Yani's year

By Randall MellNovember 25, 2011, 2:49 pm

Yani Tseng’s shadow moved over Suzann Pettersen.

You could not see it, but you could feel it with Pettersen assessing her year going into the season-ending CME Group Titleholders Championship in Orlando, Fla., last week.

Pettersen won three times in 2011, twice in LPGA events and once on the Ladies European Tour. She’s No. 2 in the Rolex World Rankings. She was a Solheim Cup star, helping the Euros win for the first time in eight years.

Still, there was no escaping Tseng’s towering presence in Pettersen’s final evaluation.

“It’s been a very nice year, but when Yani has won seven events, it makes you feel not so great,” Pettersen said.

Tseng’s shadow fell over the entire women’s game with her rise as its dominant, new force. With 11 worldwide titles, the seven LPGA titles, including two majors, Tseng separated herself from the pack that was battling to succeed the retired Lorena Ochoa as the game’s best female player.

There were other highlights in 2011, of course:

• The Europeans didn’t just win the Solheim Cup, they transformed it. They made it matter more than it’s ever mattered with their dramatic late charge to upset the Americans at Killeen Castle in Ireland. Pettersen, Caroline Hedwall and Azahara Munoz engineered late comebacks that made for the most exciting final 30 minutes in Solheim Cup history. The Euro victory was the continent’s first since 2003.

• American Stacy Lewis broke through to make her first LPGA title a major championship, staring down Tseng in a final-round pairing to win the Kraft Nabisco in March.

• Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA history, claiming the Navistar Classic in September at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old. She made more news shortly after when LPGA commissioner Mike Whan granted her a waiver of the tour rule requiring members be at least 18, opening the door for Thompson to claim an exemption to become a full-time LPGA member next year.

Karrie Webb won the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, a unique event where tour pros played for designated charities, donating all their winnings to causes special to them. The week – the invention of second-year commissioner Whan – was a tribute to the women who created the tour 61 years ago. In a special setting, three of the founders – Louise Suggs, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith – sat in a box beside the 18th green at Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix greeting players as they finished their rounds.

• Pettersen (Sybase Match Play, Safeway Classic), Webb (HSBC Women’s, RR Donnelley Founders Cup) and Brittany Lincicome (Shoprite, CN Canadian Women’s Open) each won two LPGA events.

So Yeon Ryu defeated Hee Kyung Seo in a U.S. Women’s Open playoff at the Broadmoor featuring two more rising young South Korean stars.

• Commissioner Whan made perhaps the boldest stroke of the year, announcing the Evian Masters in France would become the LPGA’s fifth major championship beginning in 2013.

Still, there was no trumping Tseng in 2011.

When the year opened, Tseng was No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She didn’t wait long to make her move, winning her first three worldwide starts, the Taifong Ladies Open in Taiwan, the Women’s Australian Open and the Australian Ladies Masters. She seized the No. 1 ranking a week before the LPGA season opened and then won the LPGA opener, the Honda Thailand.

The year ends with Tseng at No. 1 having doubled the world-ranking points of Pettersen, her nearest pursuer.

Tseng’s dominance could be seen between the ropes as well as in the season-ending stats. Tseng won her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year award and her first Vare Trophy for low scoring average (69.66). She also led the tour in birdies (4.7 per round), driving distance (269.2) and greens in regulation (75.1 percent).

Opponents noticed a difference even in Tseng’s body language this year.

Na Yeon Choi said she can see the growing confidence in the way Tseng walks now.

“She walks like this, with chest like this,” Choi said, throwing her shoulders back and chest out. “I can see her confidence, when she’s doing her routine. She smiles when she walks to the ball, in her setup. It’s kind of scary.”

Tseng might have smiled more than any other player this past year, but she left a lot of frowns in her wake with fellow tour pros like Pettersen trying to figure out how to catch her.

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Horschel (68) builds on momentum at Valero

By Will GrayApril 20, 2018, 12:32 am

Billy Horschel only ever needs to see a faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

While some players require a slow ascent from missed cuts to contending on the weekend, Horschel's switches between the two can often be drastic. Last year he missed three straight cuts before defeating Jason Day in a playoff to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, a turnaround that Horschel said "still shocks me to this day."

The veteran is at it again, having missed five of six cuts prior to last week's RBC Heritage. But a few tweaks quickly produced results, as Horschel tied for fifth at Harbour Town. He wasted no time in building on that momentum with a bogey-free, 4-under 68 to open the Valero Texas Open that left him one shot behind Grayson Murray.

