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2007 PGA Championship Preview

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The 89th installment of the PGA Championship starts this Thursday at Southern Hills Golf Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Southern Hills will be the first course to host four PGA Championships, and this tremendous track has also played host to three U.S. Opens.

The 7131 yard, par 70, is not the longest of the major championship courses, but it will still present a stern test to the competitors.  Some are saying that this week’s event, with its difficult rough, tree lined fairways, sloped and slanted greens, as well as the intangible factor of the Oklahoma summer heat, all make Southern Hills one of the toughest sites of the year.  Despite all these factors, Phil Mickelson appears to be an early fan of the set up this week, "I think it’s one of the best set-ups we’ve seen," said the 2005 PGA champion, who visited Southern Hills recently. "The rough is such that you might have a shot at the green or be able to do something with it. It’s going to help to separate the players who are playing well because you can hit some shots instead of just everybody getting the same result (and having to chop out)."

 The PGA Championship is known for some great finishes and great storylines; this week should be no different.  Take 1991 where a virtual unknown, John Daly, burst onto the golf scene and bombed his way around Crooked Stick and into the hearts of golf fans all over the world.  Or there is possibly the greatest final shot in major championship history; Shaun Micheel’s stone cold seven iron to one inch, on the 72nd hole, to clinch his first major victory.  Then there were the back to back battles in 1999 and 2000.  In ’99, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods wowed the fans in at Medinah, with a battle that was not only memorable and impressive, but extremely fun to watch as well.  Golf shots that amazed even the savviest of golf connoisseurs, the ’99 Medinah PGA Championship final round was nothing short of spectacular. Then just the next year in 2000, during his dominating stretch, Tiger Woods was nearly humbled by Bob May, a PGA tour journeyman, who played some of the best golf of his life and let us bear witness to one of the greatest duels in major golf history.  This week has the potential to be all of those things and more, as the world’s greatest players are not only competing, but coming to Southern Hills firing on all cylinders. 

 Fresh off of a dominating performance, Tiger Woods has to be the favorite this week.  His work last week at the world golf championships is showing us two things.  One, Tiger is back and playing some of the golf we had become used to seeing from him.   Second he is sending a message to the rest of the golfers that he is primed and ready to capture his next major and get one closer to Jack’s total.  Even though he has been 0 for 3 this year at the majors, he seems to be taking it in stride, “You never want to be shut out," Woods said at the Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club. "You never want to have a year where you don’t win a major championship. This year, I’ve come close in two, and it just didn’t happen. I’ve been in this situation before."  That is not a good mindset for the world number one to have when it comes to the rest of the field.  Tiger typically achieves what he sets his mind to, and if he is gunning to not be shut out, some of the other players are going to have to step up this week and give him a run for his money.

 Players to watch this week should include Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Zach Johnson, Scott Verplank, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, and Sergio Garcia.  All of these players have been playing well as of late and come into the last major looking to tame Southern Hills and last weeks winner, Tiger Woods.  Each has something to prove, but Garcia has the largest monkey on his back right now, after his defeat at the Open Championship.  "It’s been getting better every day," said Garcia. "The first day was really tough, but my head is starting to go a little bit more where I want it to be. I’m hitting the ball well and rolling the putter nicely. It’s just a matter of getting it going.”  Only time will tell if he is completely healed from his wounds that were caused at the Open Championship, one can only wish him some luck.  Hunter Mahan on the other hand is coming into this event brimming with confidence, "You realize, ‘I’m also here to win,’" Mahan said. "I’m here because I can win. And I’m stepping on that tee with a purpose to do that. I’m not here to finish second to Tiger Woods."   You have to like to confidence, just might not want to give Tiger any fuel to get himself even more fired up.  The other above mentioned players all come in playing well, and if they are on top of their game could give Tiger the best run for his money. 

Another interesting aspect of this tournament is the 20 PGA professionals that get to tee it up this week via qualifying through the National Club Professional Championship, or CPC as it is know to the pros.  This event allows the top 20 players to compete at Southern Hills and is the biggest event of the year for the club pros.  It is one of the only remnants of the deal between the PGA Tour and the PGA of America when they amicably split in 1968, due to the increasing popularity of the PGA tour and the issue of sharing the spotlight with the less popular club professionals.  One of the positives from that deal is the accommodation for a number of the club professionals to play in the PGA Championship, a small way to say thank you for all of that work that they do as a club professional.  Keep an eye out for Mike Small,  Erik Wolf,  Chip Sullivan, Ryan Benzel, Tim Thelen, and Butch Sheehan, just to mention a few of the great players that will have the chance to tee it up this week inside the ropes. 

