Bunker Shots Key Venues

By Randall MellJune 1, 2010, 8:41 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from a Golden Bear host to a sneak peak at the next Ryder Cup venue ...


PGA Tour (75x100)

The Memorial

After missing the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial last week, Phil Mickelson will be looking to fix his swing before the U.S. Open.

Mickelson’s game has never been as right as he would like it to be in the presence of host Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village.

In nine tries, Mickelson has two top-10 finishes at the Memorial, his best finish a tie for fourth in 2006.

Mickelson has broken 70 just six times in the 34 rounds he’s played there and he boasts an unremarkable scoring average of 71.7 at Muirfield Village.

Six of the top 10 in the world rankings are scheduled to appear with No. 1 Woods and No. 2 Mickelson joining No. 4 Steve Stricker, No. 5 Jim Furyk, No. 7 Ernie Els and No. 9 Rory McIlroy in the field.

Bunker shot: Like Mickelson, Woods also will be aiming to right his game before the U.S. Open, but Woods has history working for him. In 11 starts at the Memorial, Woods has four victories, including last year’s triumph. He has finished fourth or better seven times there and boasts a scoring average of 69.5. If Woods can’t get right at Jack’s place, where he hit all 14 fairways in the final round a year ago, he might actually lose his favorite status heading to the U.S. Open in two weeks at Pebble Beach, where he won by 15 shots in 2000.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Geoff Ogilvy. Contender – Stewart Cink. Darkhorse – Matt Kuchar.

  • Course: Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio. Par 72, 7,366 yards (Designed by Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead and opened in 1974).
  • Purse: $6 million (winner’s share, $1,080,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m., replay 8:30-11:30 p.m.; Saturday – Golf Channel, 12:30-2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3-6 p.m.; Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m. Sunday – Golf Channel, noon to 2 p.m.; CBS, 3-6 p.m.; Golf Channel replay, 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last time: Tiger Woods shot a final-round 65 for his fourth victory in the event.

2009 European TourCeltic Manor Wales Open

Golf fans get more than a sneak peak at the home of this fall’s Ryder Cup.

They’ll get to see some European Ryder Cup hopefuls, including Luke Donald, play the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor in this week’s European Tour stop. Donald is coming off a victory at last week’s Madrid Masters. The 38th rendition of the matches will be played in Wales for the first time Oct. 1-3.

Those watching also will get to see European captain Colin Montgomerie, who’s in this week’s field. Montgomerie’s competitive juices should be stoked wandering around the venue, so expect the colorful Scot to stir the pot with some strong opinions regarding this fall’s international team event. There’s always some sort of soap opera playing out on the European side before their arrival. Four months out, the Europeans are favored to win the Ryder Cup. Ladbrokes makes their odds 4/6. Montgomerie will be closely watching potential captain’s picks.

Bunker shot: Across the Atlantic, somebody cruelly coined the term for underachievement among professional golfers as “Luke Donald’s Disease.” Donald had an answer last week, winning the Madrid Masters a week after stumbling in his bid to win the BMW PGA Championship. The Englishman’s hot, having finished first, second and third in his last three starts. With a major championship a little more than two weeks away, Donald has a chance to fashion the “Luke Donald Cure.”

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Rhys Davies. Darkhorse – Jamie Donaldson.

  • Course: Celtic Manor Resort’s Twenty Ten Course, Newport, Wales. Par 71, 7,378 yards (Designed by Ross McMurray of European Golf Design and opened in 2007).  
  • Purse: 1,800,000 euros (winner’s share, 350,940 euros)
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Last time: Denmark’s Jeppe Huldahl defeated Niclas Fasth by a shot.

Champions TourThe Principal Charity Classic

Fred Couples keeps his amazing pace going.

Couples, who lost the Senior PGA Championship in a playoff last weekend, tees it up for the 13th time on the Champions and PGA tours this season, for the eighth time in the last 11 weeks. Couples has three victories and two second-place finishes in eight starts on the over-50 circuit this season.

Bunker shot: With debate ongoing over whether U.S. captain Corey Pavin needed a “brain scan” after suggesting it’s no lock he would pick Woods if Woods didn’t make the American team on points this fall, Pavin made a run at winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday. He’ll take that momentum and loads of confidence to Glen Oaks in a bid to win his first Champions Tour event in his seventh start.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Corey Pavin. Contender – Fred Couples. Darkhorse – Joey Sindelar.

  • Course: Glen Oaks Country Club, West Des Moines, Iowa. Par 71, 6,789 yards (Designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1994).
  • Purse: $1,725,000 (winner’s share, $258,750).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.; Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m., replay midnight-2 a.m.
  • Last time: Mark McNulty defeated Fred Funk and Nick Price in a playoff.

Nationwide TourMelwood Prince George’s County Open

Mathias Gronberg, who won last year’s event at The Country Club at Woodmore in Mitchellville, Md., is back to defend his title on a new course, the University of Maryland Golf Course.

