UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Jordan Spieth is halfway home to the Grand Slam, a prize only three of the biggest names in modern golf have ever chased.
And he still can’t believe how he got there.
Spieth won the U.S. Open in a heart-stopper Sunday with a turn of events even more wild than the terrain at Chambers Bay. He thought he had it won with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole. He threw away a 3-shot lead one hole later. He made birdie on the final hole.
Jordan Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, didn’t expect to see his father on Sunday. But despite serious health issues, John “Bear” Greller wasn’t going to miss this.
And then he thought it was over as Dustin Johnson settled in over a 12-foot eagle putt for the victory.
Three putts later, Spieth was the U.S. Open champion.
“I’m still in shock,” he said with the gleaming U.S. Open trophy at his side. “I’ve never experienced a feeling like this. It was a very intense back nine.”
Spieth became only the sixth player to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year, and he joined Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in getting the first two legs of the modern slam that Palmer created on his way to St. Andrews in 1960.
That’s the next stop for the 21-year-old Texan whose two major championships could not be any more different. A wire-to-wire runaway at Augusta National. A nail-biter on the edge of Puget Sound.
And another major heartache for Johnson.
“I had all the chances in the world,” said Johnson, who missed six putts inside 10 feet on the back nine and finished 1 shot behind.
Spieth, the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923, did his part. Even after letting Johnson and fast-closing Louis Oosthuizen back into the game with his double-bogey on the 17th hole, Spieth responded with a 3-wood that caught the backboard on the 18th hole and settled below the hole for an eagle putt. He missed it left, made birdie and walked off the green feeling more regret than excitement over his 1-under 69 for a 1-shot lead with the big-hitting Johnson behind him.
Johnson reached the par-5 18th with a 5-iron — that’s how far he smashed his tee shot on the 601-yard hole.
Make the putt and he wins the U.S. Open. Two putts would force an 18-hole playoff Monday on a course that favors power.
“I’m still amazed that I won, let alone that we weren’t playing tomorrow,” Spieth said. “So for that turnaround right there, to watch that happen, I feel for Dustin, but I haven’t been able to put anything in perspective yet.”
Spieth now prepares for St. Andrews, the next stop on this improbable ride.
Woods in 2002 was the last player to get the first two legs of the slam.
The others to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year were Craig Wood in 1941 and Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953. Hogan won the British Open in 1953, though he never played the PGA Championship because it was held roughly the same time as the British.
Spieth finished at 5-under 275 in winning for the third time this year. He is still No. 2 and closing in fast on No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who has top-10s in both majors this year without being a serious contender.
Spieth becomes the first player since Jones to make birdie on the 72nd hole to win the U.S. Open by 1 shot — all because of Johnson’s three-putt. He also became the youngest player with two majors since Gene Sarazen in 1922.
For all the criticism of the unique course at Chambers Bay, this was the theater at its finest.
But there will be lingering questions about the condition of the greens, so bumpy that they were referred to as broccoli, and Billy Horschel said he lost respect for the USGA. This championship ended with a short miss, the target of complaints all week.
“As you can tell, it’s very difficult to get them in the hole out there,” Johnson said. “The greens were really fast and they were rolling fairly smooth, but it was still bouncing a little bit.”
The final hour was so wild that four players could have won over the last two holes.
Branden Grace of South Africa was tied for the lead when he hit his tee shot on the reachable 16th hole over the fence and onto the railroads that run along Puget Sound. He made double-bogey and never challenged again.
Spieth hit into the fescue-covered mounds right of the 17th and made double-bogey just as Oosthuizen made one last birdie — his sixth over the last seven holes — for a 67 to post at 4-under 276.
Johnson, who had a 2-shot lead at the turn until missing so many putts on the back nine, was forgotten until he stuffed his tee shot on the par-3 17th to 4 feet for birdie. He just couldn’t make one from a little closer when it mattered even more.
“I did everything I was supposed to do,” he said. “I hit the ball really well. I’m proud of the way I handled myself and the way I played today. I just really struggled getting it in the hole today. I didn’t think I was hitting bad putts. I thought I was hitting them pretty good; they just weren’t going in.”
It was the fourth heartache for Johnson in the majors, and this was the worst.
Jason Day, who collapsed on Friday with vertigo only to rally for a share of the 54-hole lead, fell back with a missed putt and was never in the hunt on the back nine. He closed with a 74 to finish 5 shots behind.
Grace never recovered from that double-bogey on No. 16 and shot 71 to tie for fourth with Adam Scott (64) and Cameron Smith (68).
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Rickie Fowler won the 2015 Players Championship with one of the most amazing finishes. 6 Under in his last 6 holes. Finish of a lifetime
Disturbed and angered by the results of one question in an anonymous survey of his peers, a motivated Rickie Fowler answered Sunday on the PGA Tour’s biggest stage.
Fowler arrived at TPC Sawgrass for The Players Championship to news that his peers had voted him and Ian Poulter as the most overrated players in the game. Publicly he gave no indication the Sports Illustrated poll bothered him. Privately he was seething, those closest to him said, including swing coach Butch Harmon.
Using the stinging result of the survey as extra fuel, Fowler strung together a brilliant stretch of golf late on Mother’s Day to win the biggest tournament of his career.
With four birdies and an eagle in his last six holes — the final red number coming from 17 feet on 18 — and two more birdies in four holes in a playoff against Kevin Kisner and Sergio Garcia, Fowler won the Tour’s flagship event with a 5-footer on the fourth playoff hole
“I’d say this is a pretty big one,” Fowler said when asked about his detractors saying he needed to win more tournaments than just the two he’s captured, the last in the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. He also won the 2011 Korea Open. And he joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods last year as the only players to finish in the top-five in all four majors in a single year, which boosted his confidence heading into this season.
“I was always looked at as the guy who had just one win on the Tour,” Fowler said. “I wanted to get in position more to change that, and I did that last year but I just wasn’t the last man standing. I look to be in this position more.
” … It was a big afternoon. This will be one I’ll look back on for sure.”
Fowler, who will move up to a career-high No. 8 in the world rankings, needed just 17 strokes in the final six holes of regulation and finished with a 5-under-par 67 and at 12 under. Garcia, who led by two at the turn, made birdies at 16 and 17 and shot 68 to earn a spot in the playoff. Kisner, who lost earlier this year in a playoff at the RBC Heritage, also birdied 16 and 17 and shot 69 to get into the playoff. His birdie putt on the 72nd hole from 12 feet for the win burned the edge.
“I was calm all day. I felt awesome out there playing,” Kisner said. “I’ve been in that situation just a few weeks ago, so I probably relied on that a lot, coming down the stretch. But I hit every shot like I wanted to. I thought I made it in regulation, I really did. I thought that was over right then.
“But my hat is off to Rickie, he played great. Two great birdies on 17; I just came up short. I’ll get mine.”
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy was stuck one gear below his superior power and game and finished in a tie for eighth at 8 under after closing with a 70. Tee to green he was happy with his game. On the green? Not so much.
“Leaving frustrated again,” said McIlroy, who has finished in the top-10 three consecutive years. “It’s just that sort of course. You look at the scores out there, no one is going low. I’m three behind the leader, and that’s coming off feeling like I’ve left between five and 10 shots out there.”
Fowler was very good since his opening tee shot Thursday. But he did his best work on the 17th hole, where an island green awaits the players and sends chills up their spines. Fowler, who said he felt confident coming off last week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play, made five birdies on 17 — three of them on Sunday. Fowler made three birdies in regulation, the third coming Sunday, and then birdied the hole twice in a playoff.
“Big thanks to 17,” Fowler said.
And big thanks to his finish. Saying he was out of the tournament on the 12th hole, Fowler said he knew he had to do something. Finally, his game clicked.
“I’ve waited a long time for this,” Fowler said as he wrapped his hands around the crystal trophy. “It’s great to be back in the winner’s circle. … We obviously look at this tournament as one of the biggest that we play up against the majors. This is a special week. Everyone looks forward to it.
” …The win may sink in by (Monday), but I’m not sure about that.”
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Jim Furyk had gone 100 starts without winning, a stretch that gnawed at his psyche and challenged his confidence.
That all disappeared in uncharacteristic fashion Sunday when he won his first PGA TOUR title in five years with birdies on both playoff holes to outlast Kevin Kisner at the RBC Heritage. When the winning putt fell on the par-3 17th, the typically reserved Furyk dropped his putter and punched the air.
“I think getting excited on 17 there was a lot of pent-up frustrations,” he said.
Furyk won for the second time at RBC Heritage, the other coming in 2010 in what turned out to be the best year of his career. He won two other events, including the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola and captured the FedExCup.
Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open and entered this tournament ranked 10th in the world, but he has struggled to close out events. He was 0-of-9 when leading tournaments after three rounds since winning the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. He is 44 and always believed he’d win again.
“But I was starting to feel like this game is beating me up, and the losing hurts a lot more than winning feels good,” he said. “I think I just forget how good” it feels to win.
With that came a $1.062 million payday. For Kisner, it was his best finish on the PGA TOUR.
Furyk led by a stroke when Kisner birdied the 72nd hole to force the playoff, the fourth in the last six tournaments at Harbour Town Golf Links. On the first extra hole, Kisner rolled in a second straight birdie putt on the 18th. But Furyk answered with a birdie to keep the playoff going. After Kisner missed his birdie try on No. 17, Furyk sank a 12-foot putt for his 17th career PGA TOUR victory.
Furyk shot a 63 and Kisner a 64, leaving them both at 18-under 266. Third-round leader Troy Merritt was at 16 under after a 69. Defending champion Matt Kuchar (68) was at 14 under and Masters winner Jordan Spieth (70) was eight shots back.
It was an odd tournament for Furyk.
He looked as if he’d get left behind early, making 18 pars in the first round to fall five shots back. Furyk found his game Friday with eight birdies on the way to a 64. He had a 68 Saturday, yet knew he needed to fire himself as he did Friday to have a chance.
Boy, did he ever.
Furyk had six birdies on his first nine holes, including a 48-footer on the par-4 eighth that moved him in front. A bogey on the 11th dropped Furyk into a four-way tie for first, but he responded with birdies on three of the next four holes and seemed set for an easy ride.
When his long putt on No. 8 rolled in, Furyk said he began to think “this may be the day.” Kisner, though, chased him down on the back nine. He birdied the 14th and 15th to pull within a stroke and stuck his approach on the signature lighthouse hole at No. 18 within 7 feet for a tying birdie.
Kisner kissed his wife, Brittany, and 10-month old daughter Kathleen on the way to the scoring trailer to prepare for more golf.
Furyk is used to such grinding at Harbour Town. When he won in 2010, Brian Davis tied him on the final hole to force a playoff — won by Furyk when Davis struck a loose impediment on his swing and called a penalty on himself.
Kisner expected Furyk, who made 11 birdies in 20 holes, to tie him after his putt on the first playoff hole.
“You don’t expect a guy of Jim’s caliber to miss a 6-footer straight up the hill,” Kisner said.
Merritt fell to third after a third 69. His other score was a course-record tying 61 in the second round Friday. Merritt couldn’t keep up with Furyk’s charge and lost his chance after hitting out of bounds on No. 12 and taking double bogey. Merritt made up for it a few holes later with an eagle-2 on No. 16.
