Durant Defends First of Two at Bob Hope

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 15, 2002, 5:00 pm
Prior to the 2001 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Joe Durant was a one-win wonder. He captured the Western Open in 1998, but only recorded four top-10s over the next two years.
 
Then something ' everything ' clicked in La Quinta, Calif. He opened in 65; shot 11-under 61 in Round 2; followed with a 67; and continued with a 66. Amazingly, the four scores came over four different courses. And even more impressively, he set a 72-hole PGA Tour scoring record at 29-under-par.
 
Leading by five strokes with 18 holes to play, Durant failed to ease off the gas, instead accelerating to a final-round 65. He finished the tournament at 36-under-par 324 ' a 90-hole tour record.
 
It was really a magical week, Durant said upon collecting his second career title.
 
For good measure he won his next start, as well, at the Genuity Championship.
 
Durants start to the 2001 campaign was quite a departure from where he was in his professional life a decade ago.
 
He took six months off after the 1991 Buy.Com Tour season ended. He received a license to sell insurance, though he never actually sold a policy. He also took a job at a golf equipment retail house, filling orders and stacking boxes.
 
It wasnt until his wife, Tracey, lectured him about his negative attitude that things began to turn for the positive.
 
Finally, in 1997, Durant secured a place in the big leagues. He finished 100th on the money list that season, and then climbed to No. 43 in earnings, thanks primarily to his Western triumph.
 
And though he missed 13 cuts in 26 starts in 99, Durant never lost his card ' nor his positive outlook.
 
Thanks to his overly impressive beginning a year ago, Durant was named Comeback Player of the Year, as voted by his peer.
 
Now, he has to find a way to regain that level of performance. He missed nine of his final 13 cuts in 2001, and started this season with a tie for 20th in the 32-man field at the Mercedes Championships and a tie for 54th in last weeks Sony Open in Hawaii.
 
Durant will face some stiff competition in the $4 million, five-day event. 2000 champion Jesper Parnevik, 1999 winner David Duval, Mark Calcavecchia, John Daly, David Toms, Charles Howell III, Hal Sutton and Mike Weir are in the field.
 
Most notably, Phil Mickelson will make his 02 debut. It will be the leftys first start since the WGC-NEC Invitational in August. Mickelson skipped his title defense in the Tour Championship and the Mercedes Championships to be with his family, which includes daughter Sophia Isabel, born on Oct. 23.
 
One-hundred-and-44 players are competing alongside 432 amateurs. They will play four layouts over the first four days: the host Palmer Private Course at PGA West, which will be played on exclusively Sunday, Indian Wells Country Club, Bermuda Dunes Country Club and Tamarisk Country Club.
 
Tamarisk was last in the rotation when Duval prevailed in 99, the year he fired a final-round 59. La Quinta Country Club is the odd course out this year.
 
Full field and more on the 2002 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
Getty Images

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 at No. 131 in the current standings. Left with even more work to do is former FedExCup winner Bill Haas, who starts the week in Greensboro at No. 150.

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 the results largely dried up after Garcia defended his title at the Masters, as he has made only two cuts in 10 Tour starts since April, including early exits in all four majors.

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, as 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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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:

Getty Images

Lexi: I need to figure out who I am away from golf

By Randall MellAugust 15, 2018, 5:56 pm

Lexi Thompson says her month-long “mental break” from golf was not triggered by any new event, but it was a respite she needed to deal with the cumulative struggle that came from trying to show strength and “hide” the emotional pain she felt in the challenges she faced last year.

Thompson opened up in a heartfelt fashion Wednesday in her return to the game at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, where she is the defending champion.

“It was honestly just a buildup,” Thompson said. “The last year and a half, I have honestly been struggling a lot, emotionally, and it's hard because I can't really show it.

“It was just so much to deal with, and I had to show that I was still OK and still play golf. And I don't even know how I played that well, honestly. And I think it just kind of all hit me coming into this year.”

Thompson, 23, was candid about the challenges she has faced as a golf prodigy, telling reporters she spent some of her break from the game speaking to therapists about building a life that isn’t all about her golf.

“I would say it's just figuring out what really makes me happy off the golf course, as well, figuring myself out,” Thompson said. “I have transformed myself around this game for such a long time, ever since I was 5 years old.”

Thompson said she has always poured herself into the game, into practice and training.

“That's what I grew up knowing,” she said. “Didn't know much different.

“I was always a very determined person, and coming to this age, a little older, I realize I do need to make time for myself and enjoy life, because not a lot of 23-year-old girls are doing what I am. People need to realize that. I'm not just a robot out here. I need to have a life.”

Thompson qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 12, the youngest player at the time to do so. She won the U.S. Girls’ Junior at 13, won her first LPGA title at 16 and her first major at 19.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


Last year might have been the best and worst of Thompson’s career. She endured a wave of emotional highs and lows.

At the start of 2017, she lost the ANA Inspiration in a playoff after being controversially hit with a four-shot penalty in the final round. She watched her mother wage a second battle with cancer, and she dealt with the death of a grandmother.

At year’s end, Thompson missed a short putt that could have led to her ascending to world No. 1 for the first time and being named player of the year. Amid all of that, she won twice and finished second six times, prompting the Golf Writers Association of America to give her its female player of the year award.

“You can only stay strong for so long and hide it,” Thompson said. “I am a very strong person, but at times you just need a break.”

Thompson was asked what she has figured out about the life she wants outside golf.

“It's still a work in progress,” she said. “I truly love being home and around my family and friends. I really enjoy that time. Even if it's two days, I get the most of it. Just being home and being a regular person, it's nice.”

Thompson announced after the Marathon Classic in mid-July that she was skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England. It is the first major she has missed since joining the LPGA.

“It was definitely a hard decision for me,” Thompson said. “The British Open, I never want to skip that event. It's just a very prestigious event. But with how I was, just mentally and emotionally, I wasn't ready to compete there. I was struggling with my game. Besides that, I was just struggling with myself.”

Thompson said she has been dealing with a hand injury, and it flared up during the Marathon Classic, but it wasn’t a factor in her decision to take a break. She said she is feeling fine now. She begins defense of her Indy title this week ranked No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She is winless in 13 starts this year, but she has given herself chances, with five top-10 finishes.

“I think overall I have had a little bit of an up-and-down year,” Thompson said. “I have had some great tournaments, but obviously haven't won yet. But you just have to take the positive out of everything, realize that I have had a great year. I haven't won, but I'm trying my best in every tournament, that's all I can do.”