Past winners at Southern Hills include, Dave Stockton (winner of the PGA 1970), Raymond Floyd (winner of the PGA in 1982), Nick Price (winner of the PGA in 1994), Timmy Bolt (winner of the US Open in 1958), Hubert Green (winner of the US Open in 1977), and Retief Goosen (winner of the US Open in 2001).  As you can see there is a varied bunch of winners at Southern Hills, which helps reveal some of its charm and luster.  Anyone can win at this golf course, and that is partly why it is exciting.  It is a fair golf course, where great shots are rewarded.  The winner this week will have all of his skills tested, and he will be the one that handles all of the factors, including the heat, better than anyone else.  Who is going to come out on top?  No one will be able to tell you until Sunday afternoon, but I can tell you that it will be exciting watching all the drama unfold, and find out who the PGA champion, and final major winner for 2007. 

Television Times

  • Thursday, August 9   TNT      2PM – 8PM ET
  • Friday, August 10       TNT      2PM – 8PM ET
  • Saturday, August 11   TNT     11AM – 2PM ET
  • Saturday, August 11   CBS     2PM – 7PM
  • Sunday, August 12     TNT     11AM – 2PM ET
  • Sunday, August 12     CBS     2PM – 7PM

 

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European Tour and Ladies European Tour announce Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam will co-host mixed event in Sweden

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For the first time, the European Tour and Ladies European Tour will co-sanction an event which will combine a mixed field playing for the same trophy in a 72-hole strokeplay event.

The inaugural Scandinavian Mixed will take place from June 11-14, 2020, with a field of 78 men and 78 women playing for a total prize purse of €1.5 million at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Stockholm, Sweden.

Swedish golf stars Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam will co-host the event, with Stenson set to compete in the championship. Sorenstam, who has been retired since 2008, plans to play in the pro-am.

Speaking on hosting the event alongside Sorenstam, Stenson stated

“I’m extremely excited to host the Scandinavian Mixed alongside Annika, one of the best golfers the world has seen. To have men and women competing alongside one another showcases what is great about our game.

The European Tour has been leading the way in terms of innovative formats, and I believe this is certainly one that can be part of the way golf is played in the future.”

Ryder Cup and Race to Dubai points will be awarded to the male players in the event, while winnings from the tournament will count towards the LET’s official Order of Merit totals.

Both Stenson and Sorenstam are committed to co-host the event for the next three years.

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Morning 9: Bravo, Lanto! | Wisberger wins again | Rickie Fowler is a married man

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1. Bravo, Lanto! 
AP report on Lanto Griffin bursting out of the gate in his PGA Tour career at the Houston Open…
  • “Lanto Griffin took the lead with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and won the Houston Open on Sunday with a 6-foot par that gave him a 3-under 69 and a one-shot victory that sends him to the Masters next year.”
  • “Griffin was locked into a battle on the back nine at the Golf Club of Houston with Mark Hubbard and Scott Harrington…Hubbard lost the lead with a bogey on the par-5 16th, while Harrington’s big rally ended with a three-putt bogey on the 17th.”
  • “Griffin’s birdie on the 16th was his first since the eighth hole. On the 18th hole, he ran his 60-foot birdie attempt about 6 feet by the hole and made that to avoid a playoff.”

Full piece.

2. Capstone on Wiesberger’s comeback 
“Austrian Bernd Wiesberger held off a spirited challenge from England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick to claim his third European Tour title of the season at the Italian Open in Rome on Sunday.”
“Wiesberger carded six-under-par 65 in the final round at the Olgiata Club for a 16-under total to overturn a three-shot deficit and beat overnight leader Fitzpatrick by one stroke.”

Full piece.

3. Beemer!
Great stuff from Eamon Lynch, who spoke with the golfer-turned-analyst-turned-golfer-for-the-week Beem.
  • Here’s Beem discussing his son caddying for him…”I want to teach him how good rounds happen, how to save marginal rounds and how to make the most out of a bad situation,” Beem said. “He’s at that age where he gives up mentally. It’s easy to teach them when things are going well. But when things are going sideways, as they did today, how do you save this thing?”
  • “Rounds of 69-71 had put Beem inside the top 20 at the halfway point, but a lousy finish earlier to his third round was chapping him. “I shot 76 today and inside I’m fuming. But there’s nothing I can do,” he said between bites of the Mexican fast food the pair were sharing. “I gave it my best. That’s what I had today.”

