#AskLav: Looking ahead to PGA, playoffs

By Ryan LavnerAugust 1, 2013, 1:29 pm

Apparently it’s an inescapable truth, a foregone conclusion, a concession that needn’t wait four more days. 

The most-discussed question this week isn’t whether Inbee Park will win the Women’s British Open but whether her inevitable feat will be called a Grand Slam or a Super Slam. That alone says as much about her recent Terminator stretch as it does the rest of the LPGA.

A word of caution, though: To hit a home run, you still have to make a powerful swing and clear the wall.

So let’s at least wait until Sunday afternoon before debating where Park’s 2013 season ranks all time. From her current form (two consecutive finishes outside the top 10) to the mounting pressure and myriad distractions to the vagaries of links golf, this seems like anything but a, ahem, Slam dunk. 

Here, your questions for this week’s #AskLav mailbag:

Its as demanding a major venue as youll find. Just look at the winning score for the past seven stroke-play events held at Oak Hill, dating to 1956: 7 over, 4 under, 2 under, 6 over, 6 under, 5 under, 1 under. So, depending on course conditions and weather, expect the winning score to be anywhere from 3 to 7 under. Several players have already mentioned how gnarly the rough is on the East Course, so driving it long and straight on the tree-lined course ' itll play as a beefy par 70 ' will be at a premium. Which is why my picks to win are a few guys in the top 15 in total driving: Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson.

Tiger, simply because hes older and his drought is lengthier ' five-plus years as opposed to just eight months for Rory. One lost season in a 25-year career wont ruin McIlroy, still only 24. But Woods has built his entire professional life around his pursuit of 18 majors, and each Big One that passes ' now 0 for his last 17, and counting ' without a victory makes his climb up Mount Nicklaus even more daunting, especially at age 37 and with a brittle body.

Lets be clear that these season-ending playoffs are markedly better than what used to pass for the final, sleepy leg of the PGA Tour season, but there are still too many glaring weaknesses to ignore. For the sake of our word count here, well limit it two: 1.) The points system is confusing. Players dont understand it, and neither do fans. Understanding which player will take home the $11.44 million prize shouldnt require a Tour mathematician ' and certainly not Steve Sands violently scribbling at a dry-erase board. And 2.) The Tour still hasnt determined whether its product is a big-money free-for-all or a calculated way to determine the years best player. Its fine to choose the latter ' as long as there is an understanding that the best player wont always be named FedEx Cup champion (hello, 2012 Rory McIlroy) and that winning a playoff event isnt even in the same stratosphere as winning a major title.

So, what can be done? The Tour Championship needs some elements of match play. The #AskLav model would look like this: A five-day tournament (played at a different course each year) for the top 30 in points. The first three days are a stroke-play qualifier, from which the low eight advance. On Saturday, the quarters and semifinals. On Sunday, an 18-hole final with $11.44 million ' the biggest prize in golf ' on the line. Sure, match play is risky, because theres always the fear of a few duds in the final match. But the belief here is that the stroke-play qualifier would weed out some of the lighterweights. And given the alternative of another confusing Cup-clinching Sunday, its worth a one-year test run.

To win? Save your money. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Westwood not only this week but also heading into the years final major. At the Open he putted as well as he ever has, proving to be a quick study under newly hired putting coach Ian Baker-Finch. But by the end of the final round it was abundantly clear that Westys ball-striking, not his oft-maligned short game, had kept him from the claret jug. Uncharacteristic, to be sure, but merely the product of his brief but ongoing work with swing coach Sean Foley. Hes had two solid weeks to hash things out. This week hell be in the mix again ' three top 10s in his last five starts at Firestone ' but its difficult to see him picking up win No. 1 this season in Ohio. Wait for the PGA to dole out your cash.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.

Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos

''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.

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Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

"Obviously the wind didn't blow. It was a different golf course than it was yesterday, you were able to take advantage of these par 5s," said Koepka, who opened in 71 on Day 1. "Felt like it was a lot more gettable. I putted so well, great ball-striking day, great putting day and very pleased with it."

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking

That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

"Just keep doing what I'm doing," Koepka said of his plan for the final two rounds. "I'm hitting it well and making putts. I felt like I probably could have shot about 7, 8 under on the front side there, missed a couple. You know, doing everything right and that's what you've got to do and hopefully this wind stays away."

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

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'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.