Ten stories I hope come true in 2013

By Randall MellJanuary 1, 2013, 1:00 pm

Nostradamus offered no meaningful help in trying to see what may unfold in the 2013 golf season.

He didn’t even foresee the upheaval the proposed banning of anchored putters would cause this year.

Jeane Dixon didn’t offer any help, either. She failed to predict the monumental change at Augusta National this year with the club inviting its first two women as members.

The Mayans were also no help forecasting the season ahead, but, of course, they didn’t think there would even be a season.

So here’s one attempt to look ahead, not so much as prophecy, but as hopeful wishing for some over-the-top storylines to mesmerize us yet again this year. Here are 10 dreamy stories that would intrigue if they were actually to unfold in the new year:

Monty aims to be the real Great Scot

In a surprising but strategically bold maneuver aimed to counter the Americans naming Tom Watson as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, the European Tour announced that Colin Montgomerie will return as the Euro captain when the competition is played at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014. Watson won four of his five British Opens in Scotland. Montgomerie, born in Glasgow, is one of Europe’s most decorated Ryder Cup stars and captained the Euros to a victory in Wales in 2010.

Mickelson wins California Slam

Phil Mickelson won the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club, completing the California Slam. Mickelson’s victory was his fourth in four starts with Lefty winning every California PGA Tour stop on this year’s West Coast swing. He won the Humana Challenge, the Farmers Insurance Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am before claiming the title at Riviera.

One from the heart: Compton wins at Doral

Erik Compton, golf’s only real miracle man, won his hometown event, claiming the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. The two-time heart transplant recipient, who qualified for the WGC event piling up FedEx Cup points with a hot run on the West Coast, was the No. 1 junior growing up in Miami. His triumph was celebrated as the most emotional in tournament history since Ray Floyd won at Doral after his Miami home burned down.

Wie finds her oasis in the desert

Michelle Wie, coming off the most difficult season of her highly scrutinized career, delivered a message heard 'round the world in women’s golf by winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Wie, the former child prodigy whose future seemed uncertain with her slump in 2012, broke through to win her first major in the most watched telecast in the history of women’s golf.

Kingdom comes: McIlroy defeats Woods in final-round Masters duel

Rory McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to defeat Tiger Woods by one shot at The Masters. McIlroy and Woods traded a flurry of titanic golf blows on Augusta National’s back nine that will go down as a duel for the ages. Winning a spirited game of one-upsmanship shot making, McIlroy claimed his second consecutive major by outlasting Woods in the final pairing together. The victory gives McIlroy three legs of the career grand slam before his 24th birthday.

Red, white and Lexi: Young American wins first major

Lexi Thompson won the Wegmans LPGA Championship to become the youngest winner of a major championship in the history of women’s golf. Thompson was 18 years, 3 months and 29 days old when she claimed the title at Locust Hill.

The master schools the boy king: Woods takes down McIlroy at Merion

Tiger Woods defeated Rory McIlroy to win the U.S. Open by a single shot after their 18-hole Monday playoff at Merion was extended an extra hole. Two months after losing a heart-wrenching duel with McIlroy at Augusta National, Woods answered back, claiming his 15th major championship, his first in five years. Woods moved to within three of equaling Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship titles.

Tseng hits a grand slam, sort of

Yani Tseng, rebounding from a second-half slump in the 2012 season, won the U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack to complete the career grand slam in women’s golf, sort of. With the Evian Masters becoming a major in September, there will soon be a fifth leg to the career grand slam in the women’s game. Nevertheless, Tseng’s triumph is notable because the U.S. Women’s Open had been her most elusive prize.

Cool Hand Luke breaks through at Muirfield

Luke Donald’s no longer the best player without a major championship title. Dogged by questions as to whether he was worthy of a No. 1 ranking without having won a major championship, Donald unburdened himself, winning the British Open at Muirfield. He becomes the first Englishman to win the British Open since Nick Faldo won at Muirfield 21 years ago.

A hot English summer

A month after Donald broke through to win his first major, fellow Englishman Lee Westwood did the same, winning the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Like Donald, Westwood was plagued with questions as to whether he was the best player without a major championship. At 40, he will endure the speculation no more.

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Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 10:09 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.

According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.

“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.

It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.

“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.

“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”

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Bubba fires 63 to win his third Travelers title

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 9:52 pm

Bubba Watson fired a final-round 63 to storm from six back and steal the Travelers Championship. Here’s how Bubba came from behind once again at TPC River Highlands.

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-17), Stewart Cink (-14), Beau Hossler (-14), J.B. Holmes (-14), Paul Casey (-14)

What it means: This is Watson’s 12th PGA Tour win, his third of the season, and his third Travelers title. Watson picked up his first Tour victory at this event in 2010 – when he also came from six back – and won again in 2015 in a playoff victory over – guess who – Casey. Thinking he might need a round of 60 to scare the leader, Watson made eight birdies, the last of which came on the 72nd hole, giving him the outright lead by one. A short while later, Casey would bogey the 16th and 17th to end the drama and allow Bubba to breathe easy. With the win, Watson becomes the only Tour player to win three times this season. He moves to third in the FedExCup points race, behind two-time winners Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.

Round of the day: Cink’s round was a stroke better, but Bubba earns this title for winning the title. The left-hander made the turn in 2-under 33 and then ripped off five birdies on his back nine to take the clubhouse lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish.

