Bunker Shots Playoff Time

By Randall MellAugust 24, 2010, 8:16 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from the FedEx Cup playoffs cumulatively weighing like a major to the LPGA’s ongoing battle for No. 1 ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

The Barclays

A season searching for meaning beyond Tiger Woods’ swoon crashes at the door of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The PGA Tour’s postseason creation has never opened to more head-spinning or head-scratching possibilities.

At 112th in the FedEx Cup standings, Woods could get bounced quickly from these playoffs with an unspectacular showing at The Barclays, the first of the four playoff events. The top 125 in points will get trimmed to the top 100 for next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. The winner of 14 major championships is under pressure to show he’s better than a journeyman this year.

But there’s also the possibility Woods magically finds his mojo and starts a spectacular late run at winning his 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year award. With nobody else staking a serious claim so far, just about anyone is still eligible with three of the four major championship winners not even in the playoffs.

What if Dustin Johnson rebounds from his PGA Championship debacle with a couple of playoff victories and hoists the FedEx Cup? You know a legion of his peers would be eager to give him the award in a vote.

Then again, we could have four first-time winners claim playoff titles and leave us feeling like this was a season that nobody stood out as Player of the Year.

In the year of Woods’ swoon, where his competition’s been unable to take the No. 1 world ranking from him despite his offering it up on a platter, maybe that’s the overriding theme of 2010.

Bunker shot: It’s a hideous thought for those who hold the FedEx Cup playoffs in low regard, but as a whole they look like they’ll mean as much or more than any major in the equation that decides who is this year’s best player.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Steve Stricker. Contender – Paul Casey. Dark horse – Kevin Streelman.

  • Course: Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J.
  • Purse: $7.5 million (winner’s share, $1,350,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET). Saturday – Golf Channel, 1-2:30 p.m. (ET); CBS, 3-6 p.m. (ET). Sunday – Golf Channel, noon-1:30 p.m. (ET); CBS, 2-6 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Heath Slocum holed a 21-foot putt for par to win by a shot over Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker.

LPGA TOUR

LPGA Tour _new

CN Canadian Women’s Open

Ai Miyazato bids to win her sixth LPGA event this season after prevailing in the Safeway Classic last weekend.

If Miyazato pulls it off, she’ll be in Hall-of-Fame company. Nobody who has won six or more LPGA events in a single season has failed to go on and qualify for the tour’s Hall of Fame.

Here’s the select group of players who have won at least six LPGA events in a season: Babe Zaharias, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Betsy Rawls, Louise Suggs, Patty Berg, Nancy Lopez, Marlene Hagge, Carol Mann, JoAnne Carner, Sandra Haynie, Betsy King, Beth Daniel, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa.

The top 15 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings are all in this week’s field in Winnipeg.

Bunker shot: Suzann Pettersen is due. She’s been knocking hard on the door to victory all season despite a bad hip. She hasn’t won an LPGA event since winning the CN Canadian Women’s Open last year. She has done everything but win this season. Eight times she’s finished fifth or better, four times she’s been runner-up. That run of contention has her at No. 3 in the women’s world rankings, a victory away from becoming the fourth player to ascend atop those rankings this year.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Suzann Pettersen. Contender – Song Hee Kim. Darkhorse – Vicky Hurst.

  • Course: St. Charles Country Club, Winnipeg, Canada.
  • Purse: $2.25 million (winner’s share, $337,500).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday – Golf Channel, noon-2 p.m. (ET); CBC, 4- 7 p.m. (ET). Saturday – Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. (ET); CBC, 2-6 (ET). Sunday – Golf Channel, 2-6 p.m. (ET); CBC, 2-6 p.m. (ET).
  • Last year: Suzann Pettersen won in a five-stroke romp.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions Tour

Boeing Classic

What? No major on the Champions Tour this week?

After three majors in a five-week spell, the over-50 circuit settles back into its regular rhythm.

Bunker shot: Mark Calcavecchia is 0 for 6 in his bid to win since joining the Champions Tour, but he’s got to like the raise in pay he’s getting. Calcavecchia’s made $439,496 so far this season. That’s almost four times what he made in his 15 PGA Tour starts earlier this year. With a second-place finish and a T-4 in his last two Champions Tour starts, Calcavecchia looks ready to win his first Champions Tour title.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Mark Calcavecchia. Contender – Mark O’Meara. Darkhorse – Hal Sutton.

  • Course: TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, Snoqualmie, Wash.
  • Purse: $1.9 million (winner’s share, $270,000).
  • TV times: Golf Channel – 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: Loren Roberts made birdies at the final two holes to win by a shot over runner-up Mark O’Meara.

NATIONWIDE TOUR

Nationwide Tour

Knoxville News Sentinel Open

The season’s nearing its stretch run.

Ten events remain before the top 25 money winners earn PGA Tour promotions.

Bunker shot: Tommy Gainey and Martin Piller won’t have to wait until season’s end to earn PGA Tour promotions if they win this week. They’re both looking for their third titles of the season, a magic number that is supposed to earn instant promotion. But with the FedEx Cup beginning this week, there won’t be any room for them until the Fall Series. Even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll actually get to play with the priority ranking so low Michael Sim struggled to get into fall events after he won three Nationwide Tour events a year ago.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tommy Gainey. Contender – Martin Piller. Darkhorse – Bradley Iles.

  • Course: Fox Den Country Club, Farragut, Tenn.
  • Purse: $500,000 (winner’s share, $94,500).
  • TV times: No TV.
  • Last year: Kevin Johnson birdied the second extra hole to defeat Bradley Iles in a playoff.
Getty Images

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 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 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. Cabrera Bello will round out the final tee time with Koepka and Poulter.

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.

Getty Images

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?

Getty Images

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.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.