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Monday Scramble: Teamwork(s), unless it doesn't

By Will GrayOctober 8, 2018, 6:00 pm

Brandt Snedeker lets one get away, Jim Furyk speaks up, the LPGA gets it right, the European Tour gets creative and more in this week’s edition of the Monday Scramble:

Thanks to a pretty sizeable assist from Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Tway is officially out of his father's shadow,

Give credit where it's due: Tway took advantage of the smallest ray of hope Sunday at the Safeway Open, hanging in down the stretch before rolling in birdies on each of his final five holes. That included the last two in regulation and three more in a playoff, first to eliminate Snedeker and then to edge Ryan Moore for his first career win.

Tway's father, Bob, famously beat out Greg Norman for the 1986 PGA Championship, and now the two soft-spoken Oklahomans join a short list of fathers and sons who have both won on Tour.

"It's been a long road, but this is why you work hard right here," Tway said.

But let's not lose sight of the fact that this is one where Snedeker would dearly love a mulligan. Up five with 11 holes to play, his swing appeared to leave him at the worst possible time as finding a green with a wedge from the middle of the fairway suddenly became a Herculean task.

Snedeker salvaged a mediocre season with a win at the Wyndham Championship that also included a 59, but the sting of his collapse in wine country could linger.

"I'm going to look back on that one in a few years, really gave that one away," Snedeker said. "I played probably 63 holes of pretty damn good golf and nine holes I'd like to have back."

1. The Ryder Cup is already on Thomas Bjorn's mantle, and debris on the grounds at Le Golf National has (probably) been cleared. But the fallout from the U.S. side continues.

First it was Patrick Reed's explosive comments, then the questions about a possible schism in the Dustin Johnson-Brooks Koepka bromance. Add in Phil Mickelson's gripes about course setup and it's clear that no one can match the dramatics of the American squad when the Cup heads back across the Atlantic.

The post-mortems will likely be less exhaustive than they were in 2014 at Gleneagles, when formative changes were sparked. But the Ryder Cup questions won't stop anytime soon for Reed, who is expected to tee it up again in Asia in a couple weeks. Same goes for Jordan Spieth, who bristled at the length of time he had to answer queries about his 2016 Masters collapse and could be getting Reed-related questions well into 2019.

2. After reading about the fallout all week in various reports, U.S. captain Jim Furyk has spoken out.

Furyk sat with Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte for a lengthy interview, with topics ranging from Tiger and Phil to the course setup at Le Golf National and the altercation that did or did not occur between Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

But Furyk's most telling comments centered around Reed, who painted a picture of a "buddy system" that didn't take into account input from all players. According to Furyk, Reed knew about his pairing with Woods ahead of time and even chatted with the captain about which specific tee time he wanted during Friday's opening session.

"They knew," Furyk said of the quartet of Woods, Reed, Spieth and Justin Thomas. "All four players knew who they'd be playing with weeks in advance."

3. While the Euros likely had a few headaches Monday morning (more on that below), the notion of a Ryder Cup hangover might be a bit overrated.

Of the four players who stayed across the Atlantic to play in the Dunhill Links, each one cracked the top 10: Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood both tied for second, while Americans Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka finished T-9.

For Hatton and Fleetwood, it was probably a chance to keep the good vibes flowing. For Finau and Koepka, it may have been a respite to get back to the grind after a forgettable finish in Paris.

4. The LPGA made a gamble by taking the UL International Crown to South Korea, and the scene that played out during Sunday's conclusion validated the risk.

Fans flocked to Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, creating crowds that dwarf those that gather when women's majors are at stake in the U.S. The partisan crowds were rewarded when the home team held off squads from the U.S. and England to win for the first time.

While the tournament suffered because of a typhoon-induced washout Saturday, the full-throated conclusion showed that the Crown is here to stay - and will probably be back in Korea sooner rather than later.

5. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan created this event in part to offer a team environment for Asian players who aren't eligible for the biennial Solheim Cup. Consider that another victory.

With Ariya Jutanugarn chipping in to get Thailand into the singles' round and In Gee Chun going 4-0 for the victorious Koreans, it's clear that many of the top-ranked players in the world are relishing the opportunity to play for pride and country. Kudos to all involved.

6. It was a tale of two weeks for two of the biggest American stars. Lexi Thompson impressed, going 3-0-1 with a singles halve coming only once the overall outcome was decided. Michelle Wie, on the other hand, went 1-3. She told reporters that she had to re-work her swing because of a lingering injury, tailoring her move after Steve Stricker. The aesthetics are there, but the results remain a work in progress.

7. Leave it to Phil Mickelson to carry the dramatics of his 2018 into a new PGA Tour season.

Lefty was the only player to make the intercontinental trek from Paris to Napa, and after a disastrous Ryder Cup, he started the Safeway Open with a bogey-free 65 - which he promptly called fool's gold.

"Don't let the good round fool you," Mickelson said. "I'm not at my best. But today, a few things clicked and it was fun."

Those comments proved prescient, as Mickelson faded during a third-round 74 that included an iron tee shot on a short par-4 that landed OB. He left wine country with a T-17 finish, although a win still might not have cracked the top five Phil storylines of the year.

8. Before the weekend fade, Mickelson grabbed more headlines with a sharp critique of last week's Ryder Cup setup.

"The fact is they had brutal rough, almost unplayable, and that's not the way I play," he said. "I'm 48. I'm not going to play tournaments with rough like that anymore. It's a waste of my time."

