Slam Skins or School

By Kraig KannNovember 30, 2006, 5:00 pm
Its your choice and at the end Ill get to mine. Three events spread over a couple of weeks that give die-hards a reason to tune in when the golf season has basically tuned out.
The PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii matched the years major champions in one foursome. Actually, wait a minute. Tiger Woods is just one man with two majors. And while Phil Mickelson is one man with one major ' he begged off the island before he got there. So the two-day battle gave us Tiger, Geoff Ogilvy, and non-major winners Jim Furyk and Mike Weir, who found a spot based on their consistency in the years majors.
Tiger wins. Did you watch?
The Skins Game provides another foursome in a made-for-television event that, over the last few years, really hasnt made much for television in more than a few peoples opinion. This year was the 24th for the Thanksgiving event and the ratings didnt exactly scream out for a silver anniversary edition in 2007; down a full ratings point on Sunday from a year ago, which basically means a million fewer people tuned in compared to 2005. Fred Couples, John Daly, Fred Funk and Stephen Ames tripped to the California Desert for 18 holes and a truckload of cash.
Stephen Ames wins. Did you watch?
The PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament, or Q-School as it is most commonly referred, is just a 5-iron away from the site of the Skins Game. Same California desert, but hardly the same atmosphere. Six rounds of golf where each shot seems like it could be your last -- or the springboard to a PGA TOUR career that shows great promise, just as it did for J.B. Holmes a year ago. You might see a triple-bogey down the stretch when par would be plenty good enough to square off with Phil Mickelson at next years Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. You might see a putt fall in but pop out just as quickly as you can say Joe Daley (it happened to him a few years back at La Quinta, costing him his card). You might see a drop from the clubhouse roof that ultimately sends a player back to the minor leagues instead of up to the biggest show on earth (it happened to Roland Thatcher a few years back in Florida). Heck, you might see a player lining up a putt from just off the green ... only to lose his balance and fall backward into the greenside pond (it happened to Over The Cliff Kresge a few years back at La Quinta).
This year, what youll see in coverage on The Golf Channel are names like Lee Janzen and Duffy Waldorf, Chris Riley and Jonathan Kaye. Yep, theyre all out there in La Quinta, Calif., battling to keep going what once was a very good thing.
Somebody wins. Will you watch?
The beauty of Q-School is its unpredictability. The feeling you get at the Slam or the Skins is a feeling of predictability.
Finish among the top 30 and ties and you could be 2007s Holmes and win yourself a golf tournament. Lose your PGA TOUR card and you can be Riley, who just two years ago was playing in a Ryder Cup and this week opened with an eye-popping 83 amidst unpredictable 30-mile-per-hour winds.
Sure somebody wins. But 30 and ties consider themselves winners. Will you watch?
Ive covered the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament Finals on eight occasions during my time at The Golf Channel. For storylines, its easily as good as the Honda Classic and might just have the drama to (in its own way) rival a tight finish at The International.
This week is about jobs well-earned and opportunities lost.
Ill watch. But its my job. Will you? And if you do, is it better than the Grand Slam of Golf or the Skins Game?
Thats for you to answer, but Ill tell you that while the money hardly rivals the other two events, each of the lucky 30 who survive the School will feel just as good or better about what theyve accomplished.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

“I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

“I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

“My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

“I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

“As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.