Spieth closed an amazing five-tournament stretch. He won the Valspar Championship a month ago and followed that with seconds at the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open before matching Tigers Woods’ record of 18 under at Augusta National. For Spieth, 19 of his past 20 rounds have been under par.
Spieth had a whirlwind media tour in New York on Monday and Tuesday before arriving at Hilton Head. Now the 21-year-old Texan wants to get back to Dallas in time to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards. He’ll return to golf in two weeks at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play.
Golfers went off in groups of three on the first and 10th tees starting at 7:30 a.m. to beat expected stormy weather later in the day.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – You want to tap the brakes and avoid getting swept up in the moment. Your mind says not to give in, not to make knee-jerk declarations of greatness, despite what you’ve witnessed the past four days. Leave the overhype to others. You’d rather sell perspective, not headlines.
Jordan Spieth just won the Masters at age 21. His wire-to-wire victory fueled a revision of various parts of the record books, the most head-rattling being this: He became the first player to ever reach 19 under at Augusta National after his birdie at the 15th hole Sunday.
But it’s not just the win of historic proportions, in only his second Masters start. It’s not just his age; only Tiger was younger when he won the Masters. It’s not just the way he completely sucked the drama out of Sunday’s final round, maintaining a comfortable lead by answering every challenge from Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, his only true threats.
The incredible poise he exhibits, a trait we first saw five years ago when Spieth was 16 and burst on the scene as an amateur in his hometown PGA TOUR event in Dallas. His maturity, which could be seen on the putting green late Sunday evening when he addressed the crowd after slipping on the green jacket. He made sure to touch everybody’s heart.
“There’s something innate with him,” said another Masters champ, Zach Johnson, who waited outside the scoring area to give Spieth a warm embrace before the winning scorecard was signed. “Something intangible that probably a lot of athletes occasionally touch but rarely maintain.”
And then there’s his approach to the game. He’s a skilled player who relies on feel, much like Bubba Watson does, only Spieth doesn’t have Bubba’s length. But he does know that sometimes you must reject conventional wisdom and go with instincts. He did it many times this week.
Evidently, his decisions were the proper ones.
“He’s got just a vision of things, a feel,” said his caddie, Michael Greller. “We talked about it this week, trusting your instincts.”
On Sunday morning, Spieth received a text message from Ben Crenshaw. No player adores and appreciates Augusta National as much as Crenshaw, a two-time Masters winner. He has a special connection with Spieth, and not just because both attended the University of Texas some 40 years apart.
Crenshaw, playing in his last Masters, was essentially passing the baton to Spieth, and he wanted to make sure the younger version of himself got the job done. Having offered encouragement and tidbits of advice all week, he sent a final text, telling Spieth to stay patient, that this was his time.
“Just keep your head down and stay focused, I think is what it said,” Spieth recalled.
Meanwhile, Spieth already had his own focus. He woke up too early Sunday morning – about 7 a.m., nearly eight hours before his tee time. But it gave him time to think about his game plan for the most important day of his life.
So he fired off his own text message, this time to Greller. He told his caddie he wanted to get to 20 under by the end of the day. That would require a round of 4-under 68. It would also require him to post the lowest score under par that any player has done at any major.
But once he got to the course and started his round and saw how things were unfolding – Mickelson was not going berserk, and Spieth was matching Rose though the first three holes – the game plan was adjusted.
Spieth would now take a match-play approach against his closest competitor, telling himself that he was 1 down to Rose. It was his own little mind game, something to keep the enormity of the situation at arm’s length.
“That kept my head off of anything else that was going on,” Spieth said.
In reality, though, this Masters win did not have its origins with a couple of text messages on Sunday morning. Nor did it start earlier this week when Spieth opened with a tone-setting 8-under 64, one short of matching the all-time low for a single round at a major.
Instead, there was the buildup to this moment. The lessons learned a year ago when Spieth shared the 54-hole Masters lead with Watson, but failed to keep pace. Then the Ryder Cup, when he lost to Graeme McDowell in singles in a tough environment.
The late November win at the Australian Open, when Spieth blew away the world-class field, winning by six shots with a final-round 63, took him to another plateau.
Until that point, Spieth had struggled to finish off tournaments. In Australia, he unlocked the secret. “We had not found the solution as a team,” Spieth said, “and we found the solution in Australia.”
Since then, he’s been near unbeatable. Last month in Florida, he won the Valspar Championship in a playoff. He followed with runner-up finishes in San Antonio and Houston. He was feeling the heat of battle each time out. He wasn’t developing scar tissue, but determination.
“He was able to draw on that this week,” Greller said.
It served him well in Augusta.
Of course, he’s also been able to draw on his family, a particularly important element given his age. He spent the week living with his father, mother, brother and grandfather; dad Shawn, incidentally, wore a green golf shirt Sunday, so give him credit for embracing the premonition. That group – Team Spieth if you will – has provided stability and support.
The one person who wasn’t in Augusta this week was his sister Ellie, seven years younger than Jordan. She has a neurological disorder that places her on the autism spectrum, and Spieth calls her the best thing that’s ever happened to the family.
In previous years when Spieth would travel to tournaments, he used to bring back key chains for Ellie. He always wanted to give her something whenever he returned home.
Last week in Houston, she was with the family, and with her brother in contention, Ellie would ask him the same question when he returned to the family’s rental house after each round.
Jordan, did you win?
Imagine the smile on her face – and perhaps the tears running down Jordan’s cheeks – when he gives her the answer this time.
WINDERMERE, Fla. (AP) — Jordan Spieth had been down this road before.
Three years ago at Isleworth, he was making the turn in the final round when he looked over at the scoreboard on the 18th fairway that showed he had a big lead. So it was eerie when he caught himself doing the same thing Sunday during the final round of the Hero World Challenge.
But there was one big difference.
Back then, Spieth was a freshman at Texas and won by eight shots in the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational for his first college title.
This time, he beat an elite field that included tournament host Tiger Woods, six major champions and 16 of the top 30 players in the world.
And he beat them even worse.
Spieth capped off a big finish to his second season as a pro when he closed with a 6-under 66 and set two tournament records to win by 10 shots over Henrik Stenson. Staked to a seven-shot lead in the final round, he opened with three birdies in four holes and turned the final three hours into a peaceful walk along the lakes and palatial homes of Isleworth.
“It was the most fun I ever had playing nine holes of golf,” Spieth said.
Spieth had an 11-shot lead after nine holes, ripped a drive over the corner of the bunker and then glanced at the lone leaderboard. And then he made another birdie. He coasted from there and even with a careless double bogey on the back nine, he finished at 26-under 262 to break the tournament record of 266 set by Woods in 2007 and Davis Love III in 2000, both at Sherwood Country Club in California.
The 10-shot victory was the largest margin of the year in golf, and broke the tournament record of seven shots that Woods had in 2007.
“Whether my emotions showed it or not I’m not sure, but inside we were really very pleased with the year and how it came to a close,” Spieth said. “This caps off the best golfing year that I’ve ever had.”
Spieth had set a goal of two wins, and that looked out of reach when he began the last leg of a long journey. He finished one shot out of a playoff in Japan, won the Australian Open by six shots and then turned in another dominant performance.
“The kid is playing great,” said Keegan Bradley, who had a 70 to tie for third with Patrick Reed (68). “You have to look at his past three events. He almost won them all. He’s a great player. I wouldn’t look more into it other than he dominated this week.”
Woods, in his first tournament in four months while recovering from back injuries, stubbed two more chips on the 13th hole for a triple bogey and closed with a 72. He tied for last place in the 18-man field with Hunter Mahan, 26 shots out of the lead.
Woods noted that Spieth closed with a 63 in Australia and flew some 9,000 miles to get to Isleworth.
“He’s playing some pretty special golf right now,” Woods said.
Spieth completes his second full year as a pro by moving into the top 10 in the world ranking at No. 9. The Hero World Challenge is not an official PGA TOUR event, so the $1 million prize does not count toward the money list.
He had never had such a big lead going into the final round, and it’s tempting to try to protect it. Instead, Spieth set tiny goals and came out swinging. One of those goals was to stretch his lead to 10 shots, and he got there with a hybrid on the par-5 seventh to the left edge of the green that trickled onto the putting surface. Bradley two-putted for birdie to get within eight shots, and then Spieth poured in his putt to go up by 10.
Bradley was headed for the eighth tee, when he reversed course and walked over to Spieth to playfully body-slam him.
“I wanted to go over there and tackle him and break his putter,” Bradley said. “No, I love Jordan. I’m happy for him. He was pretty much unbeatable this week.”
Stenson played with Spieth on Saturday, and knew what to expect.
“He was in pretty much full control of every part of his game,” Stenson said.
Stenson closed with a 69 to entrench himself a little deeper at No. 2 in the world behind Rory McIlroy, who did not play this week.
Ryder Cup 2014: Europe retain the trophy against United States
By Rob Hodgetts BBC Sport at Gleneagles
Europe completed their mission in the singles to win the 40th Ryder Cup 16½-11½ against the United States at Gleneagles.
Captain Paul McGinley’s side led 10-6 going into the final day and reached the 14½ needed to win the Cup outright when Welsh rookie Jamie Donaldson beat Keegan Bradley 4&3.
Rory McIlroy struck first with a 5&4 win against Rickie Fowler before fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell came back from three down to beat Jordan Spieth 2&1.
Martin Kaymer chipped in on 16 to defeat Bubba Watson 4&2 and Justin Rose scrapped back from four down against Hunter Mahan to grab a half on the last and take Europe to within half a point.
The 38-year-old Donaldson, playing in the 10th match, sealed the win against Bradley with a stunning approach to the 15th green to spark scenes of euphoria in the Perthshire hills.
McGinley said: “I’m very proud of every one of these players. I couldn’t have asked for an ounce more from them. I’ve been involved in so many Ryder Cups and seen mistakes we’ve made.
“I’ve changed things a bit, bringing in the fifth vice-captain has been a factor in helping to prepare the guys, especially in the afternoon sessions, but we have had 12 players who have been awesome.”
Europe have now won eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups, while the US have not won an away match since 1993.
Europe’s singles winners
Graeme McDowell beat Jordan Spieth 2&1
Rory McIlroy beat Rickie Fowler 5&4
Martin Kaymer beat Bubba Watson 4&2
Sergio Garcia beat Jim Furyk 1UP
Jamie Donaldson beat Keegan Bradley 4&3
“I can’t say enough about our captain,” said world number one McIlroy. “Paul McGinley has been immense. I’m so glad it’s worked out for him.”
US captain Tom Watson was seeking redemption for Medinah two years ago when Europe came back from 10-6 down to win 14½-13½ on the final day, but his side were unable to create their own sensation in Scotland.
“They have a wonderful team, but we came in here thinking we could beat them,” said Watson, 65. “Turns out we couldn’t.”
United States’ singles winners
Patrick Reed beat Henrik Stenson 1UP
Phil Mickelson beat Stephen Gallacher 3&1
Matt Kuchar beat Thomas Bjorn 4&3
Jimmy Walker beat Lee Westwood 3&2
Henrik Stenson earlier missed a short putt on the last that would have given him a half against Patrick Reed, while Stephen Gallacher lost 3&1 to Phil Mickelson and Thomas Bjorn went down 4&3 to Matt Kuchar.