Best of the rest: Cink looked as though he was going to record the second sub-60 round at the Travelers in the last three years. The 2009 champion golfer of the year played his first 10 holes in 7 under par on the par-70 layout. Cink added three more birdies but also added two bogeys to settle for 8-under 62, tying the round of the week. The 45-year-old has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts.

Biggest disappointment: Casey (2-over 72) began the day up four and couldn’t close. Even par on his round through 15 holes, he missed a 4-footer for par on 16 and found the water off the tee at 17, ending his chances. The Englishman, who ended a nine-year Tour winless drought earlier this season at the Valspar, is now 1 for 4 with a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

Shot of the day: Watson’s wedge from 77 yards at the 72nd hole, setting up his eighth and final birdie of the day.

Quote of the day: “That’s the best shot you ever hit.” – caddie Ted Scott to Bubba Watson on his approach at 18

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McCarron (64) edges Kelly in Madison event

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 9:37 pm

MADISON, Wis. – Scott McCarron won the American Family Insurance Championship on Sunday, closing with an 8-under 64 for a one-stroke victory over hometown player Jerry Kelly.

The 52-year-old McCarron birdied Nos. 14-16 and parred the final two to hold on for his first victory of the season and seventh in three years on the PGA Tour Champions. He finished at 15-under 201 at University Ridge.

''All week, I drove the ball really well and I was hitting a lot of good iron shots,'' McCarron said. ''I hit a lot of greens. I think I made one bogey all week and that was early on Friday. Just missed a short putt, one of the par 3s and made bogey. Other than that, I really didn't have any other opportunities to make bogeys. I just kept putting myself in play.''

McCarron looked forward to the stretch of three straight major tournaments that begins Thursday with the U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado.

''Obviously, my game's pretty good, just won this week, so I'm pretty happy the way I'm hitting it.'' McCarron said. ''I started putting better this week. I've got to work on my wedge game. I've got to wedge it closer. I have a lot of wedges out here.''

Full-field scores from the American Family Insurance Championship

Kelly shot 65, also parring the final two holes.

''I'm disappointed, there's no doubt,'' Kelly said. ''I want those putts back. I want to just go ahead and hit them hard.''

Kelly joked about friend McCarron paying him back for a friendly match with McCarron's wife.

''My caddie, Eric and I, beat Jenny and Scott over at Maple Bluff Country Club earlier this week, beat them out of five bucks,'' Kelly said. ''I should have thrown that match.''

Fellow Madison player Steve Stricker, the tournament host and first-round leader, had a 65 to tie for third with 2017 champion Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie.

''The way it ended up, couldn't have asked for anything more,'' Stricker said. ''Great turnout of people, the players loved it, and we got a great field and some exciting golf down the stretch.''

Couples had a 67, playing alongside McCarron.

''We all said it yesterday, with all those guys there, somebody shoots 7, 8 under will win - and I watched it today,'' Couples said. ''He was phenomenal. He played a stress-free, easy round of golf and I think I lost to him by two, but I was never going to beat him.''

Montgomerie followed a second-round 72 with a 64.

''I didn't play well at all yesterday, at all,'' Montgomerie said. ''So disappointing yesterday ... out here, 72, get trampled on.''

Paul Goydos (67) was 12 under, John Daly (67) topped the group at 11 under, and Bernhard Langer (69) was another stroke back.

University of Illinois coach Mike Small, Stricker's teammate with the Illini, birdied the final hole for a 68 to also tie for 10th at 10 under.

Steve and I have been best friends for 30 years,'' Small said. ''It's great to have him get me in the tournament and validate him helping me get in and getting an exemption. That's huge. I finished top 10 in Iowa at Des Moines two weeks ago. It was my first top 10 in a Champions event. So, to back up with this, and this was a strong field, it feels good to compete.''

Second-round leader Esteban Toledo had a 73 to tie for 24th at 8 under.

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Despite 'flattering' stats, McIlroy has work to do

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 9:13 pm

CROMELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy believes he has work to do on his swing, even if the stats don’t back it up.

McIlroy shot a 3-under 67 in the final round of the Travelers Championship, completing a week in which he shot 11 under and led the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green but was last among the 74 players who made the cut in strokes gained: putting.

While the Ulsterman lamented a number of misses from close range – 17 from inside 10 feet over the course of the week, to be exact – he contended that the strokes gained data may have been “flattering” his performance with the other 13 clubs.

“I don’t feel like I hit it that well tee-to-green,” McIlroy said. “It says that I’m probably No. 1 tee-to-green, but it didn’t feel like it. Yeah, obviously I would have loved to have putted better. But I felt like all parts of my game just needed to be a little bit sharper.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy explained that he hasn’t taken a day off from golf for the last five weeks, and he plans to do that in the coming days as he and wife Erica continue construction on a new house in Florida. He’ll next tee it up at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, which is hosted by his charitable foundation, but that will be his final competitive start before renewing his quest for a second Open title at Carnoustie.

In between, he plans to take in some tennis at Wimbledon and get re-acclimated to playing links golf, although he doesn’t plan to play Carnoustie the weekend prior to tournament week like he did last year at Royal Birkdale.

“I’m not going to go there early. I know the golf course pretty well, I know how it’s going to be,” said McIlroy, who made is Open debut at Carnoustie in 2007. “I’ll do a little bit of practice over that weekend. Play some links golf, go to Royal County Down. And then head over to Carnoustie on the Monday.”