W18: Patience, Perspective

By Jason SobelJune 27, 2011, 11:03 am

There’s a problem with the way professional golfers are perceived these days.

In today’s need-it-now society, with the speed limit apparently abolished on the Information Superhighway, there’s little room for patience when debating the wares of the world’s elite.

From the best to worst, the overrated to underrated, the biggest surprise to biggest bust, such declarations are pronounced on a weekly – if not daily – basis.

The problem? Golf isn’t a need-it-now pursuit. It takes an entire career to appropriately analyze the performances of most players. This edition of the Weekly 18 begins with a few recent examples of why patience is a virtue.

1. Patience ... patience

One week ago, Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open by eight strokes. It was a victory hailed by many as the beginning of an era, with the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland ready to rule the world.

I compared the win favorably with that of Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters. No, it won’t – nor should it – have the socioeconomic and cross-cultural impact of Woods’ title at Augusta National, but simply from a golf perspective it’s easy to see the similarities. Rory was exactly 10 months older than Tiger when he won his first major and each was only surprising in that they took place so quickly, as both young players were lauded from an early age as possessing the skills necessary to win plenty of ‘em.

Of course, Woods followed that initial win by winning major titles again and again, but what’s often forgotten when we now look back on the early part of his career is that it took him 11 appearances to capture a second. By comparison, Arnold Palmer needed six starts between his first and second major wins; Gary Player needed four; Jack Nicklaus just three.

With those numbers in mind, at what point will McIlroy need to back up his win before the terms “one-hit wonder” and “major bust” start creeping up? Such notions seem impossible one week removed from the U.S. Open, but he could legitimately be 24 or 25, taking just as long to earn a second major victory as Woods, and be saddled with such labels from outside sources.

This idea is even more relevant considering the recent resurgence of Sergio Garcia. Once considered a mortal lock to win many majors, Garcia is now 31 and still without such hardware. Long been called an underachiever, he finished in second place at the BMW International Open this weekend and is already being considered by some as a favorite for the upcoming Open Championship.

This is after hitting a low that had gotten to the point where, when I recently told Golf Channel colleagues I believed Sergio would still win multiple major titles, my words were met with not only laughter, but nearby observers quickly pulling out their wallets in an effort to wager on my proclamation. Now, one T-7 at the U.S. Open and one runner-up finish in Europe later, it doesn’t seem like such a crazy proposition.

Moral of the story? Practice patience.

We’ve been down this road before – and we’re currently seeing it with other players.

Lee Westwood was once a perennial top-10 player, then sank to as low as 266th in the world. He climbed back to become No. 1, which should serve as inspiration for long-struggling Henrik Stenson, a former top-10er who posted his first top-10 of the season this weekend.

Matt Kuchar was a no-doubt-about-it, can’t-miss kid as an amateur. And then … he missed. Kooch won a tournament early on, but later played the Nationwide Tour before regaining his PGA Tour status and becoming the elite player everyone believed he’d be in the first place. Patrick Cantlay, the no-doubt-about-it, can’t-miss kid who contended at the Travelers Championship this week, should keep Kuchar’s plight – and resurgence – in mind when he does turn professional.

If we haven’t learned patience yet, maybe we never will. After all, we’re only two years removed from Tom Watson – 26 years after what was thought to be his “final” major victory – nearly claiming a sixth claret jug at Turnberry.

Rory McIlroy likely won’t have to wait until he’s 59 to win a second major and Sergio Garcia may not have to wait that long for his first, but their stories and others should once again prove that nothing is ever a finality in this game. Even in today’s need-it-now society, early proclamations should be considered premature. 

Three Up

Yani Tseng 

2. Yani Tseng

If you’re seeking parallels between Tseng’s fourth major title at the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Sunday and that of Rory McIlroy at last week’s U.S. Open, you’ll find ‘em in abundance. After all, both are 22 years old and won those tournaments by a million shots.

Look beyond the obvious, though, and you will notice what’s referred to in golf circles as a certain “bouncebackability” displayed by each of them.

At the Masters, McIlroy led by four going into the final round, but was undone by a triple-bogey on the 10th hole and eventually wound up in 15th place.

