Pavins Sixth Sense

By John HawkinsSeptember 7, 2010, 10:26 pm
Rickie Fowler? Talk about hunches and gut feelings. By adding a winless, 21-year-old PGA Tour rookie to the U.S. Ryder Cup team – a kid who finished 20th in the standings, no less – Corey Pavin made the gutsiest captain’s pick since Lanny Wadkins chose Curtis Strange back in 1995.

That one didn’t go so well, and in the 15 years since, seven U.S. skippers have ducked bold selections the way Lady Gaga avoids conventionality. In 2010, however, Pavin really didn’t have many suitable alternatives. Of the 11 guys between America’s eighth qualifier (Matt Kuchar) and Fowler, only Zach Johnson (11th) and Tiger Woods (12th) looked like sure things. The rest either had no experience or played their way out of serious consideration. For instance, Anthony Kim, who looked like a lock after winning in Houston this spring, made a hasty return from thumb surgery that proved futile – four consecutive missed cuts after a bottom-of-the-pack finish at the no-cut WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Bo Van Pelt, Ricky Barnes, Nick Watney and Sean O’Hair all are without a victory in 2010. So is Fowler, for that matter, but Pavin clearly has a sense that Little Rickie has the competitive moxie and enough game to help the U.S. team, even if it means wearing red, white and blue instead of popsicle orange. Fowler’s case isn’t without some glaring holes, however. The kid was squarely in the hunt at the Memorial before knocking his tee shot in the water at the par-3 12th, leading to a double-bogey and a solo second, three behind Justin Rose (Van Pelt and Barnes finished T-3).

It was the last of five top-10 finishes Fowler has collected in 24 starts this year. He hasn’t vanished in the three months since, but he hasn’t contended, either. To say Captain Corey is going out on a limb with the selection isn’t, uh, going out on a limb. Having watched the Tuesday news conference, my sense is that Pavin chose Fowler against the wishes of his advisers, which I’m perfectly OK with. Independent thinkers will always be criticized, but let’s not penalize the man until we’re operating with the luxury of 20/20 hindsight, otherwise known as a moot point.

John Hawkins appears on Golf Central every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and on the Grey Goose 19th Hole every Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.

The addition of Fowler might have induced Pavin to get conservative with his three other picks: Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink. Tiger was the proverbial no-brainer, even if his game hadn’t started moving in the right direction. Johnson hasn’t missed a cut since the Valero Texas Open in May – he won at Colonial the following week and finished T-3 at the PGA. Cink? This is where things start to get a bit fuzzier. The 2009 British Open champion has just one top 10 at a full-field, stroke-play event all season (T-8 at Memorial).

What Cink does bring to the team is a large collection of battle scars and the type of easy personality that can serve as an asset in the team room. He has played in four consecutive Ryder Cups, but his 4-7-4 career record vs. the Europeans doesn’t exactly provide overwhelming evidence in terms of substantiating his addition. Again, Cink made the team because so many around him in the standings failed to win, or even command any leaderboard presence at big tournaments throughout the summer.

In final analysis, nobody could examine the large collection of options that went into composing this U.S. team and make everyone happy. Pavin’s roster is as strong, if not stronger, than yours or mine, but not as strong as that of the opposition, which will make winning in Wales a difficult task.
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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

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Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”