Top contenders at the PGA Championship

By Jason SobelAugust 8, 2011, 10:32 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – In the prognostication business, you’re only as good as your latest pick.

So let’s put aside the fact that my Masters pre-tournament selections were topped by Paul Casey (he finished T-38); my U.S. Open list was headed by Edoardo Molinari (T-54); and my Open Championship choices were led by Lee Westwood (MC).

Last week, I picked Adam Scott to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, so my current streak of selecting winners is one in a row. (Which may or may not tie my career high. I’ll never tell.)

It will no doubt be steamy in Hotlanta this week, so perhaps appropriately enough, I’m sticking with some hot hands at this week’s PGA Championship. My list at Glory’s Last Shot begins with a player who’s been hotter than everyone so far this season.

1. Luke Donald - Leads both the PGA and Euro tour money lists; a win this week counts for both – and could help seal an unprecedented double.

2. Jason Day - Poor guy already has two major runners-up this year and now he’s picked for a third. OK, so maybe “poor” is a pejorative term.

3. Steve Stricker - Still can’t figure out the PGA Tour’s new “Strokes Gained – Putting” statistic, but I know Stricker is leading, which must be a good thing.

4. Zach Johnson - Very quietly putting together an excellent season, with nine consecutive finishes of 32nd or better, including a T-6 last week.

5. Aaron Baddeley - Excellent putter who is coming off a final-round 65 at Firestone last week, it’s about time he contended at another major.

6. Lee Westwood - Managed by Chubby Chandler – who counts each of the year’s first three major champions as clients – he may be the best chance for a ChubbySlam.

7. Andres Romero - When he gets hot, he gets very hot – and Romero is hot right now, with third- and fourth-place results in his last two starts.

8. Rory McIlroy - He’s come to terms with the fact that his game is more suited for the parkland courses in the U.S., and this one certainly fits the bill.

9. Rickie Fowler - It’s no longer a matter of “if,” but rather “when” he starts winning tourneys. The first one could be a biggie, too.

10. Adam Scott - In his 17 previous worldwide victories, none came in back-to-back fashion. Asked whether it’s difficult to win two straight, he explained with a laugh, “It must be.”

11. Webb Simpson - Perhaps the most consistent PGA Tour player this year, he owns 14 top-25s in 18 starts, including two runners-up, but is still searching his elusive first win.

12. Ryo Ishikawa - A rockstar in his native Japan, Ryo is fresh off his best finish in this country by a mile. He’s ready to contend while still a teenager.

13. Dustin Johnson - Personally, I never thought DJ would be a great major player, but he’s made me eat crow over and over again these past two years.

14. Brandt Snedeker - The closer the score is to par, the better off this grinder will be. He’s also one of the better fast greens putters in the field.

15. Nick Watney - Strange as it may seem, this two-time winner may lead the de facto PGA Tour Player of the Year race as of right now.

16. Phil Mickelson - Which Lefty will show up this week – the one who contended at Royal St. George’s or the one who was virtually invisible at Firestone?

17. Fredrik Jacobson - The guy known as “Junkman” can make par from anywhere, which is never a bad attribute at a major championship venue.

18. David Toms - Getting plenty of attention for his victory here exactly one decade ago, but Toms has proven his best days aren’t necessarily behind him.

19. Retief Goosen - With two major wins on ultra-fast greens, Goosen will make some noise if he can regain that touch in Atlanta this week.

20. Francesco Molinari - Pick a Molinari, any Molinari. Chicco gets the nod over Dodo because he’s a more precise driver and better ball-striker.

21. Geoff Ogilvy - It certainly hasn’t been the best of seasons for Ogilvy, who’s been hampered by injuries and inconsistency, but he can get streaky in a hurry.

22. Anthony Kim - After a dismal first half to his season, Kim has turned things around in a hurry, finishing 14th or better in two of his last three starts.

23. Sergio Garcia - Tee to green, he’s one of the world’s most talented. If these greens level the playing field, his ball-striking prowess could serve him very well.

24. Jonathan Byrd - Solid ball-striker and solid putter who already has a playoff win at Kapalua and a playoff loss at Quail Hollow to his credit this season.

25. Tiger Woods - No list is complete without Tiger? Not necessarily, but 25th seems about right considering the current state of his golf game.

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

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D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

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Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.