Defending Champ Out But Masters Winner In

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
AT&T ClassicDULUTH, Ga. -- The PGA TOUR moves from the TPC Sawgrass to the TPC Sugarloaf this week, where last week's winner at THE PLAYERS Championship, Phil Mickelson, has decided not to defend his title at the AT&T Classic.
 
Last year, when the tournament was named the BellSouth Classic, Mickelson successfully defended his 2005 title by sprinting to a 13-shot win at Sugarloaf a week before he won his second Masters title.
 
Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson
Phil Mickelson gets a fist bump from Zach Johnson during his 2006 blowout. (WireImage)
Like THE PLAYERS, this event was moved back in the schedule to give the TOUR a different May lineup in the weeks before the U.S. Open.
 
Mickelson, the new world No. 2 after his win on Sunday, isn't the only top-10 player who is skipping this week's event. Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh and five of the other six top-10 players are also taking the week off.
 
Only No. 7 Henrik Stenson is in the field, where he will be joined by just three of the last 13 champions (Zach Johnson '05; Paul Stankowski '96; and John Daly '94).
 
The purse is $5.4 million, with $972,000 going to the winner.
 
As always, the GOLF CHANNEL will have coverage of the first two rounds and CBS will broadcast the weekend. Next week is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (the Colonial), where Tim Herron beat Richard S. Johnson in a playoff last year.
 
Next week, the TOUR will head on back to Texas for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. But here are the guys to watch out for this week:
 
Zach Johnson
The recently crowned Masters champion has been on a whirlwind tour of America since his victory, but will feel right at home this week in Georgia. Playing just a hop, a skip and a jump from Augusta, Johnson apparently has quite the feel for Georgia courses. His one other TOUR victory came here at the TPC Sugarloaf three seasons ago. He also had a runner-up finish here last year and is coming off a solid week at THE PLAYERS where he tied for 16th.
 
Henrik Stenson
Although he missed the cut in his only appearance last year, Stenson does come into the event as the highest ranked player in the field. The long-hitting Swede has played steady golf this year following his breakout win at the WGC-Match Play Championship, where he took down Aussie Geoff Ogilvy. He finished 23rd last week in Ponte Vedra Beach.
 
Peter Lonard
Lonard doesnt have a strong history at Sugarloaf, but he did manage to finish fifth in 2004. He has played this tournament three times, making the cut on each occasion. What may favor him most, however, is his recent form. The Aussie played quality golf last week at THE PLAYERS, tying for sixth. It was his best finish since a third-place showing earlier in the year in Mexico.
 
Stewart Cink
The Georgia Tech grad and Duluth resident is a local favorite. Hes had some success at Sugarloaf, but hasnt yet climbed into the winners circle. Cink has played this tournament every year since 1997 and has six top-10 finishes. His best result came in 1999, when he finished runner-up to David Duval. This may be his week to breakthrough (just like Dallas Scott Verplank did at the Byron Nelson). Cink has finished inside the top 5 each of the last two weeks, including a T3 at THE PLAYERS.
 
J.J. Henry
If not for Mickelson, the 2006 tournament would have gone right down to the wire, and Henry would have been in the mix. He closed in 4-under 68 to secure a tie for fourth, one back of runners-up Johnson and Jose Maria Olazabal. He also tied for ninth here in 03. Henrys length is an asset on the 7,343-yard layout.
 
Here are four other players to keep an eye on at TPC Sugarloaf:
 
Jonathan Byrd
After missing the cut in his AT&T debut in 2004, Byrd tied for 32nd in 05 and was solo sixth a year ago. If he continues to improve along those lines, he could be hoisting the trophy over his head this time around.
 
Rory Sabbatini
Sabbatini has made more headlines recently with his mouth than with his play. The South African has never had much success in this particular event, missing the cut five times in the last six years, but past results mean little to him. He had only made one cut at the Masters before this year and tied for second. He has three top-3s in his last four starts. And with no Tiger in the field, maybe he can keep his focus on his own game.
 
Charles Howell III
For the first time in five years, CHIII will tee it up in this event. He missed the cut way back in 2002, but did tie for sixth in 01. Hes certainly worth keeping an eye on this week.
 
Rich Beem
Beem was among the four unfortunate losers to Mickelson in the 2005 playoff. He returned last year and tied for 19th ' one of only four top-20 finishes on the season. He could use a good finish this week, as he hasnt broken the top 20 since the Nissan Open in February.
 
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    Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

    By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

    HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

    Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

    Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

    Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

    His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.


    Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


    The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

    His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

    McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

    He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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    Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

    By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

    Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

    It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

    The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

    The week was more than nostalgic. 

    It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

    In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

    “I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

    Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

    “It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

    Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.


    Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open


    The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

    “It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

    Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

    “Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

    She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

    “Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

    At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

    With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

    This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

    “A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

    Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

    “It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

    In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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    Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

    By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

    SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

    The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

    Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

    In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

    Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

    Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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    Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

    Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

    Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

    It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

    "Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

    Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

    But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

    As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

    The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.