PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Crosby weather returned to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week and, let’s be honest, officials have dodged their share of forecast bullets in recent years. But clouds over the Monterey Peninsula are hardly the only concern for the PGA Tour following a less-than-star-studded West Coast swing and a WGC-Match Play marquee that will be a few leading men short of a full house. Made Cut A good match. Word this week at Pebble Beach is that this month’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship will be the last played at Dove Mountain outside of Tucson, Ariz. Dove Mountain, which ranked 51st out of 52 courses on the PGA Tour in a Golf Digest poll last year, has been public enemy No. 1 since the Match Play moved to the Ritz-Carlton course in 2009, and this is the final year of the contract between the circuit and the course. According to various sources, the event seems poised to move to Harding Park in San Francisco in 2015. The public course hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup, and held up well in the match-play format, and is assured of drawing better crowds than the isolated Dove Mountain track. As an aside, it hasn’t snowed in San Francisco since 1962. Lefty’s right choice. The plan this season was to dial back the schedule in order to peak when it counts at the four majors, and when Phil Mickelson was slowed by an ailing back at Torrey Pines he would have been forgiven if he had checked himself onto the DL for the next few weeks. But the West Coast, particularly the Tour stops in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Pebble Beach, Calif., holds a special place on Lefty’s schedule; and as difficult as Friday’s conditions were, the four-time Pro-Am champion wasn’t second-guessing his decision. Even when informed that Saturday’s forecast called for more of the same. “More of this? Cool,” Mickelson smiled. “We’ve had a great run of weather the last six or seven years, so we certainly can’t complain. In fact, it’s sometimes a fun challenge to play out here. As the reigning Scottish and British Open champion I don’t really mind the elements.” In an age devoid of athletic loyalty, it’s worth pointing out that Lefty did the right thing. Tweet of the week: @JohnPetersonLSU “Sorry (Russell Henley), my canoe is full headed back into position.” Peterson was referring to Thursday’s storm that halted play for nearly three hours. No one tell him that it’s a good day on the Monterey Peninsula when the rain stops. Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF) Celebrity golf. No Bill Murray, no problem. No one wants a steady diet of bad swings and canned jokes, but the combination of idyllic views of Stillwater Cove and celebrity personality makes this week’s Clambake a refreshing twist in the world of professional golf. It’s also worth pointing out that the celebs have a surprising amount of appreciation and respect for their professional partners. “This is my major,” smiled Kenny G, who won the pro-am portion of the competition in 2001. “I spend all year looking forward to this and I’m blown away every year by how good these guys are.” Bing Crosby’s Clambake may not have the star pull it once did, but it still entertains. On pace. Still not sure what took the powers that be so long to get up to speed on this issue, but at least the game’s rule-makers made it to the range-finding crossroads. The U.S. Golf Association announced on Thursday that it will allow the use of distance-measuring devices at all USGA amateur championships and qualifying events starting in 2014. The move was part of a broader initiative to identify the causes of and solutions to slow play, considered by some as the biggest issue facing the game. But if the power brokers really want to do something about slow play they should have taken a trickle-down approach. For some reason the new rule doesn’t apply to the U.S. Open … because slow play is not an issue at all on Tour. Bracket busts. The deadline to crack the top 64 in the world golf ranking is Sunday and for some in this week’s field at Pebble Beach golf’s version of March madness is turning into a race against the clock. Just three “bubble” players are in the Pro-Am field, with Kiradech Aphibarnrat likely safe at 66th in the world thanks to a collection of high-profile no-shows (see item below), while Bo Van Pelt (No. 73) and D.A. Points (No. 75) probably need top-five finishes to earn a trip to Dove Mountain. Even more intriguing, Brooks Koepka’s tie for third last week in Dubai propelled him to 68th in the world, a spot ahead of roommate Peter Uihlein, who missed the cut in Dubai and dropped to 69th in the world. As recompense, may we suggest Koepka volunteer to do the house dishes for a month to make up for his inadvertent slight. Missed Cut Olympic concerns. No, Cut Line isn’t referring to the increasingly critical reports coming out of Sochi, but the continued languid progress at the Olympic golf course in Rio. This week course architect Gil Hanse told the “Morning Drive” crew that the course will “definitely” be ready for the 2016 Games and confirmed that the newly announced Latin American Amateur will probably serve as the test event for the new layout. All good news, but watching the amount of scrutiny coming out of Sochi it’s becoming increasingly obvious that golf will not get a second chance to make a solid first impression. West Coast woes. Whether you blame it on appearance fees, the PGA Tour’s new wraparound schedule or the perils of putting on poa greens, this year’s Left Coast swing has been something less than must-see. To put the West Coast swoon in context, the top five players in the world golf ranking have a combined four starts on the West Coast and next week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship won’t pad the marquee. World No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Adam Scott and No. 4 Phil Mickelson have already announced they plan to skip what is rumored to be the last Match Play at Dove Mountain, and No. 5 Justin Rose remains on the fence for the year’s first World Golf Championship depending on how things go next week in Los Angeles. Lucrative appearance fees being doled out by European Tour events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai factored into the wanting West Coast swing, as does the new split-calendar schedule which gave players a chance to pad their FedEx Cup points last year in Asia. Combined, however, the imperfect storm has given players a reason to skip the West Coast.
