Punch Shot: Good or bad move to eliminate U.S. Public Links Championship?

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 11, 2013, 3:40 pm

The U.S. Golf Association announced Monday that it would eliminate the men's and women's U.S. Public Links Championship after 2014. The event has been contested since 1922 and is the fourth-oldest USGA event; the men's winner was routinely given a Masters invitation. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in on if this was a good or bad move. (Click for a Publinx timeline and player reaction)

By JASON SOBEL

This was a bad move – and really bad timing.

If there’s a recent face of the U.S. Public Links Championship, a player who used the amateur tournament as a springboard to bigger and better things in his career, it’s that of Brandt Snedeker.

Which means that Monday’s announcement by the U.S. Golf Association that it will do away with the event after 2014 was a poor one on a few different levels.

The Publinx has always been the tournament of the people. In a day and age when golf still suffers from the image of an elitist and exclusive game, ridding itself of one of the few high-level tournaments that opposes that image sounds like an idea that’s counterproductive to the USGA’s message.

We keep hearing so much talk about “growing the game,” but it’s difficult to grow the game when you’re robbing some players of opportunities. I’m not naïve enough to think that the Publinx is the only way for a young amateur golfer to get his foot in the door toward being a successful professional, but the tournament has certainly helped players in the past while serving as that springboard.

Just ask Brandt Snedeker.


By RANDALL MELL

Good move, U.S. Golf Association.

The U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links championships have long felt redundant.

With the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur opening their doors back in 1979 to allow players from public courses to compete in the championships, the Publinx events lost their special purpose. There was a real and compelling reason to stage the Publinx championships when those players bred and nurtured on public courses were locked out of the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Women’s Amateur. The Publinx events are no longer compelling, no longer a celebration of what the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Amateur Women’s events weren’t.


By RYAN LAVNER

Clay Ogden. Casey Watabu. Lion Kim.

What do these three have in common? They’ve each won the U.S. Amateur Public Links in the past eight years. Last year, of course, T.J. Vogel defeated Kevin Aylwin in a 12-and-10 rout. The event was held at Soldier Hollow in Utah. But surely you knew that already.

Enough with the feigned outrage. This is a good move. Sure, the Publinx possessed an everyman appeal: All public-links players can compete if they have the game. But the Publinx is no longer a can’t-miss event for the elite amateur. Seemingly all players today have equal access to U.S. Golf Association events, and the crowded summer schedule has diminished the tournament to the weakest on the USGA’s roster of championships.

What to do with the Masters invitation? Well, here’s a better idea: Make the individual NCAA Championship a 72-hole event, then award the winner a berth in the Masters. It’s already one of the three strongest amateur events in the country.


By WILL GRAY

Executives from the U.S. Golf Association woke up Monday morning with several key issues very much on their plate – anchored-putting strokes and slow-play concerns among them. I would assume, though, that few, if any, calls had been fielded in recent weeks complaining that amateur players have too many high-level competitions at their disposal. That’s why I think their decision to eliminate the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship after 2014 is a bad move.

Look, I understand that the current state of the Publinx is a bit different from its first iteration in 1922, a year before Bobby Jones won his first major championship. But while USGA executives may explain that it has drifted from its original mission, I have a tough time grasping how the event is any more outdated than it was 10 years ago when Brandt Snedeker won, or 15 years ago when Trevor Immelman took home the prize – both of whom played The Masters for the first time thanks to their wins in this event.

I am sad to see an event with such rich history end for any reason, especially in a retirement of sorts that comes without precedent. Elite, amateur-level competition is a fascinating subset of this great game, and it is unfortunate that the USGA has opted to eliminate one of the relatively few platforms upon which it can be displayed.

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Watch: Koepka nearly aces par-3 13th Sunday

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 4:24 am

Just when it looked like he was facing a legitimate challenge Sunday, Brooks Koepka responded with a near-ace.