After Donaldson had ensured Europe’s win, Sergio Garcia beat Jim Furyk one up, Ian Poulter halved with Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood lost 3&2 to Jimmy Walker and Victor Dubuisson halved with Zach Johnson.
Europe lost Friday morning’s fourballs 2½-1½ but dominated the foursomes to lead 5-3 going into Saturday.
McGinley’s side dominated Saturday afternoon’s foursomes 3½-½ – a 7-1 foursomes tally overall – to move to within four points of retaining the trophy.
Europe never looked in too much danger of squandering their lead and won the singles session 6½-5½ on a triumphant afternoon at Gleneagles.
Halved singles matches (Europe first)
Justin Rose v Hunter Mahan
Ian Poulter v Webb Simpson
Victor Dubuisson v Zach Johnson
Ryder Cup 2014: Phil Mickelson questions Tom Watson’s captaincy
American veteran Phil Mickelson openly questioned the methods of his captain Tom Watson after Europe retained the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
The US lost 16½-11½, their eighth defeat in the last 10 Ryder Cups.
With Watson sitting nearby at the news conference, Mickelson heaped praise on 2008 captain Paul Azinger, the last captain to guide the US to victory.
Watson said: “He has a difference of opinion. That’s OK. My management philosophy is different than his.”
But former Europe captain Nick Faldo said Mickelson had “thrown his captain right under the bus”.
Mickelson, who was making a record 10th Ryder Cup appearance at Gleneagles, was said to be unhappy at being left out by Watson on Saturday.
Ryder Cup 2014: The best shots of the final day
And the 44-year-old, who won two out of a possible three points, said Watson had “strayed from a winning formula”.
“There were two things that allowed us to play our best that Paul Azinger did,” said Mickelson, a five-time major winner.
“First, he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their ‘pod’, when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. We hung out together.
“The other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game-plan for us – how we were going to go about doing this, how we were going to go about playing together, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well.
“Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. We use that same process in the Presidents Cup [US versus the rest of the world] and we do really well.
“Unfortunately we have strayed from a winning formula for the last three Ryder Cups and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.”
Mickelson added that neither he nor any of the other American players had been consulted in any of the decision-making.
Asked if he thought his comments were disloyal to Watson, Mickelson said. “I’m sorry you’re taking it that way. I’m just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best.”
But Faldo, under whose stewardship Europe lost to Azinger’s team in 2008, criticised Mickelson on the Golf Channel.
“That should have been a private conversation,” he said. “Phil certainly doesn’t respect Tom Watson.”
Colin Montgomerie, winning captain in 2010, agreed that Mickelson’s comments were inappropriate.
“Should we go into this one hour after we’ve been defeated? The answer is a flat no,” said Montgomerie.
“You support your captain under all circumstances. In public, you respect and honour your captain.”
Watson 65, has conceded he made errors of judgement over the three days, such as not playing in-form rookies Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth on Friday afternoon.
But the eight-time major winner, who was the last American skipper to win in Europe in 1993, said he had not read Azinger’s book on Ryder Cup strategy.
“I didn’t discount it. I just had a different philosophy right off the bat,” he said.
“My two jobs are to make the captain’s picks and then put the team together. The bottom line is the Europeans kicked our butts. They were better players this week.”
Jim Furyk, making his ninth Ryder Cup appearance, was reluctant to get involved in the debate and admitted he had never really analysed why they could not get it right.
“I’ve known Phil my entire life and I have a lot of respect for our captain. I know he put his heart and soul into it for two years,” Furyk said.
“We all came here to try to win a Ryder Cup together. We’ve fallen short quite a bit. If I could put my finger on it, I would have changed things a long time ago, but we are going to keep searching.”
ATLANTA – Billy Horschel capped off the best three weeks of his career with the biggest payoff in golf.
Horschel pulled away from a self-destructing Rory McIlroy early, and then holed two clutch putts that felt like $10 million to hold off Jim Furyk on the back nine at East Lake. He closed with a 2-under 68 for a three-shot victory in the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup.
Horschel’s career earnings were just over $4.5 million coming into the year.
He collected $11.4 million in one day – most of that the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus – with an incomparable run through the playoffs.
The 27-year-old from Florida was runner-up in Boston, a winner in Denver and he cashed in big in Atlanta. Horschel was No. 69 when the playoffs began a month ago. No one had ever won the FedEx Cup starting lower than No. 19.
He epitomized what these playoffs offered – one month for anyone to get a hot hand. Horschel shot in the 60s his last 12 rounds.
“He was clutch when he needed to be,” McIlroy said. “He played the best golf this week and I’m happy for him.”
The only boos Horschel heard all day was doing the Gator chomp walking off the 18th green before a host of Georgia fans.
The timing was great for Horschel – not so much for the American team going over to the Ryder Cup in two weeks. U.S. captain Tom Watson made his three picks after Horschel’s runner-up finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Now the hottest hand in golf – he should move up to No. 14 in the world – will be watching from home. Horschel figures to be plenty occupied. His wife has now had their first child. What a month!!!
Furyk closed with two bogeys for a 69 and his fourth runner-up finish this year. He has not won since the Tour Championship four years ago. McIlroy never recovered from three straight bogeys around the turn, and three late birdies only helped him pick up some FedEx Cup cash. He closed with a 71 and wound up No. 3 in the FedEx Cup, which is worth an additional $2 million.
Chris Kirk, who started the Tour Championship atop the FedEx Cup standings, closed with a 68 and tied for fourth with Justin Rose (69) and Jason Day (69). Kirk wound up second in the FedEx Cup and earned a $3 million bonus.
Horschel finished at 11-under 269.
McIlroy will have to settle for a season worth more than $10 million – two major championships and the undisputed No. 1 player in golf. Whatever hopes he had of his first FedEx Cup ended early. He hooked his tee shot into the water on the par-3 fifth and made double bogey to fall three shots behind.
Needing to start picking up ground on the 600-yard ninth hole, he blasted his drive so far right that it wound up a foot away from the out-of-bounds fence of the practice range. There was no way out. With his caddie and a rules official ducking in the holly bushes, McIlroy slashed out with a wedge over the bushes and through a gap in the trees that only he saw. Next, he had a mobile TV truck lowered to ground level to get his third into the fairway. But his wedge came up short, and he made bogey.
Two more bogeys later, including another three-putt at the 10th, he was five shots behind and out of the mix.
By then, it was a two-man race between Horschel and Furyk.
Horschel won by not losing. He raced a 50-foot putt nearly 8 feet by the hole on the 13th, and calmly sank the par putt to keep a one-shot lead. Furyk, playing in the group ahead of Horschel, got up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 15th to tie for the lead, only for Horschel to get up-and-down from a bunker to regain it.
The key moment came at the 16th, where Horschel drove into the trees, pitched out to the fairway and came up about 30 feet short on his third shot. Right when it looked as if he might blink first, Horschel drained the par putt to stay in front.
Ahead of him, Furyk came up well short of the 17th green and missed a 12-foot par putt. Horschel was already on the 18th tee when he watched Furyk three-putt the par-3 18th hole for another bogey. He put another shot in the middle of the green, taking away all the drama from the finish.
Not that it mattered to him.
Horschel is young enough – this is only fourth full year on the PGA Tour – that $10 million still matters. He conceded on Saturday that it would be hard not to think about it. Along with the bonus ($9 million in cash), Horschel gets a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
Rory McIlroy didn’t have his best stuff this week and if you’re a professional golfer, that’s very, very scary.
Rory McIlroy has the potential to make golf fans forget about Tiger Woods, at least for a little while.
‘I gutted it out': Rory McIlroy wins fourth major at soggy PGA Championship
How the PGA of America happened to end up with the luck of the Irish is a mystery, but the proprietor of the golf season’s last major championship survived a flood and defied sunset Sunday.
And in the end — accompanied by the flash of cameras peering into the gloaming — it was able to pull Rory McIlroy out of a hat for a satisfactory big finish.
Under fading light at the PGA Championship, McIlroy, 25, came from three shots down with nine holes to play to prevail in a rain-delayed final-round struggle against 44-year-old Phil Mickelson and 25-year-old Rickie Fowler. All three swapped birdies down the stretch.
For a while on Sunday during the final round of the PGA Championship, one of the most exciting and memorable in many years, it appeared as if the Northern Irishman was going to let the peleton of chasers pass him, that his run of exacting play was going to end. When he stood in the 10th fairway waiting to play his second shot, he saw Rickie Fowler birdie to go up three shots.Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson were also ahead of him. It was, he admitted later, time to make something happen, and that’s just what he did.
“I needed to sort of stay patient and just sort of bide my time and wait for something to click,” he said. “Something to happen and that something happened on the 10th hole. To make eagle there was a big turning point in the tournament, and from there, I kicked on and played some great golf down the stretch.”Great golf, but not the kind of golf that saw him win his last majors by three, six and eight shots. This time he had to grind it out, push himself uphill to the finish line.But he did just that, and it’s that performance that makes it all the more satisfying.”To win it in this fashion and this style, it means a lot,” said the 25-year-old. “It means that I know that I can do it. I know that I can come from behind. I know that I can mix it up with the best players in the world down the stretch in a major and come out on top.”Phil Mickelson, the second best player in this year and this generation, to be able to beat him on the back nine on a Sunday; it’s great to have in the memory bank and great to have in the locker going forward.”If it was impressive to watch him lap the field in his previous majors, it was stunning to see him control the back nine on this occasion.
Over the final five holes, each of the trio of chasers made a bogey: Stenson and Fowler the 14th, Mickelson the 16th. McIlroy played that stretch in one under.Oh there was that helping hand from the PGA of America on the final hole. As the sun was setting, Mickelson and Fowler allowed McIlroy and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger to hit their tee shots before the former had played their second.
But then the PGA, hustling to get finished before enduring a massive logistical and possibly financial nightmare to come back for a Monday finish, told the last two to play their second shots to the green. It was a breach of etiquette and one a gracious McIlroy made sure to acknowledge to Mickelson and Fowler in the scorer’s room as well as in his thank you speech on the 18th green (a ceremony that took place basically in the pitch black).
What McIlroy did was simple: Control the ball. Control his emotions. Control the game.And that’s what’s scary if you’re a golfer. Or impressive if you’re a fan.Earlier this year, McIlroy sat down with Jack Nicklaus and had a long conversation about all things golf. The Golden Bear told the Holywood Kid that he only had his best stuff in about five of the 18 majors he won. The other times he simply found a way to win.That’s what McIlroy seemed to discover yesterday, that he can beat the best without his best.McIlroy refused to call this a new era, a passing of the baton from that broken-down, old Tiger Woods.”People can call it what they want, that’s for them to decide,” he stated. “I just know that I can win tournaments.”It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves so soon after a victory, to anoint the new king before the old one is gone. But it sure seems as if the next few years are going to be fun to watch if yesterday was any indication.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy holds up the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship
Article by Ewan Murray of The Guardian:
Two days before the Open, there was a momentary worry surrounding the prospects of Rory McIlroy after his very interesting 2014. He had walked from the course at Hoylake after only eight practice holes. Fears over injury, or other element of the chaos that has occasionally engulfed him, arose. We should have known better.
