A familiar duel

By Rex HoggardMay 10, 2011, 9:54 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On Tuesday at Quail Hollow Lucas Glover and Jonathan Byrd dueled Davis Love III and Charles Warren in a friendly match, part of an ongoing bout that stretches back decades.

“Jonathan birdied the last to tie it,” Warren said in even tones. “Still hot about that.”

It likely gave Warren little solace that Glover and Byrd could have clipped any combination of PGA Tour two-balls this week – and did.

On a golf course fit for a major and against a leaderboard straight out of Grand Slam storage a pair of major players needed extra frames to settle things, with Glover edging his Clemson stable mate with a par on the first extra hole for his first victory since the 2009 U.S. Open.

It was a familiar outcome for the duo, who have been trading birdies and trying to get the best of each other since their junior days.

“In the South Carolina State Amateur one year we dueled it out all 18 holes,” Byrd recalled. “He won three years in a row, so obviously same outcome; Lucas won then. Lucas won today.”

But this one was anything but preordained.

Entering the Wells Fargo Championship Glover had missed three consecutive cuts and had posted just six top-10 finishes since Bethpage. In short, the swagger had faded, however slightly, and his soaring draws had been flying far too straight.

In the offseason Glover set about retooling his once-simple action with swing coach Mike Taylor but progress had been slow, if at all. His Tuesday draw against Love and Warren may have been worth a few style points, but there was little reason to have high expectations.

“As of Tuesday afternoon it was still kind of a struggle,” Glover admitted following his third Tour victory. “But I found something Tuesday afternoon.”

The key, as simple as it sounds, was to square the clubface at address. The result was four rounds in the 60s (67-68-69-69), the first time ever at the Wells Fargo, and an afternoon two-ball with Byrd. But he had predicted that.

As Byrd and Glover were warming up for Round 3 on Saturday the latter smiled, “Let’s get a tee time around 2 o’clock tomorrow.” He was only off by five hours, but it was worth the delay.

Playing in the group in front of Byrd, who began the final round with a one-stroke lead over Pat Perez, Glover birdied Nos. 7 and 8 to pull within a stroke of the top spot.

At the par-5 10th Glover walked in a 22 footer for eagle to move one clear of Byrd. What transpired the rest of the way probably looked a lot like that South Carolina Amateur, with the two trading birdies and bogeys with equal abandon.

Glover, who won a U.S. Open with his driver, rode his short game to Quail Hollow gold, putting on a clinic over the final three holes that would have made the late Seve Ballesteros, who was honored with a moment of silence midway through Sunday’s final round, proud.

Quail Hollow’s famed “green mile” turned out to be the longest mile for Glover – an up-and-down from behind the green at No. 16, a two-putt from 75 feet at the 17th and a nervy, dry-mouthed par at the last.

Clinging to a one-stroke lead Glover pulled his drive into a fan’s hip pocket, or so it seemed, at the last, flirted with Rule 18-2b (see Simpson, Webb) and managed a fist pump when his 10 footer for par dived into the cup.

Minutes later Byrd followed him into the hole for a birdie and the two marched back down the par 4 finishing hole. In OT, however, Byrd ran out of magic, hitting his drive into a bunker right of the fairway and narrowly missing a creek with his approach, leaving Glover a two-putt for victory that on Tuesday didn’t seem likely.

“He's had a difficult time the last year now, you know, off the golf course,” said Byrd, who closed with 72 to tie Glover at 15 under. “He's had to play through some things, and for him to come back and play as well as he did this week . . . I'm really proud of him.”

If Glover, whose three Tour tilts have all come from behind, doubted his ability to climb out of the depths of a misfiring game, those who know him never did.

“The dude’s got so much talent, he’s making up shots as he goes along,” Warren said. “He’s a pure athlete.”

If Tuesday’s epiphany gave him some much-needed confidence, his second-round 68 was a reason to forget the last 22 months. “He has that look in his eye,” Glover’s caddie, Don Cooper, said on Friday. “He’s hungry and it’s not for food.”

Glover’s victory capped a week filled with all manner of subtexts, silly and otherwise.

