Spieth proving he belongs on PGA Tour

By Jason SobelJune 28, 2013, 8:46 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Jordan Spieth has always wanted to play with the big boys. It goes all the way back to the age of 7 or 8, growing up in Dallas, when he would badger his parents to compete in the 13-year-old division.

You’ll have to carry your own bag, they told him.

“I don’t care.”

It’ll be 18 holes instead of just nine, they told him.

“That’s great.”

The precocious youngster usually got his way.

“He always wanted to go to the next level,” said his mother, Chris, “even when we didn’t want him to.”

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That includes his most recent attempt to play with the big boys. While his parents were skeptical about Jordan leaving the University of Texas following his freshman year, he’s proven that playing the next level was the right decision. Entering the year with no status on any tour, he played well enough during the season’s first three months to gain PGA Tour special temporary membership and lock up his card for next year.

As if that’s not enough, he’s now tied for the AT&T National lead entering the weekend, with 29 days still remaining in his teenage years.

“It's been a great dream come true this year,” he said after a second-round 66 gave him the clubhouse lead alongside Roberto Castro. “Starting out, I didn't think I'd know where I was going to be. I didn't know where I was going to go each week for the year. To be able to be in a position where I can receive exemptions from tournaments, it's just … it's awesome.”

You can almost see it now: Some crusty old PGA Tour veteran waving his Ping Eye 2-iron at the leaderboard and in his best Scooby Doo villain voice muttering, “If it wasn’t for you meddling kids …”

Spieth, 19, is so young that he has no recollection of Ernie Els’ U.S. Open victory here at Congressional Country Club in 1997. The first tournament he recalls watching on TV? That would be the 2000 U.S. Open, a dominant win by Tiger Woods that’s still fresh in the mind of many of his elders.

“I remember just a little bit,” he admitted. “That one stuck with me, obviously. You don't normally see a guy win a major by 11 shots. Is that right?”

It was 15, but you can excuse the kid for not being too proficient in math back then. He was 6.

On Friday, Spieth needed only count to 18 – that’s the number of greens in regulation he hit, leading to the most low-maintenance round of golf you’ll ever see. He carded five birdies – all on the front nine – and was never seriously in danger of making bogey.

He credits his current situation – or predicament, depending on how you view it – for his recent strong play.

While he already knows he’ll own full status in 2014, as a nonmember Spieth can’t earn FedEx Cup points and won’t be able to compete in the four playoff events. Unless – and here’s a heck of a caveat – he wins a tournament. That would not only make him the fourth-youngest player to ever win a PGA Tour title, it would grant him full membership this year and retroactively collect those points and get him into the late-season events.

And yes, he’s well aware of it.

“I'm free swinging, and that's a great position to be in, I think,” he explained. “Honestly, I'm extremely happy with the position I'm in, but I'm still very, very far from the goals that I set for myself when I was young.”

That sound you hear is 150 professional golfers whipping their necks around as the 19-year-old refers to “when I was young.”

Even though it isn’t something he can work on at the driving range or practice green, Spieth maintained that he’s worked this year on becoming more mature – and it’s shown on and off the course. He is a teenager who, as the cliché goes, is wise beyond his years.

“I just need to sit back and say, ‘Who cares?’” he said. “It's just a round of golf, and there's no reason to really stress about each and every shot. What's going to happen is going to happen. Just got to go out there and prepare on the range, be confident, and if you get a bad break, everyone's going to get bad breaks.”

“He’s been very patient; he’s been staying neutral with his emotions,” added his caddie, Michael Greller. “There’s less pressure, it feels like, so he’s not been as reactive. He’s been a lot more positive after something goes wrong.”

Let’s go through that checklist once again: Spieth is an ultra-talented young player, the type who can hit every green on a venerable track such as Congressional, and he’s becoming increasingly mature with each week.

It all adds up to a budding superstar, the kind of kid who has never been scared to play with the big boys.

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Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

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Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

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It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.