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.
USGA/Chris Keane

Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 17, 2018, 2:52 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.

Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.

Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.

“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”

Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.

Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.

“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”

The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.

“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.


Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.

On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.

On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.

“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”

A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.

“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.

The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.

The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.

“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”

Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.

Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.

Getty Images

Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 12:50 am

INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She refused to let the weather delay get to her.

When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.

''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''

It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.

Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.

But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.

The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.

And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.

She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.

Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.

Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.


Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship


''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''

Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.

Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.

And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.

Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.

Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.

After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.

''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''

Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.

She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''

Getty Images

Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2018, 11:23 pm

GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.

Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''

The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.

Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.

Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.

Getty Images

Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals

By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 9:17 pm

After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.

Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.


Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.

Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."

The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.