Even after first round struggles, women having a blast at Am Tour Championships

By Mike BaileySeptember 11, 2012, 2:50 am

Kathy Provazek and Jeff Ross are both competing in the Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach. 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Many of the players here at the Golf Channel Am Tour Championships are making a week of it in the Jacksonville area, but Kathy Provazek and husband Jeff Ross are doubling their pleasure. That's because they're both competing, but in different divisions that don't play at the same time.

Ross, 59, played in last week's senior championship, tying for eighth in the Hogan Flight, while 49-year-old Provazek just completed her first round on Monday on the Ocean Course at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. The Seattle couple arrived on Sept. 1 and don't leave until Friday. They've been playing in this event for the past five years.

'It's great,' said Ross, who has been married to Provazek for seven years now. 'We get to play the same courses. She'll ask me about the courses, and then I'll hear about every shot on every hole.'

Both players have similar handicap indexes. Ross is a 7.4 and Provazek is a 7.2, though she didn't have a good round on Monday, shooting 97 when 'everything and anything pretty much went wrong,' she said.

'We have so much fun doing this together,' Provazek said. 'And we're competitive with each other.'

Second marriages for both, Ross and Provazek were set up on a blind golf date at a nine-hole couples outing at their home club, Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, Wash. Three holes into the date, they knew they had chemistry, and the rest has been history.

Provazek, a retired radiation therapist, gets to play about every day. Ross wishes he could, but still works as a financial advisor, which he will do remotely while his wife competes this week. In fact, he has an overnight business trip planned for Chicago on Wednesday, but will return to see how his bride fares on the final day.

Next year, the two will have a shorter stay, however, as Provazek will turn 50 in time to play in the senior division at the Golf Channel Am Tour Championships slated for PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.

16 women take on the men at Am Tour National Championships

Robyn

Am Tour competitor Robyn James has colorful headcovers and names for her clubs. 

Provazek is one of just 16 women in the field this week, and for the most part, they're treated no differently than the men, though they do get to play from shorter tees. But not much shorter. The yardages, for example, in the Palmer Flight on the two courses at the TPC Sawgrass are about 6,100 yards, which can make for some long approach shots.

Robyn James found that out firsthand on the Dye Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass on Monday. Not only did it play long, but the rough was up as well, making for a difficult day for the 2-handicap from Shelby, N.C. 

James struggled to a 93 with several bad breaks, including having the ball fall of the tee right in the middle of her downswing on one hole. She barely nicked the ball as it came off the tee, and the ball traveled just a few feet.

'I just got my putt out of the way early,' she said with a laugh.

She also does something else unusual: She names her clubs and if you look at her notes during a round, each shot is noted by their proper nouns. For example, her driver is 'Max,' and her 7-iron is 'Sally,' the latter of which has been responsible for an eagle as well as a hole-in-one. In case you're wondering, she doesn't name her golf balls.

'I find it far easier to have a relationship with my clubs,' she said. 'They're going home with me at the end of the day.'

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Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

“Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

“Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

“Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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Only putting is holding McIlroy back

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

“I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

“It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.


Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida


“This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

“So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

“For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”