Similarities to a Professional

By Jay CoffinSeptember 27, 2010, 1:44 am

National ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Ryan Cummings resembles Dustin Johnson but may relate more to Rickie Fowler.

The 31-year-old from Oklahoma has a similar build to Dustin Johnson, a similar swagger and his facial features could allow him to pass as Johnson’s brother at the very least.

Similarities to Fowler don’t come in the way of looks, rather a love for motocross racing. Growing up in Wisconsin, Cummings raced go-carts and was groomed by his father to be a race car driver. But he gave up cars and turned to competitive motocross racing in high school.

That’s where the similarities end.

Although both Johnson and Fowler have made significant progress with their golf games over the past year neither compares with the transformation that Cummings has undergone.

Sixteen months ago Cummings picked golf clubs and decided he wanted to be a professional golfer. Until then he had played several times a year but never was serious. This time he got so serious that he sold his motorbike on the spot and took up club membership at The Links at Stillwater.

He’s been a constant on the practice range since.

Cummings obsession with golf is real. He’s so obsessed that he has molded himself from a 30 handicap in July 2009 to a 10. Playing in the Sarazen Flight (handicaps 12-15.9) he shot 85 at the Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass in the first round of the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship. He qualified for the National Championship after winning four events this year in Oklahoma.

“I cannot get enough of it,” Cummings said. “All I think about every day is golf. All I care about it getting better.”

A few years after graduating from high school, Cummings moved from Wisconsin to Oklahoma to help a buddy run a motocross facility. He was there for five years before moving out to Lake Tahoe, Nev., for a stint. But when he moved back to Oklahoma in 2009, he was growing sick of motocross. Cummings felt that he had reached his peak and that all the hard work he was putting into the sport was not producing the desired results.

That’s when he picked up his sticks.

Since last July, Cummings wakes up early every day and is at the practice range at The Links when it opens at 7 a.m. He goes to work, then returns every afternoon to practice again or play as much of a round as he can before darkness falls.

Cummings recently closed down his self-owned detail shop to have more time to devote to the game. Now, he makes a couple bucks doing odd jobs that range from construction to work for his girlfriend’s father, who owns an environmental engineering firm.

He figures that he hits balls close to seven hours a day and the last time he went a day without hitting a golf ball was during Christmas vacation when his family and his girlfriend’s family both spent the holiday in Breckenridge, Colo.

 “It was killing me not to be able to hit balls,” he recalls.

The ultimate goal for Cummings is to turn professional. He realizes that he’s new to the game and he knows that many scoff when he tells them of his professional aspirations, but he’s determined and has come a long way in a short time. A year ago he told his girlfriend, Suzy Stover, that he would be good enough to be a professional by the time he turns 35, which is four years from now.

“I know some people think I’m crazy, but this is what I want to do, I want to be a professional golfer,” Cummings said.

Last year, under the guidance of Champions Tour veteran David Edwards, Cummings never worked on his short game but only worked to improve his long game. This year, it’s been the complete opposite. Cummings hasn’t hit many drivers or long irons on the range, but has only chipped and putted to improve his short game, which he admits is still the weakest part of his game.

“I still need to be better at getting the ball in the hole,” Cummings says.

To assure that every waking moment would be devoted to game improvement, Cummings recently dug a 20-foot circle in his yard and filled it with sand to give him a target to hit from different distances. It serves as a green but the ball won’t release because of the sand. Cummings has measured distances from 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards away and has makeshift teeing areas where he can beat balls as much as he’d like.

During his first-round 85 here at the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship it was his short game that kept him from scoring better. He made two birdies, two triples bogeys and needed 36 putts.

His caddie, Roland Lewis, recently played in the Senior National Championship here last week and stuck around to help Cummings with course management.

“He’s a pretty calm, relaxed guy,” Lewis said. “It’s unbelievable how well he swings it for being in this less than two years. He’s a natural.

“I’m just trying to get him to hit it at 70 percent and keep it under control. We’re playing for bogey on every hole and if we can do better than that, great.”

No matter what happens the rest of this week, Cummings wants to get as many tournaments under his belt as he can. He wants tournament pressure and realizes that he needs to put himself in these situations often to see how he performs.

So far, so good. Cummings says that he has broken 80 four times and that his career-low round is 75. All four sub-80 rounds have come in tournaments. He’s never broken 80 in a casual round.

“I’ll get there eventually, there’s no reason why I can’t” Cummings said. “I am working pretty hard at it.”

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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In Buick win, Kang overcame demons of mind and spirit

By Randall MellOctober 21, 2018, 3:33 pm

Danielle Kang beat three of the most formidable foes in golf Sunday to win the Buick LPGA Shanghai.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Kang overcame these demons of mind and spirit to win for the second time on tour, backing up her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship victory last year.

“I’ve been going through a lot mentally,” Kang said.

Kang birdied four of the last eight holes to close with a 3-under-par 69, coming from one shot back in the final round to win. At 13-under 275, she finished two shots ahead of a pack of seven players, including world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and former world No. 1 Lydia Ko (66).

