New Talent and New Challenge

By Tom AbbottJuly 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
What a pleasure it was to watch the final three days of the Open de France Alstom in the hosts chair and witness the arrival of Pablo Larrazabal. A week earlier the production team and I had expected an easy Sunday of sitting back and enjoying Martin Kaymer cruise to victory as he led by six going into the final round. But the 23-year-old German kept us on our toes all morning, eventually winning in a playoff over Anders Hansen.
No such problems for Larrazabal. He was a joy to watch and his demeanor was Seve-esque ' wearing his emotions on his sleeve, putting like a genius and going after every shot as if it were his last. I found it marvelous to watch, a breath of fresh-air. The celebrations were fitting as his fellow countrymen from the European Tour tossed him in the lake. If you held your breath for a second when they let go of him, so did I; some of those lake arent very deep and it would be devastating for a player to get hurt, something to consider as the celebrations get more and more boisterous.
Thats for another discussion, though; Larrazabal is the talking point and so he should be. The French Open was just his 17th European Tour start in this his rookie season. He has plenty of time to develop as a player and its hardly as if hes been steadily building a career. He did represent Spain at boys and youth levels, but didnt grab any large piece of amateur silverware like his brother Alejandro, who won The Amateur Championship in 2002.
Pablo featured a handful of times on the Challenge Tou,r having done a stint on the family fish-farm, then went to Q-school and qualified for the main tour. Coming into the Open de France his best finish was T15, not bad for a rookie but hardly a warning sign of what was to come at Le Golf National ' which, by the way, is a terrific course and should be considered as a potential Ryder Cup venue. Well watch young Pablo ' hes 25 but looks 17 ' with eager eyes over the rest of the season and see whether he can delight us once again with that wonderful form in the coming few months.

Taylor to Return This Week:
On January 9, 2008, Ladies European Tour professional Kirsty Taylor was due to return from Spain having played a pro-am with some fellow LET professionals. The day would change her life. Taylor suffered a mystery fit. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and nine days later was having surgery. Further procedures followed as did six weeks of radiotherapy.
The recovery process has been tough. Taylor has still not received the all-clear yet, and is unable to drive. Recently though, shes been able to cycle to the her local course, Minchinhampton, trying bravely to resume a normal course of action. That includes teeing it up at the Oxfordshire English Ladies Open this week. Its more of a test to see where I am fitness wise and concentration wise; to enjoy the week and see everybody, she says.
Hubby Alistair will be on the bag; hell also act as chauffeur on the hour-and-15-minute drive from home. If I get tired and get a headache Alistair will encourage me to come in as it will be daft to carry on.
Kirsty will undergo further tests in August to see how shes progressing. If things go well then she hopes to make an appearance at the S4/C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe where she was champion in 2005.

Around Europe:
The European Tour visits a new venue for the European Open this week, The London Club, which is not in London at all but south east of the capital in the county of Kent, nicknamed the Garden of England. Colin Montgomerie defends.
The Challenge Tour is in France at the AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon. Seve Benson is now leading the standings.
The European Seniors Tour heads east to Russia for the Russian Seniors Open at the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club. Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Jim Colbert are in the field; however, no Russian players are entered.
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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  

Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open

Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)

Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos

"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.