Bunker Shots Cell Phone Insanity

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2010, 7:13 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from cell phone insanity to another senior major ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

Wyndham Championship

The PGA Tour moves from Whistling Straits to Desperate Straits this week.

That’s what it feels like with players on the FedEx Cup bubble wanting a chance at the $65 million offered in the Playoffs.

There’s just one player among the top 25 in the world rankings in the Wyndham Championship field – that would be No. 14 Anthony Kim – but the fiercest competition this week is on the lower end of golf’s ladder. This is the last event players can qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The top 125 in the season-long points race advance.

There’s a potentially noisy little sidebar to the week: This is the event the PGA Tour is allowing fans to bring cell phones to the course as a test. Whoever came up with that idea in the PGA Tour offices must be holding their breath in hopes that there isn't a concert of ring tones breaking through the silent mode.

Every player ranked 111th to 131st in the FedEx Cup standings is teeing it up. Michael Letzig is on the playoff bubble at No. 125. Mike Weir is No. 126. According to pgatour.com, any player 126th to 142nd in points is assured of making the playoffs with a top-10 finish this week.

Fred Couples, David Duval and John Daly are the biggest names in the Wyndham Championship field with Ryan Moore back as defending champ. Moore is part of some Ryder Cup intrigue as a potential captain’s pick bidding to gain American captain Corey Pavin’s attention. Kim’s got something to show, too. He was bumped off the automatic qualifying list last week and needs to show Pavin his surgically repaired thumb will allow him to help the team. Lucas Glover, last year’s U.S. Open winner, also got bumped off the team. A Glover victory this week would certainly get Pavin’s attention.

Bunker shot: What if Tiger Woods didn’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs? Would they be canceled? For a contingent of fans, they might as well be. It’s not likely Woods will be bumped out of the FedEx Cup playoffs this week, but it should be troubling at PGA Tour offices that it’s even possible. Woods is 108th in the FedEx Cup standings. Only the top 96 are mathematically assured of advancing to the playoffs. You have to believe the playoffs would sustain serious injury in its appeal in future negotiations to extend the system should Woods not qualify for get bounced after the first playoff event.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Ryan Moore. Darkhorse – Brandt Snedeker.

Course: Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, N.C.

Purse: $5.1 million (winner’s share, $918,000).

TV Times (ET): Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel (3-6 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel (noon-1:30 p.m.), CBS (2-5 p.m.).

Last year: Ryan Moore won on the third playoff hole, defeating Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler.


CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions Tour

Jeld-Wen Tradition

It’s the third major in five weeks for the over-50 circuit.

Fred Couples, however, will miss the second of those majors. He’s teeing it up at the Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour. While Couples is having a big year in his Champions Tour rookie season, he is majorless. It’s hard to imagine it’s keeping him up at night. He was second at the Senior PGA and second at the U.S. Senior Open in his two starts in majors.

Bunker shot: German engineering is center stage yet again. A week after Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship, Bernhard Langer bids to win his third consecutive senior major. Langer won the Senior Open three weeks ago and the U.S. Senior Open two weeks ago. Langer’s arguably the hottest player on the planet, so much so that European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said he’d consider him as a captain’s pick. Some Euro Tour players were skeptical but another Langer victory might make them think again.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Mark Calcavecchia. Contender – Bernhard Langer. Darkhorse – Denis Watson.

Course: Crosswater Club, Sunriver, Ore.

Purse: $2.6 million (winner’s share, $392,000).

TV times (ET): Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel (6:30-9 p.m.); Saturday-Sunday, NBC (4-6 p.m.).

Last year: Mike Reid defeated John Cook on the first playoff hole.


LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

Safeway Classic

After two weeks off, the LPGA returns to action Friday at Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek Course in North Plains, Ore.

Every player among the top 10 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings is in the field for the 54-hole event.

Bunker shot: There’s a revolving door atop the women’s game, but it’s dizzyingly good stuff for this tour. When American Cristie Kerr ascended back to the top of the rankings this week, it marked the sixth change at the top in less than four months. That’s more changes than we saw in the first four years of the women’s rankings. The race is so close that players are making moves on off weeks (lost points are a factor in the ranking rolling two-year window). Since Lorena Ochoa retired in late April, Kerr, Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato have taken turns at No. 1. Shin’s held the top spot for 11 weeks, Kerr for four and Miyazato for two.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Michelle Wie. Darkhorse – Hee Young Park.

Course: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek Course, North Plains, Ore.

Purse: $1.5 million (winner’s share, $225,000).

TV times (ET): Golf Channel – Friday (12:30-2:30 p.m); Saturday (5:30-8 p.m.); Sunday (5:30-8 p.m.).

Last year: M.J. Hur closed beat Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a playoff.

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.”