An explanation quickly appeared from the McIlroy camp; a brief Tuesday walk on the links was always the plan. The 25-year-old had done his Royal Liverpool homework – and some, as it was to transpire – when visiting two weekends earlier. By Sunday night, the Claret Jug was being filled with Jägermeister at McIlroy’s victory party.
Twelve months after the lowest point in his professional career, when he missed the Open cut at Muirfield, McIlroy is on the verge of greatness. He left East Lothian with an empty feeling and simple motivation: “Never let this happen again.” It was the first time McIlroy had failed to survive for an Open weekend.
Now, a grand slam of majors is within view. Whisper it but there is even a legitimate argument that McIlroy is better equipped to chase Jack Nicklaus’s record haul of 18 than Tiger Woods. For all Woods continues to display flashes of brilliance and, at 38, is hardly on the verge of retirement, his invincibility on the big stage has disappeared.
Nicklaus led the post-Open tributes for McIlroy. “I like his swagger,” said the 74-year-old. “I like the way he handles himself. I like his desire to be great. I like his desire to do the things he needs to do. I like that in a young guy. He’s cocky in a nice way.”
Praise indeed. Nicklaus was impressed by the way McIlroy closed out victory, with a 71 which left Rickie Fowler and Sergio García trailing by two. He had earlier carded two 66s and a 68. This marks only the 10th time in history that a player has produced a wire-to-wire Open success.
“The other guys put the pressure on him with what they did,” Nicklaus said. “Rory then did what he had to do. That is the measure of what you are doing. It is not to go out and shoot another 66. It’s shooting what you have to shoot to win the tournament.”
When asked whether he would like to complete the major set next April at the Masters, McIlroy did nothing to hide his enthusiasm. “I’d love to,” he said. “Going to Augusta now with three legs of the grand slam under my belt, with just the Green Jacket to win; I will be going with a lot of motivation. I will be doing everything I can to prepare the best way I can.
“It will be a great chance for me to put that little milestone to bed and go forward. Before that, there is still the US PGA Championship to play at Valhalla and I want to play well there, but going to Augusta next April is going to be a lot of fun.”
If the Nicklaus magic number is some distance away for now, other targets are not. Nick Faldo, Europe’s most prolific major winner, claimed six. McIlroy has two more major victories to go before matching Seve Ballesteros. When, and it surely is when, McIlroy adds a fourth major to his roll of honour, he will be Irish golf’s record holder.
“I wanted to be an established tour player by the age of 25 and maybe win a major or have chances to win majors and tour events,” McIlroy said. “To be going to Augusta next year as a 25-year-old and have the chance to win the career grand slam – even I didn’t think it was possible.”
Bill Clinton was among those to pass on congratulations. McIlroy will fulfil commitments with sponsors this week before re-appearing competitively at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational from a week on Thursday.
McIlroy wins in streaks and has done so since his amateur days. To borrow the sentiment of Padraig Harrington in relation to McIlroy, consistency may be overrated anyway. McIlroy also tends to succeed when there is an opportunity to laugh in the face of detractors. The second-round curse, which had afflicted the man from Holywood in Northern Ireland in recent times, was comprehensively removed on the Wirral, for example.
“I think every major win is different,” McIlroy said. “Congressional [at the 2011 US Open] was maybe silencing the doubters and battling some of the demons I had in my own head. Kiawah Island [the 2012 US PGA Championship] was coming off a bit of a slump in form but still having a good year. I felt like in 2012 the only thing my year needed was a major.
“It has been a difficult 18 months, at times, since the start of 2013. Winning the Claret Jug makes it all worthwhile. This is maybe like Congressional because I had to silence a few doubters about how I could play links golf, how I could handle a lead, how I would play on a Friday.
“Did I think that I could do it this year? I did. My game was in good shape, I had won earlier in the year at Wentworth. I felt like I was just coming into form and just needed something to click. Everything clicked.”
The depth of competition in the big tournaments will make it tough for McIlroy to become a prolific winner. Yet that is his aim. “Golf is looking to someone to put their hand up. And I want to be that person.”
McIlroy’s ravenous appetite for success is just one element which separates him from his contemporaries; Faldo and Nicklaus were the same. How England’s supposedly golden golfing generation would love McIlroy’s prize list.
There is also a willingness to learn from tough times. McIlroy famously followed up a 63 at the Open of four years ago with an 80. In 2011, he led the Masters by four with one round to play but collapsed spectacularly over the closing stretch.
“You need experience like 2010, having the first-round lead and losing it,” he insists. “OK, I came back and finished third there but you need experiences like that to learn from.
“I definitely learned a lot from that day, just as I learned a lot from my day at Augusta in 2011. You need all these little experiences.”
McIlroy has plenty to look forward to over the rest of his year. The season’s final major, the US PGA Championship, is little over a fortnight away. He will also be a key player for Europe when the United States come calling to Gleneagles in late September.
In both events, and all others from now on, McIlroy will have a fresh status bestowed on him. At 25, he undoubtedly has scope to establish himself as a member of the golfing aristocracy.
Martin Kaymer had been telling everyone within earshot that was going to be the key to winning the 114th U.S. Open, a tournament he’d led from the start. But before the final round at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday he huddled up with his older brother, Philip, in the player’s lounge. How, Kaymer asked, was he supposed to put all that big talk into practice?
“And my brother said, ‘It’s very easy. I don’t need to tell you anything more. You know it all — you just have to let it happen,’” Kaymer said after firing a 1-under 69 to beat Erik Compton (72) and Rickie Fowler (72) by a comfortable eight strokes. “And it’s that simple. You just have to do it. You have to convince yourself. You have to believe. You have to play brave.”
Thanks to a pair of 65s on the rain-softened course Thursday and Friday, Kaymer dominated this U.S. Open from the start. He led by three shots after the first day, six after the second, and five after the third.
“The challenge was not to think too much about that trophy,” said the 29-year-old German, who also won $1.62 million. “Not to think too much about sitting here now, about what you’re going to say, how you might celebrate on 18 and those things, you know. It goes through your head, and I’m sure a lot of players feel the same way. Not many talk about it, but it is what it is. We do think about it. We are humans, and we’re not robots.”
Keegan Bradley shot a 3-under 67, the second best round of the day, and Jason Day had a 68 to join a five-way tie for fourth place that also included Dustin Johnson (73), Brooks Koepka (71) and Henrik Stenson (73).
Kaymer is the first Continental European to win the U.S. Open, and the first man to win the U.S. Open and the Players Championship in the same season. His eight-stroke victory tied Rory McIlroy (2011) for the fourth-largest margin of victory in a U.S. Open, and his 9-under total was lower than every U.S. Open winner save for McIlroy at Congressional (16 under) and Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000 (12 under).
Kaymer is a more complete player than he was when he won the 2010 PGA Championship and ascended all the way to No. 1. He wasn’t prepared for the attention, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for the scrutiny that came when he tried to change his swing — adding a draw to his arsenal after a string of missed cuts at the Masters — and briefly got worse.
“Four years ago I didn’t know what’s happening,” he said. “I was surprised. I was not expecting myself to win a major at 25. I was surprised about my performance. I was surprised about a lot of things.”
This time around he was determined to avoid unpleasant surprises, to stay in control — a word you hear a lot if you listen to Kaymer speak. Playing on Sunday in front of a gallery that included LPGA stars like Sandra Gal, Michelle Wie and Yani Tseng — among the contestants for this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst– Kaymer gave special attention to the first six holes. He wanted to get off to a better start than he had in the third round (72), and to see a succession of quality shots, not surprises, coming off his clubs.
He achieved just that with a routine par at the first hole and a solid tee shot with the driver — the club that had hurt him Saturday — at the second. His ball wound up just off the fairway, and he overshot the green, but used his putter to come up onto the putting surface, then drained his par putt from roughly ten feet. He drove the 313-yard third hole for an easy birdie.
Fowler, playing alongside Kaymer in the day’s final pairing, left his drive in the front bunker and failed to birdie the easy third, then made a mess of the fourth hole, taking double-bogey. It was all but over.
“I knew Martin was playing well and he was going to be tough to catch,” said Fowler, whose resurgence this season includes a T2 at the U.S. Open and a T5 at the Masters. “I figured I would have to go out and shoot a couple under on the front nine and at least put a little bit of heat on him. That was kind of stopped quickly when I made a quick double there on 4.”
Compton, playing in front of them, came the closest to making a run. The two-time heart transplant recipient was knocking down pins and making putts, but kept following birdies with bogeys. He three-putted from inside 10 feet on the seventh hole and could get no closer than four back.
“I knew we were playing for second,” said Compton, 34, who earned $790,000 for his T2 finish. “I had my opportunities to put a little heat on him and I got it to 4-under, then I made a bogey. But all in all, finishing second, the up-and-down I made on 18, just makes the whole week really sweet.”
This was a U.S. Open in which the usual bold-faced names didn’t show up, either literally or figuratively. Woods was still recovering from a bad back and missed the tournament entirely. That left the spotlight to Phil Mickelson, who was trying to win his first U.S. Open after six career second-place finishes, and Rory McIlroy, who was trying to prove he is all the way back after winning the BMW PGA Championship three weeks ago.
Alas, Mickelson fought his putter, alternating between a claw and a regular grip, and averaged more than 30 putts per round despite praising Pinehurst’s “pure and perfect” greens. He hit just five of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens Sunday and shot 72. He never broke par in any round, finished well back at 7 over, and is still looking for his first top-10 finish of 2014.
McIlroy shot a second-round 68, but scores of 74-73 on the weekend left him 6 over for the tournament. He is still searching for the form that made him the runaway 2011 U.S. Open champion at Congressional and carried him to victory at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah. Kaymer joined McIlroy as the only players in their 20s with multiple majors.
“I’m wondering how he did it,” McIlroy said of Kaymer’s sustained mastery over Pinehurst No. 2. “It’s tough. I think I’ve made a total of nine birdies this week. It’s like — it’s just, I don’t see any more out there.”
Kaymer made 16 birdies and an eagle. His next start will be at the BMW International Open in his native Germany, June 26-29, and after that it won’t be long before the British Open at Royal Liverpool, July 17-20. That would be major number three, if his run of excellence continues. To watch Kaymer dominate at Pinehurst, you can’t imagine how he could lose.
Martin Kaymer produced one of the most unlikely pars on the 17th green at the TPC Sawgrass without ever going in the water. It carried him to a one-shot victory Sunday in The Players Championship that was emotional in so many ways.
Kaymer nearly blew a three-shot lead after a 90-minute rain delay until he holed a 30-foot par putt on the famous island green. He got up-and-down with his putter from short of the 18th green for one last par and a 1-under 71.
Jim Furyk closed with a 66 — he had to wait after the rain delay to rap in a 3-foot par putt — and it looked as though it might be enough to force a playoff, or even win outright when the 29-year-old German began to crumble. Furyk had to settle for a runner-up finish for the second straight week.