Meanwhile, at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Tseng’s downfall wasn’t as precipitous, but it led to the same result, as she parlayed a two-stroke 54-hole lead into a three-shot loss.

Though with three majors already to her name, Yani may not have needed the lesson as much, but like her young counterpart she learned something about playing with a lead that day and stepped on the gas pedal the next time she climbed atop a major championship leaderboard.

At the Wegmans, she led by one after the first round, two after the second round, five after the third round and won by 10, kicking things into a gear – like Rory – over the weekend that most players are unable to find.

There will be many comparisons made between Tseng and McIlroy over the next few days, but their ability to bounce back after difficult major disappointments and lap the field when it mattered are more poignant than their age and winning margins.

3. Fredrik Jacobson

I wrote the following about Jacobson during his leaderboard climb at last week’s U.S. Open: “If this guy ever starts winning events, he’ll become a fan favorite, because his scrambling talent, outward excitability and irreverent look are both pretty fun to watch.”

Well, he went a long way toward accomplishing all of that by earning his first career PGA Tour title at the Travelers Championship.

Known as “The Junkman” for ability to get up-and-down from everywhere – or perhaps more appropriately, “The Swedish Seve,” as coined by countryman Jesper Parnevik – Jacobson lived up to the moniker with only a single bogey in 72 holes this week.

“Well, I'm just enjoying this moment now,” he said afterward. “I have no idea what tomorrow brings, but this is something I'm enjoying dearly and a very special moment and a special time where a lot of work and a lot of patience has come together.”

At 36, he isn’t going to turn into golf’s Next Big Thing anytime soon, but with a certain flair and now with that initial win under his belt, expect Freddy Yock to earn more acclaim from fans seeking an entertaining player to watch.

4. Sergio Garcia

He’s baaaack!

OK, so maybe it’s premature to say Sergio has returned, or immature – that’s the opposite of premature, right? – to say he ever left.

Though he hasn’t won anywhere in the world for nearly three years, Garcia appears on the verge of a 19th career worldwide title. He contended – well, as much as anyone not named Rory McIlroy – at the U.S. Open, finishing in a share of seventh place and went to a five-hole playoff at the BMW International Open before losing to countryman Pablo Larrazabal.

The finish guaranteed him a spot in next month’s Open Championship – a tourney in which he’s posted six top-10s and missed just one cut over the past decade.

As if that wasn’t enough, there’s already talk that Garcia may be amongst the favorites at Royal St. Georges, where he was T-10 back in 2003.

Of course, let’s not overlook the way he lost Sunday’s playoff, three-putting that last green, including a missed putt from 4 feet away. All of which gets him a unique double-dip, also landing on this list…

Three Down

 Sergio Garcia

5. Sergio Garcia

Yes, he finished in second place. Yes, he finally seems back on the right path toward success.

Still, it seems like something is plaguing Garcia on his journey back to the winner’s circle.

At least give him credit for not blaming the “golf gods,” as he did after losing the British Open four years ago. In fact, he was downright humble following the runner-up finish.

“When you look at it, I'm pretty satisfied,” Garcia maintained. “I think that I'm sure that we can learn some good things from this week, and we just can move forward.” 

It shouldn’t go without noting that his final missed putt was from the exact range that has been his bugaboo for years, nor should it be forgotten that he holed a pair of very lengthy eagle putts in regulation. That may be the greatest quandary in Sergio’s game right now, the fact that he looks more comfortable over 40-foot putts than 4-footers.

It should come as no surprise that he ranks 176th on the PGA Tour in putts from 3-to-5 feet and 174th in putts from 5-to-10 feet.

Until he can consistently make those shorties, expect Garcia to consistently keep coming up a few strokes too short.

6. Ian Poulter

The scores were good enough to contend in – if not win – most other events. In his initial foray to the Nutmeg State, though, Poulter’s rounds of 68-68-66-67 left him well off the pace set during the week.

It wasn’t his golf that gets him on the “Three Down” list. It was a clerical error.

Poulter explained in tweet form:

“No mistakes apart from me picking my ball up on the first I forgot it wasn't preferred lie. What a plumb only bogey of the weekend.”