"I'm a big momentum player. I've got to get the train moving forward," Horschel told reporters Thursday. "I've always been a guy who gets on a little roll, get that train moving and jump into the winner's circle. So yeah, it would have been great to win last week, but it was just nice to play four really good rounds of golf."

Many big names tend to skip this week's stop at TPC San Antonio, but Horschel has managed to thrive on the difficult layout in recent years. He finished third in both 2013 and 2015, and tied for fourth in 2016.

With a return next week to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he notched his first career win in 2013 and a title defense in Dallas on the horizon, Horschel believes he's turning things around at just the right time.

"Gets the momentum going, carry it into this week, next week, which I've had a lot of success at," Horschel said. "Really the rest of the year, from here on in I have a lot of really good events I've played well in."

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Three years later, PXG launches new iron

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 19, 2018, 11:22 pm

Three years is a long time between launches of club lines, but Bob Parsons, founder and CEO of PXG, says his company had a very good reason for waiting that long to introduce its second-generation irons.

“Three years ago, when we introduced our first generation 0311 iron, we made a commitment that we would not release a product unless it was significantly better than our existing product,” Parsons said. “:Our GEN2 irons are better than our GEN1 irons in every respect. We believe it’s the best iron ever made, and the second-best iron ever made is our GEN1 iron.”

PXG’s 0311 GEN2 irons, which officially went on sale today, feature what the company says is the world’s thinnest clubface. They have a forged 8620 soft carbon steel body and PXG’s signature weighting technology. The hollow clubheads are filled with a new polymer material that PXG says not only dampens vibration, but also produces higher ball speeds and thus more distance.

The irons come in four “collections” – Tour Performance, Players, Xtreme Forgiveness and Super Game Improvement.

Cost is $400 per iron, or $500 for PXG’s “Extreme Dark” finish. Price includes custom fitting. For more information, visit www.pxg.com.

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Maggert and Parnevik lead at Bass Pro Shops

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 10:49 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik shot an 8-under 63 in better-ball play Thursday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' chilly Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

''It was very relaxing for me because I felt like terrible,'' Parnevik said. ''I was so stiff this morning. It was freezing cold. I thought if I can just try to make some pars in case he ever makes a bogey, but I didn't even have to do that.''

Playing together for the first time in the team event, Maggert and Parnevik eagled the par-5 eighth and had six birdies in the cool and breezy conditions on Big Cedar Lodge's Buffalo Ridge course.

''We play well together,'' Maggert said. ''We both contributed a lot. Jesper had a lot of birdies and an eagle on our final nine. It was so cold this morning, I just was going to come out and just try to hit fairways and greens. Really I wasn't thinking about making birdies, I was just trying to play steady and give myself an opportunity to have some birdie putts.''

Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf

The next three rounds will be played on par-3 courses. Maggert and Parnevik will play the 18-hole Top of the Rock on Friday and Sunday, and the 13-hole Mountain Top on Saturday.

Mark Calcavecchia and Woody Austin were a stroke back. They also eagled No. 8. Austin won the 2016 title with Michael Allen. Calcavecchia won the Boca Raton Championship this year.

''I lucked in a few birdies on the back, but it was tough, tough conditions,'' Calcavecchia said. ''Even when it warmed up a little bit, it was still tough to make birdies out there. All in all, 7 under's a pretty good start.''

Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman were at 65 along with Davis Love III-Scott Verplank, 2015 winners Billy Andrade-Joe Durant, Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett and Steve Flesch-David Toms.

''We kind of brother-in-lawed or ham-and-egged it or partnered it,'' Love said. ''Neither one of us were playing great, but we had one guy in every hole and that's kind of what you have to do. We're going to have to go to the par 3 courses and get two birdie putts on a hole is what you really want to do and we didn't do that enough today.''

Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week for his first senior title.

Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were tied for 22nd at 68.

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Dredge, Quiros share early lead in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 19, 2018, 8:41 pm

RABAT, Morocco - Bradley Dredge reeled off three birdies in his last five holes to share the lead with Alvaro Quiros after the opening round of the European Tour's Trophee Hassan II event Thursday.

Quiros finished with two straight birdies as the big-hitting Spaniard joined Welshman Dredge on 5-under-par 67.

Dredge, who made seven birdies in all, has won twice before but his last triumph came in 2006.

Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II

Quiros, who has claimed seven victories, last won at the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily last year.

The joint leaders have a one-shot advantage over Oliver Fisher, Joakim Lagergren, Erik Van Rooyen and Lorenzo Gagli at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course.

Former U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett, without a win since his victory at Augusta two years ago, opened with a 1-over 73.