Champions Tour Top 5 in 2004

By Golf Channel NewsroomOctober 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
Champions TourThe Charles Schwab Cup Championship marks the 31st and final official event on the 2004 Champions Tour schedule. Looking back on the year, a legend won in Savannah and a Walrus won at Pebble Beach. Kite flew high following a couple of crashes, while Oakley flew in under the radar in Ireland. Jake won a big one on the road, but lost a big one at home. There were plenty of choices, but only five made the cut. As the season reaches its conclusion, we countdown the top 5 tournaments this year.
No. 5 -- 3M Championship

2004 3M ChampionshipIn golf, everyone has a losing record. Tom Kites winning percentage is around .03 ' and hes in the Hall of Fame. That means Kite has won 25 and lost 792 in his combined PGA and Champions tour Tom Kitecareers. That being said, losing, though often, is never easy to stomach, and is made all-the-more difficult when you blow final-round, back-nine leads in major championships. Kite did that in both this years Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open ' in back-to-back weeks. One week after his second straight Sunday meltdown, however, Kite soared back into the winners circle at the 3M Championship. This time, he birdied three of his final seven holes, including the last, for a one-shot victory over Craig Stadler. It was more than just sweet redemption; it was his first taste of success in 22 bitter months.
I'm proud of this win, especially after what's happened the last two weeks, Kite said after his seventh career victory on the 50-and-over set. Out here, you've got to have selective memory.
No. 4 -- Bank of America Championship

04 Bank of America ChampionshipCraig Stadler won 13 times on the PGA Tour. He has eight Champions Tour victories in just two years. Hes got a Masters title and two senior majors to his credit. But its his win at this years Craig StadlerBank of America Championship that may head that list of accomplishments. Its not that the BOA is the most prestigious event on the senior schedule, or that he broke any records or did anything spectacular along the way to victory. Its a combination of what he did and what happened some 550 miles away that made this triumph so special. Moments after Stadler shot 64 to whip the field in Massachusetts, he watched in the scorers tent as his son Kevin won his first Nationwide Tour event in Findley Lake, N.Y. They became the first father-son duo to win in the same week since Bob (Emerald Coast Classic) and David (The Players Championship) Duval did so in 1999.
'I never dreamed of both of us winning on the same day, the elder Stadler said. This is probably the best golfing day I'll ever have. Individual accomplishments don't even come close to this.
No. 3 -- Senior PGA Championship

04 Senior PGA ChampionshipThere is supposed to be a window of opportunity on the Champions Tour. A window that usually closes around the age of 55. Hale Irwin, however, has broken that window into shards, and has Hale Irwinshattered records in the process. He started the 2004 campaign with 38 tour wins and added another at ' appropriately enough ' the Legends of Golf. No. 40 would come at the Senior PGA Championship. The odds were stacked against him at Valhalla Golf Club. The course was listed at nearly 7,200 yards and was playing even longer under wet conditions. Add into the stop-and-start nature of the tournament, due to Mother Natures interference, and there was no way a man nearing 59 years of age with a bad back should win this senior survival. Unless that man is Hale Irwin. After five days of play and countless weather delays, Irwin was the last man standing. Tied with pre-tournament favorite Jay Haas, who was making his tour debut, Irwin birdied the final hole for a one-stroke victory. It was his fourth Senior PGA title and his first major victory since the 2000 U.S. Senior Open.
It's been an awkward week for everyone,' Irwin said. I'm proud, I'm relieved and I'm glad it's over.'
No. 2 -- JELD-WEN Tradition

There was a lot of debate as to who was the leading candidate for player of the year leading up to the tours final major of the season. Craig Stadler was among that select list, but he lacked a major title on his 2004 resume. And it didnt appear that would change at the JELD-WEN Craig StadlerTradition. That was until the 15th hole in Round 3. Eight strokes off the lead, Stadler holed a 4-iron from 207 yards for double eagle. He managed to cut his deficit to four by the start of the final round, yet still found himself well in arrears on the back nine Sunday. But while the leaders stalled and stumbled down the stretch, Stadler closed like a champion. He birdied each of his final four holes for a one-shot victory over Jerry Pate and Allen Doyle. Local favorite Peter Jacobsen, whose production company ran the Portland, Ore. tournament, excited the crowd with a share of the 54-hole lead. But a double bogey on the 71st hole sealed his fate in a tie for fourth.
Eighty of us come out here and all 80 of us don't want to spoil Peter's party,' Stadler said, before adding a wry smile.
I'm still shocked I won this week, he added. I got up to the 18th green and saw the leaderboard with the bogeys and said, 'you know they keep opening the door a little bit and somebody's going to stick their foot in there, and fortunately it was me.
No. 1 -- U.S. Senior Open

