hawkins test

By John HawkinsAugust 30, 2011, 1:43 pm

As disappointed as I was with the decision to end the Barclays after 54 holes, nobody should be disillusioned when it comes to the FedEx Cup playoffs in general. The series is in its fifth year, still flawed in a world where perfect barely exists, so we probably should accept the postseason for what it is. Better than what we had before, obviously. A four-week stretch of premium-field events that should bring the year to a close but doesn’t.

But hey, no need to sweat the small stuff. The golf has been very good, the tournaments etched in suspense, several of them featuring down-the-stretch duels between top-shelf players. Last week’s Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar tilt might have happened a day early, but in this game, you take what you can get. From Steve Stricker’s triumph in the inaugural playoff gathering (Westchester, 2007) to Johnson’s hurricane-shortened victory at Plainfield, the only duds have come at a Tour Championship or two, mainly because the overall winner already had been determined.

Just two of the 17 tournament winners came out of nowhere: Heath Slocum over Tiger Woods at the 2009 Barclays and Charley Hoffman at last year's Deutsche Bank. After a couple of early no-shows by the superstars, attendance has been strong -- and the best players have carried the product. Those two things had to happen for the playoffs to have any credibility, but until the PGA Tour makes the format sexier, only hardcore fans will understand the concept, much less embrace it.

That said, here are my top five postseason finishes -- this list was no gimme despite the FedEx Cup's youth. It might not be a real 'playoff' as much as it is a payoff, but if you love golf, the FedEx has, ahem, delivered.

5. 2008 Tour Championship (Villegas over Garcia): This one ranks because it involved two young stars in a sudden-death playoff, which ended on the first hole, but also because it exposed a huge problem in the postseason format. Villegas won the last two events but never had a chance to claim the overall crown because Vijay Singh had won the first two -- so much for the crescendo effect.

You would think all that money would buy the tour a decent mathematician, but Camp Ponte Vedra likes to do things their way. The points-allocation formula was soon overhauled to include a ton of back-end reward, but that doesn't change the fact that the wrong guy won in 2008.

4. 2009 Barclays (Slocum over Woods): The end of the Dynasty, although most would cite Tiger's loss to Y.E. Yang at the PGA Championship two weeks earlier as the official end. Regardless, Woods was beaten by a nobody in back-to-back starts -- Slocum holed a 20-footer on Liberty National's 18th, starting the clock on his 15 minutes of fame. As for Red Shirt, he was about to become infamous, but he did win the BMW and his second FedEx title before losing to the fire hydrant.

3. 2010 Tour Championship (Furyk over Donald): Let's not get carried away here. Yes, Furyk had to get up and down from a greenside bunker on East Lake's 18th to edge Donald in a FedEx photo finish for all the marbles, but the two weren't paired together and the weather was absolutely miserable, which made it hard to watch. Still, the bunker shot was as clutch as it gets -- it was the first time the season-long title came down to the final hole.

The problem was that Donald came within a whisker of that $10 million despite not winning a tournament all year. Sanity prevailed, however, band believe me, they don't get any saner than Jim Furyk.

2. 2008 Barclays (Singh over Garcia): A true overtime thriller at Woodbridge CC, which got the event after the tour dumped longtime host Westchester -- the 2008 Media Guide lists the deposed club as the tournament site. Sergio and Vijay holed bombs on the first extra hole, but if Garcia spent that summer running out of gas 50 feet before the checkered flag, this was a fitting sequel to the British Open and PGA losses to Padraig Harrington. Add the sudden-death loss to Villegas three weeks later, and it's no wonder Sergio has spent the last three years picking up the pieces of a broken heart.

Singh, meanwhile, trampled the field in Boston a week later, knocking in 40-footers like Chevy Chase in 'Caddyshack.' That appears to be his last hurrah, but the $10 million he picked up (instead of Villegas) will buy you a lot of good memories.

1. 2007 Deutsche Bank (Mickelson over Woods): One of the best final rounds I've ever covered -- and that includes the majors. The electricity running through TPC Boston that Labor Day was off the meter, a current powered by two primary sources: New England sports-fan intensity and the Tiger-Phil pairing in the second-to-last group. Both guys played well, with Mickelson's 66 matching low round of the day, one better than Red Shirt. The W vaulted Philly Mick to the top of the FedEx standings, where Woods had resided before skipping the Barclays a week earlier.

As if to prove he's as open-minded as any superstar on the planet, Mickelson announced during his post-round TV interview that he wouldn't be playing the following week in Chicago. Tiger won there, then again by eight in Atlanta. Phil didn't like the way the playoffs were structured. Not that it mattered back then.

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.