Simpson's U.S. Open win continues American resurgence

By Randall MellJune 18, 2012, 1:25 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Webb Simpson’s wife was a little worried about her man after he awakened Sunday before the final round of the U.S. Open.

He seemed unusually high strung on the morning of a big event.

She figured out what was happening.

“Webb had asked me to get him a decaf coffee, but I accidentally got him a regular coffee,” Dowd Simpson said. “So he was bouncing off the walls.”

That was somehow fitting on a day when another rising young star would put a crazy jolt into American golf.

The American game is suddenly super caffeinated.

Simpson’s victory marked the third consecutive major championship triumph by a player from the United States. With Keegan Bradley, now 26, winning the PGA Championship last August, with Bubba Watson, 33, winning the Masters in April and with Simpson, 26, winning the U.S. Open on Sunday, the American game continues to be re-made with a fresh cast.

Yes, Tiger Woods is still the highest ranked American in the world at No. 4 with his two victories this year, but he’s sharing the stage with fellow Yanks these days, not dominating it.

Jason Dufner, 35, has emerged as a new force this season. Rickie Fowler, 23, broke through to win his first title. So did Kyle Stanley, 24, and John Huh, 22.

While Hunter Mahan, 30, is hardly a new face, he’s assuming a larger role on the American stage. Mahan, Dufner and Woods are the early candidates for the PGA Tour Player of the Year award with two titles each this season.

Count Dustin Johnson, 27, in this deepening cast of American stars. His victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic two weeks ago was the ninth consecutive PGA Tour victory by an American this year. It was also the sixth of Johnson’s career, giving him more PGA Tour titles than any other player in his 20s today.

These new American stars are drafting off each other’s success.

Simpson, who emerged as a PGA Tour Player of the Year candidate with two titles last year, says he was motivated witnessing his peers succeed.

“I see Keegan Bradley win a major, and I respect his game a ton, but I feel like, `Keegan Bradley won one, I want to go win one,’” Simpson said. “All these guys that won before me, I played with these guys all my life. They're great players, but I wanted to do what they were doing.  Everybody is so competitive that we just kind of feed off of each other.”

The top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking may be European, but the game’s most important titles are being won by those west of the Atlantic Ocean.

Halfway through this major championship season, there looms the possibility of an American Slam.

Even with Woods at his best, Americans couldn’t sweep all four majors in the same year. They haven’t done that since 1982. That’s the year Craig Stadler (Masters), Tom Watson (U.S. Open, British Open) and Raymond Floyd (PGA Championship) made it a red, white and blue sweep of the year’s most important championships.

The world rankings are evidence of just how much the American landscape is changing.

At the start of last season, the highest ranked Americans were Woods, who was then age 35; Phil Mickelson, then 40; Jim Furyk, then 40, and Steve Stricker, then 43. They were the only Americans in the top 10 in the world. Today, Woods still ranks highest, but it’s a whole new American cast alongside him. Simpson, Watson, Matt Kuchar (33), Dufner and Mahan are all among the top 10.

Not that long ago, back at the start of 2010, the top three spots in the world rankings all belonged to Americans. Woods, Mickelson and Stricker were 1-2-3.

With major championship titles beginning to pile up in their favor, the Americans might be getting ready to make a run at taking back the top three spots in the world.

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Watch: You have to see this golf swing to believe it

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 23, 2018, 3:29 pm

Ho-sung Choi is a 44-year-old South Korean touring pro who plays primarily on the Japan Golf Tour. This week he's competing in the Asian Tour's Kolon Korea Open, where he is in second place, two shots off the lead, after three rounds. This is especially significant because the Korea Open is an Open Qualiffying event, meaning he could qualify for this year's Open Championship.

That, however, is not why we're writing about Mr. Choi. The video above is why:

We're with Charlie here: We can't wait for Brandel's take on this swing.

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Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.

Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.

Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.

For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.

''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''

Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship

Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.

Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.

Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.

After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.

Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.

''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''

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Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

Was it a birdie, or a par?

According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

“The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

“I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”