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Day's familiar smile back on display at Conway

By Will GraySeptember 15, 2017, 10:02 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Even now, with his game once again clicking and a smile back on his face, Jason Day sometimes shakes his head in disbelief when recalling the performance he authored at Conway Farms Golf Club two years ago.

To hear him talk of his wire-to-wire victory at the 2015 BMW Championship that took him to No. 1 in the world is to listen to someone describing an out-of-body experience. His confidence was at an all-time high, and the shots he regularly pulled off – like taking driver on the narrow third hole – now seem unfathomable, even to him.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever get back there,” Day said. “Even if I did hit an errant shot, it didn’t matter. I’d go in there with a good attitude. [It] always seemed like I had a better lie and better bounces. And when you have kind of this year, my attitude hasn’t been as great as it should have been on the golf course.”

Ask any pro, or even your typical weekend hacker, and you’ll hear a familiar refrain: when the game is clicking, it feels like the birdies will never stop. But when it turns cold, the notion of a turnaround borders on impossible.

It’s certainly been a lean year for Day, one that started with him as the world’s top-ranked golfer and saw him show up to this week’s event without a spot in the Tour Championship assured. It’s been a humbling journey that included time off as his mother battled cancer, and more recently included the decision to part ways with longtime caddie Col Swatton.

The various ups and downs, both on and off the course, have taken their toll.

“I lost a little confidence in myself and my game, and the ability to go out and get the win,” Day said.

But Friday under sunny skies at Conway Farms, the toothy grin returned after a hole-in-one on No. 17, and Day’s easygoing nature was back in full swing. He carded a 6-under 65 that vaulted him into a tie for second place behind Marc Leishman.


BMW Championship: Articles, video and photos

Current FedExCup Playoff points standings


While the change at caddie this week offers an easy explanation for his sudden resurgence, Day believes the root cause is an internal one.

“At the start of the year, I felt like I was kind of fighting an uphill battle with myself, trying to force things too much,” he said. “I feel like I’m just kind of relaxed out there right now. Even after the hole-in-one, I wasn’t even amped. I felt like my heart would be pounding more, but I kind of went about my business. That tells me my mind is in the right spot.”

Day lost a playoff to Billy Horschel at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, and that proved to be a rare highlight in an otherwise underwhelming campaign. After holding the top seed to begin the 2016 playoffs, the Aussie entered this week No. 28, in danger of missing East Lake for the first time since 2012.

But Day need only look back to last year for a source of inspiration, as Rory McIlroy flipped a mediocre season on its head with a pair of postseason wins that netted the FedExCup title. It’s a goal that’s not especially far-fetched for Day after two more rounds of dominance at Conway Farms, where he tied for fourth in 2013 and bent the course to his will two years ago.

Sixteen months removed from his most recent worldwide win at the 2016 Players Championship, Day appreciates how much a single victory can alter the perception of an entire season.

“I think at the least you need to win at least once to have a successful year,” Day said. “If you won, that means you’ve done something good to keep things going. I mean, it’s not weighing heavy on my mind. I just know that I kind of need to focus on what I have done. I know that I can do it.”

Day has always been a player who leans heavily on mental prep and visualization, but this week he has found success in taking his foot off the gas. It’s an ebb and flow for players at the top level, all of whom vacillate throughout the year while trying to find the sparse middle ground that yields both ample focus and a sufficiently loose approach.

“You definitely can’t play this game I would say for a long period of time stressed out, or not being relaxed, just because of how much we do play, how much pressure there can be,” said Rickie Fowler, who sits alongside Day at 13 under through two rounds. “The more you can be mentally relaxed or rested, it takes a lot of stress and kind of pressure off of your game.”

The heights of 2015 may continue to prove elusive for Day. But with the birdies once again falling at Conway Farms, they still serve as a reminder of just how much talent he possesses – and how quickly the smile can return once the game starts trending in the right direction.

Relaxed and imbued with an extra jolt of confidence, Day has adjusted his goals from simply making the 30-man field at East Lake to leaving this week with a trophy that could put a much-needed positive spin on an otherwise trying season.

“Priorities change as the years go on,” Day said. “Seeing the last two days, I know I still have it in myself to be able to hit the correct shots and go out there and try and win.”

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Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.

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Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 24, 2018, 10:38 pm

Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.

Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)

What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. 

Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below). 

Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.

Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.

Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.

Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie. 

Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in

Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships

By Golf Channel Public RelationsMay 24, 2018, 10:24 pm

Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)

 Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday

 Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships

ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.

NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.

In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.

Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)

Monday, May   28

Individual   National Championship

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Tuesday, May   29

Quarterfinals,   Team Match Play

11   a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Tuesday,   May 29

Semifinals,   Team Match Play

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Wednesday, May   30

Team Match   Play National Championship

4-8 p.m.   (Live)

Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.

Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.

College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.

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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics: