Monday Scramble: Welcoming back Scott, Woods

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 29, 2016, 4:15 pm

Adam Scott silences the doubters, Sergio Garcia falls short (again), Tiger Woods resurfaces, Ryder Cup hopefuls break bread with Jack and more in this week's edition of the Monday Scramble:

Adam Scott was “desperate” for this Honda Classic victory, and for good reason.

He needed this win for his confidence, having gone since May 2014 without a worldwide win. He needed this win for his relevance, having slipped behind the likes of Jordan, Jason, Rory and Rickie, and nearly out of the top 20 in the world. And, yes, he needed this win for his reputation, having endured a barrage of questions about whether he could survive without the long putter.

That his 26th worldwide title arrived only three starts into the new year was a massive bonus.   

This putter debate could have lingered all year, his stats dissected every week, until Scott broke through again. Except he nearly won at Riviera two weeks ago, and then he put on a clinic at PGA National, on his way to leaving the field in the dust if not for a quadruple bogey in the third round.

Two strong fields, two major-caliber venues, two top-two finishes – that should tell you all you need to know about the current state of Scott’s game.

Now, he isn't just relevant. He is, once again, a force. 


1. The beauty of Scott’s game is that he has never needed to be a great putter. It just couldn’t be a detriment.

Three times in his career he has eclipsed $4 million in earnings in a season: 2006, 2013 and 2014.

His stats those years:

2006:

Strokes gained-tee to green: 2nd

Putting: 133rd 

2013:

Strokes gained-tee to green: 5th

Putting: 103rd 

2014:

Strokes gained-tee to green: 5th

Putting: 55th 

Granted, it’s a small sample size, but Scott’s stats this year have already fallen in line with his best seasons: Currently, he is second in strokes gained-tee to green and 50th in putting.

"It just reassures me," he said, "that I'm on the right track with the things I'm doing on the greens."  

2. His balky putter received the most attention, of course, but there were a few reasons why 2015 was the first year in Scott's career that he didn’t win at least once worldwide.

He was still in the honeymoon phase with his wife. He welcomed a new child, daughter Bo, last February. And his long game wasn’t as sharp as usual – ranked 35th in strokes gained-tee to green, it was, statistically, his worst ball-striking year since ’09.

It appears to be an anomaly.

3. No shot showcased Scott's remarkable ability like this effort, from a fairway bunker on No. 12, a 149-yard 9-iron over a row of palm trees:

4. Even so, there has always been a sense that Scott has underachieved, that a player with his picture-perfect swing should win more tournaments, capture more majors. A fair criticism? Perhaps, but keep in mind that Scott, who turns 36 this summer, now has the most wins under the age of 40: 

  • Scott: 12
  • Rory McIlroy: 11
  • Dustin Johnson: 9
  • Bubba Watson: 9
  • Sergio Garcia: 8
  • Geoff Ogilvy: 8
  • Brandt Snedeker: 8

Sergio Garcia


5. Falling short during the duel at PGA National was Garcia, who was a runner-up for the (gulp) 15th time in his Tour career.

It was clear early on Sunday that Garcia didn’t have his best stuff: He didn’t make a birdie until the 14th hole, fanned several approach shots and failed to put any pressure on Scott. And yet he still had a chance to win, right up until the 16th hole, when his 7-iron from the middle of the fairway came up woefully short and left of the green, leading to a momentum-killing bogey.

It turned out to be the first of several poor shots coming home, adding another layer of scar tissue despite Garcia's assurances after the round that his game wasn’t “anywhere near” where he wants it. (For the record, he finished the week ranked first in the strokes gained-tee to green statistic. Hmm.)

The high finishes are encouraging, but a player this talented shouldn’t be winless on Tour since August 2012. There is an obvious disconnect there.

6. What will it take for Garcia and Rickie Fowler to land their first major this year?

Maybe a final-day pairing.

Indeed, they play remarkably well together. Since the start of the 2013 PGA, Garcia and Fowler have been in the same group 16 times. Each has shot in the 60s in 10 of those rounds.

In those 16 rounds, Garcia is a combined 34 under par in Fowler's presence, while Rickie is 33 under. 

Said Fowler, “We hang out on and off the golf course, good buddies, and we enjoy playing together.”



7. After months of radio silence, Tiger Woods returned to public life in a big way last week.

And to think, this all started because of a few incorrect rumors. 

Ten days ago, Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, was asked whether he had an update on his client. It was a reasonable request – after all, the former world No. 1 hadn’t been heard from since his news conference in early December, the Tour was coming to Woods’ hometown for the Honda Classic (a tournament he usually plays, when healthy), and Woods was expected to come out of hibernation because of his duties as a Ryder Cup assistant captain. But Steinberg did not offer an update that day. 

