What we learned

By Mercer BaggsJune 25, 2012, 12:08 am

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned about a 'hangover' myth, the state of American women's pro golf and the emotional strength of Melissa Reid.

I learned Melissa Reid has incredible strength. Her triumph on the Ladies European Tour, in her first start since the death of her mother in a car accident four weeks ago, deserves applause and a moment of reverence. Congratulations to Melissa, and a prayer that this helps her family heal. – Mercer Baggs

I learned that sometimes dreams can vanish into thin air – literally. Trailing by one on the final hole of the Travelers Championship, Roland Thatcher hit an approach shot into the par 4 that looked like it was going to catch the front portion of the green, only to catch a breath of hurting wind instead. The result: It landed on the lip of the greenside bunker, helplessly dropping into the hazard. Imagine that. All of the preparation, all of the balls struck on the range, all of the practice putts rapped, all of the previous 264 strokes taken during the week – and it all comes down to an untimely breeze, just a few miles per hour of wind blowing in an unfortunate direction. That’s not to single out Thatcher’s demise, of course. It happens to every player, every week. But it’s exacerbated on the 72nd hole with a chance to win the tournament. In this case, it left a player muttering, “That was the perfect club,” as he walked off the green. And it was – until Mother Nature decided otherwise. – Jason Sobel

I learned that there is no such thing as a major championship hangover. Webb Simpson had every reason to play poorly at the Travelers Championship but shot 66 in the opening round. Perhaps he ran out of gas a little over the weekend (tied for 29th) but that could happen any week. As the champion, Simpson clearly had more commitments than any other player after the last putt dropped last week at The Olympic Club. But players like Fredrik Jacobson and Padraig Harrington both were in contention late Sunday at the U.S. Open too and they finished tied for seventh and tied for 11th respectively in Hartford. Major championship hangover is a myth. You're either playing well or playing poorly. It's that simple. – Jay Coffin

I learned no lead is safe on the PGA Tour. Marc Leishman came back from six shots down to start Sunday to win the Travelers Championship and claim his first PGA Tour title. The 2009 Rookie of the Year was the fifth player to win on Tour this season when trailing by at least six shots entering the last round. With 28 events in the books already for 2012, about 18 percent of events this season have involved what would be termed a massive comeback. If 2011 was the Year of the Playoff with 18 tournaments going to overtime, this is the Year of the Rally. – Ryan Ballengee

I learned that the state of American women's golf may not be quite as dire as some fear. Yes, in terms of sheer numbers, foreigners, especially Asians, rule the LPGA. But U.S. flag wavers have reason to be encouraged about Brittany Lang's playoff win on Sunday. If she could interject herself into the discussion of top players along with Yani Tseng and Stacy Lewis, it would be a major boost to the red, white and blue. – Al Tays

I learned that Casey Wittenberg took a gamble and it paid off on the Nationwide Tour. Wittenberg tied for 10th at last week's U.S. Open and could have played this week's Travelers Championship but instead played the Wichita Open on the secondary circuit, which he won. With his second victory of 2012 he secured his place on the PGA Tour in 2012. Who needs Hartford? – Rex Hoggard

John Hancock Pivotal Moments

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 23, 2018, 9:30 pm

Tiger Woods began the final round of the Tour Championship with a three-shot lead, and he's cruising at East Lake. We're tracking him.

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Lewis wins Portugal Masters for second time

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2018, 6:19 pm

VILAMOURA, Portugal – Tom Lewis won the Portugal Masters for a second time after shooting a 5-under 66 in Sunday's final round.

Lewis finished three strokes ahead of fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell (67) and Australia's Lucas Herbert (71).

Sergio Garcia prepared for the Ryder Cup next weekend with a 65 to finish seven strokes behind Lewis.

Lewis made six birdies along with a single bogey on No. 10 to finish the tournament at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course on 22-under 262.

Herbert led through the first three rounds only to struggle on the final day. He hit a double bogey on the final hole to finish the round on par.

Lewis had trailed Herbert by nine shots after the first round.

''It's been a rough ride but this week I played hard,'' Lewis said. ''I obviously got off to a bad start, to finish the way I've been finishing has been brilliant.''

Lewis first won the tournament in 2011.

''I think this one means more,'' Lewis said, ''it means a lot to come and win this again.''

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Rose tries to ignore scenarios, focus on winning

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:59 am

ATLANTA – No one has more to play for than Justin Rose on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

The Englishman will begin the day three strokes behind front-runner Tiger Woods after a third-round 68 that could have been much worse after he began his day with back-to-back bogeys.

Winning the tournament will be Rose’s top priority, but there’s also the lingering question of the FedExCup and the $10 million bonus, which he is currently projected to claim.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“The way I look at tomorrow is that I have many scenarios in play. I have the FedExCup in play. I have all of that to distract me,” Rose said. “But yet, I'm three back. I think that's my objective tomorrow is to come out and play good, positive golf and try and chase down the leader and win this golf tournament. I think in some ways that'll help my other task of trying to win the FedExCup. It'll keep me on the front foot and playing positive golf.”

Although there are many scenarios for Rose to win the season-long title, if Woods wins the Tour Championship, Rose would need to finish fifth or better to claim the cup.

There’s also the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to consider. Rose overtook Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world with his runner-up finish at the BMW Championship two weeks ago. He will retain the top spot unless Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka or Johnson win the finale and he falls down the leaderboard on Sunday.

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McIlroy needs putter to heat up to catch Woods

By Rex HoggardSeptember 23, 2018, 12:29 am

ATLANTA – Although Rory McIlroy is three strokes behind Tiger Woods at the Tour Championship and tied for second place he had the look of a man with a secret when he left East Lake on Saturday.

Trying to play catch up against Woods is never ideal, but McIlroy’s confidence stemmed from a tee-to-green game that has been unrivaled for three days.

“I definitely think today and the first day were similar,” said McIlroy, whose 66 included birdies at two of his final three holes. “I gave myself plenty of chances, and I think the biggest thing today was only just that one bogey. Got to put your ball in the fairway, put yourself in position, and for the most part, I did that today.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

For the week McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained: off the tee, third in strokes gained: approach to the green and second in greens in regulation. But to catch Woods, who he will be paired with, he’ll need a much better day on the greens.

The Northern Irishman needed 30 putts on Day 2 and ranks 23rd, out of 30 players, in strokes gained: putting.

McIlroy skipped the first playoff event, opting instead for an extra week at home to work on his swing and the move has paid off.

“I hit the ball well. My wedge play has been really good,” he said. “I've done a lot of work on it the last few weeks, and it seems to have paid off.”