each of the last two times it has hosted the U.S. Open, and that trend will continue when Matsuyama leaves with the trophy.

Open Championship: Louis Oosthuizen. Perhaps no other player outside of Angel Cabrera more efficiently saves his best play for the majors. Oosthuizen rekindled his game this past year, highlighted by back-to-back runner-up finishes at Chambers Bay and St. Andrews that seemingly came out of nowhere. The South African seems to have trouble shaking the injury bug, especially relating to his back, but when he is healthy he is among the very best ball-strikers around. That talent should shine at Royal Troon, where he will avenge last year’s playoff loss and lift the claret jug for the second time.

PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy. Just like the San Francisco Giants, McIlroy prefers to play for the Wanamaker Trophy in even-numbered years. After triumphs in 2012 and 2014, McIlroy will win his third PGA at Baltusrol before representing Ireland in the Olympics. While the year begins with talk of the “Big Three” – McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – only the Ulsterman will notch a major win in 2016.

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Crenshaw pleased with reaction to Trinity Forest

By Will GrayMay 21, 2018, 12:02 am

DALLAS – Despite the tournament debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club coming to a soggy conclusion, course co-designer Ben Crenshaw is pleased with how his handiwork stood up against the field at this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

Crenshaw was on property for much of the week, including Sunday when tee times were delayed by four hours as a line of storms passed through the area. While the tournament’s field lacked some star power outside of headliner Jordan Spieth, Crenshaw liked what he saw even though Mother Nature didn’t exactly cooperate.

“We’re pleased. It’s off to a nice, quiet start, let’s say,” Crenshaw said. “The week started off very quiet with the wind. This course, we envision that you play it with a breeze. It sort of lends itself to a links style, playing firm and fast, and as you saw yesterday, when the wind got up the scores went up commensurately.”


Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos


That assessment was shared by Spieth, a Trinity Forest member who has become the tournament’s de facto host and spent much of his week surveying his fellow players for opinions about a layout that stands out among typical Tour stops.

“A lot of guys said, ‘It’s grown on me day to day, I really enjoyed it as a change of pace, I had a lot of fun playing this golf course.’ Those were lines guys were using this week, and it shouldn’t be reported any differently,” Spieth said. “It was an overwhelmingly positive outlook from the players that played.”

Crenshaw didn’t bristle as tournament leaders Aaron Wise and Marc Leishman eclipsed the mark of 20 under par, noting that he and co-designer Bill Coore simply hoped to offer a “different experience” from the usual layouts players face. With one edition in the books, he hopes that a largely positive reaction from those who made the journey will help bolster the field in 2019 and beyond.

“To me, the guys who played here this week will go over to Fort Worth, and hopefully the field at Colonial that wasn’t here would ask questions of the people who were here,” Crenshaw said. “You hope that some good word spreads.”

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A. Jutanugarn wins Kingsmill playoff for 8th title

By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the second hole of a playoff Sunday to win the Kingsmill Championship for the second time in three years.

Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.

Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory. The 22-year-old Thai star's older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory


Full-field scores from the Kingsmill Championship


Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and had a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th. Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.

The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.

Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.

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Jimenez wins first Champions major at Tradition

By Associated PressMay 20, 2018, 9:32 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.

Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.

After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.

''It's time to have a medal in my pocket and it's nice to be on the first major of the year,'' he said.

Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.

''It's been a wonderful week,'' he said. ''My game was amazing, really.''


Full-field scores from the Regions Tradition


Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.

It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.

Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.

Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.

Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan's 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.

Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.

His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker's shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.

Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn't put pressure on Jimenez with a third.

Stricker's assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he ''made quite a few mistakes.''

''Just didn't take care of my ball, really,'' he said. ''I put it in some bad spots, didn't get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn't have it really, didn't play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.''

Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).

Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.

''When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything's going up again very tight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.''

Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.

Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.