Lucky No. 21

By Jon LevyMay 24, 2011, 2:19 pm

Editor's note: will be following four mini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit  'Wah' Beisser and Jack Newman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Check in each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Momentum is like a drug.

A mythical one, mind you – nothing tangible. But when you get the slightest taste, the slightest inkling you’ve hitched a seat on 'Air Mo,' you want to ride the flight for as long as possible.

That said, Benoit Beisser’s racked up some serious frequent flyer miles.

Maybe it’s his personality. He just goes with it. And goes for it.

But when he feels momentum in his corner he owns it. Twenty rounds of 65 or better in official Gateway Tour starts since 2008 attest this.

Beisser’s 64 a week ago in the final round at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz. was his latest.

He got it going early – birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8 to turn at 5 under – and then he steamrolled the start of the back nine with birdies at 10, 11 and 12.

Eight under through 12 holes and even knowing he was playing for second – former PGA Tour member Brian Vranesh went crazy-low (63-68) and built a seven-shot lead through two rounds, 11 over Beisser – Wah had momentum on his side and holes to play.

'I found a little something with my putting after the second round and just went with it,' Beisser explains. 'I had a great session of yoga that night, too, which really loosened me up, so I woke up the next day feeling better than I had in a long time and just kind of had a feeling it was going to be a good day.'

Golf pros might as well be psychics.

A 'feeling' here or there can result in anything from good shot to bad shot, to a win to a missed cut. Which, of course, goes back to the momentum thing.

That usually manifests with bushels of birdies for Beisser. And cash. He’s up to almost $49,000 in earnings on the tour and it’s not even summer yet.

Wah tried to put a finger on what clicked for him at McCormick.

“It’s kind of hard to explain . . . I basically stopped worrying about trying to putt my ball on a specific line to the hole. I decided to treat it more like a chip shot or even a driver, where I set up to hit to a central spot and once I make the stroke, I lose the idea of worrying about where it’s going,' he said.

“I just focused on making a good stroke and then letting everything else go.”

The man’s a sports psychologist’s dream and he doesn’t even know it.

'Process' is the trendy term these days with Tour players and Beisser just explained it to a T. The process at McCormick found him gunning toward a course record until pars on Nos. 13-15 and a three-putt bogey on 16 put a halt to that talk.

“It was just one of those days where you just got me on the greens and I felt like I could make everything,” Beisser explains. 'But then on 16, I was about 20 feet and I got a little too aggressive with it and left myself about a 3 1/2-foot slider, downhill, for par.

“And I hit that just a little too hard, through the break, and all of a sudden I had 4 feet coming back for bogey, which is about the worst thing you want because when you’re playing like that, you don’t want to totally ruin it by making a stupid double . . . bogey is fine but double just completely ruins your day.”

Beisser center-cut his bogey putt – total destruction averted – then two-putted the par-3 17th for par and pounded driver, 5-iron to the winding par-5 18th to 35 feet for eagle.

Two easy putts for his 4 and he finished tied for second at 10 under for the week. Goal reached.

“I was happy with how I played the last hole,” Mr. 64 says. “My goal was to get second and I did, so I was super happy about that.”

This 29-year-old free spirit from Arizona has turned into one of the most consistent players on the Gateway Tour. His $5,166.67 check for sharing second complemented a package deal of five top-5s in his last seven starts.


If Beisser could bottle and sell what he’s got right now he'd find a lot of buyers on any tour, PGA included.

Or maybe he can strut his stuff on the Nationwide Tour, which, after competing in the first Nationwide qualifier of his career, he’s penned a schedule for four or five Monday qualifiers this summer, starting with either the Utah Championship or Cox Classic of Omaha.

Regardless, Beisser's got it right now and he needs to flaunt it.

He proved it again just this Monday.

An aside from an official start on the Gateway Tour, Beisser competed in the tour's one-day California Series sponsorship qualifier in southern California, vying for a fully-paid series membership which was given to the winner of the 55-player event.

He didn't win, but Wah's 6-under 65 scored a T-2, which at least earned one paid-for event of the series' six scheduled tournaments during July and August. 

It also means our happy-go-lucky momentum savant just scored lucky No. 21 – the 21st time he's hit the 65-or-below barrier on the Gateway Tour in the last four years.

Yet now another flight taken, sooner or later Beisser's going to cash in on all these 'Air Mo' miles. Hopefully, with a first-class ticket to the PGA Tour.

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With baby on the way, Piller WDs from Zurich

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

AVONDALE, La. – With wife Gerina set to give birth to their first child, Martin Piller figured he’d need to check his phone every few holes at the Zurich Classic.

He didn’t even make it that far.