On Tuesday news swept over Quail Hollow that Rory Sabbatini had been involved in kafuffle with Sean O’Hair last week in New Orleans and would be suspended. He was not, at least according to the Tour’s “you can ask but we’re not telling” policy, and he closed with a round-of-the-day 65 to finish alone in third place at 14 under.

Perez, who ballooned to a closing 75 and was paired with Sabbatini and O’Hair in New Orleans, seemed to put the dust up in perspective.

“Sean O’Hair is one of the greatest guys in the world. I love playing with him,” Perez said. “And Rory has his moments. I’ve always gotten along with Rory, and I know how to deal with him and stuff like that.”

On Wednesday news from Spain that Ballesteros was struggling in his duel with a cancerous brain tumor further cast a pale over an event that is viewed, at least by many Tour frat brothers, as a bonifide mid-major.

“It's a sad day,” Ballesteros protégé Sergio Garcia said a day later after the legend had died. “We're all feeling for Seve's family. He's been suffering for quite a while now, so probably better that he's resting now.”

Players and caddies wore black ribbons to honor Ballesteros and the moment of silence, which came at 3:08 p.m. (ET), also served to give fans a respite from a revolving leaderboard.

Fittingly, it was two of their own that finished the story – one dressed in pink paints for Mother’s Day and the other sporting a beard that is on the Grizzly Adams side of rustic.

On the eve of Sunday’s fireworks Glover gathered with some friends at a house adjacent Quail Hollow’s 15th hole. Included in that group was a collection of Clemson fraternity brothers who began chanting “fear the beard” and “Go Tigers,” a call that’s been missing from Tour circles for some time.

At golf’s “Grand Slam light,” however, the hobbled guy in the red shirt, not to mention world No. 1 Lee Westwood, may have been the only thing missing. But that’s a debate for next week.

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Davies wins by 10 on 'best ball-striking round'

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 1:53 am

WHEATON, Ill. - Laura Davies immediately recognized the significance of having her name inscribed on the first U.S. Senior Women's Open trophy.

It might be a long time before anyone secures the title as emphatically as Davies did.

Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday's final round of the inaugural USGA championship for women 50 and older, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

''It's great seeing this (trophy) paraded down for the very first time and I get my name on it first, you know?'' Davies said. ''This championship will be played for many years and there will only be one first winner - obviously a proud moment for me to win that.''

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club.

It was the English player's 85th career win, and she felt the pressure even though her lead was rarely in danger.

''I haven't won for eight years - my last win was India, 2010,'' Davies said. ''So that's the pressure you're playing under, when you're trying to do something for yourself, prove to yourself you can still win.

''So this ranks highly up there. And obviously it's a USGA event. It's hard comparing tournaments, but this is very high on my list of achievements.''

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster and what she said would be a sleepless night worrying about the pressure.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The World Golf Hall of Famer widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey. Davies said a par she salvaged at the 10th was another turning point.

''It wasn't the greatest hole I ever played, but I think that, to me, was when I really started to think I might have one hand on the trophy and just had to get the other one in there.''

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England's Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back.

''I mean, she was absolutely spectacular this week,'' Johnson said about Davies. ''I've played against her for 35 years. Yesterday was the best I have ever seen her play in her entire career.

''She just said walking down 18 it was best ball-striking round she ever had. Considering she's won 85 tournaments, that's quite some feat.''

Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth. Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Davies plans to play in the Women's British Open next month, and called this win a confidence-booster as she continues to compete against the younger generation. She finished tied for second at the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

''You build up a little bit of momentum, and a golf course is a golf course,'' Davies said. ''Sometimes the field strength is a little bit different, but in your own mind if you've done something like this, 16 under for four rounds around a proper championship course, it can't do anything but fill you full of confidence.''

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Romo rallies to win American Century Championship

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:42 am

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. - Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

''It's a special win,'' said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. ''It feels like you're playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.''

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

Full-field scores from the American Century Championship

''It feels like nothing went in for me today,'' Pavelski said. ''But I couldn't ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.''

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.