Roller-coaster round for Park at Women's British

By Randall MellAugust 1, 2013, 2:16 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Inbee Park’s run at history was a little more dizzying than she would have liked in Thursday’s start of the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

“It felt like a roller coaster,” Park said after opening with a 3-under-par 69 that she knows was close to being so much better.

Through the highs and lows, Park fashioned a solid start in her quest to become the first man or woman to win four professional major championships in a single season. The enchanting possibility that another grand piece of history could be made on the Old Course this weekend is very much in play.

Park was just two shots behind American Stacy Lewis when she signed her scorecard. At day's end, she trailed leaders Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth by three shots.

“Very good on the front nine, and I was a little bit shaky on the back nine,” Park said.

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A round of seven birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys included a wildly impressive start before careening into some trouble and then ending with a birdie.

“A little bit disappointing,” Park said of her trouble on the back nine. “But I’m glad that I’ve done this in the first round instead of the final round. I’m looking to improve the next three days.”

Aware of how much hangs in the balance, Parks confessed she was nervous teeing off to start the event.

You wouldn’t have known it.

In a light drizzle beneath a slate gray sky, under the venerable Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews clubhouse, Park striped her first drive down the middle and then carved a 9-iron to 10 feet to open with a birdie.

Known for her putting prowess, Park didn’t disappoint at the start, putting on a clinic over the first 10 holes. She made a 30-footer at the third hole, a 20-footer at the fourth, a 40-footer at the sixth, a 20-footer at the eighth and a 5-footer at the 10th. They were all for birdies as she raced to the top of leaderboard at 6 under.

“I was thinking, `Why can’t I make putts like that?’” said Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who played alongside Park. “She’s such a good putter, you just expect she’s going to hole everything.”

Park also made a good putt at the 12th, holing a 15-footer for par, but her errant drive there actually led to her five-hole swoon. Park’s tee shot sailed right, into the fescue, and the waywardness of it bothered her.

“I think that tee shot just spooked her a little bit, just with her swing,” said Brad Beecher, her caddie. “And then she was just trying to find it coming in.”

While Park was her typically unaffected self, reacting the same to good and bad shots alike, she was slightly rattled by the miss at the 12th. After that swing, she stepped to the side, choking up on her driver and rehearsing her take away and the start of her downswing. She began rehearsing it like a drill, over and over between shots through the next few holes. You could see her searching and sense the subtle frustration in that.

There were also errant drives with blocks to the right at the 13th and 15th holes. She missed the fairway again at the 16th, this time pulling her shot left, into the fescue.

After winning the U.S. Women’s Open in June, Park wasn’t pleased with her ball striking, tying for 14th at the Manulife Financial Classic and then tying for 33rd at the Marathon Classic.

“I thought I fixed all my problems coming into this week,” Park said. “I was hitting it so good in the practice round. I didn’t really miss any shots. I thought I was really prepared, but those couple bad shots really shocked me. I really wanted to fix them right away, and couldn’t really concentrate on the greens after I hit those shots.”

Park had rare back-to-back three-putts at the 16th and 17th holes after putting herself in difficult positions. She said she couldn’t remember the last time she had three-putts on consecutive holes.

“I really lost my concentration in the middle of the round,” Park said. “I really just wanted to fix the swing.”

At the 16th, Park got herself into one of those nasty, deep pot bunkers left of the green. Her ball was just a couple feet from the steep, riveted bunker face. Though she wanted to try a great escape, she realized the risk, and, instead, played out sideways, away from the hole, leaving herself an impossible 90-foot putt for par. It was startling seeing her leave that putt 20 feet short and then make double bogey.

Beecher said Park continues to impress him with the way she is handling the pressure to make history.

“She appeared fine, like it was just another day,” Beecher said of Park’s stroll to the first tee. “That’s what we said at the U.S. Open. Treat it as just another tournament day: `Let’s get out and give it our best.’”