2004 US Senior OpenPeter Jacobsens rookie season on the Champions Tour was supposed to be a boon for both the tour and for his pocket book. Having won on the PGA Tour at the age of 49, Jacobsen was supposed to tally trophies, rake in the money, and attract legions of fans along the way. But Peter Jacobsenleading up to the U.S. Senior Open it had been one big pain in the hip. Jacobsen had played in just two tournaments and had to withdraw from two more thanks to a balky ball and socket, which required surgery on April 20. He was going to skip the Senior Open, as well, but decided to give it a try -- only because it is the Senior Open. After two rounds it seemed to be a wise decision; he was tied for the lead with Tom Kite. That was the good news. The bad news was, rain had washed away play on Friday, so there would be a 36-hole Sunday. It was a worrisome proposition for a man two months removed from hip surgery, forced to traverse 36 holes in one day (carts are not allowed in senior majors). Kite moved two clear of Jake with a third-round 65, and appeared ready to add a U.S. Senior Open crown to his 1992 U.S. Open title. But back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes in the final round derailed his confidence, and a double bogey at the last ' while he was still tied for the lead ' was the ultimate train wreck. Kite, whose daughter Stephanie was watching in the gallery, finished a heartbreaking two back. Hale Irwin and Jay Haas, both of whom have ties to the Bellerive area near St. Louis, Mo., each could have tied Jacobsen with birdies at the last, but both failed, with Haas' birdie pitch clipping the hole. Jacobsen then calmly made his necessary par for his improbable victory.
It feels unbelievable, said Jacobsen. I've played in USGA championships since I was 15 years old. U.S. Juniors, U.S. Amateurs, U.S. Opens and now my first U.S. Senior Open I competed in. I won it. I'm speechless practically.
Getty Images

Just like last year, Spieth in desperate need of a spark

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 8:38 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Jordan Spieth has arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a turnaround. Again.

Spieth’s playoff victory last year over Daniel Berger, complete with a bunker hole-out and raucous celebration, went down as one of the most electrifying moments of 2017. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start.

So it’s easy to forget the state of Spieth’s game when he first stepped foot on the grounds of TPC River Highlands a year ago. Things were, quite plainly, not going well.

He was struggling on the greens, even going so far as to switch putters at the AT&T Byron Nelson. He then failed to contend at Erin Hills, only netting a T-35 finish thanks to a final-round 69 that came hours before the leaders teed off.

So here we are again, with Spieth in search of a spark after a series of underwhelming performances that included last week’s effort at Shinnecock Hills, where he bogeyed the last two holes of his second round to miss the cut by a shot. Except this time, the climb back to the top may be even steeper than it was a year ago.

“I’m not sure where the state of my game is right now,” Spieth said. “If I strike the ball the way I have been this year, then the results are coming. But the last couple weeks I’ve played Muirfield and then the (U.S.) Open, and I hit the ball really poorly and didn’t give myself that many opportunities to let the putter do the work.”

While many big names play sporadically in the time between the Masters and U.S. Open, Spieth remained as busy as ever thanks to the Tour’s swing through Texas. So even after failing to contend much in the spring outside of a memorable finale in Augusta, and even after struggling for much of his week at TPC Sawgrass, Spieth looked out at his schedule and saw a myriad of possible turning points.

There was the AT&T Byron Nelson, played in his hometown and at a venue on which he was one of only a handful with any experience (T-21). Then a trip across town to Colonial, where he had beaten all but two players in a three-year stretch (T-32).

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Throw in the missed cuts at Muirfield Village and Shinnecock Hills, and Spieth has made it to the last leg of a six-event stretch that has included only one off week and, to date, zero chances to contend come Sunday.

“I think here this week, the key for me is just to get out in the first round and try not to do too much,” Spieth said. “I mean, 90-plus percent of the tournaments the last two years I’ve thrown out my chances to win a golf tournament on Thursday. I’ve had too much to do from here on.”

That was certainly the case last week on Long Island, where Spieth’s hopes for a fourth major title evaporated well before course conditions became a focal point over the weekend. He was 4 over through his first two holes and spent much of the next 34 stuck in a fit of frustration. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.

Spieth has continued to preach patience throughout the year, but there’s no getting around some eye-popping stats; he's 188th on Tour this year in strokes gained: putting and 93rd in fairways hit. It can foster a pressure to find a cure-all in any given week, especially given how quickly he got a middling summer back on track last year.

“It’s something that you fight, sure,” Spieth said. “It’s been that way just about every tournament except Muirfield, because then you go to the U.S. Open and think you don’t even have to shoot under par to win this golf tournament. So as much as that kind of comes into your head, it’s not bothering me this time. I’m going to try and have fun, and make progress.”

After this week, Spieth will have some down time with family before making the trip overseas to Carnoustie. He plans to have a few private dinners accompanied by the claret jug, one last toast to last year’s success before turning the trophy back over to the R&A.

But even Spieth admitted that as it pertains to his chances to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by successfully defending a major title, he’ll be greatly aided by working his way into the mix this weekend. It represents the last chance in this early-summer swing to get his name back on the leaderboard, an opportunity to light fire to a pedestrian campaign like he did a year ago.

No pressure.

“It’s your basic stuff that sometimes gets off, that the harder you try to get them back on sometimes, the worse it gets,” Spieth said. “It can be frustrating, or you can just kind of wait for it to come to you. I think I’m OK with where things are, whether it’s the rest of this year or next year. I feel like there are good scores coming.”

Getty Images

Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:59 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.

Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.

Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.

“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”

Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.

The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.

“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”

Getty Images

Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 5:50 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.

Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.

Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):

7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger

Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson

Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.

12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox

This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.

1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas

This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.

Getty Images

Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 19, 2018, 5:30 pm

There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $7 million

Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)

Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Notables in the field

Jordan Spieth

• Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week

• 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)

• Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)

Brooks Koepka

• Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)

• First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)

• First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)

Justin Thomas

• Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)

• Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)

Rory McIlroy

• Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)

• Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)

Jason Day

• Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)

• Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season

Patrick Reed

• Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018

• Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)