Piller withdrew before the start of the first round Thursday.

Piller’s partner, Joel Dahmen, who only got into the field because of Piller’s status as the team’s A player, was allowed to remain in the event.

Piller was replaced in the field by Denny McCarthy. The new team of McCarthy-Dahmen will tee off at 2:36 p.m. ET.

The format change at the Zurich should make things easier for the new teammates. The first round is now best ball, not alternate shot.

The only event that Gerina, a three-time U.S. Solheim Cupper, has played this season was the Diamond Resorts Invitational in January. The couple’s baby was due May 3, and she said that she plans to take off the entire year.

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China's Jin (64) leads by one in Beijing

By Associated PressApril 26, 2018, 12:28 pm

BEIJING – Daxing Jin took a one-stroke lead at the China Open after shooting an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round.

Jin's bogey-free round at the Topwin Golf and Country Club included six birdies and an eagle on the par-5 eighth. The 25-year-old Jin is playing in only his eighth European Tour event and has made the cut only once.

Matt Wallace (65) had an eagle-birdie finish to move into a tie for second with Nino Bertasio, who also produced a bogey-free round. Alexander Bjork and Scott Vincent (66) were a further stroke back.

Defending champion Alexander Levy, who won last week's Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, is in a large group five shots off the lead at 3 under.

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Putting prepared Park's path back to No. 1

By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 12:13 am

Inbee Park brings more than her unshakably tranquil demeanor back to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings this week.

She brings more than her Olympic gold medal and seven major championships to the Mediheal Championship on the outskirts of San Francisco.

She brings a jarring combination of gentleness and ruthlessness back to the top of the rankings.

Park may look as if she could play the role of Mother Teresa on some goodwill tour, but that isn’t what her opponents see when she’s wielding her Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet.

She’s like Mother Teresa with Lizzy Borden’s axe.

When Park gets on one of her rolls with the putter, she scares the hell out of the rest of the tour.

At her best, Park is the most intimidating player in women’s golf today.

“Inbee makes more 20- and 30-footers on a regular basis than anyone I know,” seven-time major championship winner Karrie Webb said.

All those long putts Park can hole give her an aura more formidable than any power player in the women’s game.

“A good putter is more intimidating than someone who knocks it out there 280 yards,” Webb said “Even if Inbee misses a green, you know she can hole a putt from anywhere. It puts more pressure on your putter knowing you’re playing with someone who is probably going to make them all.”

Park, by the way, said Webb and Ai Miyazato were huge influences on her putting. She studied them when she was coming up on tour.

Webb, though, believes there’s something internal separating Park. It isn’t just Park’s ability to hole putts that makes her so intimidating. It’s the way she carries herself on the greens.

“She never gets ruffled,” Webb said. “She says she gets nervous, but you never see a change in her. If you’re going toe to toe with her, that’s what is intimidating. Even if you’re rolling in putts on top of her, it doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s definitely a player you have to try not to pay attention to when you’re paired with her, because you can get caught up in that.”

Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship

Park has led the LPGA in putts per greens in regulation five of the last 10 years.

Brad Beecher has been on Park’s bag for more than a decade, back before she won her first major, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open. He has witnessed the effect Park can have on players when she starts rolling in one long putt after another.

“You have those times when she’ll hole a couple long putts early, and you just know, it’s going to be one of those days,” Beecher said. “Players look at me like, `Does she ever miss?’ or `How am I going to beat this?’ You see players in awe of it sometimes.”

Park, 29, won in her second start of 2018, after taking seven months off with a back injury. In six starts this year, she has a victory, two ties for second-place and a tie for third. She ended Shanshan Feng’s 23-week run at No. 1 with a tie for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last weekend.

What ought to disturb fellow tour pros is that Park believes her ball striking has been carrying her this year. She’s still waiting for her putter to heat up. She is frustrated with her flat stick, even though she ranks second in putts per greens in regulation this season.

“Inbee Park is one of the best putters ever,” said LPGA Hall of Famer Sandra Haynie, a 42-time LPGA winner. “She’s dangerous on the greens.”

Haynie said she would rank Park with Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Nancy Lopez as the best putters she ever saw.

Hall of Famer Joanne Carner says Park is the best putter she has seen since Lopez.

“I thought Nancy was a great putter,” Carner said. “Inbee is even better.”

Park uses a left-hand low grip, with a mostly shoulder move and quiet hands.

Lopez used a conventional grip, interlocking, with her right index finger down the shaft. She had a more handsy stroke than Park.

Like Lopez, Park prefers a mallet-style putter, and she doesn’t switch putters much. She is currently playing with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter. She won the gold medal with it two years ago. She used an Oddysey White Ice Sabertooth winged mallet when she won three majors in a row in 2013.

