Bunker Shots The Final Countdown

By Randall MellNovember 30, 2010, 10:32 pm
Blasting into the week ahead, from Tiger’s last chance to win in 2010 to Q-School pressure and an LPGA free-for-all ...


PGA Tour (75x100)Chevron World Challenge

Seven of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking are in the limited field at Sherwood Country Club.

No. 1 Lee Westwood, No. 3 Martin Kaymer and No. 4 Phil Mickelson are the only top-10 players who won’t be teeing it up in the field of 18. Kaymer was a late withdrawal, opening the door for Nick Watney to compete as an alternate.

Though an official victory and official money can't be won this week, world ranking points can be won.

Bunker shot: Tiger Woods can avoid going for “0 for 2010” with a victory this week. It wouldn’t count as an official victory, but winning would be a meaningful boost to Woods anyway. A victory would be his first in 54 weeks. It would be meaningful in aiming attention at what may lie ahead next season while shifting focus away from what miserably lies behind him this past season.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Paul Casey. Contender – Tiger Woods. Dark horse – Anthony Kim.

  • Course: Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Par 72, 7,027 yards).
  • Purse: $5 million (winner’s share, $1.2 million).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 4-7 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 3-6 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Jim Furyk defeated Graeme McDowell by a shot.
    PGA Tour (75x100)PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament’s final stage

A field of more than 160 players will endure six days of hell (a.k.a. Q-School) at Orange County National.

The top 25 and ties win fully exempt status on the PGA Tour next year, with the next number of finishers closest to 50 earning fully exempt Nationwide Tour status. Everyone else takes home conditional status on the Nationwide Tour.

Of the 25 players who won Tour cards at Q-School last year, 11 retained their status this year. Rickie Fowler was the highest ranking Q-School grad on this year’s PGA Tour money list, finishing 22nd in money. In case you’re wondering, just eight of the 25 Nationwide Tour grads retained their status. Michael Sim led the Nationwide Tour grads, finishing 65th on the PGA Tour money list.

Bunker shot: Troy Merritt won last year’s PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. He needed every bit of momentum and confidence that gave him to hold onto his PGA Tour card this year. He finished 125th on the money list. There are no guarantees for the Q-School medalist. Three of the last 10 winners failed to keep their cards the following seasons (Steve Allan, 2000; Mathias Gronberg, ’03; Frank Lickliter, ’07). By PGA Tour standards, a victory this week doesn’t even come with much of a prize. The winner takes home $50,000. The guy who finishes dead last at the Chevron World Challenge this weekend will earn $100,000 more than that. But Q-School champions have used their momentum to win bigger events. J.B. Holmes followed up his Q-School title in ’05 by winning the FBR Open in ’06. George McNeill followed up his Q-School title in ’06 by winning the Frys.com Open in ’07. You don’t get rich winning Q-School, but you get the chance to win riches. That’s what this week is all about. The chance.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Will MacKenzie. Contender – Pablo Martin. Dark horse – Jeff Klauk.

  • Course: Orange County National’s Crooked Cat (Par 72, 7,277 yards) and Panther Lake (Par 71, 7,152 yards) courses, Winter Garden, Fla.
  • Purse: $1,057,500 (winner’s share, $50,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel – Saturday-Sunday, 1-4 p.m.. (ET); Monday, 12:30-4 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Troy Merritt was medalist at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., finishing at 22 under, a shot ahead of Jeff Maggert.


LPGA Tour _newLPGA Tour Championship

LPGA fans could be treated to the most head-spinning finish in tour history.

The No. 1 world ranking, Rolex Player of the Year, the LPGA money title and the Vare Trophy for low scoring average could all be up for grabs Sunday in the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship at Grand Cypress.

The top five players in the Rolex world rankings have a chance to end the season atop those rankings: No. 1 Jiyai Shin, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, No. 3 Cristie Kerr, No. 4 Yani Tseng and No. 5 Na Yeon Choi.

Five players have a chance to be the Rolex Player of the Year. A victory is worth 30 points this week, with 12 points for second and nine for third. There are points for everyone who finishes in the top 10. Here are the point leaders: 1. Tseng, 188; 2. Miyazato, 179; 3. Choi, 174; 4. Kerr, 173; 5. Shin, 170.

Two players have a chance to win the money title: Choi leads the money list with $1,814,588 in earnings. Shin trails by $34,790. The first-place check this week is $225,000.

Choi is locked in a tight battle for the Vare Trophy. Her 69.77 scoring average is just .09 points better than Kerr’s.

Bunker shot: Choi could go from a pro flying too much under the radar to an LPGA superstar overnight this week. Choi is the only player in the field who has a shot to win all four of the tour’s big prizes: the No. 1 world ranking, Rolex Player of the Year, the LPGA money title and the Vare Trophy.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jiyai Shin. Contender – Na Yeon Choi. Dark horse – Christina Kim.

  • Course: Grand Cypress Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.
  • Purse: $1.5 million (winner’s share, $225,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel – Thursday-Friday, 1:30-3:30 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 7:30-9:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Rookie Anna Nordqvist swept the LPGA’s flagship events, adding to her LPGA Championship title by winning the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship.
American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.