Waiting is the hardest part

By Mercer BaggsJune 7, 2011, 3:47 pm

Jack Newman waited. And waited. And waited. He went back to his hotel room. He sat in his car and listened to music. He played games on his phone. He talked to friends. And finally – finally – he got the message he was patiently waiting on: he was in a five-man playoff for three spots in the Melwood Prince George’s County Open.

Newman’s 5-under round was just good enough during qualifying last week for the chance to compete on the Nationwide Tour.

He sent a text message at 5:36 p.m. ET saying that he was waiting – and waiting – on everyone to finish up their rounds to see if his number was good enough. At 7:57 p.m. he sent his next message: Sank a 40 footer for bird on first hole. Boooooom baby!

“I hit a 3-wood into the rough and had 155 (yards) to the hole,” he recounted this past Monday. “I had a gnarly lie so I hit down on an 8-iron and gave it everything I had. It just got over the first bunker, in front of the green – there was also water there.

“I had 40 feet. It was right-to-left, about 4 feet, with a 2-foot ridge. I hit a decent putt but didn’t know if it was enough. It went in with about a half-a-ball roll left.”

Boom, baby!

Due to inclement weather, the qualifier was pushed to Tuesday. With a pro-am on Wednesday, Newman was able to play but nine holes prior to competition, before walking the back nine.

He didn’t make the cut, shooting 73-77. Steve Wheatcroft won the tournament with rounds of 66-60-65-64.

“That was incredible,” Newman said of Wheatcroft’s tour-record 29-under total. “Most players on the PGA Tour wouldn’t have been able to beat him that week.”

Two weeks prior, Newman shot four under-par rounds to tie for 16th in the Hooters Tour’s Cherry Blossom Classic in Georgetown, Ky. That gave him confidence heading into his 2011 Nationwide Tour debut. But confidence is fickle, especially when you are still trying to put together the pieces of a new swing.

“It’s still just a matter of trust,” he said. “A good example is during the qualifier, on one hole it should have been 4-iron-sand wedge, but I hit a poor tee shot and had an 8-iron into the green. I knocked it to 7 feet and made the putt.

“During the tournament, though, I expected every shot to be perfect. I wasn’t accepting of a poor shot. Instead of rolling with the punches, like in the qualifier, I was trying to be perfect and getting upset when I wasn’t.”

It’s easy to relate. From weekend hacks to the greatest of professional players, no one is exempt from the pressures of live competition. Hitting the ball well on the range is one thing; taking it to the course is another. Even Tiger Woods, holder of 14 major titles, can attest to that.

Newman didn’t cash a check in College Park, Md., but he gained some valuable experience. He also got a close-up look at the differences from playing on a mini-tour compared to that of playing on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit.

“It’s a lot different out there than on the Hooters Tour,” Newman said. “There’s more people. The fairways are firmer, the greens are firmer – not faster, but harder. The rough is higher and, there is a lot of talent on the Hooters Tour, but these guys are just one step away from the PGA Tour.'

From Maryland, Newman traveled to Greensboro, N.C., for another shot at qualifying on the Nationwide Tour. He didn’t make it, but he was far from disheartened as he was making the car trek back to his home base in Oxford, Ohio.

“I feel really good about my game. I feel like I’m definitely headed in the right direction and getting better,” he said. “I just have to have confidence in myself – not doubting what I’ve been working on when I put it into play.

“When you’ve done something your whole life, and now you’re doing something different, it takes time to find your comfort zone. I’m trying to hit the ball both ways now, left to right and right to left. My (swing) plane is different.  I know that no one ever really owns their game, but I’m working to get as close as possible.”

And so the road continues – literally.

“I’m at 2,176 (miles) right now on this trip,” Newman said. “I went from Oxford to Kentucky to North Carolina to Maryland back to North Carolina and now back to Oxford.”

After a return to Ohio and a week’s rest, it’s off to Oklahoma for a Hooters Tour event and then to Texas for another. He’ll then head to his true home in Iowa and try to Monday qualify for the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in nearby Silvis, Ill., where he received a sponsor’s exemption to play in 2009, the same year he competed in the Masters Tournament after winning the ’08 U.S. Public Links Championship.

“I’m staying positive,” he said. “You have to. Even when you’re not playing well, if you keep working at it, things will pay off eventually.”

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.

Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open

So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.

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Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).

Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos

Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.

Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.

It was the first time since 2010 that Garcia missed the cut in successive starts. That was the PGA Championship and, 10 weeks later, the Castello Masters in Spain. This time, he missed the cut in the Masters and Texas Open three weeks apart.

Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

The cut was at 1-over 145, and because 80 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut on Saturday.

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Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''

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

Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.