Punch Shot: Who will win the majors in 2013?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 3, 2013, 2:00 pm

The 2013 PGA Tour season is almost under way in Kapalua, Hawaii, but it's never too late to start thinking about the majors. In this Punch Shot, GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with their predictions on which players will hoist major trophies this season.

By RANDALL MELL

Picking major championship winners this early isn’t quite as foolhardy as playing darts in the dark, but it’s close. Here goes anyway:

The Masters: Rory McIlroy. The boy wonder had the 54-hole lead at Augusta National in 2011, and he’s a much more polished player now. He hits the ball long and high, and his putter can glow red hot when he gets a sniff of the lead in a major. He’s just 23, but he isn’t lacking course knowledge at Augusta National. He will be playing in his fifth Masters this year.

The U.S. Open: Tiger Woods. Merion won’t be overpowered, and that’s just fine with Woods. He prefers the conservative approach in the game’s biggest events, and he’ll be quite comfortable navigating his way around this historic venue with 3-woods and irons off tees. Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino won at Merion. So will Woods.

British Open: Ian Poulter. With three top-10s in majors last year, and with his inspiring performance at the Ryder Cup, Poulter showed his determination to lift his game in big moments. He’ll lift the claret jug at Muirfield this year.

PGA Championship: Luke Donald. We don’t always give the Englishman his due, in part because he has never won a major, but he goes about his business nobly just the same. A wonderful putter and an equally wonderful attitude helps Donald break through to win at Oak Hill.


BY RYAN LAVNER

Masters: Rory McIlroy. Two years ago, he had a four-shot lead before a Sunday 80. A year ago, he was ill-prepared after a month-long layoff and tied for 40th. This is the year the world No. 1 finally pulls it together and wins the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

U.S. Open: Luke Donald. A claustrophobic, short layout such as Merion should be a perfect fit for Donald, one of the steadiest players in the game. He hasn’t finished worse than third in the Tour’s strokes gained-putting statistic since 2007 – at some point, his stellar short game has to show up on a major stage.

British Open: Tiger Woods. The Open represents Woods’ best chance to win a major because he doesn’t have to be perfect. His record in golf’s oldest championship is outstanding; in 16 career starts, he has 13 top-25s, eight top10s, a pair of third-place finishes and, of course, three victories. Plus, he would have been a factor at Muirfield in 2002 if not for a Saturday 81 in terrible conditions.

PGA Championship: Keegan Bradley. OK, so the sample size is small, but Bradley hasn’t finished worse than T-3 in two starts at the PGA Championship, including a victory in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club. A long-and-straight hitter should prevail at Oak Hill, and few players in the game are as brawny as Bradley. He’s ready to break through once again – belly putter and all. 


By JASON SOBEL

Usually when I'm asked to pick major winners so far in advance, I'll answer the question with a few questions of my own: What's the weather going to be like? How is the course playing? Which players are in form entering each one?

It might be easier predicting answers to each of those queries than predicting this year's major champions months in advance, but let's give it a whirl anyway...

Masters: Adam Scott. The golf gods don't owe him anything after last year's loss at Lytham; that was all his own undoing. But the Aussie is too good to remain winless in majors for too long. Only question is whether he'll be using a belly putter or a short stick when it happens.

U.S. Open: Brandt Snedeker. Let's see ... Tight course? Check. Fast greens? Check. Par at a premium? Check. If last year's FedEx Cup winner could build a major venue that suits his game, it would be Merion.

Open Championship: Tiger Woods. This used to be an inarguable fact: Woods is the world's greatest links player. After a few down years overseas, that can now be debated, but he still has the knowledge and talent to thrive on a fast, firm setup.

PGA Championship: Graeme McDowell. After his 2010 U.S. Open win, I thought G-Mac may have been the classic case of a guy who got his major, then relaxed. Instead, the opposite is true. He's driven, inspired and – most importantly – has the game needed to win a few more of 'em.


By REX HOGGARD

Considering last year’s list of major winners – Bubba Watson (Masters), Webb Simpson (U.S. Open), Ernie Els (British Open) and Rory McIlroy (PGA Championship) – it seems the best Grand Slam prognostications are a tad outside the box, so here goes:

Masters: Give us McIlroy in April because he has too much game and karma can’t be that indifferent to his painful history at Augusta National. Forget about that Sunday meltdown in ’11 and weekend rounds of 77-76 last year, the Ulsterman is poised to move one step closer to the career Grand Slam next spring.

U.S. Open: It’s been more than 30 years since the national championship was played at Merion and the under card, new technology vs. classic architecture, will be almost as intriguing as the champion, who will be Rickie Fowler, the star of 2009 U.S. Walker Cup team when it was played at Merion.

British Open: As stunning as Els’ victory last year at Royal Lytham was it should surprise no one that the Big Easy will emerge again at Muirfield. After all, the South African will be the defending champion (2012 Open) and the defending champion at Muirfield, having won the last Open played on the Scottish links.

PGA Championship: Tiger Woods will get off the Grand Slam schneid and it seems apropos that he will do so at “Glory’s Last Shot.” Four of Woods’ 14 majors have been won at the PGA and Oak Hill should be a perfect fit for the new and improved swing.

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Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

"I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

"It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

"So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

"I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

"So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

"So I know it's right around the corner."

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Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

He said his game has long been unpredictable.

''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''