Getty Images

Torres eyes major breakthrough after whirlwind year

By Randall MellSeptember 14, 2018, 2:40 pm

In what is unfolding as “The Year of the Breakthrough” in women’s golf, Maria Torres is making a run at becoming the most stunning of all.

She’s an LPGA rookie.

She’s No. 184 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

She has missed the cut in more than half her starts this year, with 11 MCs overall and seven in a row.

But she enters the weekend at the Evian Championship with a share of the lead and in contention to join Pernilla Lindberg and Georgia Hall as players who broke through this season to claim major championships as their first LPGA titles.

Torres’ personal tale makes her Cinderella story even more compelling.

Almost a year ago, Torres was huddled with family in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Maria pounded her homeland, with 155 mph winds thrashing the island. The storm hit on Sept. 20, just a few weeks before she was supposed to fly to the second stage of LPGA Q-School.

Though her family emerged safely from the devastation, Torres found herself in a hard spot getting ready for Q-School. Survival in 90-degree heat, with no power, was challenge enough. The family moved into Maria’s grandmother’s house, with a small generator helping them meet basic power needs and cook on a portable stove. It meant standing in long lines in the heat to try to get gas and other supplies.

Torres prepared for Q-School by putting on her grandmother’s carpeted floor and chipping balls at a nearby park. She finally got a flight out to stay with former teammates at the University of Florida and better prepare.

Full-field scores from Evian Championship

Evian Championship: Articles, photos and videos

The obstacles didn’t prevent Torres from becoming the first player from Puerto Rico to earn an LPGA tour card. Overcoming them makes putting her homeland’s flag on the leaderboard at Evian this week a source of even more pride back home.

After following up Thursday’s 6-under 65 Thursday with a 69 on Friday, Torres looked into a Golf Channel camera and sent a message home to Puerto Rico.

“I love you guys,” she said.

The island is still rebuilding from the worst natural disaster on record.

“It’s incredible to be here and have this opportunity,” Torres said. “I have no words for it.”

Torres, 23, shared the first-round lead with Carlota Ciganda and is tied atop the leaderboard after 36 holes with Mi-Hyang Lee, Mo Martin and Amy Olson.

That opening 65 came the first time Torres played a tournament round at Evian Golf Resort, a quirky course with lots of awkward side-hill lies and dramatic slopes on the greens. She had never led or shared the lead after any round of an LPGA event before this week.

“I love this course,” Torres said. “It’s really a strategic course. There’s no advantage to anybody.”

What was it like going off Friday morning with the lead?

“It was a little bit nerve-wracking,” Torres said. “I’m not going to deny that.”

Torres showed that with a bogey-bogey start in some early rain.

“After the two bogeys, I'm like, `You should start playing right now,’” Torres said.

She did with the sun coming out, with birdies over three of her next five holes and another on her second nine.

“I’m excited to be in this position,” Torres said. “Just grateful for it.”

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 21, 2018, 6:15 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.

Getty Images

Tiger gets rapper Big Boi's support during opening 65

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 21, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tiger Woods fans everywhere were buzzing during his opening 65 at the Tour Championship, and that includes Atlanta hip-hop legend Big Boi, who was supporting the 14-time major champ from the East Lake gallery.

Perhaps best known as one half of the rap duo "Outkast" along with André 3000, Big Boi played the part of Woods superfan on Thursday, following Tiger around the course and posting videos on Twitter, before eventually stopping for a chat and a few pictures after the round.

Big Boi, who kicked off the Tour Championship with a performance at the event’s opening ceremonies, is hardly the first hip-hop superstar to buddy up to Woods - who could forget these incredible pictures with Snoop Dogg?

Getty Images

After Tour Finals, Peterson retires ... again

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 5:50 pm

OK, now it’s official: John Peterson is done with professional golf.  

With one last chance to secure his PGA Tour card for next season, Peterson missed the cut in the season-ending Tour Championship. After failing to keep conditional status on Tour – in the most excruciating of circumstances – Peterson is now out of options to play the big tour in 2019, so he’s stepping away from professional golf, at age 29.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

It’s been one of the most unusual storylines of the year. The former NCAA individual champion from LSU announced at the beginning of the year that he was done if he didn’t keep his card on his major medical extension. He’d grown tired of the nomadic existence on Tour, and as a new father and husband, he’d already lined up his next career, in real estate and business development in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

In July, Peterson said that the Tour Finals would be his final opportunity. If he earned a full PGA Tour card through the four-event series, then he’d continue to play in 2018-19 because he’d be able to pick and choose his schedule. But he never threatened full status, missing three cuts and tying for 56th in the other start.

And so on Friday afternoon, Peterson tapped out this tweet, saying goodbye to the Tour:

Getty Images

Army vets get sneak peek at Callaway's new wedges

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 5:23 pm

ATLANTA – Callaway Golf unveiled a new set of wedges to consumers on Friday, but U.S. Army veterans Kyle Butcher and Billy Paul were treated to an early peak on Wednesday at the Tour Championship.

Butcher and Paul were chosen to participate in a club fitting at East Lake that included three of Callaway’s new Mack Daddy 4 Tactical Wedges. The new wedges feature the company’s tactical package with a PVD finish, tour issued shafts and Groove-in-Groove technology. It was the company’s 13th “warrior fitting” this year.

Billy Paul (L) and Kyle Butcher checking out Callaway’s new Mack Daddy 4 Tactical Wedges.

Billy Paul (L) and Kyle Butcher (M) checking out Callaway's new Mack Daddy 4 wedges

The limited edition wedges became available at retail on Friday ($179.99) and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Birdies for the Brave. The company also made a $50,000 donation to Birdies for the Brave’s Special Operations Warriors Foundation.

Part of the company’s push to honor American military members also includes 15 percent discounts on purchases by all veterans.