Getty Images

Monday Scramble: Looking 'back' on the week

By Ryan LavnerOctober 16, 2017, 3:00 pm

Pat Perez cruises, Tiger Woods dons the Sunday red, Tyrrell Hatton stays hot, President Donald Trump goes low and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

If only the PGA Tour still gave out a Comeback Player of the Year award. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than Pat Perez.

A year ago, the often-combustible journeyman had turned 40, was coming off shoulder surgery and was ranked outside the top 300 in the world. He accepted a sponsor exemption into the CIMB Classic, and his career turned upside down (in a good way).

After his impressive victory in Malaysia, he now has twice as many Tour wins in the past 11 months as he did in his previous 15 years on Tour.

It’s a product of hard work, good health, and maybe even a little revenge, after one of his equipment companies dropped him.

For one of golf's most unique characters, it's been a unique path back to competitive relevance.

1. Perez is already well on his way to backing up one career year with another.

Check out all his career bests a year ago: Best FedExCup finish  (15th – his first time reaching the Tour Championship). Most money earned ($4.36 million). Most top-25s (14). And the fewest cuts missed (three).

And he seems intent to keep rolling.

“I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “I’m still not going to work out. I’ll still have a bad diet and I’m going to enjoy myself. I’ve got my group of friends and that type of stuff. But I’m just taking it a day at a time. That’s all I’m doing. I don’t look in the past. I’m just kind of doing it.” 

2. Speaking of career resurrections … Keegan Bradley is in the midst of one, too.

Once one of the most promising young players on Tour, Bradley is now 31 and trying to find himself without his trusty belly putter.

Last season he finally showed progress, recording five top-10s and making a run for the Tour Championship until a rocky stretch in the playoffs. After missing the cut in Napa, he played bogey-free on the weekend at the CIMB, going 65-67, to earn runner-up honors and $756,000.

“I played well enough to win,” Bradley said, “but Pat Perez is playing exceptionally. So happy for him.”

3. There was little rest for the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, who headed to the CIMB just three weeks after the Tour Championship.

Despite being admittedly “low on gas” at the end of a long, breakout year, Thomas turned in a tie for 17th.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Thomas keeps this event on his schedule moving forward. Clearly, after back-to-back wins, TPC Kuala Lumpur suits his game. But he also added the event during his sophomore season on Tour, when he was trying to get a head start in the FedExCup race. He just so happened to win in his tournament debut, and again the next year, which necessitated his appearance this year.

The situation is not unlike Jordan Spieth’s relationship with the John Deere Classic. He won the event at a young age, and rather than turn his back on the tournament that launched his star, he paid it forward. It's a move that should be applauded ... and yet it was only a matter of time before he began to skip the event, with the Deere played a week before The Open. It made for a long, unnecessarily hectic stretch.  

Thomas is one of the game’s few bona fide stars who tees it up in the fall. (He is also in this week's CJ Cup field.) Now that he’s in a new stratosphere, he could be excused for taking more downtime next year. 

4. While the rest of the sports world was watching the Red Zone Channel, Tiger Woods was working on his game.

For the first time, Woods posted a video of himself hitting a driver (in his Sunday red, no less!). Until as recently as the Presidents Cup, he said he hadn’t been cleared to hit anything more than 60-yard wedge shots.

Apparently, things have escalated quickly. 

5. When you’re hot, you’re hot …

Tyrrell Hatton kept rolling after last week’s win at the Dunhill Links, firing a back-nine 30 Sunday to steal the Italian Open.

His 65-65 weekend was enough to eke him past Ross Fisher – again! – and move all the way up to No. 5 in the season-long Race to Dubai standings. 

Over the past two weeks, Hatton has made 54 birdies and only seven bogeys, posted a scoring average of 65.9 and, most importantly, earned two titles and about $2 million.

6. Pour some out for Fisher.

Faced with another large final-round deficit, he is a combined 19 under par over his past two Sundays. Each time he finished second to Hatton. 

7. Matt Parziale will need to take some more time off from the firehouse after his dominant victory last week at the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Parziale, a 30-year-old firefighter from Brockton, Mass., used 10 birdies in the scheduled 36-hole championship match to defeat Josh Nichols and earn the premier title for players 25 and older.

