Local boys Spieth, Palmer to square off at Colonial

By Will GrayMay 29, 2016, 12:04 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – It’s a scenario that tournament director Michael Tothe probably couldn’t have drawn up any better.

On one side of Sunday’s final pairing at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational will be Jordan Spieth: major champion and Texas legend in the making, eyeing his first professional win in his home state.

On the other side of the tee will be the only man in this week’s field who might be able to rival his crowd support.

After the 18th hole extracted its pound of flesh from the leaders, Ryan Palmer was left with a spot alongside Spieth in the final-round spotlight. It’s an opportunity that has Palmer, a Colonial Country Club member traveling around the course this week with his own personal cheering section, champing at the bit.

“That was what I wanted,” Palmer said. “I wanted to be with him in the final group on my home course in front of my family and friends and in front of the members of Colonial. That’s what I wanted, and it worked out, so I’m very excited.”

Palmer has finished T-5 here two times in the last four years, but he has never won a tournament on the course he holds dear and where his caddie, James Edmonson, is both a member and former club champion.

To finally win be no small feat, as Palmer and Webb Simpson both trail Spieth by one shot entering the final round.

After lurking through the first 36 holes, Spieth put together arguably his most complete round since the Masters, a 5-under 65 where he alternately dazzled with accurate approaches and timely short-game saves. Spieth’s bogey on No. 18 was his lone dropped shot of the day, ending a streak of 28 straight bogey-free holes, and it trimmed his overnight lead in half.

Spieth enters with a chance to win in front of partisan crowds for the second straight week. While he trailed Brooks Koepka and seemed to be fighting his swing at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Spieth appears in control this week at Colonial and his comments reflect that confidence.

Dean & Deluca Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I’ll be disappointed if I don’t win tomorrow,” Spieth said. “Being in this position two weeks in a row, last Sunday was a tough day for me given the importance of the Byron Nelson to me personally.”

While Spieth’s iron play wasn’t quite as crisp as it was the previous two rounds, he managed saves when required that were reminiscent of the shots he holed with regularity last year: a 23-foot par save on No. 5, a delicate up-and-down from behind the green on No. 10 and a chip-in birdie on No. 11.

“My scrambling was kind of the key to the day today,” Spieth said.

Gone are the frustrated laments of TPC Sawgrass and TPC Four Seasons. In their stead stands a man eager to win an event in his backyard, eager to keep pace with recent wins from Jason Day and Rory McIlroy – and eager to put to bed any notion that the scars from Augusta National still linger.

“I feel really good about my game. All parts of it,” he said. “I’m going to need to stick to the basics, keep my posture, very disciplined in my setup alignment and posture and make confident swings, knowing that we have hit great shots all week. And hopefully the putter stays hot as well. But yeah, I’m confident about where everything’s at.”

Spieth and Palmer both spoke after the round about their comfort with one another, and the fun element that it will bring to Sunday’s final pairing. The two often play foursome games together with their respective caddies, and their presence together could draw a line in the sand among the crowd, forced to choose between the Dallas native and Fort Worth’s favorite son.

For Palmer, it’s a chance to face one of the game’s best on a course he knows like no other, as he looks to win on Tour for the first time since 2010. But it’s also an opportunity to honor the memory of his father, Butch, who was a regular at this event before passing away in a car accident last August.

“He’s been there every step – in the mornings, on the way here. This is his favorite golf tournament,” Palmer said. “He’ll be with me tomorrow for sure, and of course he’ll creep into my mind.”

While Spieth insists that anyone as far as six shots back could win on a course as unpredictable as Colonial, that statement won’t make it any easier for fans to snag a spot along the rope line to watch the marquee pairing in the final round, where two of the tournament’s biggest draws will battle.

“You ask anybody, when you get the crowd going and the ball gets rolling, that’s what you live to do,” Palmer said. “That’s why we work hard to get in those moments and get the crowd ramped up like that. So it’s going to be a fun one tomorrow.”

Getty Images

'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

“The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

"Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

“It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

"The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

“I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

Getty Images

Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

“Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

The problem was an expired visa.

Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

“Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

“It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

Getty Images

'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

Getty Images

Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”