The game plan continues to give her a shot at the grandest feat in the game’s history.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.

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Chappell returns to Valero as defending champ

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 9:48 pm

It's impossible for any of the players at this week's Valero Texas Open to forget who captured the trophy last year.

That's because most players stay at the JW Marriott hotel that's a short walk from the first tee at TPC San Antonio, and the defending champion's face is emblazoned on the hotel's room keys. This week, that honor belongs to Kevin Chappell.

"You get some sly comments from players about their room key," Chappell told reporters Wednesday. "'Oh, I'm tired of looking at you.' And I'm saying, 'Believe me, I'm tired of being in everyone's room.'"

The position of defending champ is one Chappell relishes this week as he returns to the site of his maiden PGA Tour victory. A one-shot win over Brooks Koepka led to a euphoric celebration on the 72nd green, and it helped propel Chappell to his first career spot on the Presidents Cup team in October.

Chappell has missed the cut each of the last two weeks, including the Masters, but he also recorded top-10 finishes at the CareerBuilder Challenge, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Arnold Palmer Invitational. It's reason enough for Chappell to feel optimistic heading back to a course where he was a runner-up in 2011 and finished T-4 in 2016.

"This year's been a little bit of a strange year for me. I usually don't find form until about here, usually a slow starter," Chappell said. "But having three top-10s before this event, I've kind of found some form. I'm looking to turn those top-10s into top-5s, and the top-5s into wins. That's the challenge moving forward this year."

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Scott returns to Valero with major streak in jeopardy

By Will GrayApril 18, 2018, 8:34 pm

Adam Scott is back in the Lone Star State as he looks to keep alive a majors streak that has stretched across nearly two decades.

The Aussie tends to play a relatively light schedule during the spring, often times skipping every event between the Masters and The Players. But this time around he opted to return to the Valero Texas Open for the first time since 2011 in an effort to capitalize on the form he found two weeks ago at Augusta National, where he tied for 32nd.

"Hopefully kind of pick up where I left off on the weekend, which was really solid, and get a bit of momentum going because that's what I haven't had this year," Scott told reporters. "Trying to put four good rounds together and get the most out of my game for a change."

Scott has won each of the four stroke-play events held annually in Texas, completing the so-called "Texas Slam" before the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play relocated to Austin. That includes his win at TPC San Antonio back in 2010, when he closed with rounds of 66-67 for a one-shot victory.

After a seven-year hiatus, Scott is back San Antonio after a solid but underwhelming spring stretch. He cracked the top 20 at both the Honda Classic and Valspar Championship, but his worldwide top-10 drought stretches back nearly a year to the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. As a result, the former world No. 1 has dropped to No. 59 in the latest rankings.

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"I'm trying to be really in tune with where my game's at and identify why I'm just not having better results," Scott said. "To kind of change that, I've got to change something, otherwise I'm just going to do the same thing."

That ranking will become even more important in the coming weeks as Scott looks to keep his streak of consecutive majors intact. He has played in 67 straight dating back to The Open in 2001, second only to Sergio Garcia's 75 among active players. But Scott's five-year exemption for winning the 2013 Masters has run its course, meaning he is not yet exempt for the upcoming U.S. Open.

Barring a win next month at TPC Sawgrass, Scott's only way to avoid a trip to sectional qualifying will be to maintain a position inside the top 60 in the world rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The key for Scott remains easy to identify but hard to fix. While he ranks fifth on Tour this season in strokes gained: tee-to-green, he's 194th in strokes gained: putting. Scott won in consecutive weeks in 2016 with a short putter, but otherwise has largely struggled on the greens since the anchoring ban took effect more than two years ago.

"Hopefully a quick turnaround here and things start going in the right direction, because I think I can have a really great back end of the season," Scott said. "My ball-striking is where I want it; I like where my short game's at. I just need to get a bit of momentum going on the greens. It's easy to do that on the putting green at home, but that doesn't always translate out here. I think I've just got to make it happen out here."