Over the weekend, and then again last Monday, social-media reports surfaced that Woods had suffered a setback in his recovery from back surgery and that he couldn’t move well. It didn’t sound good. That prompted a strong denial from Steinberg, and a day later, Woods took the matter into his own hands, sending out a 13-second video of his swing – the latest shot heard 'round the world – with the caption, “Progressing nicely.” The very next day, Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reported that Woods had actually begun hitting half-speed drivers the previous week – remember, when Steinberg had no update to offer – and that he was further along in his recovery than previously thought.  

It was a messy week full of rumors and speculation ... and it ultimately could have been avoided, with a short, simple update.      

8. So now that it has been confirmed that Woods is actually closer to returning than retirement, the question everyone wants answered is this: When and where will he come back? 

But to hear Woods at the World Challenge, there was a sense that he had learned from past hurried comebacks and wouldn’t rush what likely is his final attempt to play competitively. A few of his confidants – John Cook and Notah Begay III, in particular – have preached patience, as well.

There is a massive difference between hitting 9-irons in a simulator and being ready for Tour-caliber competition, which is why, to this observer, it still would be a surprise if Woods tees it up at all this season. What incentive is there to return this summer unless he is completely, unequivocally, 100 percent healthy?



9. Maybe that final-round flameout wasn’t an aberration for Rory McIlroy. 

During two sloppy rounds at PGA National, McIlroy dropped 13 shots and missed his first cut since June. He didn’t speak with reporters after his round Friday, but the world No. 3 tweeted that he was making too many “mental errors.”

At times this year, McIlroy has looked disengaged and suffered maddening lapses of concentration. He only has two more stroke-play events until the Masters, so time is running out to get his game – and his mind – in gear.   

10. PGA Tour veteran Jason Bohn is resting comfortably after suffering a major heart attack following the second round of the Honda Classic. 

After Tour officials initially said that Bohn, 42, had a minor heart attack, the problem turned out to be much more serious, with Bohn instead requiring a stent to open the artery known as the “widow maker” that was 99 percent blocked. 

Scary stuff.

Bohn told Rosaforte that had the chest pains occurred on the course and not in the scoring area afterward, he wouldn’t have made it and that he received the “ultimate mulligan.”   

Here’s wishing Bohn a healthy and speedy recovery. Ask any Tour pro – he’s one of the most well-liked and respected players out there. 



11. Lexi Thompson made official Sunday what has been painfully obvious for the past two years: She is the best American in the world. 

Thompson leapfrogged Stacy Lewis in the world rankings (to No. 3) and earned her seventh career LPGA title in Thailand, blowing away the field by six shots in a performance that put all of her myriad skills on display. She bashed her way to a 290-yard average off the tee – or about 45 yards more than the tour mean – while rolling in putts with her eyes closed.

If her putter stays hot – granted, that’s a big if, given her history of mediocre putting – then she’ll pose a massive threat to the Lydia-Inbee dynasty. 

12. The greatest par-5 in the world is reportedly on the verge of undergoing yet another tweak.

According to Golfweek magazine, Augusta National’s 13th hole could be lengthened as much as 50 yards if a deal to purchase more land behind the tee goes through.

Our initial reaction: Why mess with the perfect risk-reward hole? Alas, it seems a few rocket-launchers have made the tee shot easier than it should be, reducing the hole to a driver-wedge by sending their drives over the left trees.

It's a shame, especially if the added length changes the complexion of the hole and leads to more layups, but this move seemed inevitable, given the times.

Twenty-two Ryder Cup hopefuls gathered for a few hours last week at Jack Nicklaus’ home in Palm Beach Gardens.

While good in theory – Team building! Solidarity! – about the only thing these highly publicized get-togethers accomplish is putting more pressure on the team to perform.

Think about it: If the Americans go through all this trouble, if they start a task force and break bread with the greatest champion of all time and go fishing on Tiger’s yacht … and then STILL lose … where do they go from there? What option haven't they exhausted?

In a way, it was ironic that the dinner was held at Jack’s, for he has always scoffed at the idea of a task force.

“We just have to play a little bit better,” he said Sunday. “I don’t think there’s any real magic in it.”  

No wonder the Europeans are sitting back with amusement as the U.S. team talks itself into contention. The Ryder Cup is, above all, a three-day competition that rewards steady nerves and clutch putting. Yet the Americans insist on another year of paralysis by analysis.

News, notes and observations from the past week ... 


