#AskLav: Turning golfers into football players

By Ryan LavnerAugust 29, 2013, 12:25 pm

They begin tossing the pigskin in earnest Thursday, which means golf can bid adieu to some of its peripheral fans.

Sure, Tiger’s injury limbo may help keep some in channel-hopping mode for the next few weeks, but it’s football season once Jim Nantz starts speaking above a whisper.

Which is why this tweet from a loyal mailbag reader really resonated: 

Maybe it’s because there are five fantasy drafts on the books for the next few days. Or maybe it’s because this scribe’s chinstrap is buckled a bit too tight. But this simple question spiraled into a fun project: a solid roster of PGA Tour football players who could compete on any given Sunday. Maybe.

Head coach: Phil Mickelson

Scouting report: Rarely uses the same playbook in consecutive games. Wins at a spectacular rate, but has also had games blow up in his face after ill-advised decisions to go for it on 4th-and-2 or try a fake punt. This players’ coach has the respect of the guys in the locker room.

Offensive coordinator: Padraig Harrington

Always striving for perfection, the noted tinkerer isn’t afraid to try new tactics. Unorthodox, perhaps, but has shown an ability to win the Big Game.

Defensive coordinator: Rory Sabbatini

Fiery competitor may rub many opposing coaches the wrong way, but still possesses a knack for getting the best out of his players.

Quarterback: Adam Scott

This pretty boy is the face of the franchise and a consummate professional. After a few substandard years, the gunslinger has taken a less-is-more approach and excelled on the year’s biggest stages. At 33, he’s more motivated than ever.

Running back: Jason Day

The team's workhorse takes a beating between the tackles but always seems to persevere through injuries. Big-game talent and a relentless motor.

Wide receivers: Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer

Impressive three-wide set can stretch the field with its speed, and the players’ leaping ability makes them tough to defend in the red zone. Word of caution: Bradley’s pre-snap routine makes him susceptible to false-start penalties.

Tight end: Lee Westwood

Built like a tank, he’s able to slip past linebackers in 1-on-1 situations but can also help with the run game. Vastly improved chipping technique … on defenders.

Flex players: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth

Speedy, shifty, high-volume receivers who are built for the long haul and can have 10-plus years of huge productivity.

Offensive/defensive line: Kevin Stadler, Brendon de Jonge, Tim Herron, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Scrappy grinders who aren’t afraid to get dirty. Supreme run-cloggers up the middle and warriors in the trenches.

Defensive ends: Jason Kokrak, Bubba Watson

Kokrak has the perfect combination of size and speed to overmatch slower offensive tackles. Watson has occasional lapses of concentration, but when he’s focused and motivated he has proven to be a menace for opposing QBs.

Linebackers: Ricky Barnes, Ernie Els, Bo Van Pelt

Barnes, with his football-sized biceps, is one of the most feared defenders in the league, and opponents think twice before venturing over the middle of the field. Els and BVP may have lost a step recently, but they’re veteran ball-hawks who can play in space.

Cornerbacks: Billy Horschel, Luke Donald, Paul Casey

The flashy Horschel can get under a receiver’s skin with his trash talk at the line of scrimmage, but he also has plenty of substance to back it up. Donald and Casey are sound technically and don’t often get beat at their own game.

Safety: Gary Woodland

Don’t be fooled by this nice guy – he’s a hard-hitter who is oftentimes the most explosive player on the field. Plays the pass and run equally well, and coaches like to use his speed as a punt/kicker returner as well.

Team’s biggest fan: Jason Dufner

More than content to throw in a dip and tweet.

So … did Tiger make the cut? Of course he did. But the all-world, do-everything offensive juggernaut, who holds franchise records for yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in a season, is currently in the training room, getting his ailing back worked on. Team doctors hope he doesn’t soon land on injured reserve.

Now, the rest of your #AskLav mailbag questions for this week: 

On Aug. 29, Id fill out my ballot like this: 1.) Tiger; 2.) Scott; 3.) Phil. But that ranking is subject to change based on what happens over the next three playoff events. Its an easy choice now, with Woods owning three more titles than any other player on Tour, but another win by Scott or Lefty would make the race a lot more compelling.

