Math Weighs in Donald's Favor

By John HawkinsMarch 1, 2011, 7:32 pm
Martin Kaymer entered last year’s British Open ranked 13th in the world, put himself in position to make a run at Louis Oosthuizen on Sunday, then missed a bunch of short putts and tied for seventh, 10 strokes back. I remember thinking maybe Kaymer didn’t have the stomach to become a superstar, and that Oosthuizen, as good as he looked, might turn into the second coming of Shaun Micheel.

So I went one-for-two that week, and Kaymer would move up one spot in the world ranking, three places behind Luke Donald, who had finished T-11 at St. Andrews. In the 7 ½ months since, both players have performed at a consistently high level, especially in relation to those who were ranked ahead of them at the time.
Luke Donald
Luke Donald earned his first PGA Tour victory since 2006 at the WGC-Match Play. (Getty Images)

That is a very important factor to consider when wondering how Donald, who hadn’t won a PGA Tour event in five years, could climb to third by virtue of his victory over Kaymer at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. If no serious golf fan can find fault with Kaymer taking the No. 1 spot from Lee Westwood this past weekend, Donald’s move to No. 3 clearly has raised some eyebrows, two of which were mine.

Before Donald had even hoisted the trophy, I fired off a text to Kevin Schultz, coordinating producer of the “Grey Goose 19th Hole,” asking that we include the Englishman’s unfathomable rise in the topics for our Wednesday night discussion. Then I decided to do some research. Shoot now, ask questions later.

The longer you look at his recent body of work, the more you realize Donald is certainly worthy of No. 3 – you could easily argue that he should be second, ahead of Westwood. Here is how the two Brits stack up over the last year.

Westwood: 19 starts, two wins, three seconds, one third, one missed cut.

Donald: 25 starts, two wins, three seconds, five thirds, four missed cuts.

Of course, it’s not just about how you finish, but where you do it. Westwood’s victories came at the St. Jude Classic, which would rank in the PGA Tour’s bottom third in strength of field, and the Nedbank Golf Challenge, a South Africa Tour event with a star-studded cast but only 12 participants. Donald won the Madrid Masters, which had a slightly weaker field than the St. Jude, and the Match Play, a World Golf Championship that earned him 76 ranking points, 24 fewer than you get for winning a major.

That seems a bit light to me. Two of Westwood’s three runner-ups came at the Masters and British Open  – he earned 60 points for each. In terms of value, winning a WGC should be closer to winning a major than finishing second at a major. Especially when you get one of those seconds by finishing seven strokes behind the champ, as Westwood did at the British.

Donald’s runner-ups weren’t at majors, but all three were at elite-field tournaments: the BMW PGA Championship, one of the biggest events on the European Tour; the Deutsche Bank Championship and Tour Championship, both of which are FedEx Cup playoff tilts. For second place at the BMW, Donald received 32 points – the two FedEx deals were worth about the same. Westwood, meanwhile, earned 40.8 for his second at the WGC-HSBC Champions, a new event with a strong field that hasn’t been sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

Basically, Donald has been every bit as good as Westwood over the last 12 months, which takes us back to a significant and largely overlooked premise. The best way to move up in the world ranking is to play better than the guys ahead of you. Kaymer got to No. 1 by setting the world on fire – four victories and a second since last August. Westwood and Donald have gotten to Nos. 2 and 3 because Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have fallen off so sharply, as this 12-month glance will attest.

Woods: 18 starts, no wins, one second, three fourths. The runner-up came at the Chevron World Challenge, which had an 18-man field.

Mickelson: 24 starts, one win, two seconds, one fourth. The runner-up at Torrey Pines in late January is Philly Mick’s only top-five finish since last June’s U.S. Open.

It’s easy to pick on the world ranking because it is pro golf’s version of the inexact science – an objective measure in what is largely a subjective process. The mathematical formula has changed many times over the years, most recently to place greater value on a player’s latest performances, but there is no such thing as a perfect system. The results themselves may come to us in black and white, but how those results are weighed is, at least partially, a matter of interpretation.
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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.