• It’s reasonable to wonder whether this signals the end of the Adam Scott-Steve Williams arrangement. Scott, who has been working with David Clark since the Presidents Cup, has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last nine starts. As recently as October, Scott said that Williams was likely to work as many as 10 events this year, but why mess with a winning formula? 

Louis Oosthuizen won the European Tour’s Perth International, which is what you’d expect – he was one of only two top-100 players in the field.  

The two players with arguably the best swings in golf won tournaments last week. You know what that means ... Freddie Jacobson, you're next.



• Those who are currently ranked in the top 40 in Ryder Cup points were invited to Dinner at Jack's, which is why players like Andrew Loupe (40), John Huh (34) and Ben Martin (31) posed for the group photo. Also in attendance were two guys who weren’t in the top 40 – Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley, ranked 41st and 42nd, respectively – which made it all the more curious that local resident Justin Thomas, a winner last fall and No. 45 in the standings, did not receive an invitation. Here’s guessing that by Aug. 28, Thomas is ranked higher than the two players who have combined for zero wins over the last three and a half years. Why alienate one of the Americans' best young studs who figures to be a part of the team for years to come?

Oh, and by the way: Thomas moved from 45th to 25th in points after his tie for third at the Honda. Here's guessing he doesn't get left out of the next Ryder Cup get-together.

Among the more head-scratching stats: Rickie Fowler is now 0-for-4 with a 36-hole lead. After going bogey-free through two rounds, he made eight bogeys or worse on the weekend en route to a tie for sixth.

The best idea of the past week? This, by Web.com Tour player Max Homa:

No one wants to watch the scribes slap it around for five hours, but the post-round interview sessions could be hilarious:

Can you talk about how crucial that triple bogey was on the final hole? 

Was that a strategic decision to hit it in the hazard on 11?

You only needed 34 putts today. What was working so well for you on the greens? 

When you don't want to get mud on your white pants, well, you go Half-Stenson, as Gary Woodland did here:



Ian Poulter guaranteed that he will make the European Ryder Cup team … which is a bold statement for a guy who doesn’t have a top-10 since May. Barring a miraculous turnaround, he will be relying on a pick for the second consecutive cup. And that doesn't inspire much fear.

A on-course microphone caught Shane Lowry dropping a few F-bombs on the 15th tee Sunday after rinsing his tee shot. His response was perfect:

No, but Camp Ponte Vedra will fine you.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 16, 2018, 9:00 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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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 hit a perfect approach to set up the winning playoff birdie. His celebration as the ball rolled into the cup was nowhere near as spectacular.

Singh closed the door on Jeff Maggert on the second playoff hole to win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday, giving an understated fist pump as his birdie putt dropped from about 2 feet. It was the first major title on the PGA Tour Champions for the 55-year-old Fijian, a past winner of the Masters and two PGA Championships.

''It's a little different,'' Singh said. ''It's a senior major, you know, so it's - any time you win a tournament no matter what it is, you feel accomplishment, and that's what I feel. I feel like I played well, and it's a win. A win is a win.''

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

Maggert began the day tied with McCarron and Bart Bryant for the lead. Singh was one shot back, but a crowd at the top of the leaderboard thinned out, turning it into a two-man race.

''I wasn't really watching the scoreboard or Vijay,'' Maggert said. ''Like I said, I thought I needed to shoot 5-, 6-, 7-under today to really kind of ice it. So I was really focused in on making seven or eight birdies today. ... You know, I thought some other scores would come into play there toward the end, but the last two or three groups looked like they were struggling, other than me and Vijay.''

Singh and Maggert posted identical scores through the first 15 holes. But Maggert bogeyed 16, and then missed chances to win in 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.

''We played toe-to-toe all day,'' Maggert said. ''He hit a nice shot on 18, and I had a chance to make a few putts throughout the day, but they just didn't go in.''


Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players


Singh made just one bogey this week, and that came in the third round. He had five birdies Sunday and 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 Singh blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par and send a senior major to a playoff for the first time since the 2015 Regions Tradition.

Singh played sporadically on the over-50 tour during his first few years of eligibility but is playing more often against men his age these days.

''To win the first major on this tour, I'm really excited about that,'' Singh said. ''Winning my first tournament at the beginning of the year was big, and now I've won this one, so I look forward to winning a lot more now. I always say, the first one, you get the first one out of the way, you can win a lot more after that.''

McCarron 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.

Bryant (72) and Kenny Perry (68) finished in a pack at 16 under. Illinois golf coach Mike Small (71) finished one shot behind them, while three-time champion Bernhard Langer closed with a 74 to finish at 12 under after starting the day two strokes back.