Full piece.

Beem tied for 55th after a final-round 71
4. Kang’s advice
Mike McAllister at PGATour.com…“LPGA pro Danielle Kang had some choice words for her boyfriend, PGA TOUR rookie Maverick McNealy, after he shot a third-round 73 on Saturday at the Houston Open.”
“…So what exactly did Kang tell McNealy, who started the week nicely with a 68 before sliding down the leaderboard with middle rounds of 74 and 73?”
“She wanted me to do three things today,” said McNealy, who then provided the specifics.
  • “1. Don’t look at the leaderboards. “So I intentionally did not look at a single leaderboard today,” McNealy said, a difficult task on the back nine given his big move that at one point had him inside the top 10.”
  • “2. Be stronger and stricter with the mental scorecards. “I did that with my 95% of my shots today,” McNealy said. “I only had two shots that I wasn’t fully focused or in the zone or committed on, so I was really happy with that. If I can keep it to two or less, it’s going to be a good day.”
  • “3. Say two good things to himself after every shot. “So it was a very positive day out there for me,” McNealy said.”
5. Kelly rallies
AP report…”Madison’s Jerry Kelly knew he needed to make as many birdies as he could Sunday in a sprint to the finish in the SAS Championship. He was so locked into the process that he didn’t realize how many he made until he marked them down on his card.”
“Locked in a tight race, Kelly ran off five straight birdies to close out the front nine and then made an insurance birdie late that carried him to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot victory in the final regular-season event on the PGA Tour Champions.”
6. Hammer’s takeaway
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”The 20-year-old University of Texas sophomore was extended a sponsor invite into the Houston Open, his hometown PGA Tour event, and walked away Sunday with a 1-over performance and four rounds under his belt.”
  • “It was a great week,” said Hammer, whose only other pro start came at the 2015 U.S. Open when he was 15 years old. “Obviously, I would’ve liked to have played a little better the last three rounds, but I made the cut and played for four days.”
  • “He also got a taste of just how tough the Tour can be. The reigning McCormack medalist as the world’s top-ranked amateur earlier this year, Hammer got a difficult draw. He had to play 12 holes in 30 mph gusts Friday and then wake up early to finish his second round on what was a 24-hole day on Saturday.”
7. Knight’s whirlwind
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols…:”Cheyenne Knight drove through Whataburger on her way home from winning her first LPGA event.”
  • “After a satisfying meal of chicken tenders, sweet tea and fries, there was dancing in the kitchen with her family to “We are the Champions” by Queen.”
  • “It didn’t really sink in, however, until later on Monday when the family watched the replay from the final round of the Volunteers of America LPGA Classic. Congratulatory texts from the likes of Morgan Pressel, Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford and the Korda sisters helped too.”
  • “The whirlwind continued throughout the week, with Knight boarding a plane bound for China after getting in the field for the Buick LPGA Shanghai.”

Full piece.

8. Q-School storylines 
Zach Sepanik for LPGA.com with this on Lucy Li…”She may be gearing up for her first taste of Q-School and one of the youngest individuals competing at 17 years old, but Lucy Li (Redwood Shores, California) has big plans in her future both on and off the golf course.”
  • “As the professional ranks beckon, Li has no timetable for her announcement on making the leap. While she is still determining the right moment for a decision, one thing is for sure and that is how Li will make an impact outside the ropes.”
  • “I’m going to start a foundation giving back to junior golf part of my earnings from events I play,” said Li, who first got started in golf at the age of 7. “It is such a great sport and I really want more kids to play, especially with how many opportunities come through it. I’m going to take the time from now until next season starts to really figure things out with help from my family.”

Full piece.

9. ICYMI: Rickie’s off the market
As reported by Golf Channel’s Grill Room team…”Congratulations go out to Rickie Fowler and Allison Stokke, who just revealed that they got married last Saturday.”
“Fowler and Stokke on Friday both posted pictures of their Oct. 5 beach wedding to Instagram”
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Tour Rundown: Heroic and human in Houston

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It was a funny thing, to read on various social and traditional media sites, that this week’s PGA Tour event was not quite up to snuff. I hope that those pundits took the time out to watch the final 9 holes on Sunday. They saw a mix of heroic and human shots, of smart and silly decisions, and nerves galore. For those who decry the dominance of Brooks Koepka, this week was for them.