Jordan Spieth, tied with Kaymer going into the final round, made his first bogey of the tournament on the fifth hole, and plenty more followed. He closed with a 74.Unfortunately, lost his steam in the finishing holes.
The typical stress that Sawgrass brings on Sunday was contained to the final hour, and it was almost more than Kaymer could take. The German made double bogey from an aggressive play behind a pine tree on the 15th. He nervously chose putter from a collection area on the par-5 16th that cost him a chance at birdie.
Nothing could top the 17th hole, the most exciting on the Stadium Course.
Kaymer had a one-shot lead. His tee shot cleared the water and landed on a mound just over the bunker, but it mysteriously spun hard back toward the front of the green and looked as if it might go into the water until it settled into the clumpy collar a foot from the bulkhead. His chip was weak, and he still had 30 feet down a ridge with a sharp swing to the right. He made the putt, pumping his fist in a rare show of emotion.
His putt from the fairway on 18 settled 3 feet behind the hole, and Kaymer was as much relieved as excited when he knocked it in.
A former world No. 1 and major champion, Kaymer nearly choked up when asked about winning on Mother’s Day. His mother, Rina, died of cancer in 2008 shortly after Kaymer won the BMW International Open in Germany.
He has a sunflower — her favorite flower — on his golf bag.
“My mother was always there to be affectionate and show us love,” Kaymer said in a taped interview with NBC Sports. “When my mom passed away, that stopped. We had enough when we were younger. Mother’s Day is always a nice day. I hope a lot of kids show their mothers we love them.”
Interviewed on the 18th green, so dark that the clubhouse was glowing from the outdoor lights, Kaymer said brother Phillip sent him a text that morning which he described as “very emotional.”
“It’s a good day for all of us,” he said.
Kaymer finished at 13-under 275 and joined an elite group by winning the biggest event on golf’s strongest tour. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are the only other players to win a major, a World Golf Championship and The Players Championship.
Sergio Garcia made a strong run until he hit into the water on the par-5 11th and lost momentum by missing too many putts. He closed with a 70 to finish alone in third at 11 under.
For the 20-year-old Spieth, it was another lost opportunity. He went 58 consecutive holes without a bogey at Sawgrass until dropping a shot at No. 5. Spieth still was tied for the lead approaching the turn when Kaymer pulled away.
Spieth made bogey on No. 8. Kaymer got up-and-down from a bunker for birdie on No. 9. Spieth made another bogey on No. 10 when his wedge bounced over the green, and Kaymer made another superb bunker shot on the par-5 11th for birdie.
He was humming along until the horn sounded to stop play. When he returned, it all started to go wrong. But he held his nerve — he spoke earlier in the week about trying not to be a “wimp” — and produced an important win.
It was the 14th victory worldwide for Kaymer, ended an 0-for-29 drought. His last win was at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa at the end of 2012, right after he delivered the crucial point for Europe in its Ryder Cup comeback. Kaymer was No. 1 in the world in February 2011 until he wanted to retool his swing to be able to hit a greater variety of shots. He needed all of them Sunday.
Thanks to PGATour.com for the following analysis of the 2013 Masters Victory by Bubba Watson
Bubba Watson Wins The 2014 Masters Championship, Two Time Masters Winner
“Bubba Golf” sounds like some sort of video game or golf shop next to the Waffle House on Washington Road. But it’s something else now: A two-time Masters champion.
When Bubba Watson won his first Green Jacket two years ago, he said he never got that far in his dreams. Sunday night at Augusta National, he never woke up from one.
“It’s overwhelming,” Watson said. “Small-town guy named Bubba now has two Green Jackets, it’s pretty wild. I know my mom probably watched at home. I wish she was here.”
Like all good artists and magicians, he gave her, and everyone else, a pretty good show.
But unlike in 2012 when he hit a 40-yard hook out of a pallet of Georgia pines on the 10th hole — the signature shot in his playoff victory — he made this one look easy. All Watson needed to secure a three-shot victory over Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt was a tap-in on 18.
“The shot out of the woods made me famous, but this one was a lot better for me and my nerves, my family, probably on (my caddie) Teddy,” he said. “I went over to him and I said, ‘I’m not very good at math, but we’ve got four putts, right?’ ”
Watson doesn’t see straight lines when he plays golf, and using his bright pink driver the way Houdini or Michelangelo would their wands, curved and carved his way to a final-round 69 that was part artistry and pure horsepower — never more so than on the par-5 13th, where “Bubba Golf” was in full bloom.
He bombed his tee shot some 360 yards down the 510-yard dogleg left, leaving a few leaves in its vapor trail and a mere sand wedge in his hand to set up his lone birdie on the back nine. No one got closer than three strokes the rest of the day.
The list of those with multiple Green Jackets is a short and exclusive one: Jack, Arnie, Tiger, Demaret, Snead, Player, Faldo, Phil, Horton, Byron, Hogan, Watson, Seve, Langer, Crenshaw, Jose Maria … and Bubba?
Augusta National might seem stuck in time with its $1.50 egg salad sandwiches, $3 beer and slow Southern pace about it, but it’s also a ballpark perfectly built for “Bubba Golf.” Over the last dozen years, six times a left-hander has slipped his arms into the Green Jacket.
“I felt like this year was the most comfortable I’ve ever been as far as I was able to go out there and feel my way around,” said Rickie Fowler, who finished six shots back of Watson in a tie for fifth. “And I believe that’s how Bubba has felt the past few years here, especially after he won. He can go out and not try and calculate his way around the golf course, but feel it and know what clubs he’s supposed to hit at certain times to certain pins from yardages.”
Added one swing coach who has seen his share of Green Jacket ceremonies: “Augusta has become a lefty course, big time. It’s easier to cut today’s drivers and that’s an advantage on Nos. 2, 5, 9, 10, 13, 14 … even with irons and a powerful player who can work the ball, and Bubba does that better than anyone. Easy game for Bubba, driver gap wedge on 13.”
Easy, indeed, when playing “Bubba Golf.”
In the opening round, Watson hit a 9-iron 186 yards on the par-3 16th. The next day, in a span of three holes he hit the same club 150 and 178 yards. Past Masters champion Ben Crenshaw came out of his chair when he saw the former, saying, “I hit 4-iron!”
“Being athletic, I guess you could say I could hit any shot with any club,” Watson said.
Or as his longtime caddie Ted Scott says when asked to describe “Bubba Golf”: “Freak show. I asked him on 18, after he hit the tee shot, I said, ‘Are you from Mars or something, because I don’t believe that you can hit these shots that you hit.’ ”
The old adage at Augusta National is that the tournament doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday. This one was decided before ever reaching it.
Watson beat the Masters into submission and grabbed the Green Jacket by both lapels with four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine. Over the past 25 years, only one leader going into the final round had a span like that: Phil Mickelson, another left-hander, did it on the back nine on the way to winning in 2004.
“No one pays the game the way he does,” said Nantz, who has been anchored on CBS’ coverage for just as long. “You’re looking at a different man, a complicated creative genius.”
The best artists and magicians always are, even when they’ve never taken a lesson, learned the game by beating whiffle balls around the backyard and come from a tiny town like Bagdad, Fla.
“It’s hard to explain,” Watson said of his success. “It’s a drive and a will, a lot of hard work.
“You have to play your swing. You have to play what you know. Sometimes I hit a big slice off the tee to get it in play. Sometimes I hit a big draw with an iron. I don’t care how pretty it is. I don’t care if it’s ugly. I don’t care if it’s out of the woods. I just want to make a score. Lucky for me, I’ve done it a couple times around this place.”
Only luck has nothing to do with it when you’re paying “Bubba Golf” at Augusta National.
I just played Streamsong Resort in Central Florida this weekend and it was a fantastic golf experience. I’m Bob Bryce of OnlyForeGolf.com.
The designs are great although from the black tees some of the par 4s are a little extreme in length (460 to 470 yards uphill) but overall a very playable pair of golf courses. We played from the black tees and the courses played between 6700 and 6800 yards.
There are two golf courses, the RED Course and The BLUE course. Both unique but similar. Overall I preferred the RED course due to the variety in the golf holes.
Conditioning wasn’t perfect but perhaps we noticed more than some as most of the group played at Mediterra in Naples including myself and we’re going through a major renovation to both of our golf courses due to the quality of the grass. As some would say if Mediterra was a 5 for quality of the turf, Streamsong would be a 3 but we didn’t care. That’s not what makes Streamsong.
You need to be on your game and especially your short game. As I mentioned earlier, some of the par 4s are very long and play longer. Unless you’re a bomber, these are going to be 3 shot holes.
The course setting is in an old phosphate mine and there is so much beauty surrounding the lakes on both courses. Also, sand galore.
The Clubhouse and Lodge have a look from the old mining days in my opinion and are unique.
Overall, loved the experience but very tired after walking these courses. Temperatures were in the mid to high 80s and the sun was out in all its glory.
It’s expensive but worth it. Nightlife is at the resort and probably quiet as most players are tired. Isolated but wonderful and I would recommend Streamsong to all dedicated golfers. High handicappers would not enjoy this unless to view the scenery and feel the experience.
The following pics and copy are published by Streamsong and it gives you the feeling of the resort.
“If you haven’t been to Streamsong, prepare to be astonished.”
– Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes
Forget about any shot you’ve ever played, any course you’ve ever visited. When it comes to golf at Streamsong®, there is no comparison. Because for the first time in their considerable careers, renowned golf architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw of Coore & Crenshaw, and Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design, worked side by side simultaneously to create two extraordinary 18-hole golf masterpieces—both of which were specifically designed to be walked and offer the ultimate golfing experience, the likes of which Florida has never seen.
The driving force behind Streamsong is The Mosaic Company and its visionary use of land recovered from a former phosphate mine. Through the land recovery process, sand dunes were created throughout the property, which made for dramatic rises in elevation and the perfect base for fairways and greens with a stunning variety in contour. This inspired combination of indigenous and man-made terrain—coupled with the imaginations of three of the finest golf course architects in the world—set the stage for two of the best links-style golf courses ever to be played.
Prepare yourself for an entirely new walking golf experience.
“This is such a good piece of land for golf. The variety of contours created by the mining process is unique for a project in Florida—or anywhere in the Southeast.”
— Tom Doak, Renaissance Golf Design
With its multiple elevation changes, fairways navigating wild grasses and deep-water ponds, and huge bunkers that roll off of towering sand dunes, Streamsong Blue seems designed by discovery rather than by intention. Created by Renaissance Golf Design’s renowned architect Tom Doak—who already has four designs ranked among the top 100 in the world—Streamsong Blue is equally destined for golfing greatness. It features spectacular terrain, with rises and falls in elevation, and contours that undulate.
“…some of the most unusual, interesting and dramatic land forms we have ever encountered…the landscape is different than anything we’ve ever worked with.”
— Bill Coore, Coore & Crenshaw
Simply put, Streamsong Red is like nothing you’ve ever played. Designed by the legendary team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw—architects of five designs in the Top 100 in the United States—Streamsong Red is an 18-hole masterpiece. With its 419 Bermuda Grass fairways winding through decades-old sand dunes, lakes, and natural bunkers, Streamsong “is naturally conducive to uncovering great golf holes,” says Crenshaw, who himself is a two-time PGA Masters Champion. “It is going to be spectacular.”