In this edition of Cut Line, The Donald gets his major championship, The Lefty can’t get a tee time at Pinehurst and The Players asks the eternal question – Why is the grass always greener elsewhere? Made Cut Bounce back. The early-week theme at next week’s Players Championship is sure to focus on grass, or lack of it, on some of the putting surfaces following a particularly cold and wet winter. It was a similar story last year for Quail Hollow Club’s greens prior to the Wells Fargo Championship, which makes this week’s event that much more endearing. Tom Fazio’s makeover of Quail Hollow in the run up to the 2017 PGA Championship, which the club will host, has been widely applauded by players this week and scores on Day 1 in Charlotte, N.C. (45 players were under par) suggests the club was looking for better, not harder, which is a key distinction in today’s world. “It’s one of the best tee‑to‑green golf courses in the world, and what Tom Fazio has done is just perfect, just perfect,” Phil Mickelson said. Note to TPC Sawgrass officials: It’s better when folks are talking about the championship and not course conditions. On the mend. Sources confirmed to Golf Channel last week that Tiger Woods is targeting a return to competition at the Open Championship in July at Royal Liverpool. Woods had microdiscectomy surgery in March to repair a pinched nerve in his back and indicated at the time that he planned to return to the PGA Tour “sometime this summer.” Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg confirmed to ESPN.com that the world No. 1 experienced “zero” setbacks following his surgery and had resumed “light” chipping and putting. Although Steinberg said, “absolutely no target date has been set,” it is encouraging that Woods is at least looking at the calendar. With these types of injuries caution is always the better option, but golf is better with Woods. Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF) Trumped. OK, nobody wants to see a two-story fountain dug into the middle of the wee course at Turnberry (see Doral, Trump National) or The Donald’s logo emblazoned across Ailsa Craig, but if this week proved anything it is that Trump is in golf to stay. In the same news cycle, Trump announced he’d purchased the iconic course on the Firth of Clyde and sealed a deal with the PGA of America to host the 2022 PGA Championship at his course in New Jersey as well as the 2017 Senior PGA at another of his properties in the Washington, D.C., area. Perhaps Trump and his grandiose style isn’t your cup of whiskey, but after his ultimate makeover of Doral in recent months and his genetic predisposition to do everything to the extreme we may as well settle in for the show. The Wanamaker-Trump Trophy has a nice ring to it. Tweet of the week: Besides turning the lighthouse into suites and Robert Burns’ house into a casino, Donald Trump’s not going to touch Trumpberry.— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) April 30, 2014 Lefty-out. With Tiger Woods on the extended DL and a notable lack of star power in men’s golf this year, Phil Mickelson will be the undisputed headliner heading into next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Lefty’s career is closely tied to the Donald Ross masterpiece following his runner-up finish to Payne Stewart in 1999 on No. 2 and his quest for the career Grand Slam, which would be complete with a victory at Pinehurst this summer. That kind of history, however, doesn’t seem to carry much weight in the Pinehurst pro shop. “I’ve been trying but the course is booked,” Mickelson said when asked if he’d made a scouting trip over to Pinehurst, which has been dramatically redesigned since the layout hosted its last U.S. Open in 2005. “There are 300 people on the golf course. They won’t let me out there.” When pressed, Mickelson admitted he probably could have gotten a tee time but with so much play he wouldn’t have been able to prepare the way he normally does. “It will be closed the weeks prior to the tournament and I’ll go then,” he said. Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that with all the play these days at No. 2, nobody was looking for a fourth this week? Missed Cut Fun with math. Rory McIlroy dropped outside the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in 169 weeks, which is reason No. 562 to question the numbers that factor into the ranking. Although the Ulsterman struggled throughout much of 2013, he’s been on the rebound this season to the tune of eight global starts and not a single finish outside the top 25. McIlroy finished tied for eighth at the Masters, was a runner-up at the Honda Classic and in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour, and won the Australian Open in December to finish his ’13 campaign. The world ranking is weighted toward winning, maybe justifiably so, but shouldn’t a little more importance be placed on solid, consistent play? It’s not easy being green. Particularly at TPC Sawgrass, home of next week’s Players Championship. Through the combination of a particularly cold, wet winter, foot traffic and the “misapplication” of a mysterious product, five of the Stadium course’s greens were less than championship-ready a little more than a week before what is considered the “fifth major.” The agronomic snafu has prompted the Tour to plan a dramatic makeover of the Stadium course’s greens after the 2015 Players, including regressing the putting surfaces, expanding some greens (specifically Nos. 4, 9, 11 and 12) and the removal of more trees. Stadium Course superintendent Clay Breazeale is sure to take heat next week for the quality of some greens, but if players want someone to blame they should consider starting with the economics of scale – too much play, too little sunlight.
George Washington, Neil Armstrong, Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Frank Sinatra, Rosa Parks and Arnold Palmer. All of them are recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal, but only one of them has his face plastered on a 22.5 fl. oz. Arizona Beverage Company can. Is it possible now in 2014, 20 years after his final U.S. Open start, that Arnold Palmer is most widely known not for his golf or philanthropy but for the mass production of a lemonade-iced tea hybrid? What, if anything, can possibly stand up to convenience-store-beverage supremacy? His seven majors, 26 amateur titles and 95 total professional wins aside, a consideration of the King’s off-course accomplishments – from the success of his own PGA Tour stop, to the founding of the senior tour, to his award from the United States government, and, yes, to the refrigerated section of your local Wawa and/or 7-11 – seems in order. Golf Central Arnie: A collection of Palmer stories BY Golf Channel Digital — September 10, 2014 at 6:00 AM From the ‘Arnie’ documentary, a series of stories looking at the legendary life of Arnold Palmer, both on and off the golf course. THE ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL AT BAY HILL While in Orlando for the 1962 Florida Citrus Open, Palmer first visited the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, and after seven years of haggling with the club’s ownership group, he finally purchased it outright in 1969. “I was really not interested in being one member of a large group … some of their members weren’t too happy about that,” Palmer recalled. The members may not have liked it, but that purchase has paid serious dividends for the Orlando community. Ten years after Palmer took over and began remaking the club, the PGA Tour moved its Orlando stop to Palmer’s new home track. It was one thing to have his own event, much like his rival Jack Nicklaus had accomplished with the Memorial five years prior, but the then-Bay Hill Citrus Classic gave Palmer the chance to begin his charitable efforts in earnest. “We talked and [Orlando construction magnate] Frank Hubbard said [to me], ‘You could do something more for this community.’ He said, ‘If you were really interested we would make an Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women,’ and so I agreed to that, and the tournament was the benefactor to the hospital, and that’s how it all started.” The event now known as the Arnold Palmer Invitational has actually launched two hospitals at the Arnold Palmer Medical Center: the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. “Every time someone walks through those turnstiles at the tournament, it’s helping a child here in Central Florida,” said John Bozard, president of the medical center, “and so we are grateful for the proceeds from the tournament.” One would assume those previously put-out Bay Hill members probably came around after a bit. LAUNCHING THE CHAMPIONS TOUR Rewind to Palmer’s50th birthday, Sept. 10, 1979. Not coincidentally, the Senior PGA Tour, with a minimum age threshold of 50, started the following year. One of the many brainchildren of then-PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, the senior tour was born from the success of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event that began in 1978, featuring names like Sam Snead, Roberto De Vicenzo and Julius Boros. But the real draw of the newly formed senior tour, and the reason it exists more than three decades later as the Champions Tour, wasn’t Boros or De Vicenzo or even Snead. From Hollis Cavner, executive director of the tour’s 3M