The Games Next Dominant Force

By Randall MellApril 3, 2011, 5:55 am

2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Somebody better step up and stop Yani Tseng Sunday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Somebody better step up before it’s too late.

Because you can see what’s happening in the year’s first major championship.

Tseng’s momentum and confidence are swiftly transforming her into the game’s next dominant force.

If today’s players don’t want Tseng to rule the game the way Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa did, they better find an answer in the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. They better find an answer because Tseng could be better than Sorenstam or Ochoa.

In fact, Tseng could be better than Nancy Lopez or Pat Bradley . . .

Better than Kathy Whitworth or Patty Berg . . .

Gasp, maybe better than Babe Zaharias or Mickey Wright . . .

If somebody doesn’t step up and stop Tseng from winning the Kraft in back-to-back years, she might be on her way to being the best player the women’s game has ever seen.

Yeah, I can hear you snickering.

It’s too much, too soon. It’s over the top. For crying out loud, she’s only 22!

That’s precisely the point. She’s only 22.

If Tseng wins, it will be her fourth major championship triumph. It will be her third major championship title in the last five majors, her fourth in the last 12.

Tiger Woods didn’t get to that major championship stratosphere that fast. Neither did Jack Nicklaus, nor Bobby Jones.

Nobody in the women’s game has, either.

If Tseng wins, it will be her fifth worldwide title already this year.

Tseng claimed the No. 1 Rolex Women’s World Ranking seven weeks ago, and she looked Saturday as if she plans to stay there a long time with the flawless performance she put up at Mission Hills Country Club’s Dinah Shore Tournament course.

Three shots down to Stacy Lewis starting the third round, Tseng needed just seven holes to catch her.

Tseng birdied three of her first seven on the way to a 6-under-par 66, the only bogey free round of the day, and the best round of the day.

“It seems like every time I play with her, she plays like that,” Lewis said. “She’s playing great right now. It’s hard, because she’s got a pretty good chance of making birdie almost every hole.”

While Lewis wasn’t at her best, she wasn’t bad. She scrambled admirably, making a single bogey all day on a tough golf course.

“I played pretty aggressive,” Tseng said.

You can envision Tseng running away with this on Sunday, she’s playing so well.

“I started very good this year,” Tseng said. “Every tournament, I keep building confidence. I’m trying not to lose that confidence.”

While you could see Tseng running away with the Kraft title, you could also find reasons to believe somebody will step up and challenge her.

Nobody was waving the white flag Saturday on the back nine.

Morgan Pressel pitched in at the 13th hole during a run of three consecutive birdies to get within four shots. Angela Stanford holed a bunker shot at the 17th in a run of three consecutive birdies. Michelle Wie charged with four birdies in a six-hole stretch before missing a 2-footer at the 17th.

“I did this before,” Tseng said of winning the Kraft Nabisco. “I just want to do it again.”

And again and again and again . . . if somebody doesn’t stop her.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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Paisley (61) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.

Current FedExCup standings

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.