Bunker Shots Top of the World

By Randall MellNovember 2, 2010, 7:39 pm

Blasting into the week ahead with a focus on the battle for No. 1 in the men’s and women’s games.

PGA Tour

PGA TOUR

WGC-HSBC Champions

Strong field, compelling storyline.

Eight of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking are among the 78 players teeing it up.

Of course, the major storyline is the world rankings with Lee Westwood playing for the first time as No. 1 and Tiger Woods teeing it up at No. 2. The top four players in the world rankings are all here – Martin Kaymer is No. 3 and Phil Mickelson No. 4 – and they’ve all got a chance to walk away with the No. 1 ranking. This marks the first time since 1997 that four or more players have headed into an event with a chance to walk away with the No. 1 ranking.

Mickelson is back as the defending champion. He was the only player in the field last year with four rounds in the 60s. This will mark the 13th consecutive time this year he’ll play with a chance to be No. 1, a stat he’s got to be tired of hearing. He’s actually gone backward the better his chances have become to be No. 1. He’s slipped from No. 2 in the world to No. 4 this fall and has one top-10 finish in his last eight starts.

Bunker shot: About the big storyline surrounding this week’s event, Mickelson said: “Everyone wants to be No. 1 in the world, but the only way to get there is to win tournaments, and the HSBC is a big tournament, a great opportunity to advance.” Yes and no, Lefty. The HSBC is a great opportunity to advance but winning isn’t essential in getting to No. 1 in the world. Westwood’s proven that. He ascended to the top showing the ability to consistently contend but not the ability to consistently close and win. He’s won just once this year, but he’s racked up three second-place finishes. In the last seven years, he’s won just five times around the world but accumulated 18 second- or third-place finishes. A Westwood victory this week would be an emphatic message about the legitimacy of his claim as the No. 1 player in the world.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Tiger Woods. Contender – Lee Westwood. Dark horse – Arjun Atwal.

Course: Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China. Par 72, 7,143 yards.

Purse: $7 million (winner’s share, $1.2 million).

TV times: Golf Channel – Wednesday-Thursday, midnight-4 a.m. (ET); Friday-Saturday, 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (ET). Replays Thursday, 8 a.m.-noon/noon-3:30 p.m. (ET); Friday, 8 a.m.-noon/noon-4 p.m. (ET); Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-noon/noon-4 p.m. (ET).

Last year: Phil Mickelson held off a late-charging Ernie Els, finishing a shot ahead of Els, who closed with a 63.


LPGA 

LPGA Tour _new

Mizuno Classic

Just three events remain in the LPGA season and so much is still up for grabs.

Yani Tseng leads the Rolex Player of the Year race by two points over Ai Miyazato with Cristie Kerr only 10 points back. With first-place worth 30 points in each of the last three events, this race is wide open. Kerr’s trying to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win the award.

Tseng is in this week’s field. So is Jiyai Shin, the No. 1 player in the world, and Miyazato, who’s held the top ranking the same number of weeks this year as Shin (11). Kerr’s taking the week off but will tee it up in the season’s final two events, next week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational and the LPGA Tour Championship in the first week of December.

Bunker shot: Na Yeon Choi, also known as NYC and “The Big Apple,” is charging hard with a chance to sweep all the major LPGA honors this year. She’ll be looking for back-to-back LPGA titles this week. While so much focus at the top of the game has been on Miyazato, Shin and Kerr, Choi could end the year with the No. 1 ranking and the Rolex Player of the Year Award. She could also take home the Vare Trophy and the LPGA money title. They’re all realistically within reach. After winning the LPGA Hana Bank Championship last week, Choi’s second title of the year, she’s at the top of the LPGA money list ($1,742,088). She also leads the tour in scoring average (69.88), is fourth in Rolex Player of the Year points (only 12 points off the lead), and just moved up to No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. In 20 LPGA starts this year, Choi’s recorded 12 top-10 finishes with four second-place finishes to go with her two titles.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Jiyai Shin. Contender – Na Yeon Choi. Dark horse – Inbee Park.

Course: Kintetsu Kashikojima, Shima-shi, Mie, Japan. Par 72, 6,506 yards.

Purse: $1.2 million (winner’s share, $180,000).

TV times: No TV.

Last year: Bo Bae Song won, finishing three shots ahead of Lorena Ochoa and Hee Young Park.


Champions Tour

Champions Tour

AT&T Championship

Charles Schwab Cup Championship

Bernhard Langer is out front in the race to win the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race, but Fred Couples has a chance with the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship being played at Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco for the first time.

With double points at stake, Couples can win the $1 million annuity that goes to the season-long points champion if he wins this week and Langer finishes worse than a two-way tie for fourth place. Couples should have some good vibes on this course. It’s where he led the Americans to victory against the Internationals at the Presidents Cup as captain last year.

Bunker shot: Bernhard Langer’s Champions Tour leading five victories (two of them majors) make him the favorite to win the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as Player of the Year for the third consecutive time, but Couples can give his peers an alternate choice in the year-end vote. If Couples wins, it will also be his fifth title of the year. Plus, Couples is on the verge of setting the Champions Tour record for scoring. He takes a 67.89 scoring average to Harding Park. Hale Irwin’s mark of 68.59 has stood since 1998.

Mell’s picks: Winner – Bernhard Langer. Contender – Fred Couples. Dark horse – Tommy Armour III.

Course: Harding Park Golf Club, San Francisco, Calif. Par 71, 7,135 yards.

Purse: $2.5 million (winner’s share, $440,000).

TV times: Golf Channel, Thursday-Sunday, 4:30-7 p.m. (ET).

Last year: John Cook finished five shots ahead of Russ Cochran at Sonoma Golf Club in Sonoma, Calif.

Getty Images

Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.

McIlroy, who led by three shots at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.

Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.

Getty Images

Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.