Championship: “I don’t think there would be a Champions Tour today if it wasn’t for Arnold.” From current tour member Bobby Clampett: “If it wasn’t for Arnold Palmer, we would not be out here on the senior tour or Champions Tour competing.” From writer John Feinstein: “There wouldn’t have been a senior tour without him.” Palmer himself describes the initial motivation behind the tour as an opportunity for players of a bygone era to still compete and to play for amounts of money that simply weren’t up for grabs when those then-greats were at their peak. Of course, it was Palmer who was drawing that money to the tour. The senior tour, more than anything, was an opportunity for golf fans to continue to see Palmer in person and on their television sets. Though he won only 10 senior tour titles, including five senior majors, it’s clear he was the driving force of the circuit’s early years, before names like Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino crossed the age barrier. “He started it,” Clampett said. “He got the ball rolling and sponsors soon found that there was a viable product out here on the Champions Tour. When Arnold Palmer was playing it was big news.” Big enough news that senior events featuring Palmer rivaled the regular tour’s own television ratings. Three decades later, weekly purses on the Champions Tour hover around $2 million thanks in part to Palmer’s initial legwork. “He was accessible. He went to all the functions,” Cavner said. “He did everything he was asked to do. … Every draw party, every cocktail reception he needed to be at, he made fabulous.” Amazing what some people can get done at a cocktail party. THE OTHER KIND OF HALF AND HALF Speaking of beverages, how does one get their own drink named after them? “I was mixing iced tea and lemonade in my kitchen since as long as I can remember,” Palmer once told Interview magazine. “It wasn’t until sometime in the early 1960s that it became associated with me publicly. I was playing golf in Palm Springs and after a round I asked the waitress in a restaurant to bring me a glass of iced tea and lemonade. A lady sitting nearby heard me and asked the waitress to bring her a ‘Palmer,’ too.” The drink unofficially bore Palmer’s name for decades after that, but it wasn’t until 2001 that a man named Mark Dowey figured out how to market it. Sitting with two friends in a clubhouse, Dowey, already in the dairy business, drew up some initial plans for a business proposal on a napkin, which he would later present to Palmer’s management team at IMG. Once Dowey got Palmer’s blessing, he found a willing partner in the Arizona Beverage Company. As of 2010, the Palmer brand represented 10 percent of Arizona’s business, or $100 million, and 40 percent of its overall growth. There are plenty of people who have no relationship whatsoever with golf. And yet they still see Arnold Palmer’s face almost every day UNITING A DIVIDED GOVERNMENT And so while Palmer’s legacy extends well beyond golf – both in his charitable and business endeavors – his most amazing accomplishment won’t be found in Latrobe or Orlando or even the supermarket, but in Washington, D.C. The United States has been from its inception a representative democracy, but the King sure has spent a lot of time in the nation’s capital. Palmer has been awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the country’s two highest civilian honors. He is one of only six athletes – along with Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis and Byron Nelson – to ever receive the latter distinction. Voting on whether or not to give Palmer the medal in 2012, the Senate was unanimous while the House passed the motion, 422-1. (The “1” was Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who has always voted against spending taxpayer money to give anyone the medal. And for the record, a referendum to award Nicklaus the gold medal made it through the House in May, with a 371-10 margin.) And so perhaps this sums up Palmer’s most amazing achievement: “[I am] particularly proud of anything that the House and the Senate agree on,” Palmer said upon receiving the medal. Speaking about Palmer, House majority leader John Boehner was moved to tears (shocking, right?). After joking about government gridlock, Palmer added these words: “It’s humbling to realize that just six athletes have been [given] this gold medal award. I like to think and truly believe that golf and golfers promote some sort of human values that symbolize such characteristics as honesty, hard work, dedication, responsibility, respect for the other guy, playing by the rules. Kind of something we do in the game of golf. “I am very humbled. Thank you very much.”
