Duval Looks to Finish Michelob Season on a High Note

By Golf Channel NewsroomOctober 3, 2002, 4:00 pm
David Duval said last weeks Ryder Cup showed him what his game was lacking: passion. With a renewed vigor, Duval shot 7-under-par 64 to earn a share of the lead in the Michelob Championship.
Duval is tied with Japan's Hidemichi Tanaka, who birdied five of his final eight holes.
Five players are tied at 5-under, including last week's Texas Open winner Loren Roberts, Ryder Cupper Scott Hoch, who won this event in 1996, Corey Pavin, who hasnt won anywhere since 96, Jose Coceres and Bart Bryant.
Kind of a carryover from last week at England where I was really fired up about being there and playing, Duval said. I kind of had the same feeling as I got in here yesterday.
Duval skipped the Wednesday Pro-Am, instead opting to go home after the Ryder Cup to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
He said he wanted to give myself that extra day of rest and really try to put on a good show for the last year here.
This is the 36th and final edition of this event, held at the Kingsmill Golf Club in Kingsmill, Va. Like other tournaments, this one has fallen victim to a lack of a sponsor for next season.

Duval, for one, hates to see the tournament come to an end. Following seven career runner-up finishes, he won his first PGA Tour event here in 1997. It was the first of three wins in a row to cap the season, and the first of 11 wins in 34-tournament stretch that vaulted him to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He also successfully defended his title in 1998.
The 30-year-old hasnt won since his 2001 British Open triumph, and has only one top-10 finish this year. Thursday, however, he recorded an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys for his lowest round in the 2002 campaign.
His eagle came at the par-5 15th, where he hit a 6-iron from 190 yards to 20 feet and converted the putt.
Duval has shown flashes of his old self in recent events. He shot 65 in the final round of the World Golf Championships-NEC Championship, and then did the same in round two of the American Express Championship. Last week, he went 1-1-1 in his three matches played.
Really, in the last 10, 12 rounds its been the exception when I havent played well, he noted.
Duval has suffered through a lot this year. Hes missed seven cuts ' more than hes missed in the previous three years combined ' including at the Masters and the U.S. Open. He was also forced to withdraw from the Nissan Open after a bout of food poisoning.
On top of his professional woes, he ended an eight-year relationship with his fiance in late January, and suffered an injured shoulder in a snowboarding accident.
My head has been in different places this year unfortunately, simply because Ive had other things going on that Ive had to focus on and pay attention to, he said.
But, for now, Duval said hes body and mind are right, and hes focused on golf.
I have three rounds left this week, and the way Im kind of thinking right now is Ive got a good chance to being in the Tour Championship come next Sunday, and Im way outside it right now (currently 93rd on the money list), but thats how I feel, Duval said.
The thinking I have is I can clean up this year with three wins pretty easy, that I can turn whats been a bad golf year into another multiple-win season. Thats how I feel about my golf right now.
Two-time defending champion David Toms, who was the leading American points earner a week ago, opened in 1-under 70. Local favorite and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange shot 3-over 74.
Full-field scores from the Michelob Championship
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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told GolfChannel.com.

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.

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Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 3:53 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”

The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.

“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”

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Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”

Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.

“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”

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Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 3:03 pm

John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Web.com Tour.

Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.

But Senden told PGATour.com that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.

"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."

Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five Web.com "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.

Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.