Punch Shot: Biggest surprise who hasn't won in 2013

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 28, 2013, 2:15 pm

Tiger Woods has four wins on Tour this season, but his success also serves to highlight other players’ winless campaigns.

So we ask: Which player are you most surprised hasn’t won yet this year?

By RYAN LAVNER

Keegan Bradley.

I expected huge things from the 2011 PGA champion. He was coming off another stellar campaign, and his spirited Ryder Cup performance helped bolster his reputation as one of the game’s most exciting players.

The only thing the 26-year-old hasn’t done this season is win. OK, so there were the no-shows in the big events – the first-round loss at the Match Play, the 73-73-82 start at the Masters, the MC at The Players.

But there are the close calls, too: the T-4 at the season opener, the runner-up at the Nelson. In all, he is ranked 13th in the world, he has six top-10s, he sits eighth in scoring average (69.96), and he’s ninth in FedEx Cup points, the only player inside the top 10 without a victory.

If Bradley ends 2013 without a win – it could come as soon as this week’s Memorial, or perhaps at the PGA – feel free to bash me upside the head with a belly putter.


By JASON SOBEL

I thought this was going to be a big year for Justin Rose. Still do, actually.

At 32, he’s just entering what is generally considered to be the prime of most professional golfers’ careers. He’s a ball-striking machine whose iron and wedge game is among the world’s top five. And he’s coming off a season in which he had 14 top-10 finishes around the world, including his first WGC title.

It just felt like talent and success were going to happily intersect, resulting in Rose hoisting a few more trophies this year.

It hasn’t happened yet, but he’s hardly been a disappointment. Rose has runner-up finishes in Abu Dhabi and at Bay Hill to go along with a pair of other top-10s. Let’s remember the question here: I’m not calling him this year’s most disappointing golfer so far; I’m saying he’s the one I’m most surprised hasn’t yet won.

There’s still plenty of time, though. In fact, Rose’s first PGA Tour win came three years ago at The Memorial Tournament. He’s back at Jack’s place this week and while Tiger Woods remains the prohibitive favorite, Rose could very well erase his name from the non-winners list this season.


By RANDALL MELL

Rory McIlroy’s the biggest surprise.

He did, after all, begin the year No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He’s still No. 2 despite a sluggish start to this season. There was a lot going on in his life with all that comes with being No. 1, with his equipment change, with reports he’s about to leave another management company and with speculation over who he will play for when the Olympics come around. Still, it’s surprising that he hasn’t even given himself a chance to win anything other than the Valero Texas Open late on a Sunday this year. 

He’s been here before, though, just last year. The 2012 Memorial marked his third consecutive missed cut, but he ended up going on a tear in August and September, winning three of four starts, including the PGA Championship. 


By WILL GRAY

This season, Keegan Bradley has done everything but win – literally. Among his six top-10 finishes – tied with Brandt Snedeker for the most this year on the PGA Tour – are a second (HP Byron Nelson), a third (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and a pair of fourths (Hyundai TOC and Honda Classic). A year after leading the Tour in the all-around ranking, the former PGA champ is once again near the top of myriad statistical categories: sixth in total driving, 10th in par-4 performance, 11th in scoring average and eighth in the all-around.

The 26-year-old has demonstrated an ability to close out PGA Tour events – see last year’s win at Firestone in addition to his playoff triumph at the 2011 PGA Championship. This year, though, he hasn’t been able to close the deal, coming closest in his most recent start at TPC Four Seasons, where he led much of the week after setting a new course record in the first round, only to be passed on the final day by Sang-Moon Bae. At ninth on the current FedEx Cup points standings, he remains the highest-ranked player without a win to his credit this season.

Through the first five months of 2013, Bradley has demonstrated an ability to thrive on a variety of courses; he’s posted high finishes at Doral and Redstone, when birdies were required in bunches, as well as Riviera and PGA National, where par was often a good score. Though it’s surprising that he hasn’t already hoisted a trophy this season, with his game clearly at an elite level, the prevailing sense is that it’s only a matter of time before he’s back inside the winner’s circle.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.