It hasn’t been easy for Kang trying to build on her major championship breakthrough last year. She started the fall Asian swing having missed three cuts in a row, five in her last six starts.

“I had to go through swing changes,” Kang said. “I had the swing yips, the putting yips, everything possibly you could think of.

“I was able to get over a lot of anxiety I was feeling when I was trying to hit a golf ball. This week I just kept trusting my golf game.”

Through her swoon, Kang said she was struggling to get the club back, that she was getting mentally stuck to where she could not begin her takeaway. She sought out Butch Harmon, back at her Las Vegas home, for help. She said tying for third at the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week felt like a victory, though she was still battling her demons there.

“Anxiety over tee balls,” Kang said. “People might wonder what I'm doing. I actually can't pull the trigger. It has nothing to do with the result. Having to get over that last week was incredible for me. Even on the first round, one shot took me, I think, four minutes.”

Kang, who turned 26 on Saturday, broke through to win last year under swing coach David Leadbetter, but she began working with Harmon while struggling in the second half this year.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


“I was actually very frustrated, even yesterday,” Kang said. “Things just weren't going my way. The biggest thing that Butch tells me is to stay out of my own way. I just couldn't do that. If I had a short putt, I just kept doubting myself. I couldn't putt freely.”

Kang said her anger and frustration built up again on the front nine Sunday. She made the turn at 1 over for the round. She said her caddie, Oliver Brett, helped her exorcise some anger. After the ninth hole, he pulled her aside.

This is how Kang remembered the conversation:

Brett: “Whatever you need to do to let your anger out and restart and refresh, you need to do that now.”

Kang: “Cameras are everywhere. I just want to hit the bag really hard.”

Brett: “Here's a wedge. Just smash it.”

Kang did.

“Honestly, I thank him for that,” Kang said. “He told me there are a lot birdies out there. I regrouped, and we pretended we started the round brand new on the 10th hole. Then things changed and momentum started going my way. I started hitting it closer and felt better over the putts.”

Kang said the victory was all about finding a better place mentally.

“I'm just so happy to be where I'm at today,” Kang said. “I'm just happy that I won.

“More so than anything, I'm finally at a place where I'm peaceful and happy with my game, with my life . . . . I hope I win more. I did the best I can. I'm going to keep working hard and keep giving myself chances and keep putting myself in contention. I'll win more. I'll play better.”

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Goal for new world No. 1 Koepka: Stay healthy

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 1:38 pm

Last season Brooks Koepka bagged a pair of majors en route to the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He started the new wraparound season with an emphatic win at the CJ Cup to reach world No. 1 for the first time.

But amid the best form of his career, Koepka has a simple goal in mind as he gets ready to turn his attention to the new year.

"Stay healthy," Koepka told reporters. "That's been the big thing. I need to be healthy to be able to play all these events, play all the majors."

Koepka's breakthrough year comes despite the fact that he missed four months in the spring, including the Masters, while recovering from a wrist injury. He hit the ground running once he returned, with strong finishes at TPC Sawgrass and Colonial preceding wins at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Now Koepka has added a third trophy after cruising to a four-shot win in South Korea on Sunday that allowed him to move past Dustin Johnson at world No. 1.

"I'm 1-for-1 this year, which is nice," Koepka joked about his undefeated record in the new wraparound season.

Koepka will be in the field next week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions before putting the clubs on the shelf. With Justin Thomas paving the way by making the goal-setting process more public in recent years, Koepka explained that even after summiting the world rankings he plans to wait until 2019 to adjust his expectations for himself.

"I keep the same goals through the calendar year," Koepka said. "On Jan. 1 I go to the beach in the morning and go write down my goals and figure them out for the calendar year, but I just need to finish this year off. I've got next week and I would like to, coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to play well."

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Birdie binge for Woodland comes up short at CJ Cup

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2018, 12:52 pm

Gary Woodland mounted an impressive rally at the CJ Cup, but in the end even 11 birdies weren't enough to catch Brooks Koepka.

Woodland started the final round in South Korea five shots behind the new world No. 1, but he made the biggest move of the day amid chilly conditions on Jeju Island. With six birdies over his first nine holes, including four in a row on Nos. 6-9, he briefly caught Koepka at the top of the leaderboard.

But Woodland bogeyed No. 10, and even with five more birdies coming home to finish a 9-under 63 he still finished alone in second, four shots behind Koepka who closed with a bogey-free 29 to put the trophy out of reach.

"Yesterday I didn't get any putts to go in, and today I saw a lot of putts go in," Woodland told reporters. "Brooks with the lead, not much fazes him. So you knew you had to make a lot of birdies, and I made a lot today. But I was just too far behind."

It's the second straight strong performance from Woodland to start the new wraparound season, as he tied for fifth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia after holding a share of the 54-hole lead. A closing 63 would have gone a long way last week, but he was still pleased to be able to make Koepka sweat a little on a day when even the bad holes resulted from good shots.

"I made two bogeys on the back and I said, 'Be right' on both shots," Woodland said. "I was just maybe a little too amped up, a little excited. I hit them both perfect. All in all, I would have liked for a couple more putts to go in yesterday and been a little closer going into today."