After playing lift, clean and place on the waterlogged course for the first three days, players were playing ‘em down in Sunday’s final round.

Well, all except for Poulter.

7. Anthony Kim

Considering the influx of young talent around the world, it’s noteworthy to examine the plight of this former phenom, whose game has fallen on hard times.

In his last nine starts – dating back to the Masters – Kim has missed five cuts, including this weekend in Hartford, with a best finish of T-54.

What’s been the problem? Well, I’ve joked with Kim that every time I speak with him, he tells me his swing feels “better than ever.” The results aren’t, though.

Just a thought: He’s a player who used to be noted for laid-back practice habits and little warm-up before rounds. He is now working much harder, but the results have been tougher to come by. Perhaps he has still yet to find the happy medium between not working hard enough on his game and working too hard.

It may sound strange, but too much work has been the downfall of many pros over the years who have struggled to find such a balance.

Of course, just because AK is struggling now doesn’t mean it will continue over the long term. As I wrote in the opening section of this column, we need to have a little patience in these matters. He’s too good not to turn things around, even if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel right now.

Three Wishes

Tiger Woods 

8. I wish the conjecture over the severity of Tiger Woods’ injury and his impending short-term future would subside.

Look, I get it. Woods is the most popular – that would be defined as well-known, not necessarily well liked – athlete on the planet. When he eats, sleeps or breathes any differently than in the past, we talk about it. I’m as guilty as anyone.

Now that he’s on the shelf for what seems to be an extended period of time, there are plenty of discussions as to what – if anything – this season has in store for him. We can guess at when he will return to competition, but it’s just that – a guess. Personally, I’d go with either at Firestone, then the PGA Championship or not at all until his own Chevron World Challenge in December.

Like I wrote, though, it’s only a guess. Really, my feeling is that even Tiger himself doesn’t know when or even if he’ll return to play this season. It all depends on how the injuries heal, what the doctors tell him and how his body feels. My hunch is that when he speaks at a news conference prior to the AT&T National on Tuesday, his standard reply to any questions about his return will be: “As soon as possible.”

I’m fine with the educated guessing, because, well, everyone’s entitled to a prediction. What really frustrates me, though, is the seemingly increasing number of people – media, fans, even a few players behind closed doors – who contend Woods “should” do this or “needs” to do that. I wonder how many of them would have – sight unseen – recommended he sit out the U.S. Open three years ago rather than try to give it a go. (He won that one, oh by the way.)

Not to oversimplify all of this rampant analysis, but here’s the deal: He’s sitting out because he’s injured. When he’s healthy enough to play again, he will.

Those are the only “should” and “need” necessary. He should rest up while he’s injured and he needs to return when he’s healthy. Any other conjecture as to how returning soon could affect his career long-term should be left to the guys checking his x-rays.

9. I wish the proclamations of a transformation within the golf world didn’t feel so premature.

Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open by eight strokes – a grandiose feat for any golfer, but downright unbelievable for a 22-year-old.

Of course, the victory was met with a healthy measure of confidence that we’ve reached a new stage in the game, with Sports Illustrated’s cover calling this, “Golf’s New Era.”

As I wrote after the tournament, it very well may be. But to make such a statement after McIlroy’s first major title is more than a little overly hasty.

10. I wish every golf fan would get behind this great cause.

It began innocently enough, the entire goal being one guy wanting to play as much golf as possible.

Jim Colton is a member at Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club in Holyoke, Colo. – and one who thinks nothing of playing 54 holes in a single day. Last year, a few caddies from the private club decided to play 100 “just to get under my skin,” he recalls with a laugh.

Not wanting to be outdone, Colton set out to break the course record once again, aiming to play 108 holes – six full rounds – in one day.

There was no other cause nor motive behind the round other than personal enjoyment – until Colton heard about Ben Cox’s story.

A former five-star caddie at Ballyneal who started working there when the club opened in 2006, the 22-year-old Texas Tech student was skiing with his father earlier this year when he attempted a steep jump and fell, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

The story hit the tightly knit Ballyneal community hard – and all of a sudden, Colton’s marathon day of golf had a charitable cause behind it. And so one man’s desire to play a lot of golf turned into “The Ben Cox 108,” used to raise money for Fox and his family.

