Monday Scramble: Plenty of drama at FedEx finale

By Ryan Reiterman September 18, 2016, 3:00 pm

The storylines are plentiful at the Tour Championship, In Gee Chun marches into the history books, Beef becomes a PGA Tour member and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble.

There will be a lot more on the line this week at East Lake than a FedEx Cup trophy and $10 million.

First, Dustin Johnson will have a chance to settle the Player of the Year debate with a win and/or the FedEx Cup title. Johnson appears to have the edge over world No. 1 Jason Day with a U.S. Open win, a WGC title at Firestone and a playoff win at the BMW. Plus, Johnson leads the Tour with 14 top-10s and the lowest scoring average.

Day, however, could tilt the argument toward his side with a win at the Tour Championship. He has three titles of his own, including a wire-to-wire win at The Players.

And then there will be plenty of drama after the FedEx Cup champion is crowned. Davis Love III will announce his final pick on NBC during halftime of Sunday Night Football.

World No. 7 Bubba Watson is (probably) the favorite, but Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Ryan Moore all have strong cases to make the U.S. team.

From a muddy picture, we'll finally find some clarity Sunday night.


1. In Gee Chun took the phrase “winning in style” to a whole new level Sunday at the Evian. First, she won her second major title by four strokes, joining fellow countrywoman Se Ri Pak as the only players to make their first two LPGA wins majors. Second, Chun finished 21 under par, breaking the record for the lowest 72-hole total in a men’s or woman’s major championship. She beat the women’s record by two strokes and topped Day (2015 PGA) and Henrik Stenson (2016 Open Championship) by one stroke.

Chun also continued the streak of South Korean women winning at least one major title to an impressive six years. South Koreans have also won 11 of the last 22 majors, and Inbee Park has a gold medal, too.

2. Chun can not only rest easy with a new trophy to add to her collection, but Sunday also allows her to completely move on from a bizarre incident earlier this season. In March, Ha Na Jang’s father lost control of his luggage on an escalator at the Singapore airport and his suitcase struck Chun. She admitted Sunday the incident had more of an impact on her than she initially let on. Chun missed a month with injuries to her back and pelvis, and the media attention the incident brought on Jang and Chun caused them both a lot of stress.

“It was an inner struggle,” Chun said Sunday. “I just had to keep it quiet inside, but I had to go through all those hard times, not being able to mention anything about my injury and my hurt and pain.”

3. For the second weekend in a row, an emerging star earned a PGA Tour card. Last week, Bryson DeChambeau won the first Web.com Tour Finals event in a playoff over Andres Gonzales. And on Sunday, Andrew “Beef” Johnston finished fourth to earn his card for the 2016-17 season. Johnston has become one of the breakout stars of the year after he said he was planning on getting “hammered” after winning the Spanish Open. He did. And then he tied for eighth at the Open. Beef has earned scores of fans along the way.

And now along with DeChambeau and Gonzales (half man, half amazing), PGA Tour fans will have three new players to root for next year who not only have colorful personalities, but also plenty of game.



4. Maybe it’s a perfect storm of fun personalities, but the Web.com Finals has been surprisingly entertaining this year. Like a lot of golf fans, I do miss the old Q-School, but there is no doubt the four-event series is a better product for TV. It may not be as intense as Q-School, but there is something on the line every weekend at a Web.com event, and that wasn't always used to be the case.

5. European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke had to love what he saw at the Italian Open. Masters champion Danny Willett finished second and pushed winner Francesco Molinari the whole way. Outside a third-place finish at the BMW PGA, Willett hasn’t been in contention much since his win at Augusta. But a T-12 at the European Masters and a runner-up in Italy has Willett trending in the right direction ahead of Hazeltine.

6. Molinari’s win likely won’t be remembered as one of the better finishes of 2016, but it should be. There is always something compelling about watching someone try to win their national open. And with Willett applying the pressure, Molinari nearly folded. But he hit a spectacular recovery shot on 18, punching an iron around a tree and splitting two bunkers to reach the green in regulation. Molinari’s reaction after he holed the winning putt said it all about how much this victory meant.

7. Day’s health will once again be under the microscope this week. He withdrew during the final round of the BMW as a precautionary measure after experiencing back pain.

