Bunker Shots Majors and More

By Randall MellJuly 27, 2010, 6:08 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from a new PGA Tour venue to a pair of majors and a proud Irish test ... 

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

Greenbrier Classic

It’s hard to believe, but we’re creeping up on the end of this most unusual and amorphous PGA Tour FedEx Cup season.

It’s almost over, and we’re still trying to get a handle on what this year’s all about beyond Tiger Woods’ swoon.

Catch your breath this week – most of the PGA Tour stars are – because six of the next seven weeks are elite events that will feature loaded fields.

With the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship following the Greenbrier Classic, there’s just the Wyndham Championship to go before the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It’s why Jim Furyk’s the only top-20 player in the field at the Greenbrier Classic. There’s a lot of resting going on.

Bunker shot: Break out the pannkakor and lingonberry jelly, the Swedes are coming. Carl Pettersson and Richard Johnson are coming off victories last week, Pettersson at the RBC Canadian Open and Johnson at the Nordea Scandinavian Masters. They’re both in this week’s field with the glow of their victories still lighting up Sweden.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Ricky Barnes. Contender – Jim Furyk. Darkhorse – Charley Wi.

  • Course: Greenbrier’s Old White Course, White Sulphur Springs, WV. Par 70, 7,020 (Originally designed by Charles Blair MacDonald and Seth Raynor and opened in 1913, restored by Lester George in 2006).
  • Purse: $6 million (winner’s share, $1,090,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET), replay 8:30-11:30 p.m. on Friday, (ET); Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel, 1-2:30 p.m. (ET), CBS, 3-6 p.m., (ET), Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m (ET).
  • Last year: This year is the inaugural event.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

Ricoh Women’s British Open

Royal Birkdale is home to the final major championship of the women’s season. Americans are on a major championship roll, having won back-to-back majors in the same season for the first time in 11 years. Can they make it three in a row? That also last happened in 1999, when Dottie Pepper won the Kraft Nabisco and Juli Inkster won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open.

Bunker shot: Four different players have held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings already this year. Anybody game to make it five? Suzann Pettersen looks like she is despite an ailing hip. Pettersen’s No. 4 in the world but can catapult to No. 1 with a victory this week. She’s done everything but win this year. She has four runner-up finishes and eight top-10 finishes in her 11 starts. She knocked hard at the door again last week, closing with a bogey-free 66 at the Evian Masters to finish fifth, two shots behind the champ, Jiyai Shin. Pettersen, despite worsening tendinitis in a hip, looks determined to break through before fixing this hip.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Jiyai Shin. Darkhorse – Karen Stupples.

  • Course: Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England. Par 72, 6,465 yards (Designed by three generations of the Hawtree Family, opened at current site in 1894).
  • Purse: $2.5 million (winner’s share, TBA).
  • TV times: ESPN, Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m. to noon (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Catriona Matthew won at 3-under 285, finishing three shots ahead of runner-up Karrie Webb at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions Tour

U.S. Senior Open

The third leg of the five-legged Champions Tour major championship schedule lands at Sahalee Country Club outside Seattle this week.

Tom Lehman won the first major of the year, the Senior PGA Championship at Colorado Golf Club, Bernhard Langer the second, last weekend’s Senior British Open at Carnoustie.

Bunker shot: Langer wrestled away the Charles Schwab Cup points lead from Fred Couples with his victory at Carnoustie on Sunday. Couples had a vice grip on the top spot for five months, and he just might be inspired to take it back this week. Couples is from Seattle. Though he hasn’t lived there since leaving for the University of Houston 33 years ago, he still takes pride in calling it home. There should be lots of magic and motivation working for Couples this week.     

Mell’s picks: Winner – Fred Couples. Contender – Mark Calcavecchia. Darkhorse – Peter Jacobsen.

  • Course: Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish, Wash. Par 70, 6,866 yards (Designed by Ted Robinson and opened in 1969, renovated by Rees Jones in 1996).
  • Purse: $2.6 million (winner’s share, $470,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN2, 5-9 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 4-7 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Fred Funk closed with a 7-under-par 65 to run away in a six-shot romp at Crooked Stick. His 20-under 268 total was a championship record for 72 holes.

EUROPEAN TOUR

2009 European Tour

3 Irish Open

Shane Lowry scripted a wildly popular finish to this championship in Ireland a year ago, with the Irish lad becoming just the third amateur to win a European Tour event.

Lowry’s back as a professional to defend his title, and he’s faring respectably this season, ranking 46th in the Race to Dubai standings with a pair of top-10 European Tour finishes.

Bunker shot: It’s a special time in Irish golf with the European Tour’s website touting this week as a welcome home to a “golden generation.” Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell have made that part of the world proud. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy gives this championship a trio of world-ranked stars to follow in Killarney.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Padraig Harrington. Contender – Rory McIlroy. Darkhorse – Darren Clarke.

  • Course: Killarney Golf & Fishing Club, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland.
  • Purse: 3 million euros (winner’s share, 500,000 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Amateur Shane Lowry defeated Robert Rock on the third playoff hole.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

Nationwide Tour

Cox Classic

Jamie Lovemark bumped Tommy Gainey from the top of the money list last week, making Lovemark the fifth different player to hold the top spot this season.

Bunker shot: D.J. Brigman rocketed from No. 47 to No. 6 on the Nationwide Tour money list with his victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational last weekend. That’s the delightfully volatile nature of this tour. Who’s going to blast off this week? A season can go from sour to sweet in a heartbeat on this circuit with the top-25 money winners at season’s end winning promotions to the PGA Tour next year.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tag Ridings. Contender – Jamie Lovemark. Darkhorse – J.J. Killeen.

  • Course: Champions Run, Omaha, Neb. Par 71, 7,145 yards (Designed by Jeff Brauer and opened in 1992).
  • Purse: $725,000 (winner’s share, $130,500).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (ET); Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. (ET); Sunday, 7-9:30 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Rich Barcelo’s final-round 6-under-par 65 gave him a one-shot margin of victory over runner-up Tom Gillis.
Getty Images

Davies headlines field at Senior LPGA at French Lick

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 14, 2018, 10:40 pm

Laura Davies will be looking to win her second senior major championship this year when she tees it up in Monday’s start of the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana.

Davies, who won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open in July, will join a field that includes fellow World Golf Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson, who was announced last week with Peggy Kirk Bell as the Hall’s newest members. Hall of Famers Juli Inkster and Hollis Stacy are also in the 54-hole event.

Trish Johnson is back to defend her title after winning the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship a year ago. Brandi Burton, Jane Geddes, Helen Alfredsson and Liselotte Neumann are also in the field of 81 players who will compete for a $600,000 purse, with $90,000 going to the winner.

Golf Channel will televise all three rounds live from 4-6 p.m. ET on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Getty Images

Langer (65) wins regular-season finale by six

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 10:07 pm

CARY, N.C. – Bernhard Langer ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday to take the points lead into the PGA Tour Champions' Charles Schwab Cup playoffs

Langer shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 for a six-stroke victory in the regular-season finale.

''I just played very solid all day long,'' Langer said. ''Putted well, hit the ball where I was looking and did everything exceptionally well.''

The 61-year-old German star has 38 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning this year near Houston. He has a record four victories after turning 60.

''I don't have anything to prove, but I still have golf,'' Langer said. ''I still want to improve my own game. I still want to play to the best Bernhard Langer can play. I don't think I need to prove anything, but I love competing, I love winning or being in the hunt. As long as I can do that, I think you're going to see me out here.''

Langer finished with a tournament-record 22-under 194 total at Prestonwood Country Club, the tree-lined layout softened by heavy rain Thursday from Hurricane Michael. He opened with a 62 on Friday to match Gene Sauers and Tom Lehman for the lead, and had a 67 on Saturday to remain atop the leaderboard with Sauers.


Full-field scores from the SAS Championship


''The 10 under was amazing,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't believe there were two other guys who shot 10 under.''

The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner also won at Prestonwood in 2012.

''It's always fun to go back to where you've won before because you feel like you know how to play the course and you're somewhat comfortable and that's certainly the case here,'' Langer said. ''I've been probably 50, 70 times now around this golf course and I know how to play every hole.''

Scott Parel was second, closing with a double bogey for a 65.

''Bernhard is just in his own world this week,'' Parel said.

Jerry Kelly had a 68 to finish third at 15 under, and Lehman followed at 13 under after a 71.

Sauers shot a 75 to tie for fifth with Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) at 12 under.

The top 72 players in the Schwab Cup standings qualified for the playoffs, the three-event series that begins next week with the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Dan Forsman tied for 56th to jump from 74th to 72nd, edging John Huston for the final spot by $932. Huston tied for 46th.

Getty Images

Pepperell captures British Masters, eyes Augusta

By Associated PressOctober 14, 2018, 5:29 pm

WALTON HEATH, England -- Eddie Pepperell won his second European Tour title with a two-shot victory at the British Masters on Sunday and likely secured the even bigger prize of a place in next year's Masters at Augusta National.

The Englishman shot an even-par 72 and held off his playing partner, Sweden's Alexander Bjork (71), as the pair went to the 72nd hole at a wet and windy Walton Heath with Pepperell just a stroke in front.

Pepperell finished on 9-under 279.

Herbert Lucas (69) and Jordan Smith (73) were tied for third, another two shots behind Bjork.

English pair Sam Horsfield (69) and Tom Lewis (70) along with American Julian Suri (74) tied for fifth, one shot in front of tournament host Justin Rose (70).

The victory takes Pepperell into the world's top 35 and almost certainly secures a first appearance at Augusta in 2019. The top 50 at the end of the year are guaranteed a place in the first major of the year in April.

Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood (72) finished 2 under in a seven-way tie for ninth.


Full-field scores from the British Masters


A top-two finish on Sunday would have seen Rose reach the top of the world rankings for the second time this season, the 38-year-old having spent two weeks as No. 1 in September

Pepperell was ranked outside the top 500 as recently as May last year, but won the Qatar Masters in February and followed a runner-up finish in the Scottish Open with a tie for sixth in the British Open seven days later, carding a closing 67 at Carnoustie despite saying he had a hangover.

His three-shot overnight lead was down to a single stroke on Sunday when Bjork covered the front nine in 34 and Pepperell three-putted the ninth, the same hole where he enjoyed a spectacular hole-in-one on Thursday.

However, the 27-year-old Pepperell promptly holed his second shot to the 10th from 122 yards for an eagle to move three clear and a par save from off the green on the 14th looked to have sealed the win.

There was still time for some late drama, though, as Pepperell dropped shots on Nos. 15 and 16 to see his lead cut to a single shot, but Bjork bogeyed the 18th after driving into the heather and Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker.

Getty Images

Disappointed Sharma fades to T-10 at CIMB

By Will GrayOctober 14, 2018, 1:46 pm

For the second time this year, India's Shubankhar Sharma watched an opportunity for a breakthrough win turn into a learning experience.

Sharma burst onto the scene in March, taking a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC-Mexico Championship only to fade to a tie for ninth. It was a similar story Sunday at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, where Sharma started the final round in a three-way tie for the lead but struggled to an even-par 72 that dropped him into a tie for 10th.

"Disappointing, not really happy with the way I finished," Sharma told reporters.


Full-field scores from CIMB Classic

CIMB Classic: Articles, photos and videos


The 22-year-old was 1 over for his first six holes, but he battled back with four straight birdies on Nos. 7-10 to get within three shots of eventual winner Marc Leishman. But his tee shot at the par-3 11th found the water, leading to the first of three straight bogeys that ended any hopes of victory.

"That was probably one of the worst swings of the day," Sharma said. "That 11th hole I think killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way, and I probably could have made more birdies after that."

Sharma remained optimistic this spring following his final-round fade in Mexico, and he retained a positive mindset despite a rough afternoon as he eyes upcoming starts at both the CJ Cup in South Korea and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

"Great experience. Very, very good to have two top-10s on the PGA Tour, so that's a good way of looking at it," he said. "Also, it pushes me to keep playing well. I feel like I have it in me to win out there on the PGA Tour, and I've given myself two opportunities. Game is in a decent place now."