Is it 2007 Yet

By Kraig KannDecember 8, 2006, 5:00 pm
Sorry, but Im losing my patience. Im ready for 2007 to begin and certainly ready for 2006 to be done and gone. Not to say 2006 was a bad year, and not to say Im not looking forward to a break between Christmas and New Years, but enough already.
 
The beauty of a new season is the unknown. The players we just dont know about and the players well soon know plenty about.
 
Tis the Season and this column will be about numbers, using the Twelve Days of Christmas. Not trying to be cute (beyond just giving you the 12 subjects for the song in case youd forgotten). Instead (though you can hum along if youd like), Ill just give you a countdown using the number 12 to share some things that might just make you think about the year that was, the year that will be or just your love for the game and what it brings.
 
12. Drummers Drumming (Twelve Sure Bets to win a PGA TOUR event)
Some of these are easy. But as a whole, picking winners is never a lock. Heres 12, and while you can say that many were not that challenging, Id offer up the theory that if Ernie and Retief can go winless as they did in 2006, then who knows. I say each of these guys is sure to click at least once:
Woods, Mickelson, Furyk, Els, Singh, Toms, Immelman, Garcia, Scott, Goosen, Love, Ogilvy.
 
11. Pipers Piping (Eleven Pretty Safe Bets to win a PGA TOUR event)
These guys are no guarantee to find the winners circle. But if somebody said, you need to get away from the obvious, then I subscribe to the theory that this batch of 11 will hold a trophy in 2007:
Jerry Kelly, Steve Stricker, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Mike Weir, Ryan Palmer, Chad Campbell, Arron Olberholser, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Shaun Micheel.
 
10. Lords-a-Leaping (Ten Decent Bets to Get a First PGA TOUR win)
How in the world doesnt Harrison Frazar have a PGA TOUR win by now? Far too talented to keep this streak going. I say it ends. And Ill give you a list of 10 who I think can get rid of the donut beside their name:
Frazar, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Justin Rose, Tim Clark. Brett Quigley, Daniel Chopra, Camilo Villegas, Nathan Green, Nick Watney.
 
9. Ladies Dancing (The Back Nine at Augusta 2007)
While its nine Ladies Dancing, well save the ladies for No. 8. This is about the years first PGA TOUR major. Much as I try right at this moment, I just cant see any way that Tiger Woods doesnt get Phil Mickelson to return the favor and slip a green over his shoulders. Woods battles Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Luke Donald on the back nine, until about the 15th hole where it becomes clear that Woods has it in the bag. It makes three majors in a row, 13 overall and the only question is whether he continues a streak of consecutive PGA TOUR wins in the process.
 
8. Maids-a-Milking (Top 8 on the LPGA Money List)
Remember, its a Solheim Cup year so the season will already have some drama. But the money list in 2007 should be a wild ride once again. This time, its not Ochoa or Sorenstam who wins it. Karrie Webb proved a lot in 2006. Ochoa has clearly established herself as the rising star ' well see how she handles the pressure. Itll finish like this:
Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam, Christie Kerr, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Mi Hyun Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Ai Miyazato.
 
7. Swans-a-Swimming (The PGA TOURs Lucky 7)
Last year, 20 players who graduated either from the Nationwide Tour or PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament were able to finish among the PGA TOURs Top 125 on the money list. Given that Chris Couch, Troy Matteson, Eric Axley, Brett Wetterich and J.B, Holmes counted themselves among the winners in 2006, wed better keep an eye on this years graduates. Heres a list of seven whove battled tough tours and tough times and who I believe will have their moments from either the Nationwide Tour or Q-School:
Paul Gow, Johnson Wagner, Anthony Kim, Matt Kuchar, Cameron Beckman, Dicky Pride, Bob May.
 
6. Geese-a-Laying (Six Foreign Born Players Ready to Make Noise)
Every year the invasion swells and it becomes tougher for the American up-n-comers to go ahead and come up. Its a worldwide game and here are six names to remember this year. One will be a PGA TOUR rookie, the others have been on tour and are ready to really make some noise:
Julieta Granata ' LPGA, Jarrod Lyle ' Nationwide Tour Graduate, Greg Owen ' PGA TOUR, Ian Poulter ' PGA TOUR, Justin Rose ' PGA TOUR.
 
5. Golden Rings (Five 50-Somethings Ready For Champions Tour)
Ah. Its great to be fifty. Ask Loren Roberts how hes doing these days. And this year the list of 50 year old birthday boys grows to include some other names. Watch out, because there they come. Nick Faldo, Nick Price, John Cook, Seve Ballesteros, Mark OMeara, Jeff Sluman. Together theyll provide the Champions Tour with some pizzazz. And look out Loren ' theyre after your money.
 
4. Calling Birds (The Four Major Winners)
When the PGA Grand Slam of Golf heads to Bermuda next Thanksgiving week, these are the guys who will be there:
Masters ' Woods slips past Fuyrk.
U.S. Open ' Furyk outlasts Woods and Els to win at Oakmont.
Open Championship ' Woods adds to Jean Van de Veldes pain by making birdie at Carnousties 18th en route to a four shot win.
PGA Championship ' at Southern Hills its Sergio Garcia breaking through at the site of Retief Goosens U.S, Open.
Els rounds out the foursome at the PGA Grand Slam by virtue of his consistent major record in 2007.
 
3. French Hens (The Three Most Intriguing Non-Majors)
This one is tough. Ill leave WGC events out of this because I actually believe that the playoff stretch run of the FedEX Cup will get far more water cooler conversation. But those events aside here are my three:
Mercedes-Benz Championship ' Will Tigers streak continue? Will Stuart Appleby win yet again? And selfishly, plenty of eyes will be on The Golf Channel as PGA TOUR coverage finds a new home.
EDS Byron Nelson Championship ' After Lord Byrons passing you can bet the field will be full of stars paying tribute and the trophy ceremony will be emotional. Winning it this year will be extra special.
The PLAYERS ' newly renovated course, new date in May and plenty of fireworks after the Masters and before the U.S. Open.
 
2. Turtle Doves (Two Most Perplexing Players Heading to 07)
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. This one is easy for me. Each man could win multiple majors and also Player of the Year. Each one could continue along their most recent path and struggle a bit. I pick them because well be watching them as much as anyone. Word is that Phils coming out more fit than ever and at this stage Ernies knee can no longer be an issue. The feeling here is that each man wins early whether they win often is what Ill be waiting to see.
 
1. Partridge in a Pear Tree (One Player of the Year)
In two of the last three years on the PGA TOUR I picked Ernie Els. He hasnt been able to do it. This year, Im not taking the chance. Until somebody proves Tigers not the best, hes still the best.
 
Predictions are just that. And youll probably find plenty of reason to disagree. Thats just fine with me. I enjoy reading your take on my take. More than anything, Im looking forward to a new look PGA TOUR, the continuation of a great bit of LPGA momentum and some new fresh faces on the Champions Tour.
 
The fresh new beginning for The Golf Channel is pretty exciting too. I hope youll enjoy the ride along with us. Happy Holidays!
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.''

Getty Images

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."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

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.”