He also dealt with back pain at the WGC Match Play, when he was able to play through it and win. But this is certainly a troubling sign for a guy who is only 28 years old. Day doesn’t go half-speed on any shot, and it appears those violent swings are already catching up.

8. Something that should ease the pain is the new contract Day reportedly signed with Nike. Day will continue to use TaylorMade equipment, but he will be wearing a Nike swoosh. Nike announced last month is was getting out of the equipment business, but it would still focus on making apparel. By signing Day, Nike is making a statement that while it may not be designing drivers, it will still have a big presence in the game.

9. It’s time to do something I rarely do – disagree with Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus repeated his opinion this week that we’re making too big a deal about the Ryder Cup, and we should focus more on the spirit of the event and not who wins and loses.

Maybe the Golden Bear was right. Maybe the task force was overkill (OK, it was), but I think the teams have struck the right balance between fierce competition and sportsmanship. Yes, there will likely be some prickly moments between the teams next week, but by the end of the night there will also likely be some glorious social media posts after the two sides get together to celebrate another great Ryder Cup.

10. While Watson, Thomas, Berger and Moore are just a few of the names Love has to choose from Sunday night, don’t rule out Jim Furyk. Mr. 58 and the U.S. vice-captain was practicing over the weekend with the American squad at Hazeltine, according to Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte.

Love told Furyk not to put his clubs away after he failed to qualify for the last two playoff events, so he’s definitely still a contender for the final spot. But on a team with only one rookie, it seems logical Love would look to inject some youth on the U.S. team.

Golf’s version of Bigfoot was spotted not once but twice last week … Yes, it’s Anthony Kim!

The three-time Tour winner showed up Monday at a charity event in Plano, Texas, for former pro basketball player Nancy Lieberman and was seen again on Friday at an event for his alma mater, Oklahoma.

Kim has been battling injuries and recovering from surgeries for the better part of four years. In an interview last year, he didn't rule out a potential return to the PGA Tour. So here’s hoping this isn’t the last we’ll see of the former Ryder Cup star.

This week's award winners ... 

Best Way to Start Your Round: Jamie McLeary resumed his second round at the Italian Open on Saturday morning at the par-3 10th, and it only took one swing for him to have a very nice day. McLeary made a hole-in-one and won a brand new Mercedes. It just so happens his daughter has been asking for a convertible. Boom, done.

You’re Joking, Right? When asked how he would celebrate securing his PGA Tour card, Johnston smiled and said he might have “a few sodas.” He could only keep a semi-straight face for so long before saying, “Nah, there's going to be a few beers, man!''

Trash-Talking Advice From FLOTUS: Steph Curry admitted he lost a match to President Barack Obama, and the NBA star said the Commander-in-Chief’s trash talking got under his skin. Fortunately, Curry got some advice on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show” from First Lady Michelle Obama, who was co-hosting during Curry’s appearance.

The key, she said, was to go after the president’s ears by saying, "the shadow from your ears is really messing up my putt."

No, Beef, Don’t Do It!

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(Not that) Jutanugarn shares lead with (not that) Ko

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 1:58 am

LOS ANGELES - A player eager for her first win and a rookie top the leaderboard at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. Lurking two shots back is a Hall of Famer.

Winless Moriya Jutanugarn overcame a poor start and birdied the 18th for a hard-earned 1-under 70 to tie rookie Jin Young Ko at 9 under on Saturday at Wilshire Country Club.

Ko shot a 66 in her bid to become the year's first two-time LPGA winner. She won the Women's Australian Open in February, her first victory as an official tour member after a successful run on the Korean LPGA circuit.

''I'm ready for win or top 10, so maybe tomorrow I will really focus on shot by shot,'' said Ko, who added an exclamation point to her golf bag for each of her wins on the KLPGA. ''I won 11 times, so if I win tomorrow, maybe I change to 12. I need more, I need every time motivation.''

Jutanugarn is trying to match younger sister Ariya as a tour champion. Seven-time winner Ariya was tied for 27th after a 72 in the third round.

Usually when one of the Thai sisters is in the lead, the other will watch when her round is finished.

''If she's not too lazy, she is probably going to come out,'' Moriya said about Ariya.

