Redemption at the 17th

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2010, 10:26 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Paul Lokey woke up at 2 a.m. Thursday morning. His eyes popped open as if he had been pricked with a needle.

“Seventeen,” he said in a voice straight out of a suspense thriller – or perhaps a horror movie.

For the first time this week, Lokey was thinking about the par-3 17th on the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. That it entered his mind in the middle of his sleep and caused him to alarmingly wake up, meant that it had been lurking in his subconscious.

And for good reason.

Senior Championship Flight
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Senior Hogan Flight
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Senior Snead Flight

The Senior Hogan Flight (handicaps 8.0-11.9) played the third round of the Golf Channel Amateur Tour’s Senior National Championship at the Stadium Course Thursday. It‘s the largest of the six senior flights, with 96 players competing.

Lokey played this very venue in a Senior Amateur Tour event earlier in the year. By his own account, he was having a solid round. And then he reached the island green 17th.

“I made 10,” he said.

This time around, Lokey was having a premiere day, just 2 over par through seven holes. The 58-year-old from Clearwater, Fla., birdied his first hole of the day, the par-4 10th and then added another at the par-4 12th – his first two birdies of the tournament.

“Here we go again,” he said with a laugh as his cart came to a stop at the tee box.

The 17th, infamously known for its role as the tricky – or tricked up – penultimate hole at The Players Championship, was playing 117 yards to the pin, which was on the front part of the two-tiered green.

The tee box was shifted left from where the PGA Tour pros play it in May, adding an unusual visual perspective for those familiar with the hole. But it was in the same place where it bit Lokey  in July’s TPC Sawgrass Open Major.

“It’s a terrible distance for me – in between a 9-iron and a wedge,” Lokey said. “I tried to baby a 9-iron last time. This time I’m going to take a wedge and mash it.”

Waiting for the group in front of him to putt out, Lokey strolled to the tee, put his egg on his peg and offered up:  “Let’s see what happens.”

Hitting first among his threesome, and coming off a par at the par-5 16th, Lokey “mashed” a wedge. The ball took flight right of the flag and never drew back in – but it didn’t leak either. It landed just above the pot bunker separating green from hazard and settled on the ridge of the top tier – safely on the green.

Lokey dropped to one knee and fist pumped. Kirk Gibson’s never been that excited.

“I wanted to give you something to write about,” he exclaimed. And that he did.

Lokey two-putted for par … and redemption.

After opening rounds of 14-over 86 at St. John’s Golf & Country Club and 15-over 87 at the Slammer & Squire course, Lokey finished with a 13-over 85 at the Stadium Course. He’s tied for 27th through 54 holes.

'Being a 10 handicap and shooting 85 on the Stadium Course under tournament conditions, I'm not unhappy,' he said.

'In one word,' he added when asked his assess his day, 'Awesome with a captial 'A.''

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: