Bunker Shots Open Up

By Randall MellJuly 13, 2010, 8:09 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from the Old Course to American tests at architectural works designed by Palmer and Nicklaus.


The Open Championship verticle logoBritish Open

What is it with Phil Mickelson and the British Open?

Nobody has a good answer for his struggles there, including Mickelson himself, but the heavy winds loom as a factor.

Still, the talent is such that he’s right behind Tiger Woods in British bookmaking shops listing favorites this week. Tiger Woods is still favored with Ladbrokes having him at 6-to-1. Mickelson and Rory McIlroy are next, each at 16-to-1. Mickelson has just one top 10 in 16 British Open starts, but there’s some hope at St. Andrews, where Mickelson tied for 11th in 2000.

Bunker shot: Tiger Woods is considering ditching his putter this week? In some ways, that’s more shocking than news of a marital split. Woods has been loyal to his Scotty Cameron Newport putter since 1999, winning 13 of his 14 majors with it. He’s reported to be going with a Nike Method 001 putter to help him on St. Andrews slower greens. Woods hasn’t been putting well of late, but there’s no discernible difference in his stroke. It’s easy to imagine his once impenetrable focus hasn’t been there. When he gets that back, Woods will be back.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tiger Woods. Contender – Justin Rose. Darkhorse – Francesco Molinari.

  • Course: Old Course, St. Andrews. St. Andrews, Scotland. Par 72, 7,259 yards.
  • Purse: $8.6 million (winner’s share, $1,221,005).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, ESPN, 4 a.m.-3 p.m., replay 7-10 p.m.; Saturday, ESPN, 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., replay 7-10 p.m.; Sunday, ESPN, 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m., replay 9 p.m.-midnight.
  • Last year: Stewart Cink defeated Tom Watson in a playoff.




PGA Tour (75x100)

Reno Tahoe Open

With the world’s attention on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s a class of players trying to re-establish themselves at Montreaux Golf & Country Club.

Stuart Appleby, Chad Campbell and Chris DiMarco are among veterans looking to add to their PGA Tour victory totals after dry spells. The trio has combined to win 15 PGA Tour events, none since ’07.

Bunker shot: Robert Garrigus gets another chance to rebound from that disappointing finish at the St. Jude Classic five weeks ago, when he blew a three-shot lead at the final hole. Garrigus will be making his fourth start since then. How’s he doing? Here’s the rundown: T68 at the Travelers, 67th at AT&T National and T65 at the John Deere Classic. The cruel facts of golf life are that he’ll be remembered for that collapse until he can erase it with something better.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Ryan Palmer. Contender – John Rollins. Darkhorse – Jeff Quinney.

  • Course: Montreaux Golf & Country Club, Reno, Nev. Par 70, 6,759 yards (Designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1997).
  • Purse: $3.5 million (winner’s share, $630,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 4-7 p.m., replays 1-4 a.m. for first three rounds, 1:30-4:30 a.m. for final round.
  • Last year: John Rollins won his third PGA Tour title by three shots.


Nationwide Tour

Chiquita Classic

With Paul Goydos shooting 59 at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour last week, another low number didn’t get much attention. Peter Tomasulo’s 10-under 61 may not have broken golf’s magic barrier, but he posted his low score in the final round of the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic to come from eight shots back and win.

Bunker shot: Just $441 separate No. 1 Chris Kirk and No. 2 Kevin Chappell at the top of the Nationwide Tour money list. They’re both in this week’s event, a new tournament on the Nationwide Tour schedule. Does it really matter who finishes first with the top 25 all earning PGA Tour cards at year’s end? Yes. The leading money winner gets an exemption into The Players Championship next year and the lucrative payday offered there.  

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jamie Lovemark. Contender – Kevin Chappell. Darkhorse – Darron Stiles.

  • Course: TPC River’s Bend, Maineville, Ohio. Par 72, 7,180 yards (Designed by Arnold Palmer and opened in 2001).
  • Purse: $550,000 (winner’s share, $99,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 2-4 p.m., replays 8-9:30 a.m. the following mornings.
  • Last year: No tournament.
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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

Adam Scott

• Finished third at PGA Championship (best finish in last two years worldwide)

• Only other top-10 finish was a T-9 at Byron Nelson (finished T-11 at Players)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.