Par 5 Augusta National Questions

By Randall MellMarch 22, 2011, 5:02 pm

Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Masters Tournament ...


Who’s going to make sure youth isn’t wasted on the young this week?

The PGA Tour may be on a twenty-something roll, but the Arnold Palmer Invitational isn’t a great tournament to win if you’re in your 20s and your name isn’t Tiger Woods.

Woods won at Bay Hill four times in his 20s. Chad Campbell’s the only other player in his 20s to win at Palmer’s venue since 1992.

Still, the PGA Tour’s feeling like it’s a younger man’s tour with Gary Woodland, 26, winning the Transitions Championship on Sunday in a duel with Webb Simpson, who’s just 25.

That makes back-to-back weeks that players in their 20s have won, with Nick Watney (29) dueling Dustin Johnson (26) to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Going into Sunday’s final round at Doral, the top eight players on the leaderboard averaged 28.5 years old.

With Jhonny Vegas, 26, and Aaron Baddelley, 29, also winning this year, youth doesn’t feel like it’s being wasted on the young.

The average age of the top 10 on this year’s money list is 31.1 years old.

The average age of the top-10 money winners at the end of 2009 was 36 years old.

Who’s the next player with a chance to make the game feel young this week? How about Rickie Fowler? At 22 and No. 30 in the world, he’s the highest-ranked American under 20 looking for his first PGA Tour victory. Fowler has top-10s in two of his last three starts.


Can Tiger Woods find his form before the Masters?

 The betting public thinks so.

Ladbrokes makes Woods a 9-to-1 favorite to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the seventh time. The odds-maker lists him as a 7-to-1 favorite to win the Masters in two weeks.

Woods has yet to contend on a Sunday back nine in his three stroke-play starts this year, but his finishes show signs of progress.

Woods has gone from a T44 at the Farmers Insurance Open to T20 at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and T10 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He’s never won the Masters without winning before arriving at Augusta National.


Can Phil Mickelson find his form before the Masters?

With his 76 in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Mickelson tied for 55th at Doral.

Mickelson has failed to break 70 in eight of his last nine rounds.

Though Mickelson says he’s not overly concerned with any one part of his game, he isn’t looking like a favorite to win the Masters. Then again, he didn’t look like a favorite last year, when he had just one top-10 finish in his seven starts before the Masters.


Who’s going to win their way to the Masters this week?

Seven players have earned invitations to Augusta National, in two weeks, by winning PGA Tour events this year.

Jonathan Byrd, Mark Wilson, Vegas, D.A. Points, Baddeley, Rory Sabbatini and Woodland have punched their tickets to the Masters with wins.

There are 72 players in this week’s 120-player Arnold Palmer Invitational field who aren’t in the Masters but can get there by winning this event.

Next week’s Shell Houston Open is the last call for winners trying to get into the Masters.


What other avenue’s left to get into the Masters?

There’s one other door to Augusta National, but it closes this week.

Anyone inside the top 50 in the world rankings that come out after the Arnold Palmer Invitational gets an invitation to the Masters if he didn’t already earn one.

Matteo Manassero, No. 55 in the world, and J.B. Holmes, No. 59, are the only players among the top 60 in the world who aren’t already qualified. Manassero is trying to make it into his second Masters before his 18th birthday. Holmes is trying to get into his second Masters. He tied for 25th in ’08. They’re both in the field at Bay Hill.


 

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

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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. 

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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.

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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."

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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)."