With its striking landforms, expansive lakes, rolling terrain and stretches of open savannah, Streamsong Red brings drama and strategy into play on each spectacular hole.
ORLANDO, Fla. — The first tournament Matt Every attended as a kid growing up in nearby Daytona Beach was the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
He never could have imagined winning there. Sunday, he did.
“It’s hard,” an emotional Every said after a final-round, 2-under 70 gave him a one-shot victory at Bay Hill and the first of his career on the PGA TOUR. “It’s tough, man. You just never know if it’s going to happen. You get there so many times. It’s nice to get it done.”
He had plenty of help from Masters champ Adam Scott, who entered the weekend with a seven-shot lead and was up by four over Every entering the final round.
But the Aussie had an uncanny collapse with a 76 to tumble to third, two shots back. Keegan Bradley, who began the day three back, needed to make a 30-foot putt on the 18th to force a playoff, shot 72 to finish second.
I can’t believe I won,” said the 30-year-old Every, who earned 500 FedExCup points and a spot in the Masters for the first time. “Being close to winning out here, I mean it can be kind of discouraging because if you don’t win you just wonder if it’s ever going to happen.
“I don’t see how it could get much better than this, being so close to where I grew up and all the fans out there that were cheering me on. It was awesome.”
At times, so was Every.
He made four birdies in a five-hole stretch in the middle of his round to surge past a struggling Scott, taking the lead for good with a birdie on the par-4 13th.
In the end, though, he had to hang on in a wild final hour.
After finding the right rough on the par-5 16th, Every’s second shot struck a tree and he was forced to lay up short of the green. His next shot landed 25 feet behind the hole and he two-putted for bogey, opening the door for Scott.
Playing in the group behind Every, Scott reached the 16th in two but three-putted from 20 feet.going for his first win. “This is really cool.”
Matt Every Wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Florida
The chances of the U.S. winning the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles this fall just went up.
Thanks to Patrick Reed’s victory at last week’s World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship — his third in his last 14 starts, mind you — the 23-year-old has pretty much guaranteed himself a spot on the roster.
How good is Reed? A top-five player in the world. Just ask him.
He is golf’s Richard Sherman, but at last check Sherman really is one of the best corners in the game and has a Super Bowl ring to prove it.
He is an American Ian Poulter, sans the tartan trousers. Instead, Reed wears a red shirt and black pants on Sundays. That’s far more bold than anything hanging in Poulter’s closet.
The red-shirt-on-Sundays club has been a table for one the past 15-plus years. Not that Reed cares.
“The best player ever to live when I was growing up wore black pants, a red shirt,” Reed says matter-of-factly. “I was growing up watching him, I always thought, you know, it would be cool to wear black and red come down Sunday.
“I did it when I was in juniors, I did it in amateur golf, and you know, it’s worked. It’s one of those things that I’ve been comfortable wearing it and you know, obviously he’s been comfortable wearing it. Just happens to be that we both wear it on Sunday now.”
And it just happens that Reed closes on Sundays like he’s Mariano Rivera. The 23-year-old is 3-for-3 with 54-hole leads in his brief but impressive career on the PGA TOUR.
The first time he did it, he beat the game’s current 20-something darling Jordan Spieth in a playoff.
The next came after three-straight 63s at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
The most recent example of his ability to slam the door came Sunday at Trump National Doral, where Reed did what the other guy in the red shirt and black pants used to do: Hit the accelerator early with three birdies in his first four holes to force everyone else into making mistakes.
Woods, by the way, was playing in the group directly in front of Reed that day and had saddled up next to him on the range. It looked like Reed barely noticed. Then he went out and beat one of the best fields he’ll see all year.
Some might be surprised by Reed’s meteoric rise and choice of words in a sport that largely shies away from smack talk. But that self-assuredness comes from a place that’s hard to argue from.
“It comes from winning,” said Reed, who has quite the resume in that department dating all the way back to his teenage years.
He led his high school to two straight state championships in Louisiana and won the 2006 Junior British Open.
At Augusta State, where he arrived after a short stint at the University of Georgia, Reed led the Jaguars to back-to-back national championships and went undefeated in match play those two years.
About the only time Reed didn’t win was at the 2008 U.S. Amateur, where he lost, 3 and 2, to Danny Lee in the semifinals.
Once Reed turned pro, winning time didn’t stop.
In 2012, he Monday qualified a ridiculous six times. Later that year after shooting 70-75 to sit well down the leaderboard at q-school, he finished 68-67-68-67 to tie for 22nd to earn his card. He hasn’t looked back since.
“I’m a firm believer that if you’re not working hard, people are working hard and passing you,” Reed said. “Look at Tiger; I mean, he doesn’t just go home and sit on the couch, that’s for sure. He works as hard as he can at home and puts in all the hours, and that’s why he has an ungodly amount of wins.”
Lately Reed has been the one doing the passing. Only Tiger, Rory, Phil and Sergio have also won three TOUR events by age 23. Since 2012, Reed’s world ranking has gone from north of 500 to 20th.
All of this will lead Reed to his first Ryder Cup seven months from now.
And how great would it be to see Reed play Poulter in Sunday singles trying to help the Americans win their first Cup since 2008?
“That was one of my goals a long time ago was to make it on the Ryder Cup Team,” Reed said. “I love match play, and to work very hard and actually earn my spot on that team would mean everything to me.”
We all need to be more flexible as it relates to our golf swing. The more we can turn, the faster our club head speed and farther we can hit the golf ball. We need flexibility in our shoulder and core. We need greater hip speed.
These golf channel instruction videos are easy to follow but will help.
Do you want to hit the ball farther? Club head speed is the answer. Why do you think 135 lb. golfers can hit it farther than 222 lb. golfers. Strength has nothing to do with it.
The following videos explore different areas and ways to generate this speed. Lots of disagreement as to what is the most important factor but all contribute to this speed. Don’t let anyone tell you distance off the tee isn’t important. It is. Direction certainly is important too.
Ask anyone about distance and if they are short off the tee they will rationalize that their short game is more important. They’ve had to make that compromise. Short game is important at all levels and nowhere more important that on the PGA Tour where even the shortest hitter of a golf ball hits it a mile compared to most amateurs.
Everyone wants to hit the ball further than they currently do. Period. View these videos and see what works for you. I love the Power Hip Trainer personally but you have to combine hip speed and strength with your turn, downward motion of the arms and swing lag.
We all want to hit the golf ball farther. Straight is great too. The combination is really what it’s all about. Watch these two videos that give you tips as to how to dramatically increase your driving distance.
You will have to practice these moves as they won’t come naturally at first. Why would they?
Another device I have found really works to help these moves are the Gold Flex Swing trainer and the Orange Whip. You should get one of these to help your golf swings.
These videos are simple and easy to understand. Watch them several times and then go practice.
Hit The Golf Ball Longer and Straighter, Number One On Our Golf Wish List
Johnson rallied from four shots behind with eight holes to play, holed out from a drop area for par on the last hole to force a playoff, and beat the No. 1 player in golf at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge when Woods missed a 5-foot par putt on the first extra hole.
"Pretty impressive what he did," Woods said. "He got me."
It was an extraordinary sendoff at Sherwood, which hosted the World Challenge for the 14th and final time before it moves to Florida next year.
The big surprise was the winner in so many ways.
"I feel very fortunate, and a bit lucky," said Johnson, who moved into the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.
For Woods, it was only the fourth time in his career that he lost a lead of at least two shots going into the final round, the second time at Sherwood. Graeme McDowell overcame a four-shot deficit in 2010 and beat Woods in a playoff.
This was far more dramatic.
They were tied after Johnson hit his tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th hole. Playing from the left rough, Woods came up just short and watched his approach tumble down the elevated green and into the bunker. Johnson followed with his worst shot of the week, an 8-iron so weak that it came up well short and into the hazard.
Johnson knew Woods had a difficult bunker shot, and if he figured if he could stick his wedge close from 58 yards away in the drop zone, a bogey might be enough to get into a playoff. The ball bounced three times and then spun back a few inches into the cup for an unlikely par and a 4-under 68.
"A little too dramatic for me," Johnson said.
Woods' hit a superb bunker shot to 2 feet and matched his par for a 70. They finished on 13-under 275.
Woods was between clubs from the 18th fairway in the playoff and tried a smooth 7-iron that he lost enough to the right that it again found the bunker. He hit an exquisite sand shot, this one sliding 5 feet by the hole, and the par putt spun out of the left side.
Johnson won $1 million and should go to No. 9 in the world.
Woods ended what he called a "damn good year" -- five wins, the most of anyone in the world -- with a shocking loss to Johnson. Two years ago, Woods ended the longest drought of his career when he went birdie-birdie at Sherwood to beat Johnson by one shot.
Matt Kuchar (67) and Bubba Watson (70) tied for third at 9-under 279.
The attendance Sunday was 24,922, a record for any round in 14 years at Sherwood. Traffic outside the tony club in the Santa Monica foothills looked like an L.A. freeway in what could be the last chance in the near future to see Woods in southern California.
Woods appeared to have his sixth title at Sherwood sewed up when Johnson missed a short par putt on the 10th hole to fall four shots behind with eight holes to play. Woods had said on Saturday that Johnson wasn't the kind of player who went away easily, and he was right.
Johnson picked up birdies on the 11th and 12th holes, and then got back in the game on the 14th when Woods three-putted from long range on the 14th, and Johnson saved his par with an 8-foot putt to get within one shot.
The rest of the way looked like the final rounds of a heavyweight fight, even if only one of them looked the part.
Johnson laid up on the par-5 16 and nearly holed a sand wedge from 88 yards, setting up a tap-in birdie. Woods, with a tough chip left of the green, rehearsed the shot over and over and it came out perfectly for a matching birdie. Johnson finally caught him with a tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th, leading to the big finish.
Johnson looked almost apologetic when Woods missed his par putt in the playoff, and it was shocking to see. No one from his generation as made more clutch putts than Woods, who spoke about the topic earlier in the week.
But not this time. It was not the way he wanted to leave Sherwood, where Woods has five wins and now five runner-up finishes. The only consolation was $400,000 for finishing second, bringing to just over $14 million the earnings he has donated to his foundation from the three tournaments (AT&T National, Deutsche Bank Championship, World Challenge) that support his education programs.
Zach Johnson's Exciting Playoff Win Over Tiger Woods, NorthEastern Mutual World Challenge
The Golf boys who are Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan. Couple of funny but good videos (Oh, Oh, Oh and 2.Oh) that the boys have used to raise money for charities. Two songs and the making of their first video.
Hilarious and makes fun of all of them individually. Love this group together. Down to earth golf pros who really care.
The Golf Boys Funny Videos, Bubba, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan
Paul Wilson’s instruction is based on the swing of the Iron Byron. Why the Iron Byron? … Because it has the only perfect golf swing on the planet and it was modeled after one of the best golfers of all time; Byron Nelson! Plus, the machine is simple. It only has 3 elements yet it hits the ball perfectly. Why make it complicated?
Golf Instruction: Technique
To develop a great swing you just have to relate the Iron Byron back to your own golf swing. Once you do, you’ll understand exactly how the golf swing works as well as what you should be working on. With this understanding you’ll also know how to instantly cure any swing flaw in golf so you can get your game back on track in record time.
With Paul’s instructional technique there is no guess-work. There’s no more going to range not knowing what to work on or getting frustrated. There’s no more spinning your wheels. For too long golf instruction has been too complicated when really the golf swing should be simple.
Founder – Ignition Golf
School Director – Paul Wilson Golf School at Bear’s Best
Las Vegas (2010 – present)
Director of Instruction – The Broadmoor Swing Machine Golf
Director of Instruction – Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate – (2002
Director of Instruction – Angus Glen Golf Club (1996-2001)
Apprentice – Cataraqui Country Club, Kingston Ontario (1994 –
Apprentice – Conestoga Country Club, Conestoga Ontario (1993)
Apprentice – Elmira Golf Club, Elmira Ontario (1991 – 1992)
Fred Couples, the coolest guy in golf, never really looked that way until he stood on the edge of the 18th fairway Sunday and saw everything going his way.
The Americans needed only one more point to win the Presidents Cup.
And there was Tiger Woods, who has a history of delivering the winning point, in the middle of the fairway at Muirfield Village, where he has won a record five times.
The Presidents Cup ended just the way it always does.
Woods found the green and two-putted for par and a 1-up victory over Richard Sterne, the third straight time he has won the clinching point in the Presidents Cup. The Americans won for the fifth straight time — and eighth time in 10 tries — against an International side that showed some fight when it was too late to matter.
The Americans, who finished strong Sunday morning in the rain-delayed foursomes for a 14-8 lead, only needed to win four singles matches.
It took longer than anyone expected.
“I must have asked 500 times, ‘How are we getting this fourth point? Where is the fourth point coming from?'” said Couples, a three-time winner as U.S. captain. “You’re nervous. Not for the players — the players know what they’re doing. But we knew we needed 18 points, and we got them. It was a very, very good match today. And the matches were all close. At no given time was I a nervous wreck. But it was nice when Tiger two-putted that last green to get the 18th point.”
The final score — United States 18½, International 15½ — and whether the matches would beat the rain was really the only suspense on Sunday.
“People say it was close. Jack (Nicklaus) said it was close,” International captain Nick Price said. “You tell me. We were behind the 8-ball all day. If we pulled it off, it would have been miraculous.”
Not that his team of seven rookies didn’t give it a shot.
Zach Johnson closed out Branden Grace, 4 and 2, to give the Americans 17 points and assure them a tie. But it took more than an hour to get that last point.
Graham DeLaet holed out for birdie for the second time Sunday on the 18th hole, this time from a bunker to beat 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. Ernie Els found his putting touch and beat Steve Stricker. Marc Leishman rolled in a 15-foot par putt from the back fringe of the 18th green to beat Matt Kuchar. Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel won their matches.
The International team’s fleeting hopes ended when Woods, despite suffering back spasms again in the final hour of his match, didn’t make a birdie on the back nine and still won. Sterne helped him by hitting his tee shot off the corporate tents behind the 16th green and making bogey.
“It was a team effort this whole week,” said Woods, who went 4-1 for the best record of any player. “We really played well to give ourselves a nice lead.”
Rain interrupted the matches all week and made Muirfield Village so soft that it was mere target practice for the best players from every continent but Europe. It was a long, tiring week of leaving the course at darkness and completing matches the next morning when it was just as dark.
The Americans might have won this Presidents Cup on Sunday morning.
Returning to finish off the foursomes session, the Americans picked up a win and a halve in matches they had trailed by three holes.
Phil Mickelson hit one of many exquisite shots this week — a 7-iron he had to hook with the ball slightly below his feet, around a tree to about 10 feet. Keegan Bradley had to make the birdie putt for a half-point after DeLaet chipped in for birdie. Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel played the last six holes in 5-over par — three bogeys and a ball out-of-bounds for double bogey in losing to Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker.
“It was a tall order, but they gave it their best shot. These guys played their tails off,” Price said. “We’re a real hodge-podge of a team that came together from four corners of the planet. And they gave the might of America a run for their money.”
The closing ceremony was moved indoors because of approaching rain, and it led to an awkward moment as the International team watched the Americans pass around the gold trophy and pose for the pictures before quietly filing out of the room.
Since that famous tie in South Africa in 2003, the Americans have won by at least three points every time. Only one of them, in 2005, was close. International players talked about the importance of making a contest out of this exhibition, and only a 7½-4½win in singles made it feel that way at the end.
“We kept it very interesting today,” Scott said. “We gave it a good shake.”
Mickelson and Angel Cabrera were the last match on the course, and it was comical at times. Mickelson hit one shot that ricocheted off a tree to the left, skipped out of the water and into the rough, and he pitched that to 5 feet — and then missed the putt to lose the hole. On the final hole, Cabrera had 3 feet for par to win the match. Instead of conceding, Mickelson first knocked in his 5-foot bogey putt, and then conceded. All in good fun, which is how the day felt.
“There was no intensity. We played and enjoyed the day and the people here in Columbus,” Mickelson said after four bogeys in the last five holes. “I thought it was going to be closed out early. On 12 or 13, they said, ‘Your match is going to count.’ What? We ended up winning. That’s all that matters.”
Even with the captains able to control the pairings, the singles lineup was dull. Woods has played Els in South Africa, Greg Norman in Australia, Mike Weir in Canada and Y.E. Yang the same year the South Korean beat him in the PGA Championship. This time, he was up against Sterne.
“I did my pairings to try to win the cup,” Price said.
It might not have mattered against a U.S. team so strong that every player was among the top 30 in the world.
“They played golf that was incredible to watch,” Price said. “But for this team, I would be honored if they ever asked me to be captain of this team again. I don’t care where it is.”
At this stage in his career, Henrik Stenson never expects anything to come easily.
He already had poured in hours upon hours of work to even get to this stage — a four-shot lead going into the last day of the Tour Championship, giving him a clear shot at the FedEx Cup and the biggest payoff in golf. He was reminded what was at stake when he saw the two trophies displayed on the first tee at East Lake.
“I knew it was a lot of things on the line,” he said.
He figured his best move was to play his best golf, and he delivered a 2-under 68 on Sunday to claim both trophies.
With a birdie on the 15th hole that thwarted a late charge by 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, followed by three pars from the sand, Stenson wound up with a three-shot victory over Spieth and Steve Stricker in the Tour Championship. Equally important, if not more, he captured the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
“The main thing is to block everything out and go play golf, which I was pretty good at in the long run,” Stenson said Sunday.
The short run hasn’t been bad, either.
No one has played better over the last three months. Stenson tied for third in the Scottish Open, and was runner-up a week later at the British Open. He was runner-up in the World Golf Championship at Firestone and finished third at the PGA Championship. And when the FedEx Cup playoffs began, the 37-year-old Swede didn’t lose his stride. He won the Deutsche Bank Championship to get the No. 2 seed, and then capped it off with the first wire-to-wire win (no ties) in the Tour Championship since Tom Watson in the first year of this 30-man showcase.
“Hats off to him,” Stricker said. “He played great. He played great in the playoffs. He won two of these events. He deserves to be champion.”
The PGA Tour is sending out ballots for the player of the year, with the result to be announced Friday. Stenson figures to be on the ballot with his two FedEx Cup playoff wins, and as FedEx Cup champion. It still might not be enough to trump Tiger Woods and his five victories, or the two-win seasons of major champions Phil Mickelson (British Open) or Adam Scott (Masters).
Spieth is a lock for rookie of the year. He started the season with no status on any tour, earned enough money to get his card for the 2013-14 season, won the John Deere Classic, shot 62 the last day of the Deutsche Bank Championship, made the Presidents Cup as a captain’s pick and closed with a 64 to put a brief scare into Stenson on the final day at East Lake. He wound up seventh in the FedEx Cup, the best ever for a rookie. Not bad for a 20-year-old Texan.
The tour hasn’t awarded comeback player of the year since 2010, and maybe that’s where Stenson fits in.
What a turnaround.
The first slump more than a decade ago was by far the most severe as Stenson had no idea where the ball was going. This time, it was a combination of a few health issues and a lot of bad golf, the latter cured by hard work.
Even so, the Swede was not even among the top 200 in the world going into the 2012 season. He now matches a career-best at No. 4 in the world rankings.
“It shows that I never give up,” Stenson said. “This is way beyond what I could have imagined.”
Spieth made him work for it.
The youngest player in Tour Championship history ran off four straight birdies on the back nine to pull within one shot after Stenson went well over the 14th green and made his long bogey. Stenson could hear the cheers and knew what he faced over the last four holes.
“I’m not just a pretty face. I can put 1 and 1 together,” the Swede said with his dry humor.
Stenson drilled a 3-wood into the fairway on the par-5 15th that set up an 8-foot birdie. Ahead of him on the 17th, Spieth was between clubs and chose to hammer a 9-iron that he caught heavy enough that it plugged in the front bunker. He made bogey and ended his threat.
“I was just looking up and seeing that I needed more instead of being satisfied with what happened,” Spieth said of his four straight birdies.
The last challenge came from Stricker, who rolled in an eagle putt on the 15th hole to get within two. Stricker saved par behind the 16th green, and then missed two birdie chances from about 18 feet on the last two holes for a 65. He tied for second with Spieth.
Stricker didn’t realize that making any of those last two putts would have been worth an extra $1 million for finishing second in the FedEx Cup. He only cared about winning, knowing he needed birdies and for Stenson to make a mistake.
“I knew the putt meant a lot. I didn’t know it meant that much,” he said with a smile. He finished third in the FedEx Cup and received a $2 million bonus.
Stenson, who finished at 13-under 267, became the first European to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
Woods, the No. 1 seed going into the Tour Championship, never recovered from his 73-71 start. He closed with a 67 to tie for 22nd, his worst finish ever at East Lake, and wound up second in the FedEx Cup. That still was worth a $3 million bonus.
Stenson, who only last week smashed a driver and his locker at the BMW Championship out of frustration brought on by playing so much golf, finally gets a break. He was headed to his home in Orlando, Fla., for a four-week break before returning in Shanghai.
Next up: A chance to become the first player to win the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour and the Race to Dubai on the European Tour in the same season.
At this stage in his career, Henrik Stenson never expects anything to come easily.
Henrik Up Close and Personal (From his website)
I grew up in the south of Sweden with my mother, Mona, my father, Ingemar and my ten-year younger sister, Ulrika.
I met Emma Löfgren, who is now my wife, through mutual golfing friends. Emma comes from a sporting family in the north of Sweden. She was a very talented alpine skier but golf became her sport of choice. When I met Emma she was playing golf for the University of South Carolina, where she majored in Public Relations and Media. I spent a lot of time with her over there. Puggy Blackmon, who was head of the men’s golf program at South Carolina, let me practice and hang out with the team. After graduation Emma worked as a teaching pro at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club for a few years. Since we both have a golfing background, we have a mutual understanding of the game and what it takes to succeed.
In December 2006 we got married in Dubai, which is also where we resided until the beginning of 2012. We had our first child, “Princess” Lisa, in July 2007. And Karl, or Kalle as we call him, made our family even bigger in March 2010.
