Hooks and Cuts: Match Play Sunday

By Rich LernerFebruary 28, 2011, 6:07 am

2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – Luke Donald’s run through the Match Play with 32 birdies, while never trailing or even making it to the 18th hole, was as complete and impressive as any performance in recent memory.

– Martin Kaymer says he won’t let the headiness of the No. 1 ranking change him as a person. “I think about what Roger Federer said,” Kaymer explained. “It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.” Refreshing.

– Bubba Watson is sporting an ultra-light white watch as part of a deal with Richard Mille. There were only 38 made, and they’ve all been sold . . . at $525,000 per watch. Bubba conceded with a laugh that, “Bubba’s doin’ pretty good.”

– Kaymer, with a wry smile on his even-keeled demeanor that sees him rarely show emotion, good or bad: “It’s very German, isn’t it?”

– Bubba’s stashing money shots into the confidence vault, to be withdrawn at future big events. I’m thinking about the up-and-down at Torrey Pines, the few he hit in the comeback against J.B. Holmes and the iron he hit into 17 to extend the match with Kaymer. He doesn’t deliver every time – witness the questionable second at Whistling Straits – but he’s at least showing up in those spots, and showing signs he’s figuring it out.

– What did you think of Johnny Miller comparing Tiger to Mike Tyson? Johnny suggested that Tiger’s ‘Buster Douglas’ was life itself.

– Donald, keeping his right elbow closer to his body, putted brilliantly – his stroke sure and smooth. He’s also worked vigorously with coach Pat Goss on creating just a hint of separation between his arms and lower body as he begins the downswing, and it resulted in very crisp iron play. Perhaps he’ll now go from consistent player to consistent winner.

– You can now build marketing campaigns and sell tickets behind Bubba.

– The European rise helps the PGA Tour. Westwood and McIlroy, among others, lift this week’s Honda Classic, which is the most improved tournament of the last five years. Kaymer and Matteo Mannasero give the Transitions Championship in Tampa a boost as well.

– Tiger’s not playing Honda as some had hoped, but might he play Tampa? Just wondering.

– Bubba’s jacked for his Bay Hill week appearance on “The Grey Goose 19th hole.” He says he’s already prepared his “Last Call” commentary. He wouldn’t offer any clues, but said it’ll be a good one.

– Let’s review the staggering 12-month European run: Ian Poulter defeats Paul Casey in an all-England final at last year’s Accenture Match Play; Graeme McDowell wins the U.S. Open; Kaymer the PGA Championship; Europe wins the Ryder Cup; Lee Westwood ascends to No. 1; and again, at this year’s Match Play, we get another all-European final with Donald and Kaymer, with Kaymer becoming the new No. 1, and with three Euros taking up the next three world ranking spots. Thorough.

– Bizarre sight on Sunday at the Match Play: Nick Faldo posing for a picture . . . next to a snowman.

– Donald was, at one point, the best amateur in the world, the best collegiate player, and now he’s among the best professionals. From Donald to Ryan Moore to Matt Kuchar, the great young amateurs seem to figure it out eventually.

– At the recently played Six Nations Rugby finals between England and France, the French team wore the insignia of their country’s 2018 Ryder Cup initiative. With a venue near Versailles and nights in Paris, there’s a lot to like about the French bid. But Portugal, Spain, Holland and Germany are pushing, too.

– At a dinner this week with colleagues, Roger Maltbie told several hilarious Victor Regalado stories that reduced us to tears. Rog is to the well-told, funny golf story what Jack is to winning majors. There’s no one better.

– Watched Virginia Tech topple Duke Saturday night in Blacksburg. There’s no team in sports quite like Duke. Every game they play on the road, and I mean every single game, is a storm-the-court, remember-it-for-a-lifetime moment for the home team should they pull the upset like the Hokies did.

– Richard Hills, Ryder Cup director for Europe, talking about the Euro rise: “I’m a believer in sporting cycles,” he said. “But with that said, think about what we’ve witnessed with Fanny (Sunesson) and Martin (Kaymer). They first met at a coaching session on course management for the German youth team when Martin was a teenager. This is echoed throughout Europe with the federations and home unions of each nation gearing up their coaching and their facilities.”

– Commissioner Tim Finchem believes the Match Play will return to the Tuscon area. Who needs Vail or Killington? Give us the snow-dusted Dove Mountain in Arizona.

Getty Images

Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

Getty Images

Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

Getty Images

Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”