Iron play, since the winner will need to make birdies in bunches. Since 2006, the winning score at TPC Boston has been at least 15 under par. Three times it was 20 or more under, including last year, when Rory McIlroy didnt post a round worse than 67. Those with great records there include Woods (just one finish worse than 11th in eight tries), Scott (three consecutive top-10s) and Jim Furyk (five top-15s in eight starts).

No, not even close. It may seem like more because hes been out for months at a time, but since 1997 Tiger has missed only four majors ' the final two in 2008 and the summer Opens in 2011. Maybe his run of dominance continues in 08 and he racks up another major title, but dont forget he was out of sorts with his swing and in the midst of a winless drought in summer 2011. A completely healthy Woods probably passes Sam Sneads record of 82 PGA Tour wins by now, but he likely wouldnt be that much closer to Jack, if at all.

Seek help, sir.

Mentioned it before in this space, but Id make two major changes: 1.) Reduce the field size at the playoff opener from 125 to 100 players. Then make 80-60-30 cuts. 2.) Introduce match play at the Tour Championship, but ' and this is the important part ' only after a three-round stroke-play qualifier. That should ensure that the best players rise to the top. Then, the low eight qualifiers would face off on the weekend for the $10 million prize. Great drama.

Good question. The trophys bowl shape would make an ideal serving dish for all of #AskLavs favorite snacks, including shrimp cocktail, hummus and pita chips, beef jerky, chips and guacamole, chicken tenders and kettle corn.

Slow your roll! Lets wait until, say, 2023 before answering this definitively, OK?

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Salas capitalizes on Park gaffe to take Indy lead

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 2:07 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Lizette Salas waited patiently for Sung Hyun Park to make a rare mistake Saturday.

When the South Korean mishit her approach shot into the water on the par-4 16th, Salas capitalized quickly.

She rolled in her birdie putt then watched Park make double bogey – a three-shot swing that gave Salas the lead and the momentum heading into the final round of the Indy Women in Tech Championship. Salas closed out her 8-under 64 with a birdie on No. 18 to reach 21 under – two shots ahead of Park and Amy Yang.

“I have been striking the ball really well, and I just had to stay patient,” Salas said. “And yeah, putts dropped for sure. I just really felt comfortable.”

If she keeps it up one more day, Salas could be celebrating her first tour win since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship and her second overall. With five of the next six players on the leader board ranked in the world’s top 30, Salas knows it won’t be easy.

The changing weather conditions weather might not help, either. If the forecast for mostly sunny conditions Sunday holds, the soft greens that have kept scores at near record-lows through the first three rounds could suddenly become quicker and less forgiving.

But the 29-year-old Californian seems to have the perfect touch for this course, which weaves around and inside the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

She shot three sub-par rounds and finished tied for fifth last year here. This year, she has three more sub-par rounds including a course record-tying 62 on Thursday and has been atop the leader board each of the first three days.

“I have been so confident the whole year,” Salas said. “I have a different mentality, I’m a different player. So I’m just going to go out and play as if I’m behind.”

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Salas’ toughest challenge still could from Park, who spent most of Saturday flirting with a 54-hole scoring record.

She birdied the last four holes on the front side and made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14 to reach 21 under with a chance to become the sixth LPGA player to ever finish three rounds at 23 under.

The miscue at No. 16 changed everything.

She never really recovered after dropping two shots, settling for par on the final two holes for a 66 after shooting 68 and 63 the first two days. Yang finished with a 65 after going 68 and 64.

“I was a little weary with right-to-left wind,” Park said. “I think a little bit of weariness got to me, but overall, it’s OK.”

Defending champion Lexi Thompson was five shots back after completing the final nine of the second round in 2 under 34 and shooting 64 in the afternoon.

She made up ground despite being assessed a one-stroke penalty after hitting her tee shot on No. 10 into the sixth fairway and lifting the ball without authority. Rules officials had implemented the preferred lies rule because more than an inch of rain had doused the course.

Thompson still made her par on the hole though it temporarily broke her momentum after making six birdies on the front nine in her first appearance since taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

“Twenty-seven holes, I definitely had a few tired swings toward the end,” said Thompson, who finished each of the first two rounds with 68s. “But overall, a lot of positives. I hit it great. I made some really good putts.”

Three players – Nasa Hataoka of Japan, Jin Young Ko of South Korea and Mina Harigae – were tied at 15 under. Ko started the third round with a share of the lead but had three bogeys in a round of 70.