Playing in an all-Korean threesome, Hall of Famer Inbee Park was two shots back in third after a 69. Her birdie putt for a share of the lead on 18 slid just by the hole. The group drew a large contingent of Korean fans.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


''I kind of started off a little bad. I was able to come back strong, so I'm really happy with that,'' Park said. ''I left a few putts out there. The greens around this golf course are just really tough. You just don't know what's going to happen.''

Moriya Jutanugarn's round included a double bogey on the par-4 first hole and a bogey on the par-4 sixth. She eagled the par-4 14th after holing out from the fairway 93 feet away. The ball took once bounce and went in, eliciting a stunned look from Jutanugarn before she high-fived her caddie.

''Today was kind of a pretty rough day for me with not a very good start and like trying to come back,'' Jutanugarn said. ''I just try to play my game and be patient out there I think is the key.''

Jutanugarn, the second-round leader, read the break perfectly on a long putt to make birdie on 18 and share the lead with Ko.

Playing two groups ahead of Jutanugarn, Caroline Inglis also eagled the 14th from 180 yards. She briefly jumped up and down and smiled after three bogeys and a double bogey. She shot a 69 and was four shots back in a tie for sixth with Minjee Lee.

''It was like one bounce and then it like trickled in,'' Inglis said.

Aditi Ashok eagled 14 early in the round.

Ko did some scrambling of her own. Her ball found a sandy hazard on the 17th with a scoreboard and a winding creek in between her and the green 190 yards away. Her approach landed just off the green and she made par. Her round included six birdies and a bogey on 16.

Eun-Hee Ji (70) and American Marina Alex (72) were tied for fourth at 6 under.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng shot a 70 and was in a six-way tie for 12th at 2 under.

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Defending champs Singh, Franco take senior lead

By Associated PressApril 22, 2018, 12:15 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco took the third-round lead Saturday in the windy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Singh and Franco shot a 7-under 47 in wind gusting to 20 mph on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to get to 19-under 145, a stroke ahead of the teams of David Toms-Steve Flesch and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett.

''It was a tough day,'' Singh said. ''The wind was swirling, have to get the club right and we made some putts. Carlos played really well on the back nine and I played really well on the front nine, so we ham-and-egged it a little.''

Toms and Flesch also shot 47, and Broadhurst and Triplett had a 33 on the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course.

''We just paired well together,'' Toms said. ''I don't think either one of us played great. We picked each other up out there.''

Wind and rain is expected Sunday when the teams finish at Top of the Rock, again playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

''Make as many birdies as possible and see what happens,'' Singh said. ''That's all we can do.''

Singh and Franco are trying to become the first to successfully defend a title since Jim Colbert and Andy North in 2001. Singh won the Toshiba Classic in March for his first individual senior title.


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Flesch won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic last week in Georgia for his first senior victory.

Tom Lehman and Bernhard Langer had a 34 at Mountain Top to join Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal at 17 under. Jimenez and Olazabal had a 33 at Mountain Top.

''It's great for me to be able to play with him as a team member,'' Olazabal said. ''We do have great memories from the Ryder Cup and other events, and it's always a great pleasure to play with a great player and a friend.''

Langer took the final-round forecast in stride.

''We've done it hundreds of times before and we'll probably do it again,'' Langer said. ''We'll make the best of it. We both have a good attitude. We're known to play in all sorts of weather and I just look forward to playing one more day with my partner here.''

Wisconsin neighbors Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were 16 under after a 48 at Top of the Rock.

John Daly and Michael Allen, the second-round leaders after a 46 at Top of the Rock, had a 37 at Mountain Top to drop into a tie for seventh at 15 under.

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Landry shares Valero lead, eyes first career win

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 11:15 pm

After coming up just short of a breakthrough win earlier this season, Andrew Landry has another chance to earn his maiden victory at the Valero Texas Open.

Landry came within inches of winning the CareerBuilder Challenge in January, ultimately losing to Jon Rahm in a four-hole playoff. He struggled to find form in the wake of his close call, missing the cut in each of his four starts following his runner-up finish in Palm Springs.

But Landry took some time off to welcome his first child, Brooks, last month and he made it to the weekend in his first start back last week at the RBC Heritage, where he finished T-42. He made a move up the standings Saturday at TPC San Antonio with a bogey-free 67, and at 13 under shares the lead with Zach Johnson heading into the final round.