“I thought I’d email some golf buddies,” Colton says. “I figured if we raised $2,500, that would be great for his family.”

He surpassed that goal by just a little bit.

After the original Monday date was postponed due to a hailstorm, Colton teed it up this past Wednesday, raising more than $75,000 to date for his new friend mostly through word of mouth within golf circles.

“I hadn’t actually met Ben prior to the accident, didn’t have any relationship with him,” Colton explains. “But we’ve struck up a friendship through this whole process. I’m a changed person having gotten to know him and his family.”

That includes a touching moment on Father’s Day, when – with the help of a specialized cart – Cox was able to play two holes at Ballyneal in front of friends both old and new.

“Just seeing those two guys together,” Colton reports, “... there really wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

When he teed it up for “The 108,” Colton not only surpassed his monetary goals, but his golf goals, as well. Starting at 4:47 a.m. and using both a caddie and forecaddie, he completed his first 18 holes in one hour, 27 minutes and had played 108 by 3:30 p.m. Rather than stopping, he just kept going, playing a total of 155 holes that included a 75 and “a bunch of scores in the low-to-mid-80s,” he says.

Colton hopes the money raised will someday help Cox walk again. And he remains humbled by how one man playing a lot of golf can potentially better another man’s life.

“This has been literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me as far as my not-so-illustrious time as an amateur golfer,” he says. “To use my love for the game to make someone’s life better? That’s the ultimate achievement in my life.”

The money is still pouring in, too. Through his connections in the golf world, Colton has arranged for rounds at such places as Pebble Beach, Merion, Olympic Club, Harbour Town, Whistling Straits, Riviera and nearly five dozen other top courses to be raffled off at Ballyneal on July 9.

Those interested in purchasing tickets for the raffle or pledging donations can do so at Colton’s personal website: www.wegoblogger31.com

11. Stat of the Week:

Did you hear the one about the conditions at TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship? The course was playing so easy, it looked like a U.S. Open out there!

In all, 33 players posted four rounds in the 60s, which is only slightly less impressive when you consider that the course plays to a par 70.

That group includes rookie Joseph Bramlett, whose rounds of 68-67-69-69 were good enough for … a share of 52nd place. 

12. Stat of the Week II:

There weren’t many big names on the Travelers Championship leaderboard this week. As if the ol’ eyeball test didn’t prove that, just check the numbers.

The final top 12 were an average of No. 223 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The highest-ranked was Ryan Moore (46th), followed by Brian Davis (95th) as the only other top-100 player.

The lowest-ranked was Michael Thompson, who was mired at 620th before finishing in solo fourth place.

13. Video of the Week

If this video clip looks familiar, it should. That’s because young Rory McIlroy draws comparisons to a young Tiger Woods, appearing on a talk show as a child, flaunting his talents.

14. Video of the Week II

If this video clip also looks familiar, it should. That’s because LET players Sophie Sandolo, Sophie Giquel, Cassandra Kirkland and Jades Schaeffer (aka “The Golf Girls”) draw comparisons to Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, appearing in a music video for their single “Ah Ah Ah,” flaunting their, uh, talents.

15. Quote of the Week

Patrick Cantlay 

“I'm not thinking about that right now. So I'm going to try and take care of business this week and then see what's going on. But I'm going to stay amateur definitely for the Walker Cup, and my plans are to stay amateur, you know, until I finish college.” – Patrick Cantlay on whether he will soon turn professional.

Funny what a 10-under 60 can do for a kid, isn’t it?

Three weeks ago in this very column, the UCLA rising sophomore told me, “I’ll be there four years and get my degree.”

Following a T-21 as low amateur at the U.S. Open and a T-24 at the Travelers after holding the 36-hole lead, Cantlay may have other ideas.

Here’s my story about his excellent adventure over the past month – and how it will continue this week.

