Punch Shot: Most anticipated event of 2017?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 5, 2017, 2:20 pm

The Olympics was the most anticipated event in 2016, but what about 2017? Our writers weigh in on the must-see event of the year.

By REX HOGGARD

Maybe it’s just a proximity deal. The Masters is after all the event the players and press and fans spend the most time pining for, and the ’17 edition has all the markings of something particularly special.

There will be almost as many story lines as there are magnolias as players make their way to the year’s first major. How will Jordan Spieth respond to his Sunday meltdown last year? Will Rory McIlroy secure the final piece of his career Grand Slam puzzle? How many shots will Tiger Woods be favored to win by (regardless of his play before Augusta National, there will be some misguided betting house who will make him the favorite).

The best part about the Masters, it’s the only tournament in golf that almost never disappoints.


By RYAN LAVNER

2016 was the first year in forever that the Masters wasn’t the most-anticipated event in golf. The Olympics and Ryder Cup played a role in that.

Neither is on the schedule for 2017, which means that Augusta once again takes top billing. We’re still three months away, and already there are enough storylines to fill the headline rail on this website: How will Jordan respond to last year’s meltdown? Can Rory finally compete the grand slam? Will DJ’s improved wedge game lead to a green jacket? Do Tiger or Phil have another magical week left in them? How will the Masters remember Arnie? And the results in the spring will only crank up the hype machine.

Bring on April 6. 


By WILL GRAY

Anytime the USGA gets its hands on an untouched venue, it’s time to pay attention.

It was two years ago that the Chambers Bay setup became the biggest storyline of U.S. Open week – that is, until Dustin Johnson’s 72nd-hole three-putt. Even last year at Oakmont, the powers-that-be interjected themselves into the proceedings with a ruling that nearly ruined Johnson’s breakthrough victory.

Now all eyes will turn to Erin Hills, a young course built upon a sprawling Wisconsin landscape. Will the USGA push the yardage toward 8,000 yards? Will officials hand out another controversial ruling? Will course conditions become as big of a focal point as they were outside Seattle in 2015? Heck, will the grass at least be green this time around?

A new course means untold variables for the season’s second major. Add in Johnson defending his title, Jordan Spieth returning to a course where he played the 2011 U.S. Amateur at age 18 and Phil Mickelson again attempting to round out the career Grand Slam, and it makes for a can’t-miss tournament.


By RANDALL MELL

It depends where Tiger Woods makes his 2017 debut.

He’ll turn a regular tour stop into a major happening when he makes his first official tour start since late summer of 2015. It could be the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Jan. 26-29, or perhaps overseas, at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Jan. 19-22.

And whatever start follows his debut will be the next most anticipated event of ’17.

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Mullinax fires course-record 62 at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Trey Mullinax surged into contention during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, shooting a 10-under 62 that set a new course record on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Mullinax started the day seven shots off the pace, but by the time he completed his round he had taken a one-shot lead with the overnight leaders still on the course. The former Alabama standout caught fire on the back nine, shooting a 7-under 29 despite a bogey after chip-ins for eagle on No. 14 and birdie on No. 16 to go along with an eagle on the home hole.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had," Mullinax told reporters. "To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good."

Mullinax appeared headed for a missed cut after a 74 in the opening round, but he bounced back with a second-round 68 to earn a weekend tee time and his third-round score broke the previous course record of 63 held by multiple players.

The 25-year-old finished 137th in FedExCup points last season, leaving him with only conditional status this season. His lone top-10 finish of the year came at the Valspar Championship, where he survived a Monday qualifier and went on to tie for eighth, and this marks only his third start since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

"Obviously I would like to play a little more, but the tournaments I get in, I'm really excited about playing golf," Mullinax said. "I've loved every start I've gotten, and I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."

Mullinax holed a putt to clinch a national title for the Crimson Tide in 2014, and he finished T-9 at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But success has been fleeting among the professional ranks, meaning Sunday's opportunity to notch a career-best finish or breakthrough victory is nothing short of enticing.

"I'm sure you'll be nervous," Mullinax said. "To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that's what I'm going to do."

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Quiros maintains one-shot lead through 54 in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 7:46 pm

RABAT, Morocco - A birdie on the last hole gave Alvaro Quiros a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Trophee Hassan II.

Quiros' birdie on No. 18 allowed the Spanish golfer to sign for an even-par 72 on Saturday to stay at 7-under par overall and clear of four players in second place.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, France's Alexander Levy, and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were just a shot behind at 6 under heading into the final day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

Quiros is a seven-time winner on the European Tour, but went six years without a victory until last year with his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open in Italy.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


He's seeking a wire-to-wire victory in Morocco after sharing the first-round lead with Bradley Dredge before taking it outright on Day 2.

Quiros had an on-off day in the third round - he said it was ''suddenly great shot, suddenly not so good'' - and carded four birdies and four bogeys to come out even and still hold on to his lead.

Van Rooyen shot 71, Bezuidenhout 68, Levy a 69, and Ilonen the best round of the week so far with his 6-under 66.

Ilonen had seven birdies and just a single bogey - on his first hole - to leap 23 places up the leaderboard and into contention for a first tour title since 2014 when he won the World Match Play Championship.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.