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.
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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.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."