Two lip-outs cost Mexico’s Ortiz the LAAC title

By Nick MentaJanuary 16, 2017, 1:21 am

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Alvaro Ortiz didn’t lose by a shot Sunday in Panama.

He lost by an inch – twice.

The 21-year-old younger brother of three-time winner Carlos, Ortiz came out on the wrong end of a three-way playoff at Panama Country Club, losing to Chilean champion Toto Gana on the second extra hole.

But had either one of two brutal lip-outs late in his round gone down, he’d be on his way to the Masters.

After mis-clubbing his approach and making bogey at the par-4 14th, Ortiz left his playing partners and walked by himself to the 15th tee as Gana and Joaquin Niemann finished out the hole.

"I was really pissed with myself because I made a mental mistake," he said. "It just really pissed me off that I didn't make a bad swing and I made a bogey.

“Coming to 15, I was not yelling at myself, but I was trying to push myself. I was yelling at myself, like, ‘Come on, let's do it. Let's be positive. We have a drivable par 4. We can do this.’”

After psyching himself up, Ortiz ripped a 3-wood 280 yards onto the green, setting up a putt for eagle from about 25 feet.

“I was so nervous,” he said. “I knew that I needed to make it or at least two-putt. I don't know, I felt weird over the ball, especially on the first putt. I hit it and left it about 3 feet short.”

The 3-footer he had left for birdie would have kept him within one shot of Gana, who on 15 got up and down for birdie from the greenside bunker.

Ortiz looked over his putt, settled in over the ball, and made the stroke he wanted.

“I thought I made it in the center of the hole,” he said. “I really didn't know what happened.”

Here’s what happened: his ball violently horseshoed around the hole and stayed out, leaving him with a three-putt par.

“After hitting a perfect 3-wood right in the middle of the green and three-putting for par, that was the moment I knew it was going to cost me,” Ortiz said after his round, with a runner-up medal around his neck.

To his credit, Ortiz bounced back at 17 with a clutch birdie, moving him one behind Gana when he should have been tied.

After Gana failed to save par at 18, he, Ortiz and Norman advanced to a playoff and went right back to the 18th tee. Just as he did in regulation, Ortiz was so full of adrenaline that he nearly drove the ball through the fairway and into the water hazard about 350 yards from the tee. He then hit his short wedge to inside 15 feet, setting up a birdie putt for the win.

And just like on 15 an hour earlier, Ortiz said he thought he “had it the whole way. I actually didn’t want to celebrate. I didn’t want to jinx it.”

He wouldn’t have. It wasn’t going in. Ortiz’s ball, moving at what looked like perfect speed, grabbed the lip but once again wouldn’t fall.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew I had hit it on-line,” he said. "I thought it was going to break a little bit left to right. I played it inside the hole, left to right.

“And my caddie told me right before I was about to putt that he thought it was right to left, and I just didn’t see it. And, I mean, he was right.”

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

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

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.