Johnson, Holmes hope aces lead to WGC win

By Jason SobelMarch 8, 2015, 1:00 am

DORAL, Fla. – According to the official PGA Tour record book, the first player to make a hole-in-one and win in the same week was Young Tom Morris, who accomplished the feat 147 years ago, way back at the 1868 Open Championship.

That may not be completely accurate, but hey, who’s gonna prove ‘em wrong?

The official list could be considered slightly less than official, since the next player to win a title while carding an ace didn’t happen for another 60 years. It took 14 years for the next one, then there was a gap of 32 years before the next after that.

If we are to believe this history, the veritable floodgates soon opened. In 1974, Johnny Miller made an ace en route to the Sea Pines Heritage title, then repeated the feat later that year at the Kaiser International Open. Gene Littler followed him the next year; Butch Baird the year after that; and Tom Watson the year after that.

Whether players started becoming more aggressive in the past four decades or there were more of these happy coincidences or – and this is the most logical scenario – the statistical accounting simply received an upgrade, the win-ace weekly double certainly became more prevalent. In all, there have been two dozen such occurrences on the PGA Tour, but 21 of them have taken place since Miller’s first one.

The last of those came four years ago, when Steve Stricker’s second-round hole-in-one preceded a Memorial Tournament triumph; one year earlier, Jonathan Byrd needed a memorable playoff ace to prevail in Las Vegas.

All of which brings us to this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship and the magical mysteriousness of what took place on the fourth hole Saturday afternoon.

After failing to yield a single ace in the quarter-century period from 1990-2014, the 227-yard par-3 at Trump National Doral – playing a mere 207 yards in the third round – finally gave up a hole-in-one to Dustin Johnson … and then, two groups later, J.B. Holmes matched that feat.

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Twenty-five years of futility – and neither guy could even win the skin.

Of course, it was hardly any sort of record.

During the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open at Oak Hill, Doug Weaver aced the sixth hole at precisely 8:15 a.m., followed by Mark Wiebe at 9:25 a.m., Jerry Pate at 9:50 a.m. and Nick Price at 10:05 a.m. Each used a 7-iron from 159 yards that day – and golf purists will consider it a certain sign of the apocalypse that Johnson and Holmes used the same club from 48 yards further away this time around. 

Of more importance is the fact that each of Saturday’s ace-men will be in Sunday’s final pairing, trying to become the 25th player in the “official” record books to win in the same week, as Holmes will take a five-stroke lead into the last 18 holes.

Not that they’re buying into the sentimentality of the situation.

“No,” Holmes bluntly answered when asked if a victory would mean more when it included a hole-in-one. “I mean, a win's a win, so if that happens [Sunday], then that would be great. That's what you play out here for. That's what I work really hard to do. But I'm just going to go out tomorrow and control what I control and do my routines and have fun and whatever happens, happens.”

His third-round scorecard featured the rare six-card straight, with scores of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The final tally was a 70 that gave him the lead for a third straight night, but one of those 70 strokes will be remembered more fondly than all of the others.

“I was actually aiming right at it,” he said of the fourth-hole tee shot. “I usually hit a little bit of a cut, and if I hit it perfect, it would stay straight - and it did. So one of the rare times you get a hole‑in‑one where you actually hit it just like you want to.”

For his part, Johnson wasn’t so accurate.

“Actually, I pushed it just a hair but I wasn't aiming right at the flag,” he admitted. “I was aiming just a fraction left of it and it rolled right in.”

The pair of aces has the pair of players atop the leaderboard here at Doral, where one can only imagine what resort owner Donald Trump will suggest to counteract such feats of excellence on his brutal Blue Monster. A dog-leg par-3? Stretched out to 400 yards? With fire-breathing dragons positioned in the nearby water and his ubiquitous helicopter spinning its propellers on the green?

Let’s not give him any ideas.

After all, Young Tom Morris never had to deal with such hazards 147 years ago, when he became the first player ever to win a tournament with a hole-in-one. Or so the record books would have us believe.

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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

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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.''