OCALA, Fla. – Fire and ice. It’s a pretty good show if you can catch it. The fiery Stacy Lewis vs. the unflappable Lydia Ko. The Coates Golf Championship featured the touring production in a pairing over its first two rounds, and the duo didn’t disappoint. They usually don’t. They’re in contention together yet again for another LPGA title. While much is made of the emerging rivalry between Inbee Park and Lewis, you could make an argument that the veteran Lewis and the youthful Ko are laying a solid foundation for a meaningful rivalry of their own. They seem to bring out the best in each other in their unusually frequent pairings, and they’re doing it again. With Golden Ocala playing tough Thursday, Lewis moved into contention with a 2-under-par 70 in the LPGA’s season opener. She sits in second place, four shots behind rookie Ha Na Jang, who made an impressive afternoon charge with a 7-under-par 65 to get to 12 under overall. Ko (69) was tied for third, five shots behind Jang. If Lewis and Ko can catch the impressive Jang and take their act into the final round, there may be a lot more at stake than a trophy and a $225,000 winner’s check. With Inbee Park off to a sluggish start, Lewis and Ko are in position to seize the Rolex No. 1 world ranking from Park. Ko entered the week at No. 2 in the world with Lewis at No. 3. If Ko wins the Coates Golf Championship, she moves to No. 1 no matter what Park or Lewis do. If Lewis wins, she moves to No. 1 if Park finishes eighth or worse and Ko finishes in a three-way tie for second or worse. Park shot 75 Thursday and sat more than a dozen shots off the lead. Lewis, 29, has had a front-row seat for the remarkably swift ascendance of Ko, 17. When Ko became the youngest winner of an LPGA event, taking the trophy at the CN Canadian Pacific Women’s Open when she was just 15, she did so playing alongside Lewis in the final round. When Ko won the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco last year, she played all four rounds with Lewis. Though Lewis wasn’t paired with Ko in final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last summer, she overtook her and Cristie Kerr in a dramatic back-nine battle to win by a shot. Lewis and Ko have dueled more than Lewis and Park have. When the 2014 season ended at the CME Group Tour Championship, they shared the spotlight. Lewis swept the Rolex Player of the Year Award, Vare Trophy and the money-winning title. Ko took home the richest payday in the history of women’s golf, claiming CME’s $1 million season-long points bonus and the $500,000 CME Group Tour Championship. Lewis said their games set up well together. “We play well on the same type of golf courses,” Lewis said. “You look at this one, and San Francisco, a tree-lined golf course, you’ve got to hit it on the right spot on the greens, play smart. I think our games are just really similar, so we play well on the same courses.” Ko seems to relish playing alongside Lewis. There’s mutual respect. They appear to have a lot to talk about. They were chatting amiably up more than one fairway again Thursday. “She’s a great kid,” Lewis said. “She usually has a few good stories to tell here and there. She’s fun, easy to play with.” But not easy to beat. “Stacy has played great every single time I’ve played with her,” Ko said. “I kind of try and feed off her, and she’s someone I look up to, and I always learn. She’s such a confident player. I always enjoy playing with her. Yeah, it’s always fun whenever I get paired up with Stacy.” They’ll be looking to have some fun trying to beat each other again at Golden Ocala this week.