Bunker shot: The top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, coveted because at year’s end those folks earn promotions to the PGA Tour, is an insecure collection of PGA Tour hopefuls this time of year. So much can change so quickly. Through 10 events of a 29-event schedule, Jon Mills holds down the 25th spot with $69,500 in official money. With $108,000 up for grabs this week, a player who hasn’t earned a single dollar this year could jump as high as 14th on the money list.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Kevin Chappel. Contender – Mathias Gronberg. Darkhorse – Justin Peters.

  • Course: University of Maryland Golf Course, College Park, Md. Par 71, 7,019 yards (Designed by George Cobb and opened in 1958).
  • Purse: $600,000 (winner’s share, $108,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.: Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2-4:30 p.m.
  • Last time: Mathias Gronberg closed with a 65 to win by six shots.
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Runner-up McIlroy: 'I should have closed it out'

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 5:18 pm

After taking the 36-hole lead by three and taking a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round, Rory McIlroy failed to keep pace with Francesco Molinari on Sunday at the BMW PGA Championship.

Struggling with a two-way miss throughout the weekend, McIlroy fell four down to Molinari through 10 holes.

The Ulsterman attempted to mount a late charge, with birdies at 12 and 17, but when his eagle putt at the 72nd hole came up inches short, and when Molinari's ball opted not to spin back into the water, the comeback bid came to an end.

His final round of 2-under 70 left him in solo second, two shots behind the champion.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

"I’m just disappointed I didn’t play better over the weekend," McIlroy said. "I was in a great position after two days and struggled yesterday and sort struggled today again, as well. I just couldn’t get it going. I let Francesco get a few shots ahead of me, and I couldn’t claw that back.

“I played some good golf coming down the back nine, hit some better shots, but I need to work on a few things going forward."

McIlroy ended an 18-month worldwide winless drought earlier this year with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but hasn't claimed victory on the European Tour in two years, since the Irish Open in May of 2016.

"I get a bit down on myself because my expectations are high, and with a 36-hole lead, I should have closed it out this week," McIlroy said. "But that’s not taking anything away from Francesco. He played a great weekend and bogey-free around here is some playing. He deserved the win, I need to do a little more work, and I’m looking to forward to getting right back at it at Memorial next week."

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Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Francesco Molinari's path to the biggest win of his career at the BMW PGA Championship was drama-free until he sized up his approach to the 72nd hole.

Rory McIlroy, his closest rival three strokes back, had just hit to 20 feet to set up an eagle chance. Molinari was between clubs for his third shot and faced a delicate wedge over the water protecting Wentworth's pretty 18th green.

His ball landed short of the pin and span back toward the water. The spectators held their collective breath - so did Molinari - but it came to rest on the fringe, just short of trouble.

''Just a bit of luck at the right time,'' Molinari said, with a smile.

After McIlroy came up inches short with his eagle putt, Molinari rolled in for par from 6 feet for a 4-under 68 that secured a two-stroke victory at Wentworth on Sunday. It was the fifth win of his career, and his most satisfying.

''If I could pick one tournament to win in my career, it would be this one,'' the Italian said at the prizegiving ceremony.

A Sunday shootout between Molinari and McIlroy at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

They entered the final round tied for the lead on 13 under but while McIlroy sprayed his drives left and right, Molinari was the model of consistency and established a three-shot cushion by the turn after birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 8.

From there on, it was a clinic in front-running from Molinari, who laid up when he needed to and picked up his only shot on the back nine with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 12th.

McIlroy birdied the par 5s at Nos. 17 and 18 but mounted his victory charge too late.

''I didn't feel intimidated at all,'' Molinari said of his head-to-head with the former world No. 1. ''It's just the last couple of holes, he's basically thinking eagle, eagle. I'm thinking par, par, and that makes the whole difference.

''Sometimes I just get too drawn on what the other guy is doing, and I was really good today, hitting good shots and focusing on my process and not worrying about anything else.''

Molinari played his final 44 holes bogey-free. He only dropped two shots all week, one of them coming on his first hole.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

He will likely climb into the world's top 20 on Monday and has moved into the automatic qualifying places for the European team for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

''I'm playing well enough that I shouldn't really worry too much about that,'' Molinari said. ''I should just keep doing my own thing and hopefully things will take care of themselves.''

Molinari previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Alex Noren last year.

On that occasion, Noren closed with a 10-under 62 and the Swede embarked on another last-day charge 12 months later, a fifth birdie of the day at No. 12 briefly drawing him to within two shots of Molinari.

It was the closest he came, with a bogey at the next virtually ending his bid for victory.

With a 67, Noren was tied for third with Lucas Bjerregaard (65), a stroke back from McIlroy.

McIlroy, the 2014 winner at Wentworth, played what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 on Friday, a bogey-free 65 that left him with a three-shot lead.

He struggled off the tee in shooting 71 on Saturday and started the final round with errant drives on Nos. 1 and 3 (both right, into spectators) and No. 4 (left). After a bogey at No. 10, he was the only player in the top 10 over par but he birdied the three par 5s coming home to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing Sunday.

''With a 36-hole lead,'' McIlroy said, ''I should have closed it out this week.''

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”