While some viewed Lefty's critiques as sour grapes, when taken in context, they reinforced the notion that the Europeans did the right thing by tightening the French fairways and growing out the rough. Le Golf National turned into a bona fide home course advantage (just as Hazeltine was for the Americans in 2016). Just don't expect Mickelson to head back over for a French Open anytime soon.

As fans can recall from the 2015 Open, sometimes things can get weird at the Old Course. But a shotgun start?

That's what European Tour officials resorted to Sunday, with stiff winds threatening to postpone the conclusion of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. And you know what? It kind of worked.

The setup created some real-time drama as Tyrrell Hatton's lead collapsed, and Lucas Bjerregaard made his charge. It also had the unintentional wrinkle of having Bjerregaard finish on the Road Hole, equal parts difficult and iconic.

When he dropped a shot, the scene shifted a few hundred yards away to Hatton, who missed a putt on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff. Once again, the cozy confines and open sight lines of St. Andrews only served to ratchet up the drama.

Still waiting to find out who won closest to the pin on No. 11, though.

This week's award winners ... 

We've All Been There: To hard-partying Tyrrell Hatton, who admitted that the post-Ryder Cup euphoria led to him waking up "next to the toilet" in his hotel Monday morning. He brushed away the cobwebs admirably, coming oh-so-close to a Dunhill Links three-peat.

Speaking of Three-Peats: With Brendan Steele's T-53 finish, five different players have come up short in the last year in their effort to become the first to three-peat on the PGA Tour since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic (2009-11). Next up? Brooks Koepka at Pebble Beach.

Turn Back the Clock: Fred Couples. Mr. Smooth told reporters at the start of the week this would likely be his last PGA Tour start outside the Masters, but then he fired a second-round 65 at age 59 to make his 500th career cut. He ended up in a respectable tie for 41st.

Fashionistas: Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler donned "I Made Tiger Great Again" t-shirts over the weekend while celebrating Woods' Tour Championship win. Always good to keep a sense of humor about things.

Back in the Winner's Circle: Jonathan Smart. More than two years after guiding Danny Willett to his Masters triumph, Smart celebrated Sunday in St. Andrews as caddie for Bjerregaard's breakthrough win.

Get Used to the Name: Sungjae Im. The Korean led the Tour money list wire-to-wire in 2018, and he promptly finished T-4 in his first PGA Tour start as a member. It's not if but when he improves on that result.

Masters Bound: Takumi Kanaya, who rallied to win the Asia-Pacific Amateur in Singapore. Hopefully Hideki Matsuyama can find some time in his Augusta practice schedule next spring to play a few holes with the 20-year-old who followed in his APAC footsteps.

Taking the Scenic Route: Aaron Baddeley. The 37-year-old lost his PGA Tour card last season and had to Monday qualify for Safeway. He turned that opportunity into a T-4 finish that moved him a big step toward solidifying status for (gulp) 2020.

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Ahead by four, No. 1 ranking within Koepka's grasp

By Nick MentaOctober 20, 2018, 5:48 am

Following a closing birdie and a third-round 67 at Nine Bridges, Brooks Koepka will take a four-shot lead over Ian Poulter into final round of the CJ Cup. Here's how Koepka separated himself from the field in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-13), Poulter (-9), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-8), Cameron Smith (-8), Jaime Lovemark (-8), Pat Perez (-8), Gary Woodland (-8), Chez Reavie (-8)

What it means: Koepka is in search of his fifth PGA Tour victory and – believe it or not – only his second non-major. The three-time major champion’s only other win came all the way back in February 2015, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. One behind overnight leader Scott Piercy to start the day, Koepka opened with eight straight pars and birdied Nos. 9 and 10 to take the outright lead at 10 under par. He added three more circles at 14, 17 and 18 to close out a bogey-free round of 5 under and go ahead by ahead by four. He'll be chased on Sunday by Poulter, who ended a five-year worldwide winless drought back in April and is coming off a 2-2 performance at the Ryder Cup, with a Sunday singles victory over current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Speaking of which, unless Justin Thomas finds a way to win this tournament from 12 back, Koepka will for the first time ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win or a solo second-place finish.

Round of the day: Four players – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ted Potter Jr., Jason Day and Brendan Steele – shot 7-under 65 Saturday. Day played his first four holes in 2 over and his final 14 in 9 under. Cabrera Bello will round out the final tee time with Koepka and Poulter.

Best of the rest: Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama and Emiliano Grillo signed for 66. Casey went seven straight holes without a par, Matusyama was bogey-free, and Grillo did all his damage on the back nine after nine consecutive pars on the front.

Biggest disappointment: The only previous winner of this event, world No. 4 Justin Thomas entered the week with a chance to take back the No. 1 ranking with a successful title defense. But rounds of 73-70-72 have him 1 under for the week. Thomas played his back nine in 1 over Saturday with six pars, a birdie, a quadruple bogey and a closing eagle.

Shot of the day: Koepka flying his tee shot 330 yards to the front edge of the green at the par-4 14th and going on to two-putt for birdie.

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Watch: Koepka flies ball 330 yards, drives green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 20, 2018, 4:44 am

It's a good thing par doesn't actually matter in tournament play, because if it did, the PGA Tour would have to consider 350-yard par-3s, and even those might not stop Brooks Koeopka.

Already ahead by two during Saturday's third round at the CJ Cup in South Korea, Koepka drove the green at the par-4 14th, carrying his ball 330 yards to the front edge.

The back-to-back U.S. Open champ would go on to two-putt for birdie and push his lead to three.

... The USGA is going to try that 350-yard par-3 idea, isn't it?

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.