RIO DE JANEIRO – The mayor of Rio de Janeiro will face an inquiry into alleged misconduct in the construction of a golf course for the 2016 Olympics in a nature reserve, according to documents provided by the public prosecutors’ office Friday. Golf’s return to the Olympics after a more than century-long absence was meant to be triumphal, but the construction of the course in the Marapendi nature reserve — a narrow strip of green in the heart of one of Rio’s fastest-growing neighborhoods — has been dogged by legal wrangling and protests by activists. The inquiry into Mayor Eduardo Paes was opened earlier this month by prosecutor Alberto Flores Camargo following a complaint by the environmental group Golf For Whom, which contends the city has harmed taxpayers by allowing a private developer to build the course at what is expected to be a massive financial gain. The documents released Friday represent yet another possible legal imbroglio surrounding the golf course. In a separate case, the state prosecutors’ office has alleged ground was broken without the necessary environmental impact studies and other legal requirements. The documents show that Camargo is deciding whether to bring civil charges of “misconduct causing damage to the public treasury” against Rio’s mayor over allegations he helped pave the way for the golf course developer to make a hefty profit on its $21 million investment. The activists allege developers stand to earn some $350 million, according to the documents. “It must be verified whether the benefits granted (to the developer) were excessive compared with the compensation demanded by the city, which would cause damage to the public treasury,” the documents said. The activists allege the city government gerrymandered the boundaries of the nature reserve and changed area zoning laws in order to allow for the construction of the course, as well as a neighboring complex of luxury residential towers, called Riserva Golf. Buildings in the area used to be capped at six stories, but the four towers that make up the Riserva Golf complex are expected to stand some 20 stories high. Officials with the Rio state prosecutors’ office say the inquiry could last up to a year, with the prosecutor ultimately deciding to shelve the complaint or bring charges against the mayor. A civil conviction on misconduct charges could result in a public official being forced out of office or banned from holding another public office for up to 10 years, the officials said. Paes took office in 2009, and his second term will end in 2016. Because the inquiry does not challenge the legality of golf course, it will not affect its construction. While the documents say that copies were sent to City Hall, as well as to the developers, a spokeswoman for Mayor Paes said in an email that “City Hall has not been officially informed about this particular matter.”
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – Surveying the landscape at Chambers Bay, it is clear that the USGA has arrived at the far end of the world. Browned-out fairways. Dusty walking paths cutting through undulating dunes. Nearly 8,000 yards of beastly golf carved out of a seaside crater, with ashen bunkers that recall its gravelly origins. Oakmont or Winged Foot, this ain’t. As one player described it while walking off the range Tuesday, Chambers Bay is like playing golf on the moon. The U.S. Open is traditionally an examination in endurance, a 72-hole sweatbox that tests players as much mentally as physically. This week that notion is amplified, as players prepare to embark on a journey that will be part golf, part pinball. Want to get at the pin tucked left on the par-3 third hole? According to Phil Mickelson, the best play is to bank it off the hill to the right of the green. Miss the target left on No. 1? Expect the ball to roll some 60 yards back down the fairway. “You’re going to see some different things this week than you have probably any other major championship that we play,” Tiger Woods said. Ah, the unknown. The greatest enemy of a player, even more so on a major stage. Players tend to embrace the familiar and run from change, whether in pre-shot routine or crafting schedules around friendly venues. This week that playbook is out the window, as the fescue fairways and quirky greens of Chambers Bay offer plenty of variables. With potential setbacks lurking around every corner, will the trophy go to the player with the most imaginative short game? Perhaps the biggest bomber off the tee? Try the guy who remains the strongest between the ears. “You have to understand that there will be some bounces that may not go your way,” Rickie Fowler said. “So as much as it tests your game, it tests you mentally even more so.” This championship has always been part golf and part chess, with players required to plot and puzzle their way around various layouts. This week it’s more like a game of minesweeper, a ginger attempt to tiptoe through four rounds without causing a total detonation. There are certainly traits that will prove beneficial toward that end, but Jack Nicklaus recently took the notion of “horses for courses” and flipped it on its head when it comes to this championship, one that he won four times. “It’s not supposed to suit your game,” Nicklaus said earlier this month. “You’re supposed to suit your game to the golf course.” Those words were echoed this week by Rory McIlroy, whose U.S. Open win in 2011 came on a soggy and lush layout at Congressional – the polar opposite of the course he will try to tame this week. “I’d like to say that I can adapt my game to all different types of courses and conditions,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I’ve won enough in different conditions that my game is adaptable to wherever you go.” The edict of adaptation seems simple coming from the lips of an 18-time major champ or the world No. 1, but it’s easier said than done. No player wants to come to a major championship searching for his game, let alone trying to invent new shots and trajectories for a four-day trial run. But the stubborn players will be easily swept aside this week at Chambers Bay, as will those who bristle at good shots inevitably punished by a bad hop or carom. “At times it may not be fair, if you look at it that way,” Fowler said. “But understanding links golf and what can happen, you kind of have to be ready for anything, and you have to be able to take the punches when they come, accept it and move forward.” Woods highlighted the sprinkler heads that line the greens as potential obstacles, circular discs that could provide an inadvertent launching pad for approach shots like the wicker-basket flagsticks did two years ago at Merion. “It will be interesting to see how many guys hit it, or how many guys just roll the ball off the green and they’re on the steps or up against the steps (in a bunker), take a ruling, have to drop it in the bunker and have it buried,” he said. “Now you’re going to have a lot of fun.” Indeed, once a ball hits the ground at Chambers Bay, the fun has just begun. It then will journey through swales and dips and over crests, sometimes rolling toward the target but often finding less desirable destinations. The USGA’s newest toy features plenty of ups and downs in terms of elevation, but the true test will be putting aside any preconceptions and enduring the emotional roller coaster that will indelibly mark this tournament. “Let me put it this way. It really makes little difference what remarks have been made about Chambers Bay,” Nicklaus said. “You’re going to play the tournament there, and somebody’s name is going to be on the trophy at the end of the week.” Golf’s first lunar championship is upon us. May the strongest mind win.