"I just did everything really good," Landry told reporters. "I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat, and I had a couple bad putts that I didn't really make. I'm happy with it, it's a good 5-under round. Gets me in the final group tomorrow and we'll see what happens."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Landry started the day one shot off the pace and in the final group with Johnson and Ryan Moore, and at one point he took sole possession of the lead after birdies on three of his first six holes. Now he'll have another chance in the day's final tee time where he's grouped with Johnson and Trey Mullinax, who sits one shot back after firing a course-record 62 in the third round.

For Landry, it's another opportunity to break into the winner's circle, and it's one for which he feels prepared after coming so close three months ago.

"I mean, I don't want to go too deep into it because I don't want to sound cocky or anything, but I just believe in myself. There's no other explanation for it," Landry said. "You can totally get out here and play with Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, two top players in the world, and you can go out there and fold under pressure or you can learn a lot.

"Zach's always been a role model to me the way he plays golf, I feel like we have very similar games, and it's just going to be fun tomorrow getting to play with him again."

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Z. Johnson, Landry share 54-hole Texas Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 10:56 pm

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson birdied the par-5 18th Saturday at the Valero Texas Open for a share of the third-round lead with Andrew Landry, a stroke ahead of record-setting Trey Mullinax.

Johnson shot a 4-under 68, holing a 10-footer on 18 to match Landry at 13-under 203 at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Oaks. Landry birdied the 16th and 17th in a 67.

Johnson won the event in 2008 and 2009, the last two times it was played at LaCantera. The 42-year-old Iowan is trying to win for the first time since the 2015 British Open.

''I've got 18 holes to get to that point,'' Johnson said. ''I've got to do exactly what I did on the back side and that was give myself opportunities on every hole. I'm putting great, I'm seeing the lines well, my caddie's reading the greens well, so it's just a matter of committing and executing down the stretch.''

The 30-year-old Landry is winless on the tour.

''I'm a good putter and I just need to give myself a lot of opportunities tomorrow like I did today,'' Landry said. ''I'll be looking forward to tomorrow.''

Mullinax had a course-record 62. He played the back nine in 7-under 29, going 6 under on the last five with eagles on the par-5 14th and 18th and birdies on 16 and 17. He also birdied Nos. 10 and 12 and bogeyed 11.

''It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had,'' Mullinax said. ''To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good.''

Johnson played the front nine in even par with two birdies and two bogeys. He birdied Nos. 11, 14, 15 and 18 on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


''Different wind today early on, misjudged some numbers, misjudged some wind, made some bad swings, all of the above,'' Johnson said. ''But truthfully, my short game was actually pretty good, my putting was great. I missed some putts, but I hit some really good ones, hit some lines and I gave myself opportunities especially on the back side.''

Landry had a bogey-free round.

''I just did everything really good,'' Landry said. ''I was staying patient and just trying to make a bunch of pars. This golf course can come up and bite you in a heartbeat.''

Ryan Moore was two strokes back at 11 under after a 70. Sean O'Hair had a 65 to join 2015 champion Jimmy Walker (67), Chris Kirk (68) and 2013 winner Martin Laird (69) at 9 under.

''I just feel like I'm getting closer and closer to playing better and better golf, more solid golf, putting rounds together,'' Walker said. ''I'm excited for the opportunity tomorrow.''

Mullinax has made 42 of 44 putts from inside 10 feet this week.

''They just kind of remind me of greens from home,'' Mullinax said. ''My caddie, David (Flynn), has been reading them really well. We trusted each other on our reads and I've been hitting good putts. Been working hard on putting on the weeks off that I've had so it's good to see some results.''

The 25-year-old former Alabama player chipped in for the eagle on 14 and the birdie on the par-3 16th.

''It was just a little bit down the hill,'' he said about the 16th. ''All you had to do was just land it just past that little light grass spot. My caddie told me just read it like a putt, so I tried to just read it like a putt and it went in.''

On 18, he hit a 3-iron from 255 yards to 15 feet to set up his eagle putt. He broke the course record of 63 set by Matt Every in 201 and matched by Laird in 2013. The tournament record is 60 at LaCantera, by Bart Bryant in 2004 and Johnson in 2009.