With the victory, Parziale will be exempt into next year’s U.S. Open (thanks to a new USGA rule announced two weeks ago) and likely receive an invitation to the Masters.

Parziale, a reinstated amateur who toiled on the mini-tours a few years ago, made eight birdies in the first 18 holes. Including the usual match-play concessions, his morning 7-under 63 was the best in the final since the USGA switched to a 36-hole format in 2001.

His 8-and-6 margin of victory was the third-largest in championship history.

8. At least one Ko is getting into the LPGA winner’s circle.

This time it was Jin Young Ko who won the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship to earn her first LPGA Title.

Ko, a nine-time winner on the KLPGA, closed with 68 to hold off S.H. Park.

Golf’s most famous Ko, Lydia, is still looking for her first win since July 2016.

9. Searching for her third LPGA title of the year, Park was denied a chance to move to world No. 1.

“There are still many events left this season,” she said, “and I think that’s the type of goal you continue to work hard to reach. I’ll just give it my best shot.” 

From the Gonna-Have-to-See-It-to-Believe-It Files:

That would mean that Trump, who is 71, nearly shot his age.

That would mean that, from 6,800 yards, or roughly the same yardage as the seniors played their recent PGA Championship, he beat more than half of the field, which shot 74 or higher.

That would mean that, despite a 250-yard average off the tee, he made “only one or two” bogeys, even with this choppy chipping action.


"I can say without hesitation," Graham bragged to, "Donald Trump did not come close to making a double bogey all day," as if that was some sort of accomplishment for a guy who just shot 1 over.

Clearly this has nothing to do with Senator Graham trying to curry favor with the president by talking up his golf game ... 

This week's award winners ... 

Best Use of Social Media: European Tour. Sergio Garcia and Austin Connelly, reunited after 18 years.  

Missed Opportunity: College Gameday. ESPN’s iconic college football pregame show easily could have had both Jordan Spieth and Oklahoma star Brad Dalke on the set as the celebrity guest pickers – they represented their schools in the coin toss at the Red River Rivalry.  

More Than One Way to a T-69: Grayson Murray. The second-year player had a wild tournament in Malaysia, going 82-74-64-73. Alas, his throwing aim wasn't much better ... 

If the @yankees, @astrosbaseball, @cubs or @dodgers need another arm in the bullpen...

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Well, That’s a Tough Break: Ryan Fox. The New Zealander missed the cut at the Italian Open, which wasn’t a surprise after his unfortunate start to the week. Fox was docked a two-shot penalty in the opening round because it wasn’t “virtually certain” that a fan picked up his ball.  

Let’s Try That Again: Leona Maguire. Fresh off her ninth career college title, the Duke senior and world No. 1 is entered into this week’s second stage of LPGA Q-School. (The top 80 and ties advance.) She bailed before final stage last year to stay in school. 

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Kevin Na. Heading into the week with a 68.08 scoring average at TPC Kuala Lumpur, he followed an opening 66 with rounds of 73-75 to balloon to a tie for 44th. Sigh. 

Getty Images

Watch: Tiger 'drops mic' in long drive contest

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 20, 2018, 12:44 am

Tiger Woods is in Las Vegas this weekend for the 20th annual Tiger Jam charity event that benefits his foundation.

During the tournament on Saturday afternoon, Woods challenged World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins to a long drive contest.


A post shared by TROY MULLINS (@trojangoddess) on May 19, 2018 at 1:25pm PDT

Safe to say it looks like Tiger won.

Getty Images

Sunday showdown for Wise, Leishman at Nelson

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 11:40 pm

DALLAS – While the swirling Texas winds may still have their say, the AT&T Byron Nelson is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

With a four-shot gulf between them and their closest pursuers, co-leaders Marc Leishman and Aaron Wise both stepped up to the microphone and insisted the tournament was far from over. That it wouldn’t revert to a match-play situation, even though the two men didn’t face much pressure from the pack down the stretch of the third round and have clearly distanced themselves as the best in the field through 54 holes.

But outside of an outlier scenario or a rogue tornado sweeping across Trinity Forest Golf Club, one of the two will leave with trophy in hand tomorrow night.

