Bunker Shots Stars Over Texas

By Randall MellMay 25, 2010, 9:12 pm

Blasting into the week ahead, from Lefty’s quasi-title defense to the start of major championship season for the senior circuit ...

PGA TOUR

PGA Tour (75x100)

Crowne Plaza Colonial Invitational

The Nos. 2, 4 and 5 players in the world lead a strong field that includes five of the top 10 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

No. 2 Phil Mickelson tees it up at Colonial, where he won in 2008 but did not defend last year with his wife, Amy, being treated for breast cancer. No. 4 Steve Stricker is the defending champ, who hopes his inflamed joint, where his right clavicle meets his sternum, is healed enough to make another run at a title. No. 5 Jim Furyk will be seeking his third title this season.

Bunker Shot: With a victory, Mickelson can move to No. 1 in the world rankings, becoming just the 13th player to hold the top spot since the Official World Golf Ranking was created in 1986. There are those who believe the next No. 1 should have an asterisk by his name because of the circumstances that will surround the new No. 1’s ascent. Tiger Woods, after all, has been inactive due to injury or self-imposed exile for almost 15 months of the last two-year rolling period that constitute the rankings. The thinking was that the new No. 1 would be holding the spot temporarily, until Woods gained enough starts to win back his spot. Now, there’s growing sentiment Woods may never gets his No. 1 spot back, not with all that’s gone wrong in his life and his swing. There’s sentiment he may never catch Jack Nicklaus and his record 18 professional major championship titles. Yeah, Woods appears to be a physical, emotional and mental mess right now, but he’ll be back with a vengeance. Unless something goes haywire with that remarkable putting stroke of his, Woods finds his way back to the top and passes Nicklaus.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jim Furyk. Contender – Phil Mickelson. Darkhorse – Steve Marino.

  • Course: Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas. Par 70, 7,204 yards (Designed by Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus and opened in 1943, redesign by Keith Porter in 1999).
  • Purse: $6.2 million (winner’s share, $1,116,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel’s Golf Central pre-game, 2:30 p.m., Golf Channel tournament coverage, 3-6 p.m.; replay, 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, Golf Channel’s pre-game, 12:30 p.m., Golf channel tournament coverage 1-2:30 p.m., Golf Channel pre-game, 2:30 p.m.; CBS tournament coverage, 3-6 p.m. with Golf Channel replay 9:30-11:30 p.m.
  • Last year: Steve Stricker defeated Tim Clark and Steve Marino in a playoff.


CHAMPIONS TOUR

Champions TourSenior PGA Championship

The major Championship season begins on the Champions Tour.

Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Jay Haas and Loren Roberts are among the usual suspects teeing it up in the first of the senior circuit’s five majors.

Bunker shot: If the winds stay up at Colorado Golf Club this week, count Watson’s chances as enhanced. He’s going for his sixth Champions Tour major title, his second Senior PGA title. Couples, of course, is THE favorite in his first major in the over-50 circuit. Couples has brought a jolt of new excitement to the Champions Tour with three victories already this season.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tom Watson. Contender – Fred Couples. Darkhorse – Tom Pernice Jr.

  • Course: Colorado Golf Club, Parker, Colo. Par 72, 7, 604 yards (Designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and opened in 2007).
  • Purse: TBA ($2 million in ’09 with a winner’s share of $360,000).
  • TV times: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 6-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, NBC, 3-6 p.m.
  • Last year: Michael Allen became the 14th player in Champions Tour history to win his first start on the Tour.


LPGA

LPGA Tour _newHSBC Brasil Cup

With golf becoming part of the Olympics when the Games are played in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, the LPGA helps the city warm up to the game in an unofficial event.

Brazil’s own Angela Park is in the field of 27 players. It’s just a 36-hole event with play scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

Bunker Shot: Asians have dominated the LPGA this season with Sun Young Yoo’s victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship last weekend extending the Far East’s unbeaten mark to 7-0 in LPGA events. Michelle Wie is the only American to win an LPGA event in the last 12 months. While it wouldn’t be official, it would be encouraging to American fans for an American to win. Morgan Pressel won a Japanese LPGA event three weeks ago. Angela Stanford, Kristy McPherson, Stacy Lewis and Vicky Hurst are among Americans in the field.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Angela Stanford. Contender – Catriona Matthew. Darkhorse – Stacy Prammanasudh.

  • Course: Itanhanga Golf Club, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Par 72, 6,447 yards.
  • Purse: $700,000 (winner’s share, $105,000).
  • TV times: No TV.
  • Last year: Catriona Matthew defeated Kristy McPherson by five shots.


EUROPEAN TOUR

2009 European TourMadrid Masters

Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Luke Donald aren’t just the biggest names in the field. They’ll be paired together in the first two rounds.

Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez also will draw large galleries in their homeland.

Bunker shot: Garcia could use a boost to his 2010 season, and there’s nothing like a little home cooking to help him do it. Garcia is going for his fourth European Tour title on Spanish soil. Garcia has yet to log a top-10 finish this season in the 11-stroke play events he’s played on the PGA Tour and European Tour. His best finish in nine PGA Tour starts this year is a tie for 37th at the CA Championship. He did finish fourth at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Garcia’s putter continues to be a problem. He ranks 133rd on the PGA Tour in putts per green in regulation. His ball striking hasn’t been much better in 2010. He’s 118th in greens in regulation. That combo ranks him 132nd on Tour in scoring average (71.20). Just two years ago, he led the PGA Tour in scoring.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Luke Donald. Contender – Sergio Garcia. Darkhorse – Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

  • Course: Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola Club de Campo, Madrid, Spain. Par 72, 7,162 yards (Designed by Robert Von Hagge and opened in 1997).
  • Purse: $1.5 million euros (winner’s share, $250,000 euros).
  • TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-noon.
  • Last year: Ross McGowan won his first European Tour title, shooting 60 in the Saturday round to build a seven-shot lead.
Getty Images

Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

Getty Images

Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

Getty Images

Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

Getty Images

Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."