Lopez hit the LPGA as a rookie in 1978 with a Ray Cook M1 mallet putter and used it for 20 years. It’s in the World Golf Hall of Fame today.

“I watch Inbee, and I think, `Wow, that’s how I used to putt,’” Lopez said. “You can see she’s not mechanical at all. So many players today are mechanical. They forget if you just look at the hole and stroke it, you’re going to make more putts.”

Notably, Park has never had a putting coach, not really. Her husband and swing coach, Gi Hyeob Nam, will look at her stroke when she asks for help.

“When I’m putting, I’m concentrating on the read and mostly my speed,” Park said. “I don’t think mechanically about my stroke at all, unless I think there’s something wrong with it, and then I’ll have my husband take a look. But, really, I rely on my feel. I don’t think about my stroke when I’m out there playing.”

Hall of Famer Judy Rankin says Park’s remarkably consistent speed is a key to her putting.

“Inbee is definitely a feel putter, and her speed is so consistent, all the time,” Rankin said. “You have to assume she’s a great green reader.”

Beecher says Park’s ability to read greens is a gift. She doesn’t rely on him for that. She reads greens herself.

“I think what impresses me most is Inbee has a natural stroke,” Beecher said. “There’s nothing too technical. It’s more straight through and straight back, but I think the key element of the stroke is that she keeps the putter so close to the ground, all the time, on the takeaway and the follow-through. It helps with the roll and with consistency.”

Park said that’s one of her fundamentals.

“I keep it low, almost like I’m hitting the ground,” Park said. “When I don’t do that, I miss more putts.”

Beecher believes the real reason Park putts so well is that the putter brought her into the game. It’s how she got started, with her father, Gun Gyu Park, putting the club in her hands as a child. She loved putting on her own.

“That’s how she fell in love with the game,” Beecher said. “Getting started that way, it’s played a huge role in her career.”

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Teams announced for NCAA DI women's regionals

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 25, 2018, 10:50 pm

Seventy-two teams and an additional 24 individuals were announced Wednesday as being selected to compete in the NCAA Division I women's regionals, May 7-9.

Each of the four regional sites will consist of 18 teams and an extra six individual players, whose teams were not selected. The low six teams and low three individuals will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 18-23, hosted by Oklahoma State at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

The four regional sites include Don Veller Seminole Golf Course & Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; UT Golf Club in Austin, Texas, hosted by the University of Texas; University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., hosted by the University of Wisconsin; TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, Calif., hosted by Stanford University.

Arkansas, Duke, UCLA and Alabama are the top seeds in their respective regionals. Arizona State, the third seed in the Madison regional, is the women's defending champion. Here's a look at the regional breakdown, along with teams and players:

Austin Regional Madison Regional San Francisco Regional Tallahassee Regional
Arkansas Duke UCLA Alabama
Texas USC Stanford Furman
Michigan State Arizona State South Carolina Arizona
Florida Northwestern Kent State Washington
Auburn Illinois Oklahoma State Wake Forest
Oklahoma Purdue North Carolina Vanderbilt
Houston Iowa State Colorado Florida State
Miami (Fla.) Virginia Louisville Clemson
Baylor Wisconsin N.C. State Georgia
Texas A&M Campbell Mississippi Tennessee
BYU Ohio State Cal UNLV
East Carolina Notre Dame San Diego State Kennesaw State
Texas Tech Old Dominion Pepperdine Denver
Virginia Tech Oregon State Oregon Coastal Carolina
UTSA Idaho Long Beach State Missouri
Georgetown Murray State Grand Canyon Charleston
Houston Baptist North Dakota State Princeton Richmond
Missouri State IUPUI Farleigh Dickinson Albany
Brigitte Dunne (SMU) Connie Jaffrey (Kansas State) Alivia Brown (Washington State) Hee Ying Loy (E. Tennessee State)
Xiaolin Tian (Maryland) Pinyada Kuvanun (Toledo) Samantha Hutchinson (Cal-Davis) Claudia De Antonio (LSU)
Greta Bruner (TCU) Pun Chanachai (New Mexico State) Ingrid Gutierrez (New Mexico) Fernanda Lira (Central Arkansas)
Katrina Prendergast (Colorado State) Elsa Moberly (Eastern Kentucky) Abegail Arevalo (San Jose State) Emma Svensson (Central Arkansas)
Ellen Secor (Colorado State) Erin Harper (Indiana) Darian Zachek (New Mexico) Valentina Giraldo (Jacksonville State)
Faith Summers (SMU) Cara Basso (Penn State) Christine Danielsson (Cal-Davis) Kaeli Jones (UCF)