SINGAPORE – Jordan Spieth made three birdies in his last nine holes to get himself within four strokes of the lead after the weather-delayed second round of the Singapore Open on Saturday. Spieth followed up his opening round 67 with a 1-under 70 to reach the halfway stage at 5-under, four shots behind South Korea’s Song Young-han, who finished his second round on Friday, before play was abandoned because of a tropical thunderstorm. Back at the Sentosa Golf Club at sunrise to complete his last 11 holes, Spieth made a mixed start to what loomed as a long day for the world’s top-ranked player, mixing his three birdies with two bogeys. ”This has happened before, it is not unusual,” he said. ”You have delays where you have to come out and be prepared to play a lot of golf the next day and you hope that that day you are on rhythm. ”We were one under after the delay today and hopefully we can post a good one this afternoon, that course is gettable.” Spieth registered back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th holes, hitting his approaches to around 10 feet from the hole then knocking in both putts. He also birdied the par-3 17th when he found the heart of the green with his tee shot, but missed his chance to inch a little closer to Song with two dropped shots. The 22-year-old bogeyed the 13th hole when he landed in a greenside bunker and was unable to get up and down, then dropped another shot at the par-5 18th when he missed a short downhill putt for par. Normally one of the best putters in the game, Spieth also struggled with the flat-stick in Abu Dhabi but said he was confident of getting back in the groove for his third round, scheduled to start later on Saturday. ”I missed probably five or six today, a few for birdie and a few for par, so I’ve just got to get comfortable on the shorter length putts,” he said.
PHOENIX – Sei Young Kim made two eagles in a 6-under 66 on Friday in the JTBC Founders Cup to take a two-stroke lead into the weekend at Desert Ridge. The 23-year-old South Korean player had a tournament-record 15-under 129 total. She opened with a 63 on Thursday. After a 300-yard drive on the par-5 15th, her 165-yard approach nearly bounced into the hole and settled 7 feet past the cup to set up the second eagle. On the par-5 second, she made a 30-foot eagle putt. Kim won three times last season and was the LPGA Tour’s rookie of the year. Brittany Lang was second after a 68. Jacqui Concolino and Italy’s Giulia Sergas were 12 under. Concolino shot a 64 to match 17-year-old amateur Hannah O’Sullivan for the best round of the day. Sergas had a 68.
SYLVANIA, Ohio – In-Kyung Kim rallied to win the Marathon Classic on Sunday to become the LPGA’s second two-time winner this season. Two strokes behind 18-year-old Nelly Korda entering the round, Kim birdied six of the first nine holes and finished with an 8-under 63 for a four-stroke victory over Lexi Thompson. Kim also won the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June in New Jersey. The six-time LPGA winner joined fellow South Korean player So Yeon Ryu as the only multiple winners this season. After playing the front nine in 6-under 28, the 29-year-old Kim and added birdies on Nos. 15 and 16. She finished at 21-under 263 at Highland Meadows. Thompson closed with a 66. Gerina Piller, the leader after each of the first two rounds, had a 68 to tie for third at 15 under with Peiyun Chien (68). Korda shot a 74 to tie for eighth at 12 under. Lydia Ko, winless since her victory last year at Highland Meadows, tied for 20th at 9 under after a 69. She also won the 2014 event.