That’s in part because of their stellar play to this point, but it’s also a byproduct of the tournament’s new and unconventional layout: at Trinity Forest, big numbers are hard to find.

Even with the winds picking up during the third round and providing the sternest challenge yet, the field combined for only 16 scores of double bogey, and nothing worse than that.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

There’s irony in a course called Trinity Forest offering a tree-less test, sure, but there are also no water hazards in play here. For the most part, players have been maxing out with bogey – and Leishman and Wise have combined for only six of those so far this week.

If someone from the chase pack is going to catch them, the two sharing the pole position aren’t going to do them any favors.

“I don’t really want to give them a chance,” Leishman said. “I’d love to go out and shoot a low one and make Aaron have to shoot a good score tomorrow to beat me, which, I fully expect him to shoot a good score.”

While Leishman has been somewhat of a late bloomer on the PGA Tour, with only one win across his first eight seasons, he now has a golden opportunity to add a third trophy in the last 14 months. He has felt right at home on a sprawling layout that reminds him of a few back in his native Australia, and he’s part of a Down Under invasion on a leaderboard that also includes Matt Jones (-13) and Adam Scott (-9).

While Wise briefly held sole possession of the lead, Leishman has seemingly held an iron grip on the top spot since opening his week with a blistering 61.

“Before last year, I was a pretty slow starter. I always got off to a slow start Thursday, or I’d be fighting to make the cut and have a good weekend to slide into the top 10,” Leishman said. “Getting into that round straight away on the first tee rather than the ninth green or something, which sounds like a really basic thing, but it’s something I didn’t do very well until last year.”

But as Leishman acknowledged, he likely can’t count on a stumble from Wise to help finish off a wire-to-wire victory. As the youngest player to make the cut this week, Wise is facing a challenge of taking down a top-ranked Aussie for the second time in as many starts.

While he came up short at the Wells Fargo Championship, tying for second behind Jason Day, he remains supremely confident that he can put those hard-earned lessons to use this time around.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,” Wise said. “It will obviously be a huge day for me. I feel like having one go at it already, I’m a little more confident going into it this time.”

Even among the landscape of the Tour’s promising next wave, Wise stands out as a particularly young gun. Still only 21, he could feasibly be heading to Karsten Creek next week with his Oregon Duck teammates to close out his senior season with another NCAA championship appearance.

But Wise turned pro after winning the NCAA individual title as a sophomore, and he steadily worked his way through the professional ranks: first a win on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada, then one last summer on the Tour.

Now he’s poised to turn what he described as a “lackluster” season before his Quail Hollow runner-up into one that defies even his own expectations.

“Absolutely, I am way ahead of the curve. It’s pretty hard to do what I’ve done at such a young age. Only a few have done it,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”

An unpredictable Coore-Crenshaw layout will have one more day to star, and outside of Wise the top six names on the leaderboard have at least one Tour win to their credit. But after the two men traded punches on a firm and fast afternoon, it sure feels like the final round is shaping up to offer more of the same.

For Leishman, it’s a chance to add another notch to some quickly expanding credentials; for Wise, it’s an opportunity to win on the one level he has yet to do so.

“It’s golf, at the end of the day. If you play better than everyone else, you’re going to win,” Wise said. “That’s why I play it. That’s why I love this sport, and tomorrow is nothing different.”

Getty Images

5 thoughts from NCAA Women's Championship Day 2

By Ryan LavnerMay 19, 2018, 11:35 pm

The field is almost halfway through stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Women’s Championship. Here are some thoughts on the first two days at Karsten Creek:

1. UCLA is on a mission. Just a year ago, the Bruins were headed home from regionals after becoming the first No. 1 seed that failed to advance out of the qualifying tournament. This year, with the core of the team still mostly intact, the Bruins have opened up a five-shot lead on top-ranked Alabama and a comfortable 16-shot cushion over Southern Cal in third place. On one of the most difficult college courses in the country, UCLA has received contributions from all four of its usual counters – standout Lilia Vu shot 68 on Saturday, while Mariel Galdiano posted a 69. Freshman Patty Tavatanakit and junior Bethany Wu also broke par. This is a strong, deep lineup that will pose issues for teams not just in stroke-play qualifying, but also the head-to-head, match-play bracket.

2. What happened to Arkansas? Riding high off their first SEC Championship and a dominant regional performance, the Razorbacks were considered one of the top threats to win the national title. But entering Sunday’s third round of stroke play, they need to hold it together just to ensure they make the top-15 cut. Arkansas is 32 over par through two rounds. The Razorbacks had shot in the 300s just once this season in the play-five, count-four format. Here at Karsten Creek, they’ve now done so in consecutive rounds.

3. The Player of the Year race is heating up. With a decent showing at nationals, Arkansas’ Maria Fassi should have been able to wrap up the Annika Award, given annually to the top player in the country. She has six individual titles, plays a difficult schedule and is well-liked among her peers. But through two rounds she’s a whopping 15 over par while spraying it all over the map. If the Razorbacks don’t survive the 54-hole cut, neither will Fassi. That’d open the door for another player to steal the votes, whether it’s UCLA’s Vu or Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. There’s a lot still to be decided.

4. Stanford has steadied itself. One of the biggest surprises on Day 1 was the horrendous start by the Cardinal, one of just two teams to advance to match play each of the three years it’s been used to determine a national champion. They were 19 over for their first nine holes Friday, but instead of a blowup round that cost them a shot at the title, they’ve found a way to hang tough. Stanford has been just 4 over par over its last 27 holes. Andrea Lee made only one bogey during her second-round 69, Albane Valenzuela eagled the 18th hole for a 73 and senior leader Shannon Aubert – who has been a part of each postseason push – carded a 74. And so, even with its early struggles, coach Anne Walker once again has Stanford in position to reach match play.

5. Karsten Creek is identifying the best teams. The top teams in the country want a difficult host venue for NCAAs – it helps separate the field and draws an unmistakable line between the contenders and pretenders. Only one team (UCLA) is under par after 36 holes. Fewer than a dozen players are under par individually. The dearth of low scores might not be the greatest advertisement for how talented these players are, but the cream has still risen to the top so far: Five top-10 teams currently sit inside the top 7 on the leaderboard (and that doesn’t even include last year’s NCAA runner-up Northwestern). This is all any coach wants, even if the scores aren’t pretty.

Quick hits: Cheyenne Knight, part of Alabama’s vaunted 1-2-3 punch along with Lauren Stephenson and Kristen Gillman, shot rounds of 70-69 to figure in the mix for individual honors. The junior will turn pro after nationals. …  Arizona’s Bianca Pagdanganan made a hole-in-one on the 11th hole Saturday en route to a 68 that tied the low round of the day. She’s at 5-under 139, same as Knight. ... Defending champion Arizona State, which lost star Linnea Strom to the pro ranks at the halfway point of the season, is 35 over par after two rounds. … Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half Saturday because of inclement weather.

Getty Images

Wise (21) makes Leishman (34) feel a little old

By Will GrayMay 19, 2018, 10:55 pm

DALLAS – With the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson likely to take on a match-play feel, Marc Leishman likes his chances to close out another win – even if his opponent makes him feel a little old.

Leishman, 34, shares the lead at Trinity Forest Golf Club with 21-year-old Aaron Wise, who was the youngest player to make the cut at the tournament’s new venue. The two men will start the final round at 17 under, four shots clear of their next-closest pursuers.

Leishman played the third round alongside Wise and Brian Gay, and he originally didn’t realize just how fresh-faced his fellow co-leader is.

Full-field scores from the AT&T Byron Nelson

AT&T Byron Nelson: Articles, photos and videos

“He’s a solid player for, I heard this morning he’s only 21. I didn’t realize that,” Leishman said. “I guess I was in high school before he was born, so that’s – I don’t know. You hear guys talk about that all the time but I’ve never said that, I think. Yeah, he’s a good player.”

Wise won the 2016 NCAA individual title while at Oregon, and he opted to turn pro after his sophomore season. While he could have been capping his senior season with a return to the NCAAs next week, Wise is pleased with the career choice and remains eager for a chance to close out his first career PGA Tour win against a seasoned veteran.

“I feel like I’m in a great spot for tomorrow,” Wise said. “I feel like I’m getting some great experience for a kid this young. It’s only going to serve me well down the road.”