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Five NCAA greats who won a professional major

By Reed BurtonMay 2, 2018, 1:00 pm

When Patrick Reed won the Masters earlier this month, it meant that not only were the four reigning major champions all under the age of 30, but also that they had competed against each other in match play in the NCAA Championships.

In the 2010 semifinals at The Honors Course in Tennessee, Augusta University’s Reed defeated Florida State’s Brooks Koepka, 1 up. Reed’s team would go on to defeat Oklahoma State, 3 ½ - 1 ½, in the final. Two years later, in the 2012 final at Riviera Country Club in California, Texas’ Jordan Spieth defeated Alabama’s Justin Thomas, 3 and 2, as Texas went on to win the team championship.

Ninety major championship winners have traveled a collegiate route on their respective roads to success. They range from those who never played golf competitively in college, to those who only played a semester, to those who played all four years.

Are Reed or Spieth – or Thomas or Koepka – among the all-time collegiate players who eventually won a major championship as professionals?

To determine a top-five list of such players, we’ll take into consideration overall college wins, major awards like the Haskins, selections to All-America teams, and victories both as individuals and members of a team in the NCAA Championships.

Here’s a look at five of the greats since 1970:

David Duval, Georgia Tech

Resume: One of just two major champions to have been a four-time First Team All-American (Phil Mickelson). He played in 52 events over his four years as a Yellow Jacket, earning seven wins and 30 top-five finishes. During his senior season, in 1993, he won four times and finished in the top-seven in 13 of 14 starts, capturing the Haskins Award as the year’s most outstanding collegiate golfer. He finished runner-up in the NCAA individual championship, in 1991 and 1993.

Tiger Woods, Stanford

Resume: Woods may have played for just two years, but he accomplished a great deal in that short period of time. He was an 11-time winner, a two-time First Team All-American, the 1996 NCAA individual champion, and the 1996 Haskins Award winner. He earned eight of his 11 wins in his sophomore season and turned professional after winning his third consecutive U.S. Amateur.

Curtis Strange, Wake Forest

Resume: Strange began his World Golf Hall of Fame career with great success as a Demon Deacon. In his three years in Winston-Salem, he was a three-time First Team All-American with eight wins, including the 1974 NCAA individual championship. He also won the 1974 Haskins Award and helped lead his team to back-to-back NCAA titles, in 1974-75.

Phil Mickelson, Arizona State

Resume: Even after he won the PGA Tour’s Tucson Open as a junior in 1991, Mickelson decided to stay in school. He graduated the following year with a degree with psychology. In his four years, Mickelson was a four-time First Team All-American, a three-time NCAA individual champion, and a three-time Haskins Award winner. He was also a member of the 1990 national championship team and won medalist honors in tournaments 16 times.

Ben Crenshaw, Texas

Resume: Before there was Phil Mickelson, there was Ben Crenshaw (pictured right, with Tom Kite on the left). Crenshaw spent three years in Austin and each year was named a First Team All-American, won the NCAA individual championship, and received the Haskins Award. All of those, every year, for three years. He was also a member of two NCAA Championship teams in 1971 and 1972, and was an individual medalist in tournaments 16 times.

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Fowler (oblique) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:44 pm

The injury that slowed Rickie Fowler at last week's PGA Championship will keep him out of the first event of the PGA Tour's postseason.

Fowler was reportedly hampered by an oblique injury at Bellerive Country Club, where he started the third round two shots off the lead but faded to a tie for 12th. He confirmed the injury Tuesday in an Instagram post, adding that an MRI revealed a partial tear to his right oblique muscle.

According to Fowler, the injury also affected him at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for 17th. After receiving the test results, he opted to withdraw from The Northern Trust next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

"My team and I feel like it's best not to play next week in the Northern Trust," Fowler wrote. "I will be back healthy and competitive ASAP for the FedEx Cup and more than ready for the Ryder Cup!!!"

Fowler is one of eight players who earned automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team when the qualifying window closed last week. His next opportunity to tee it up would be at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship, where Fowler won in 2015.

Fowler has 12 top-25 finishes in 18 starts, highlighted by runner-up finishes at both the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in the fall and at the Masters. He is currently 17th in the season-long points race, meaning that he's assured of starts in each of the first three playoff events regardless of performance and in good position to qualify for the 30-man Tour Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.

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Playoff streaks in jeopardy for Garcia, Haas

By Will GrayAugust 15, 2018, 8:12 pm

Since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007, only 13 players have managed to make the playoffs each and every year. But two of the PGA Tour's stalwarts head into the regular-season finale with work to do in order to remain a part of that select fraternity.

Sergio Garcia has rarely had to sweat the top-125 bubble, but the Spaniard enters this week's Wyndham Championship 131st in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro 150th.

Garcia got off to a strong start in the spring, sandwiching a pair of top-10 finishes in WGC events around a fourth-place showing at the Valspar Championship. But quality results largely dried up after Garcia missed the cut at the Masters; he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Garcia has some history at Sedgefield Country Club, having won this event in 2012 to break a lengthy U.S. victory drought. He also finished fourth in 2009 but hasn't played the Donald Ross layout since a T-29 finish as the defending champ in 2013.

It's been a difficult year for Haas both on and off the course, as the veteran was involved as a passenger in a car accident on the eve of the Genesis Open that killed the driver. He returned to action three weeks later in Tampa, and he tied for seventh at the RBC Heritage in April. But that remains his lone top-10 finish of the season. Haas has missed 11 cuts including three in a row.

While the bubble will be a fluid target this week at Sedgefield, Garcia likely needs at least a top-20 finish to move into the top 125 while Haas will likely need to finish inside the top 5.

One of the 13 playoff streaks is assured of ending next week, as Luke Donald has missed most of the year with a back injury. Other players to qualify for every Tour postseason include Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Moore.

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Airlines lose two sets of Olesen's clubs in 10 days

By Grill Room TeamAugust 15, 2018, 7:50 pm

Commercial airlines losing the golf clubs of a professional golfer is not exactly a groundbreaking story. It happens.

But European Tour pro Thorbjorn Olesen is on quite the roll, losing two sets of clubs and five suitcases in the span of 10 days.

Olesen, the reigning Italian Open champ, claimed his primary set of golf clubs were lost last week. Having little faith they'd be found before this week's Nordea Masters, he decided to bring his backup set for the event in Sweden.

A veteran move by the 28-year-old, unless, of course, those clubs were lost too. And wouldn't you know it:

After pestering the airlines with some A+ GIFs, Olesen was reunited with at least one of his sets and was back in action on Wednesday.

He also still plans on giving his golf bag away to some lucky follower, provided it's not lost again in transit. Something he's no longer taking for granted.

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Podcast: Brandel compares Tiger and Hogan's comebacks

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 15, 2018, 6:48 pm

Tiger Woods on Sunday at Bellerive recorded his seventh runner-up finish in a major and his first in nine years.

A favorite guest of the Golf Channel Podcast, Brandel Chamblee joins host Will Gray to compare and contrast Tiger's return to competitive golf with that of Ben Hogan and Babe Didrikson Zaharias in the 1950s.

Chamblee also discusses Brooks Koepka's major dominance, Bellerive as a major venue, Tiger and Phil as Ryder Cup locks, and who else might be in line to receive Jim Furyk and Thomas Bjorn's remaining captain's picks.

Finally, Brandel shares what it was it was like to qualify for the Senior Open Championship and compete for a major title on the Old Course at St. Andrews. Listen here: