Can I Get a Witness Please A Week at the Reno-Tahoe Open
Kelly hit his tee shot to the 178-yard par 3 hole long and left, up the hill. Though only about 25 feet from the hole, the grass was going against him, the green sloping away from him and the green was as hard as it was fast. Not the place to be, but then again, I certainly didnt expect to watch our monitor from the booth, and see Kelly slide his club underneath the ball not once, but twice. Thats exactly what happened. It ultimately cost Kelly a triple-bogey on the hole and the tournament as well. Kelly came up one short in his bid to find his way into a playoff for the 2nd time in his career, and probably what seems to him like a million short of his first tour win. John Cook collected his 11th Tour win in the process.
As hard as that was to take, it was perhaps more amazing to see youth not only appear on a leaderboard this week, but nearly walk away with the trophy. Not that we dont expect Charles Howell III or Bryce Molder to earn their share of victories before their time is done, its just that its all coming so fast.
Howell is, officially, the real deal! He nearly won Milwaukee after a final round 64 put him in a playoff, and has been raking in the cash ever since. The 22-year-old is already assured of official PGA Tour membership at years end because of his awesome feat of turning sponsors invitations into cold hard cash that will put him into the Top 125 at years end. What turns my head is that thats just not good enough! He wants a win so he can lift the special temporary member tag from his name and make his money officially count toward things like the gasp ... Tour Championship! After a 4th place finish this week and $144,000 this week, dont count him out.
As for Molder, this 22-year-old made his professional debut THIS WEEK - and all he did was finish solo 3rd. Which, by the way, earned him $204,000. Its important because a top 150 spot on the money list at years end will earn him unlimited sponsor invites for next year. (As though every tournament wouldnt take advantage of that) Still, Molder, who was a four-time All-America at Georgia Tech and a two-time Academic All-America as well, said at weeks beginning that he was just excited to play for a CHANCE to earn his card. Right! I believe him, its just that I didnt expect it to almost happen in one week!
So what does this all mean? I say its great for the game, especially if you get a chance to talk to these two kids who combined for 43 birdies this week. They are the new face of the game, a classy duo of youth who is not afraid to win, and certainly willing to be humble about the process. They are role models for young kids with aspirations of success, and at the same time, exciting to watch play this great game. I just cant believe they are this ready this soon. But they are. And get this ' Howell just told me in our hotel lobby that he Couldnt believe Molder was ready so soon. It even took me a while to get comfortable out here, he added. Surprise, surprise youth amazed about youth.
And oh yes, I cant forget about John Cook. Hard to believe that a 43-year-old veteran can still get it done out here! Two rounds of 64 in a week is something to tell your kids about. Unless, of course, theyre already shooting rounds of 63 and thinking about being the next Charles Howell III or Bryce Molder!
Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win
SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.
The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.
In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.
Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.
Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.
Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere
Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.
Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.
It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.
"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."
Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.
But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.
As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.
The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.
Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal
Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.
Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.
Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.
"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."
Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:
Disappointing. Clearly misunderstood my explanation. pic.twitter.com/YcKHMPf2v7— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 15, 2018
Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.
Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker
A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.
The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.
There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.
But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.
As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.
This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.