16. From the Inbox

@seak05 Are we in the Yani era? (I vote absolutely yes)

If we’re going to define eras in professional golf, the biggest determining factor is how well certain players fare in major championships. With four such titles at the age of 22 and three-quarters of the Grand Slam completed, Tseng has shown an ability to play her best golf on the most important weeks. That’s what the best players in history have done. And that’s why she’s defined the last few years – after the Annika Era and Lorena Era – as unequivocally, the Yani Era.

 

@DaveAndrews723 Is 22 the new 30 in pro golf?

Apparently so. In an eight-day span, we just witnessed a pair of 22-year-olds win major championships by a combined 18-stroke differential over the fields. The real question is: Does this mark a pattern or just a coincidence? Well, it’s no random result that one of the game’s best male players and the best female player each claimed major titles, but I think it has more to do with these really good players being that age than that age serving as any sort of prime for a professional golfer.

 

@jgolf1 If it's called a butter cut, is it called a margarine draw?

This one made me laugh. After posting a final-round 62, Michael Thompson went into the CBS booth and talked about the “butter cut” he was hitting throughout the day. The only thing I can think is that it’s a take-off on Phil Mickelson referring to that type of ball flight as “my bread-and-butter cut,” only without the “bread” and the “and” parts included. I like it, though. But to answer your question, I’m partial to a cream cheese draw – or as I like to call it, “pull-hook with a schmear.”

17. Photos of the Week

The following pics come courtesy of Oliver Wilson, who snapped ‘em prior to what was no doubt a raucous player party in Germany on Friday night.

Hey, when in Rome, right? Although, as Wilson told me, “They think nothing of it, do it every other week! I, however, won’t be joining again.”

Picture No. 1

Picture No. 2

18. Punch Shot

In lieu of a T-21 finish at the U.S. Open and a record-breaking 60 Friday at the Travelers Championship, Patrick Cantlay, 19, may want to reconsider his decision to stay amateur and finish out his four years at UCLA. Cantlay is out of luck – and a check – this week, but Randall Mell and yours truly debate whether amateur players should be allowed to declare professional status after a tournament has already started.

Getty Images

Davies wins Senior LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second behind Inbee Park in the LPGA's Founders Cup.

''I wish there were more of them to play,'' Davies said about the two senior majors. ''This was a real treat because I've never put three good rounds together on this course. With the wind today and the challenging layout, I think 2 under par was a really good score.''


Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship


Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course. She birdied three of the four par 5s in the final round, making an 8-footer on No. 18.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

Davies earned $90,000 for her 86th worldwide professional victory. She won four regular majors.

Getty Images

For Korean women, golf is a double-edged sword

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2018, 10:30 pm

There is always a story behind the tears.

For In Gee Chun, it’s a story about more than her victory Sunday at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It’s about the other side of the Korean passion that runs so deep in women’s golf and that makes female players feel like rock stars.

It’s about the unrelenting pressure that comes with all that popularity.

Chun explained where her tears came from after her victory. She opened up about the emotional struggle she has faced trying to live up to the soaring expectations that come with being a young Korean superstar.

Her coach, Won Park, told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday that there were times over the last year that Chun wanted to “run and hide from golf.” The pressure on her to end a two-year victory drought was mounting in distressing fashion.

Chun, 24, burst onto the world stage when she was 20, winning the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even an LPGA member. When she won the Evian Championship two years later, she joined Korean icon Se Ri Pak as the only players to win major championships as their first two LPGA titles.

Following up on those victories was challenging, with Chun feeling as if nothing short of winning was good enough to satisfy Korean expectations.

After the victory at Evian, Chun recorded six second-place finishes, runner-up finishes that felt like failures with questions growing back home over why she wasn’t closing out.

“There were comments that were quite vicious, that were very hard to take as a person and as a woman,” Chun said. “I really wanted to rise above that and not care about those comments, but I have to say, some of them lingered in my mind, and they really pierced my heart.”

Chun struggled going from the hottest star in South Korea to feeling like a disappointment. She slipped from No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings to No. 27 going into last week’s KEB Hana Bank Championship. Maybe more significantly, she slipped from being the highest ranked Korean in the world to where she wasn’t even among the top 10 Koreans anymore.

