Bunker Shots Big Tests - COPIED

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2010, 6:21 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from mighty Oakmont to a Scottish test before the British Open.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

U.S. Women's Open

There was once a golf 'massacre' at Winged Foot in the women’s game, too.

Back in 1972, Susie Berning won the U.S. Women’s Open there at 11 over par for the championship. 

With the U.S. Women’s Open being played at Oakmont this week, players are bracing for what could be another memorably punishing test. It seems almost a given that the event’s winning score will be over par for just the third time in the last 26 years. We just can’t be sure how punishing the U.S. Golf Association will dare to make it until play begins Thursday.

Basically, it will come down to how fast USGA officials set it up. Oakmont’s greens are among the most challenging in the world. Will they be manageable at 12 on the Stimpmeter? Or will the USGA push this test to the limit at 13.5, rivaling what the men faced there three years ago? Weather, of course, will play a factor. Patty Sheehan won at even par when the U.S. Women’s Open was played at Oakmont in ’92.

Bunker shot: Cristie Kerr, coming off her 12-shot romp at the LPGA Championship, is the overwhelming favorite. She isn’t a true bomber, but she’s one of the longest straight hitters on tour. What sets her apart is a velvet putting touch, maybe the best on tour. If she can win this week, she solidifies her legitimacy as the No. 1 player in the women’s game and begins a run to succeed Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa as the LPGA’s next dominant player. Kerr doesn’t lack the desire or temperament to dominate. The question is whether she’s reached another level and can muster her best more consistently.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jiyai Shin. Contender – Cristie Kerr. Darkhorse – Jee Young Lee.

  • Course: Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pa. Par 71, 6,598 yards (Designed by Henry Fownes and opened in 1904).
  • Purse: $3.25 million (winner’s share, $585,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN, 3-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Eun-Hee Ji rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the final hole to defeat Candie Kung by a shot at Saucon Valley.

    PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

John Deere Classic

There’s a quality consolation prize up for grabs this week.

Anyone finishing among the top five who isn’t otherwise qualified for the British Open earns a spot at St. Andrews and next week’s major championship.

Bunker shot: John Deere Classic officials make the most of their tough spot a week ahead of the British Open by offering a non-stop charter flight for players who want to play both events. This year’s transcontinental fliers will include a batch of players who are capable of winning on both sides of the Atlantic. Steve Stricker, the defending champ at the John Deere Classic, has a seat on that charter if he wants it. Among others, so do 2001 British Open champ David Duval, K.J. Choi, Tim Clark, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Kenny Perry and Bubba Watson. The odds of somebody winning both events aren’t good. Though the John Deere Classic hasn’t always been played the week before the British Open, none of the 39 previous winners of the John Deere Classic has ever won the British Open.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Zach Johnson. Contender – Steve Stricker. Darkhorse – Jason Dufner.

  • Course: TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill. Par 71, 7,257 yards (Designed by D.A. Weibring and opened in 2000).
  • Purse: $4.4 million (winner’s share, $792,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replay 8:30-11:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, CBS, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Steve Stricker fashioned a final-round 7-under-par 64 to beat Zach Johnson, Brett Quigley and Brandt Snedeker by three shots.

EUROPEAN TOUR

2009 European Tour

The Barclays Scottish Open

A lot of fuss is made that the European Tour doesn’t stage the event leading into the British Open on a links course, but the winner at Loch Lomond will carry the momentum of knowing he beat a quality field when he heads to St. Andrews for next week’s major.

Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell are among 10 players among the top 25 in the world competing.

Bunker shot: Mickelson nearly won this event three years ago, coming up short in a playoff with Gregory Havret. The confidence gained in playing so well in Scotland, however, didn’t translate in Mickelson’s British Open quest that year. Mickelson missed the cut at Carnoustie. Mickelson’s struggles at the British Open are well documented with just one top-10 to his credit in 16 tries in the championship. He was third at Royal Troon in ’04. His next best finish at the British Open? That would be a tie for 11th at St. Andrews in ’05.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Francesco Molinari. Contender – Phil Mickelson. Darkhorse – Soren Kjeldsen.

  • Course: Loch Lomond Golf Club, Glasgow, Scotland. Par 71, 7,149 yards (Designed by Doug Carrick and opened in 1971).
  • Purse: 3 million euros (winner’s share, $500,000 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., replay 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m., replay 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., replay 7-9:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Martin Kaymer posted four rounds in the 60s and defeated Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano by two shots.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

Nationwide Tour

Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic

A field of 160 players will compete on two courses.

A whopping 10 sponsor exemptions get into this field, as do the top five players off the Canadian Tour’s Order of Merit.

Bunker shot: Jamie Lovemark got a taste of winning claiming the Mexico Open Bicentenary in the last Nationwide Tour event and leaped to second on the money list behind Chris Kirk. Watch for a terrific battle for the tour money title into the fall.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tag Ridings. Contender – Jamie Lovemark. Darkhorse – Hunter Haas.

  • Course: Georgian Bay Club (Par 71, 7,139 yards) and Raven Golf Club (Par 72, 7,105 yards), Thornberry, Ontario, Canada.
  • Purse: $800,000 (winner’s share, $144,017).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, 1-3 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-4 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last year: Roger Tambellini won by a four-shot margin over Blake Adams.
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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Piercy, a four-time PGA Tour winner who won the Zurich Classic earlier this year alongside Billy Horschel, and by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.