Updated, 7:45 p.m. ET CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kevin Kisner is a statistical anomaly, a ShotLink unicorn who for two rounds has defied all that we thought we knew about the new and improved Quail Hollow Club. At 5-foot-10, 165 pounds he’s done what the hard swinging likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson could not – post consecutive rounds in the 60s and move into a share of the lead with Hideki Matsuyama at the PGA Championship. The PGA Quail Hollow was supposed to be a bomber’s utopia where the game’s biggest and brightest would have an overwhelming advantage. Kisner had other plans. The 127th-longest driver on the PGA Tour, that’s out of 202 players for those keeping track, made the two-hour drive from his home in South Carolina to Quail Hollow last month for a scouting trip and came away with a common impression. “It was raining and wet, and I said, ‘Man, this place is going to be so long; I don’t know how they are going to compete,’” he said on Friday following his second-consecutive 67. Turns out there is a plan for Kisner to play the sprawling North Carolina gem; it just took a little research and a monsoon of patience – which has not always been among the 33-year-old’s strengths. PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog: Day 2 | Full coverage Because of Quail Hollow’s length – roughly 7,600 yards the first two days – and a new set of Bermuda grass greens that McIlroy opined automatically made the layout at least two strokes more difficult than when it usually hosts the Wells Fargo Championship in May, Kisner figured he had four legitimate birdie holes – Nos. 7, 8, 14 and 15. “Those are my holes to score well. If I play them 3 under in the next two days, take that,” he said with a dash of southern simplicity. On Thursday he added birdies at Nos. 6 and 18, to take a share of the Day 1 lead; and on Friday he made an eagle at the par-5 seventh. But lack of length is not what makes Kisner the ultimate statistical outlier this week; although it’s worth pointing out he’s had five drives of 300 yards or more thus far. Where the son of Aiken, S.C., broke the mold is what he’s done with an iron (normally of the mid- to long-iron variety) in his hand. Kisner leads the field in greens in regulation, going 30-for-36 through two rounds, despite having an average approach shot of 186 yards. “It speaks to how well he’s hitting it,” figured Kisner’s swing coach, John Tillery. At least part of that proficiency is a credit to Kisner’s driving accuracy – 21 of 28 fairways hit – but mostly it’s been his ability to temper an admittedly aggressive instinct. “We talked about it and there are holes where he needs to aim away from the flag when he’s got a 6-iron in his hand,” Tillery said. “It used to just drive him crazy to do that, but it’s been a big attitude change at the majors.” There will be those who will wonder if Kisner has the staying power to finish off a major, even after such a strong start. In 11 previous major appearances his best finish is a tie for 18th at the 2016 PGA, a run of events that includes a tie for 58th earlier this year at the U.S. Open. But it was at Erin Hills where the seeds of his new subtle approach took hold. It was following a third-round 76 that Tillery and Kisner’s caddie, Duane “Dewey” Bock, addressed what could best be described as competitive overzealousness. “We talked about his mind set, he was in good form but wasn’t playing well,” Tillery said. “If anything he tends to be too aggressive, so a course like [Quail Hollow] forces him to dial it back.” For Kisner, that means picking your birdie holes and avoiding the kind of miscues that separate majors from your run-of-the-mill events, even if that means aiming 30 feet away from the hole. There’s also something to be said for Kisner’s ability at overcoming the obvious at Quail Hollow. This is where bombers come to play, nearly 4 and ½ miles of winding rough and rugged edges, particularly after a wet summer. Kisner could have lamented his fate, grumbled about course set up and 524-yard par 4s, but instead he devised a plan and for two days has executed that blueprint to perfection. “In years past, he probably would have been that way and we wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in,” Tillery said. “He’s matured a ton.” Call it maturity, call it a major mentality, for Kisner he knows this is the way you win major championships and after a lifetime of professional trial and error he’s ready to take that next step. “I’ve been upset with how I’ve played in the majors so far in my career. I feel like I have the game to compete in majors and tons of 30th- to 40th-, 50th-place finishes,” he said. “That’s kind of been our goal for the year. We haven’t played well in them yet this year but every year you learn more about the majors and how to approach them.” After two days we’ve all learned, thanks to Kisner’s performance, that what we thought we knew about statistics can be wildly misleading.