“Some fans and the Korean golf media were hard on her, mostly on social media,” Park wrote GolfChannel.com in an email. “It caused her to start struggling with huge depression and socio phobia. She often wished to run away from golf and hide herself where there was no golf at all.”


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Socio phobia includes the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of conditions.

Though critics of South Korea’s dominance have complained about the machine-like nature of some those country’s stars, we’ve seen quite a bit of emotion from South Koreans on big stages this year.

After Sung Hyun Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in July, the world No. 1 with the steely stare uncharacteristically broke into tears.

“This is the first time feeling this kind of emotion,” Park said back then. “It’s been a really tough year for me.”

It was the second of her three victories this season, a year in which she also has missed seven cuts.

“A lot of pressure builds up,” said David Jones, her caddie. “That’s just what happens when you’re that good, and you’re Korean.”

While American players admire the massive popularity Koreans enjoy in their homeland, they see what comes with it.

“Koreans really do elevate their women players, but at the same time, they put a ton of pressure on them,” American Cristie Kerr said. “There’s pressure on them to not only be good, but to be attractive, and to do the right things culturally.”

So Yeon Ryu felt the pressure to perform build as high as she has ever felt with Koreans trying to qualify for the Olympics two years ago. The competition to make the four-woman team was intense, with so many strong Koreans in the running.

“This just makes me crazy,” Ryu said back then. “The biggest thing is the Korean media. If someone is going to make the Olympics, they're a great player. But if somebody cannot make it, they're a really bad player.”

Ryu didn’t make that team, but she went on to share LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park last year. She also won her second major championship and ascended to world No. 1.

LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park was under fire going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She was coming back from injury and there was growing criticism of her. She was hearing clamor to give up her spot to a healthy player, but she went on to win the gold medal.

“I almost cried on air,” said Na Yeon Choi, a nine-time LPGA winner who was doing analysis for Korean TV. “Inbee had so much pressure on her.”

After the Koreans won the UL International Crown two weeks ago, there was as much relief as joy in their ranks. Though viewed as the dominant force in women’s golf, they watched the Spaniards crowned as the “best golfing nation” in the inaugural matches in 2014 and then watched the Americans gain the honor in 2016. There was pressure on the Koreans to win the crown at home.

“There were some top Koreans who didn’t want to play, because there was going to be so much pressure,” Kerr said.

Chun got the nod to join the team this year after Inbee Park announced she was stepping aside, to allow another Korean a chance to represent their country. Chun was the third alternate, with Sei Young Kim and Jin Young Ko saying they were passing to honor previous KLPGA commitments.

Chun went on to become the star of the UL International Crown. She was undefeated, the only player to go 4-0 in the matches.

“In Gee made up her mind to devote herself to the team and played with an extremely high level of passion and focus,” Won Park wrote in an email interview. “She took the International Crown as a war in her heart. She did not play, but she `fought’ against the course, not against the opposing team . . . During all four winning matches, she gradually found her burning passion deep in her heart and wanted to carry it to the LPGA KEB Hana Bank.”

Park explained he has been working with Chun to change her focus, to get her to play for herself, instead of all the outside forces she was feeling pressure to please.

“She was too depressed to listen for a year and a half,” Park wrote.

So that’s where all Chun’s tears came from after she won the KEB Hana Bank.

“All the difficult struggles that I have gone through the past years went before me, and all the faces of the people who kept on believing in me went by, and so I teared up,” Chun said.

Park said Chun’s focus remains a work in progress.

“Although it will take some more time to fully recover from her mental struggle, she at least got her wisdom and confidence back and belief in her own game,” Park wrote. “This is never going to be easy for a 24-year-old young girl, but I believe she will continue to fight through.”

Getty Images

Asia offers chance for players to get early jump on season

By Rex HoggardOctober 17, 2018, 6:00 pm

When the field at this week’s CJ Cup tees off for Round 1 just past dinner time on the East Coast Wednesday most golf fans will still be digesting the dramatic finish to the 2017-18 season, which wrapped up exactly 24 days ago, or reliving a Ryder Cup that didn’t go well for the visiting team.