Now, all Salas has to do is cash in one more time.

“I’ve been knocking on the door quite a bit in the last four years, haven’t been able to get it done,” Salas said. “I’ve got good players behind me, I’ve just got to play my game.”

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Bradley leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 12:28 am

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Michael Bradley shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Tour Champions' Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 52-year-old Bradley had five birdies and a bogey in the rain-delayed round to reach 11-under 133 at En-Joie Golf Club. A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, he's seeking his first victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Bart Bryant and Marco Dawson were tied for second. Bryant, the 2013 winner at En-Joie for his lone Champions title, had a 67. Dawson shot 70.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

Wes Short Jr. (65), Clark Dennis (70) and Tom Gillis (69) were 9 under, and Kenny Perry (69) was 7 under with first-round leader Doug Garwood (73), Mark Calcavecchia (69), Woody Austin (71), Jerry Haas (68) and Scott Parel (68). Perry won the 3M Championship two weeks ago in Minnesota.

Bernard Langer, the 2014 winner, was 5 under after a 69. Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 71 to get to 1 under. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, was 6 over after rounds of 73 and 77.

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Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list

The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.

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Lexi charges with 64 despite another penalty

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Lexi Thompson ran into another awkward rules issue while making a bold charge at the leaders Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

She hit a speed bump at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course when she was assessed a penalty for violating a preferred-lies local rule.

Five shots off the lead at day’s start, Thompson birdied six of the first nine holes, making the turn in 30 to move two off the lead, but that’s where she got her second education this season on the implementation of local rules.

At the 10th tee, Thompson blew her tee shot right, into the sixth fairway. With preferred lies in effect, Thompson picked up her ball, cleaned it and replaced it within a club length before preparing to hit her second shot at the par 5.

According to Kay Cockerill, reporting for Golf Channel’s early live streaming coverage, LPGA rules official Marty Robinson saw Thompson pick up her ball and intervened. He informed her she was in violation of the preferred lies rule, that she was allowed to lift, clean and place only when in the fairway of the hole she was currently playing. She was assessed a one-shot penalty and returned her ball to its original spot, with Robinson’s help. The local rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

Cockerill said Thompson handled the penalty well, shaking her head when realizing her mistake, and chuckling at her gaffe. She then crushed a fairway wood, from 215 yards, up onto the green. She two-putted from 50 feet and walked away with a par.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

“Thankfully, Marty intervened before she hit her next shot,” Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

Thompson is making a return to golf this week after taking a month-long “mental break.” A year ago, she endured heartache on and off the golf course, with her competitive frustration having much to do with being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round of the ANA Inspiration. She appeared to be running away with a victory there but ended up losing in a playoff.

Earlier this year, Thompson got another education in local rules. She was penalized in the second round at the Honda Thailand after hitting her ball next to an advertising sign. She moved the sign, believing it was a moveable object, but the local rules sheet that week identified signs on the course as temporary immovable obstructions. She was penalized two shots.

In her pretournament news conference this week, Thompson shared how difficult the ANA controversy, her mother’s fight with cancer and the death of a grandmother was on her emotionally. She also was candid about the challenge of growing up as a prodigy and feeling the need to build a life about more than golf.

Saturday’s penalty didn’t slow Thompson for long.

She made back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes to post a 64, giving her a Sunday chance to win in her return.

Statement from the LPGA

While playing the third round of the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship, Lexi Thompson incurred a one-stroke penalty for breach of the preferred lies local Rule (Appendix IA Part 3b Course Conditions).

The Committee adopted the preferred lies local Rule due to the turf conditions of the golf course after receiving over an inch of rain.  The LPGA, under the local Rule, restricts the player from preferring her lie when her ball lies in a closely-mown area of a hole other than the one being played. 

During the play of hole #10, Thompson’s tee shot came to rest in the fairway of hole #6. As Thompson’s ball lay on the fairway of hole #6, she was not entitled to prefer her lie. 

She preferred her lie in breach of the local Rule but prior to playing her stroke from a wrong place (Rule 20-7), she was questioned by a Rules official regarding her actions.  As she had not played her stroke from the preferred spot, she did not receive the general penalty of two-strokes under the local Rule. However, she did incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for lifting her ball at rest without authority.

LPGA Rules Committee