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.
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Koepka has his chance 'to earn' his way to No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 8:09 am

There won't need to be any wonky math involved. He won't have to settle for finally reaching the the top via some kind of mathematical reset while he's sitting at home on the couch (or more likely working out in the gym).

No, Brooks Koepka on Sunday in South Korea will have a chance to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking the way every player would most want to - with a victory.

On the strength of a bogey-free round of 5-under 67 Saturday, Koepka will enter the final round of the CJ Cup four clear of Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy, with six more players five behind.

The tournament is Koepka's to lose, and so too is the No. 1 ranking. So long as Justin Thomas doesn't somehow defend his title from 12 shots back, Koepka can supplant Dustin Johnson atop the rankings with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

"It was something I wanted to do. I always wanted to become World No. 1 in a week that I was playing," Koepka said Saturday. "I thought like I could really earn it and not have a week off where it just so happens that you bump up. No, it would be very special, and to do it here would be nice and hopefully get to world No. 1 and cap it off with a win, I don't think there would be much better."

It would be a fitting end to this breakthrough year for Koepka, who successfully defended his U.S. Open title and then added his third major victory at the PGA Championship en route to claiming the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award. Oddly enough, given how his career has unfolded, this would be Koepka's fifth Tour victory but only his second in a non-major.

"My confidence has always been pretty high," Koepka said. "Anytime you can win three majors you're going to be feeling pretty good about yourself. To do what I've done over the last two years has been special, but I'm looking to build on that."

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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.