Put another way, the third event of the new season will slip by largely unnoticed, the victim of a crowded sports calendar and probably a dollop of burnout.

What’ll be lost in this three-event swing through Asia that began last week in Kuala Lumpur at the CIMB Classic is how important these events have become to Tour players, whether they count themselves among the star class or those just trying to keep their jobs.

The Asian swing began in 2009 with the addition of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, although it would be a few years before the event earned full status on Tour, and expanded in 2010 with the addition of the CIMB Classic. This week’s stop in South Korea was added last season and as the circuit transitions to a condensed schedule and earlier finish next year there are persistent rumors that the Tour plans to expand even more in the Far East with sources saying an event in Japan would be a likely landing spot.

Although these events resonate little in the United States because of the time zone hurdles, for players, the Asian swing has become a key part of the schedule.

Consider that seven of the top 10 performers last year in Asia advanced to the Tour Championship and that success wasn’t mutually exclusive to how these players started their season in Asia.

For players looking to get a jump on the new season, the three Asian stops are low-hanging fruit, with all three featuring limited fields and no cut where players are guaranteed four rounds and FedExCup points.

For a player like Pat Perez, his performances last October virtually made his season, with the veteran winning the CIMB Classic and finishing tied for fifth place at the CJ Cup. All total, Perez, who played all three Asian events last year, earned 627 FedExCup points - more than half (53 percent) of his regular-season total.

Keegan Bradley and Cameron Smith also made the most of the tournaments in Asia, earning 34 and 36 percent, respectively, of their regular-season points in the Far East. On average, the top 10 performers in Asia last year earned 26 percent of their regular-season points in what was essentially a fraction of their total starts.

“It's just a place that I've obviously played well,” Justin Thomas, a three-time winner in Asia, said last week in Kuala Lumpur. “I'm comfortable. I think being a little bit of a longer hitter you have an advantage, but I mean, the fact of the matter is that I've just played well the years I played here.”

Perhaps the biggest winner in Asia last season was Justin Rose, who began a torrid run with his victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions, and earned 28 percent of his regular-season points (550) in the Far East on his way to winning the FedExCup by just 41 points.

But it’s not just the stars who have made the most of the potential pot of Asian gold.

Lucas Glover finished tied for seventh at the CIMB Classic, 15th at the CJ Cup and 50th in China in 2017 to earn 145 of his 324 regular-season points (45 percent). Although that total was well off the pace to earn Glover a spot in the postseason and a full Tour card, it was enough to secure him conditional status in 2018-19.

Similarly, Camilo Villegas tied for 17th in Kuala Lumpur and 36th in South Korea to earn 67 of his 90 points, the difference between finishing 193rd on the regular-season point list and 227th. While it may seem like a trivial amount to the average fan, it allowed Villegas to qualify for the Web.com Tour Finals and a chance to re-earn his Tour card.

With this increasingly nuanced importance have come better fields in Asia (which were largely overlooked the first few years), with six of the top 30 players in the Official World Golf Ranking making the trip last week to Malaysia and this week’s tee sheet in South Korea featuring two of the top 5 in world - No. 3 Brooks Koepka and No. 4 Thomas.

“I finished 11th here last year and 11th in China the next week. If I can try and improve on that, get myself in contention and possibly win, it sets up the whole year. That's why I've come back to play,” Jason Day said this week of his decision to play the Asian swing.

For many golf fans in the United States, the next few weeks will be a far-flung distraction until the Tour arrives on the West Coast early next year, but for the players who are increasingly starting to make the trip east, it’s a crucial opportunity to get a jump on the season.

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Watch: Woods uses computer code to make robotic putt

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 3:10 pm

Robots have been plotting their takeover of the golf world for some time.

First it was talking trash to Rory McIlroy, then it was making a hole-in-one at TPC Scottsdale's famous 16th hole ... and now they're making putts for Tiger Woods.

Woods tweeted out a video on Tuesday draining a putt without ever touching the ball:

The 42-year-old teamed up with a computer program to make the putt, and provided onlookers with a vintage Tiger celebration, because computers can't do that ... yet.