Up four to start the final round, Koepka saw his lead disappear as Gary Woodland raced up the leaderboard to tie him at 13 under and then 14 under.

Unfazed, the three-time major winner birdied the par-5 12th to regain his outright lead and then followed up with this tee shot at the 218-yard, par-3 13th.

And just like that, the tap-in birdie put Koepka back ahead by two with five to play.

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Haas nearly shoots age in taking Champions playoff opener lead

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 10:05 pm

RICHMOND, Va.  -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 65 - missing his age by a stroke - to take a two-shot lead Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, the 64-year-old Haas birdied the par-5 16th and 18th holes to get to 11-under 133 on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''I've been out here too long to know that I can learn to expect anything,'' Haas said. ''While I'm hopeful every day and I've been playing OK, the last couple weeks have not been very good, but this week has been much better. I love this golf course and it looks good to my eye. Most of the holes look like I'm going to hit a good shot, so I enjoy playing here.''

Mike Fetchick set the age record of 63 years to the day in the 1985 Hilton Head event. Haas is second on the list, taking the 2016 Toshiba Classic at 62 years, 10 months, 7 days for his 18th senior title.

''That's a good way to say I'm old, 'experience,''' Haas said. ''I think I'm very nervous most of the time when I play and today was no exception, but I continued to hit good shots and, hopefully, I can put one foot in front of the other, one shot at a time, do what I tell my son to do every time, you know? See if I can put some of those adages to work tomorrow.''


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Stephen Ames and Scott Dunlap were tied for second after the round that started in light rain. Ames had a 67, and Dunlap shot 68.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer had a 66 to join Billy Mayfair (67) and Woody Austin (68) at 9 under. Langer won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the season points lead. The 61-year-old German star has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, was tied for 23rd at 4 under after a 71.

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Sergio leads by 4 entering final round at Valderrama

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 9:26 pm

Sergio Garcia closed with three straight birdies to shoot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, taking a four-shot lead into the third and final round of the Andalusia Valderrama Masters.

The tournament, which Garcia has won  twice (2017, 2011), was reduced to 54 holes because of numerous weather-related delays.

With his bogey-free round, Garcia moved to 10 under, four shots clear of Englishman Ashley Chesters, who shot a 1-under 70.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


"Hopefully we'll be able to play well tomorrow and get another win at Valderrama," Garcia said. "Hopefully I can finish it in style."

Chesters, however, is conceding nothing. "There's always a chance," he said. "There's not a lot of pressure on me."

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Ciganda, S.Y. Kim share lead in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 20, 2018, 9:28 am

SHANGHAI - Carlota Ciganda of Spain shot a 5-under 67 Saturday to share the lead with Sei Young Kim after the third round of the LPGA Shanghai.

Ciganda carded her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 18th to finish tied with overnight leader Kim at 11-under 205. Kim shot a 71 with four bogeys and five birdies.

Ciganda is attempting to win her third LPGA title and first since the 2016 season, when she won two tournaments in a one-month span. Kim is chasing her eighth career LPGA win and second title of the 2018 season.

''I want to win because I didn't win last year,'' Ciganda said. ''I love playing in Asia. It's good for long hitters, playing quite long, so I'm quite comfortable.''


Full-field scores from the Buick LPGA Shanghai


Angel Yin also birdied the final hole for a 68 and was a further stroke back with Brittany Altomare (69), Danielle Kang (71) and Ariya Jutanugarn (71).

Yin and Altomare have yet to break through for their first LPGA win. A win in Shanghai would make either player the ninth first-time winner of the 2018 season, which would tie 2016 for the third highest number of first-time winners in a season in LPGA history.

''I love competing,'' Yin said. ''That's why I'm playing, right? I'm excited to be in contention again going into Sunday.''

Local favorite Yu Liu was seventh after offsetting a lone bogey with four birdies for a 69.

Paula Creamer also shot a 69 and shared eighth at 8 under with Minjee Lee (70) and Bronte Law (71).

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.