What We Learned: Volvo, Byron Nelson

By Jason SobelMay 19, 2013, 11:02 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on Graeme McDowell's victory in the Volvo World Match Play Championship, Peter Uilein's first win as a pro and the remarkable collegiate performance of the California Golden Bears.

The list of 'best current match-play competitors' doesn't extend very far, for the simple reason that the format is implemented in only a few professional tournaments per year. Tiger Woods and his three WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship titles place him firmly at or near the top of this list. Ian Poulter's one such title and Ryder Cup fire and brimstone act has him there, too. Graeme McDowell is one of the few others who can stake a claim to this placement, as well, with his Volvo World Match Play triumph serving as the latest example. McDowell has shown a tendency to make more clutch putts when the pressure is greatest. It's one reason why he won't be a one-time major champion for too much longer – especially if his next major title hope turns into a match-play type of scenario. – Jason Sobel

Peter Uihlein has never been afraid to leave home. At age 13, he gave up his New England youth for Bradenton, Fla., to attend the IMG Academy golf program. Upon graduation, he chose faraway Stillwater, Okla., to test himself in the college hotbed of Oklahoma State. And when it came time to pursue a professional golf career, Uihlein picked countries like Germany and Spain on the European Tour over a barnstorming life through the minor leagues of American golf.

On Sunday, his vagabond existence paid off in his first professional victory at the Madeira Islands Open in Santo Antonio Da Serra in Portugal. The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion birdied four of his last eight holes in the final round, carding a 68 to win by two shots over Denmark’s Morten Orum and Chile’s Mark Tullo.

Uihlein acknowledged Sunday that he has faced many challenges navigating countries where he doesn’t speak the language. The simple tasks we take for granted – finding a warm bed or a hot meal – hasn’t always come easy. But the life experiences the 23-year-old Uihlein has gained will serve him both inside and outside the ropes. In so many ways, they already have. And once he lands on the PGA Tour, he will feel at home wherever he plays. – Damon Hack

I'm not normally one to follow astrology, but there had to have been something in the stars this week. Sang-Moon Bae pulled a lunar eclipse in topping Keegan Bradley Sunday at the Byron Nelson. Jennifer Johnson switched to a spaceship putter, and then gravitated to the top of the Mobile Bay leaderboard for her debut LPGA victory. A few Blue Moons and some moonwalking seems in order. – Bailey Mosier

Closing is an art form. For the second time in three weeks, an established player took a lead into the final turn on a PGA Tour Sunday and lost. Two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship it was Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, a shot clear of the field heading into the final turn, who lost to little-known Derek Ernst. This week at the Byron Nelson Championship it was Keegan Bradley pacing the field through 54 who came up short to Sang-Moon Bae. – Rex Hoggard

While the focus remains on Tiger and Rory and Keegan, a remarkable story continues to play out among the college ranks. The top-ranked Cal Golden Bears won their NCAA regional Saturday, their 11th win in 13 tournaments this season – a new single-season NCAA record. The team has no world-beater, yet all five of Cal’s starters – Michael Kim, Max Homa, Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver and Joel Stalter – have won an individual title this season. Dating to last season, the Golden Bears have won 17 of their past 27 tournaments and finished inside the top five in all 27. The best part? It still doesn’t guarantee an NCAA title, at least not yet. The finals begin in nine days, in Atlanta. Cal has to navigate not just three days of stroke-play qualifying, but then three rounds of match play against the top eight teams. Could even more history await the winningest team in college golf history? – Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

Romo turns in even in PGA Tour debut

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 3:00 pm

After stumbling out of the gates, Tony Romo has found his footing in his PGA Tour debut.

Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption, Romo shot an even-par 36 for his opening nine holes in the Dominican Republic. The former NFL quarterback bogeyed his first two holes, but steadied the ship with three birdies from Nos. 4-8 while playing alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

The early highlight of the round came at the par-4 fifth hole, where Romo drained a putt from across the green for his second straight birdie:

Romo has played as an amateur partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and has played individually in U.S. Open local qualifiers and mini-tour events as an amateur. But this marks his first attempt to gauge his game against the best players in the world who are not in Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Romo, who plays to a plus-0.3 handicap, said earlier in the week that he expected some jitters once it came time to put a tee in the ground.

"You'll be nervous on Thursday on the first tee. Just going to be," Romo said. "I've got to get through the first three or four holes. If I can handle the nerves on the first three or four holes, I think that I'll settle in and hopefully just play the way I've been playing."

Click here to watch live first-round action on Golf Channel.

Getty Images

Kim's missing clubs show up at sporting goods store

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

More than a month after they were lost on an American Airlines flight, the clubs I.K. Kim used to win last year's Ricoh Women's British Open turned up on the sale rack of a California sporting goods store.

Kim's clubs became lost in late January when she flew from Miami to San Diego, with the airline suggesting she simply rent a new set. A few weeks later, Kim shot a "What's in the bag" television segment which according to a Golfweek report caught the eye of three good samaritans in the San Diego area.

The three men recognized Kim's clubs for sale at a local Play It Again Sports, with the major winner's tools listed at $60 each. The store even had Kim's tour bag, complete with her LPGA player badge. Kim filmed the reunion with her bag - containing wedges and a few hybrids, minus the head covers - at the Carlsbad police station:

Kim was back in southern California this week for the Kia Classic, where she'll begin play Thursday morning at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

Getty Images

New dad Garcia removes shoes, wins match

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:48 am

AUSTIN, Texas – In one of the day’s most explosive matches, Sergio Garcia rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to defeat Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The duo halved just nine holes on Day 1 at Austin Country Club, with Garcia going from 2 up through four holes to 1 down with five holes to play.

But the Spaniard rallied with five birdies over his final eight holes and pushed his record to 20-17-1 in the Match Play. He also gave himself his best chance to advance out of pool play since the format began in 2015.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The victory continued what has already been a memorable week for Garcia, whose wife, Angela, gave birth to the couple’s first child last Wednesday.

“I already feel like I’m a winner after what happened on Wednesday,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it's something that we're so, so happy and proud of and enjoying it as much as possible.”

The highlight of Garcia’s round on Wednesday came at the 12th hole when he took a drop on a cart path. After considering his options, he removed his shoes and hit his approach from 212 yards to 29 feet for a two-putt birdie to halve the hole.

“I have spikes. So if I don't take my shoes off, I'm going to slip. It's not the kind of shot that you want to slip,” Garcia said. “I had tried it a couple of times on practice swings and I was already slipping a little bit. So I thought I would just take my shoes off, try to get a little bit in front of the hole and it came out great.”