Day's win caps a strange week at Torrey Pines

By Rex HoggardFebruary 9, 2015, 2:23 am

SAN DIEGO – With apologies to those with a Left Coast bias, Sunday’s final frame at the Farmers Insurance Open was all the proof one needs that the cosmic tumblers are not falling as they once did.

Consider that J.B. Holmes parred his final two par 5s on Sunday at Torrey Pines, which is akin to Albert Pujols bunting in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, Chris Paul III dishing at the buzzer, the Seattle Seahawks letting Marshawn Lynch play spectator with the ball at the 1-yard line.

Well, you get the point.

In a sign of just how off script golf at the highest level has become, the week in southern California began with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson failing to advance to the weekend in consecutive weeks for the first time ... ever, the former knocking off after just 11 holes with a deactivated back and the latter with a deactivated putter that led to his highest start at his hometown event in a dozen years.

Strange days, indeed.

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But the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open wasn’t about proper release patterns or glute activation or an AWOL putting stroke. This was about playing without pain and with a purpose.

It might be the most bizarre take from four days along the Pacific Ocean that scribes spent more time asking about the health of Jason Day’s caddie/swing coach Col Swatton (rough diagnosis, an old back) than they did Day’s litany of ailments.

Since arriving on Tour in 2008, Day’s potential was matched only by his penchant for landing on the disabled list. There have been back ailments (2014), ankle injuries (2013), right wrist problems (2007) and most recently a balky left thumb (2014), which slowed him for much of last season and prompted him to skip a return home to Australia late last year.

Make no mistake, Day’s dramatically improved health and his inspired play at Torrey Pines are not mutually exclusive, and yet another sign that 2015 is shaping up to shatter the status quo.

Asked if it felt different starting the season so far removed from the trainer’s table, Swatton’s take was telling, “100 percent, 100 percent. We knew he could do what he wants to do if he’s healthy.”

Not that his overtime victory on Sunday was without any metaphorical pain.

When the day began with a blanket of fog inching its way up the cliffs on Black’s Beach there were 10 players within two strokes of the lead. By lunch that number had dwindled to half that, with Holmes in control at 10 under par with two par 5s waiting.

But at the 13th hole Holmes, who is still among the bomber circuit’s longest (29th this season in driving distance), made a mess of the par-5 13th hole and laid up at the closing hole on his way to another par and a four-way playoff.

“If it would have been 5 yards shorter or 3 or 4 yards longer, it was really on a downslope to the hole and it was just a lie that my tendency is to hit it a little bit further and hit a draw, and long and left is dead,” Holmes said of his decision to lay up on the 72nd hole.

Instead, Holmes finished tied with Day, Harris English and Scott Stallings at 9 under par and laid up, again, after finding a fairway bunker in the playoff at the 18th hole.

The crowded field was whittled to two when English and Stallings, looking to become the first back-to-back winner at Torrey Pines since Woods in 2008, made par; and when Holmes airmailed the green at No. 16 in the second extra frame Day only needed to two-putt from 14 feet for his third Tour victory and his second in less than a year.

“To be able to win the way I did was very statisfying,” said Day, who closed with a 70 that featured just a single bogey over his final 30 holes on a South Course that was every bit as stingy as anything the frat brothers will play until May.

Explain again why the USGA dragged its feet so long to bring the U.S. Open back to this seaside municipal gem?

“The rough was thicker than it was in 2008 [for the U.S. Open] because for the Open the rough was graduated. Here it was thick up to the edge of the fairway,” said Charles Howell III, who finished tied for fifth one stroke out of the playoff. “The greens were firm, the fairways were narrow, it was every bit as hard as it was then.”

You didn’t have to tell Woods or Mickelson how hard things were at Torrey Pines.

A 2 1/2-hour fog delay to start the week on Thursday appeared to derail Woods, who was 2 over par and moving gingerly when he withdrew after only 11 holes.

“It's frustrating that it started shutting down like that. I was ready to go,” said Woods, who has withdrawn from three of his last eight official PGA Tour events. “I had a good warm-up session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started deactivating again. It's frustrating that I just can't stay activated.”

Mickelson made it 36 holes, but was no less dejected by what transpired on Torrey Pines’ greens.

“I’m down. I’m frustrated, because I see other parts of my game do very well, but putting as bad as I have, it starts to creep into some of the other areas too,” said Mickelson, who led the field for Rounds 1 and 2 with five three-putts.

Day had no such issues at Torrey Pines, nor did he have any health concerns, which may be as empowering, and strange, as the trophy he hoisted in just his third start of the season.

Even Day, who will move to fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking on Monday, could appreciate the juxtaposition his pain-free start to the season has created.

“I’ve come close so many times to having great years and especially going off last year and having the ups and downs, to be able to be healthy and getting off to a great start is special,” Day said.

One could almost call it strange.

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Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

“I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

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“We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

“I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

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Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

“My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

“I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

“As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.