It was a lean week for professional golf, with the European Tour and PGA Tour Champions as the only other games in town. As with the Houston Open, each of those offerings provided an 11th-hour finish, providing attention-grabbing golf until the final putt was holed. Lest we forget, golf from October on used to be called the Silly Season, and it featured free money for dour professionals. Count how lucky we are on both hands, that the wraparound season, and the Schwab Cup, Race To Dubai, and Race to CME Globe came about. Let’s have a quick Tour Sprintdown, starting now.

PGA Tour: Houston Open readies for Memorial Park with Lanto’s win

The PGA Tour might have unknowingly stumbled onto a vial of elixir at this week’s H.O. With nary a star golfer to be found, the event came down to a battle of the also-rans (Stewart Cink, Chad Campbell, Harris English) guys who once were at the top, but now, are not; versus the wanna-get-theres (Lanto Griffin, Scott Harrington, Mark Hubbard) golfers freshly promoted from Triple A, itching for the security and confidence that a big-tour victory brings. I’m not sure how to package it, but there is something there! Paging Chris Harrison. Bring roses.

Back to the tournament. The Houston Open used to hold the door for the Masters, entertaining the best of the world; now, it doesn’t. That’s a negative. The tournament used to be played at a yawner of a tour course, in a town called Humble; in 2020, it returns to the city center, to a public course reborn from Tom Doak and Mike Nuzzo. That’s a huge positive. In 2019, viewers watched as a trio of non-winners soared and stumbled down the stretch, risking all to gather in an initial tour triumph.

It was a tale of three golfers: Lanto Griffin, the 3rd-round leader; Scott Harrington, the survivor; and Mark Hubbard, the best Twitter handle on any tour. Hubbard got nothing going on the back nine. Just one birdie would have brought him a tie for 1st. Instead, a lone bogey at the 15th cemented a tie for 2nd with Scott Harrington. Harrington narrowly missed a tour card during last season’s Korn Ferry schedule, but redeemed himself in the playoffs. He had four birdies and two bogeys over a 6-hole stretch late Sunday. Like Harrington, just one more birdie might have done the trick. Instead, it was Lanto Griffin, also a KF Tour graduate, who made a 6-feet putt for par at the frightening 18th, to win an inaugural tour title in style.

European Tour: Wiesberger holds off surging Fitzpatrick

Good old internal out of bounds. It snagged Rory McIlroy in Northern Ireland this summer, and it tackled Matthew Fitzpatrick at this week’s Italian Open. Something that should not exist, yet does, once again changed the course of a tournament. Fitzpatrick had the lead at the 9th, then he did not. He fought back gamely, but missed a golden chance for eagle at the 17th. The resulting birdie forced him to birdie the 18th, and he could not muster a 2nd-consecutive chirp.

Finishing a few groups ahead of Fitzy was Bernd Wiesberger, the talented Austrian who summoned all his skills over the closing 55 holes. From the 9th hole on Saturday through the finish, Wiesberger had 12 birdies and 0 others. He was flawless when he needed to be, and there was just enough flaw in Fitzpatrick to let Bernd through the door. The young Englishman had four birdies on the day, 3 on the inward half, when he needed to press. Would he have made them, had the 9th hole yielded par or birdie, rather than double bogey? Impossible to say. For the champion, Olgiata provided a venue for his 2nd Rolex Series title of the season, pairing well with Wiesberger’s Scottish Open triumph over the summer.

PGA Tour Champions: Kelly collects 3rd title of 2019

Jerry Kelly has never been one to hide his emotions. One imagines the glee on his Wisconsin-bred face as he birdied holes 5 through 9 on Sunday, racing to an outward 29 and the lead at the SAS Championship. One also imagines the consternation as New Zealand’s David McKenzie turned the tables, coming home with 5 birdies and 1 eagle for an inward 31. Fortunately for Kelly, he added birdies at 15 and 17, granting freedom to bogey the last and win by a stroke.

Kelly hasn’t been a Champions-Tour golfer for long. He won twice in 2017, a year after he reached the senior circuit, then dipped to 1 victory last season. 2019 has been a veritable motherlode for the tour grinder. SAS represented his 3rd title of this campaign, following wins in June at the AFI and September, at the ALLY. It also means that Kelly closed the gap on Scott McCarron, in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup. Three events remain, spread out over the next 5 weeks. As with everything else autumn, this race will not decide itself until the final putt falls.

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