We moved from Dubai to the United States in 2012. Emma and the kids join me on tour as much as our schedules allow them.
Whenever we can, we visit Sweden for a number of weeks in summer, and in winter we go to our cabin in Tärnaby, Sweden, for some skiing and snowmobiling.
We have a large extended family, with siblings, parents and cousins that often come and see us wherever we are in the world. The house is always full of family, friends and coaches. It’s a family affair…
I love skiing and we did some this Christmas in Tärnaby. Lisa and Kalle has started and they love it, so I can’t wait until the whole family can go skiing together. Also, we own a red Yamaha snowmobile that we call Stalin. I drove it this New Year and got stuck in the snow for about 20 minutes. We had to lift and dig it out of the snow. Who said that minus 20 Celsius is cold?
Fishing for marlin in Tenerife in 2002 – a very memorable experience. The waters were so rough I got seasick. Wonder why I haven’t tried that for a while? We’ve also done some jet-skiing, in the Cayman Islands in September 2010. It was great and I even pulled off a couple of nice jumps.
I enjoy snorkelling in warm waters, watching fish and turtles swim past. It makes you stay in the present.
Driving fast cars, both on and off the track, is another hobby of mine. I burnt some rubber not long ago in Dubai.
As a kid I looked up to Mats Lanner, a Swedish golfer who now works for the European Tour. My reason was that he had such a cool Spalding bag and as a child you think the bigger the bag the better – even if it was too big for us to carry or even push around.
Growing up, there weren’t many golf events shown on Swedish Television, but I did get to see a few of the major tournaments, which inspired me enormously.
I have very strong memories from The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1991 when Ian Baker-Finch won. I also watched The Ryder Cup in 1989, 1991 and 1993.
As a result The Open and The Ryder Cup have always been the tournaments I have wanted to compete in – and of course win!
Seve and Faldo have been my favorites since I was very young. So having the opportunity to play with both of them was fantastic.
Swede Henrik Stenson is the winner of the rain-soaked 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
We got to know Stenson and his family a little bit over the swampy weekend, and he presented himself as a worthy winner of this annual big-time golf event. Stenson and his wife and two kids (a 6-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy) interacted with New England fans every day. It was hard not to root for them after watching the whole family riding in a golf cart from the seventh green to the eighth tee at drenched TPC.
“My little boy loves to ride in the golf cart,’’ said Emma Stenson, also a native of Sweden.
Stenson shot a 66 on the final day to win the Deutsche Bank and has replaced Tiger Woods at the top of the FedEx Cup standings (the ultimate winner gets $10 million). His four-day score of 262 (22 under par, thank you very much) tied him for the lowest score in Deutsche Bank history. He donated $25,000 of his winnings to the One Fund.
He’s known to be a jokester with fans and other players. Emma remembers him jolting other players on the European Tour by asking them to sign autographs with a low-voltage pen.
“I’ve always had a great sense of humor,’’ said Stenson. “It just takes a little longer for some people to notice.’’
“He’s a good guy, that’s why I married him,’’ said Emma, a former NCAA golfer at the University of South Carolina.
Stenson was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1976 and took up golf when he was 12. He was a scratch player by 18, turned professional when he was 23, and joined the tour in 2007. He played for Europe’s Ryder Cup teams in 2006 and 2008.
He’s had a career of highs and lows, often in the running, rarely finishing first. He almost dropped out of sight way back in 2001-02. Four years ago, he was ranked fourth in the world, but that was the same year that he lost millions of dollars in the Stanford Group Ponzi scheme. He never made excuses, but his game went south at the same time his bank account was slaughtered. By February of 2012, Stenson was ranked No. 230 in the world.
“2011 was a really poor season, but I started to come back at the end of last year,’’ he said.
Stenson made the cut at all the majors this summer, finished second at the British Open, and tied for third at the PGA Championship. In a four-tourney stretch, he finished second twice and third twice. That’s a lot of near-misses.
What was the difference in Norton?
“I just played a little bit better today in the final round,’’ he said. “This week I hit a lot of fairways and greens.
“It was a big goal of mine to win a golf tournament after all those finishes. I was longing for a win and I got it.’’
This was only the second time he’d played the Deutsche Bank. Stenson finished 55th in Norton in 2007.
Stenson shot a 67 Friday, which put him in a tie for 23d after the first day of play. He vaulted into a tie for second with a bogey-free 63 Saturday, then shot 66 Sunday, which put him just two strokes behind leader Sergio Garcia going into the final day.
Sergio blew up on the front nine Monday while Stenson stayed the course. Stenson held a two-stroke lead going into the back nine, increased it to three strokes with a birdie on 11, then parred five straight holes, including No. 14, the most difficult hole at TPC. He sealed the deal on 17, hitting out of the bunker and finding the bottom of the cup from 31 feet. Birdie. Ballgame.
“I knew I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes,’’ he said. “The shot on 17 made the walk on 18 a little easier.
“Some of my great tournaments and finest results have been on really tough golf courses. This is a golf course with tricky holes and it helps to hit it nicely around here.’’
It was his first win of 2013, only the third PGA Tour win of his career, and his first since 2009. He’s back up to No. 10 in the world. And climbing.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and a long-term process to get into the fine play that I produced this summer,’’ he said. “I almost surprised myself to be able to be up there in four tournaments and big events, as well.
“It takes a lot of energy out of you. I need some time off. I need a break.’’
The tour is dark this week. That will be a break. Then Stenson will pick it up in Chicago Sept. 12 with a chance to win the $10 million jackpot.
Adam Scott was watching on TV at Liberty National when his buddy Justin Rose three-putted the 72nd hole on Sunday and left him in sole possession of the lead at The Barclays.
Scott was heading for the range about 45 minutes later as Tiger Woods left a 27-footer from off the same 18th green just inches short of the birdie he needed to tie Scott, too. He didn’t need to see what happened, he heard it.
The groans weren’t quite as loud when Gary Woodland’s last-chance of a 10-footer to force a playoff veered left of the hole. But Scott was standing next to Steve Williams when he realized he had won.
Scott did what he had to do in the final round — firing a bogey-free 66 on a difficult day when the course played nearly a stroke over its par of 71. At the same time, though, the 33-year-old acknowledged he was “shocked” his score of 11 under — which was a stroke less than the overnight lead — actually held up.
The victory was the second of the season for Scott, who did what his idol Greg Norman could never do when he beat Angel Cabrera in a playoff to win the Masters four months ago. He had said at the time he wanted to use that long awaited major championship as a springboard — and after a tie for third at The Open Championship and a share of fifth at the PGA, as well, Scott is clearly on the verge of breaking out.
Will that come in the FedExCup Playoffs? Well, Scott has certainly given himself a jump start — moving to second in the standings, just 162 points behind Woods. He’s certainly got momentum heading to TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which served up Scott’s inaugural PGA TOUR victory way back in 2003.
“It’s huge,” he said. “I’ve been pushing pretty hard and knocking on the door the last couple majors, and it didn’t happen. And then to come into the Playoffs, there’s so much to play for and this is such an important week with all of the big points up for grabs. Now knowing I’m going to have a run at the FedExCup is going to be great.”
The drama that unfolded Sunday in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on a sensational and scenic course that was once a landfill affirmed what Scott already knew. No matter what happens, you’re never out of it. Not even when you are playing poorly and had fallen nine shots off the lead with 24 holes remaining.
At that point on Saturday afternoon, Scott admitted he was just looking for a good finish and “trying not to slip down those FedExCup points.” But he made up for that double bogey at the 10th hole and the bogey at the 12th with three birdies in his next four holes that brought him the victory.
Both Scott and his caddie knew how important it was to stay positive.
“He’s playing the best percentage golf he can play,” Williams said. “Saturday was a very poor round but he got around in 1 over. It easily could’ve been a 75 or 76 but you have a bad day and you manage your game well and that’s important out here. Your bad days better be competitive in order to win because the guys are so good out here.
“If you can keep your bad days around par you can win. If you shoot 4 or 5 over you can’t come back and win.”
Truth be told, though, Scott didn’t really have any expectations of hoisting any crystal when he teed it up with Webb Simpson on Sunday afternoon. He trailed the leaders by six strokes, after all, and Scott just wanted to get a good round under his belt after that setback of a third-round 72.
“I was disappointed to play poorly on the Saturday when I was in contention starting the day, so I wanted to make up for that,” Scott explained. “That was all I was really thinking about.”
Even when he grabbed a share of the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole, Scott still expected someone to go lower. Rose, Woods and Woodland all tried, but Scott prevailed.
Scott had a darn good record in Boston, too, finishng seventh, eighth and fifth in the last three years. His best finish in the first six years of the FedExCup is 12th in 2007,but he’s ready for more.
“To win the first Playoff event really sets you up for a great run and excited about the next few weeks now,” Scott said. “Looking forward to getting into East Lake, hopefully having a chance to be a FedEx Champion.”
Adam Scott Wins At The Barclays Golf Event For A Great Win.
Tiger Wood’s comes close at The Barclays with a second place finish. His back spasm might have made the difference but Adam Scott played great.
Jason Dufner finally cracked a smile, raised both arms and gave a slight pump of the fist, saving all that emotion for a big occasion.
He won the PGA Championship.
Dufner played the kind of golf that wins majors Sunday with a steady diet of fairways and greens that made it too tough for Jim Furyk or anyone else to catch him. Even with bogeys on the last two holes at Oak Hill, He closed with a 2-under 68 to capture his first major and atone for a meltdown two years ago in Atlanta.
“It’s been a tough day. It was a long day. Tough golf course,” Dufner said. “It probably hasn’t hit me yet. I can’t believe this is happening to me. … I just decided that I was going to be confident and really put my best foot forward and play aggressive and try to win this thing. I wasn’t going to just kind of play scared or soft.
“I’m happy to get the job done. It’s a big step in my career.”
Dufner wasn’t sure he would get another chance after the 2011 PGA Championship, when he blew a four-shot lead with four holes to play and lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley. He wasn’t about to let this one get away. He won by playing a brand of golf that matches the bland expression on his face.
It wasn’t exciting. It didn’t need to be.
The turning point at Oak Hill was the final two holes — on the front nine. Dufner made a short birdie on the eighth hole to take a one-shot lead, and Furyk made bogey on the ninth hole to fall two shots behind. Furyk, a 54-hole leader for the second time in as many years in a major, couldn’t make up any ground with a procession of pars along the back nine. He finally made a 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th, but only after Dufner spun back a wedge to 18 inches for a sure birdie.
Furyk also made bogey on the last two holes, taking two chips to reach the 17th green and coming up short into mangled rough short of the 18th green, where all he could do was hack it onto the green. Furyk closed with a 71 to finish three shots behind.
“I have a lot of respect for him and the way he played today,” Furyk said. “I don’t know if it makes anything easy, or less easy. But I don’t look at it as I lost the golf tournament. I look at it as I got beat by somebody that played better today.”
Dufner finished at 10-under 270, four shots better than the lowest score in the five previous majors at Oak Hill. Jack Nicklaus won the 1980 PGA Championship at 274.
Henrik Stenson, trying to become the first Swede to win a men’s major title, pulled within two shots on the 13th hole and was poised to make a run until his tee shot settled on a divot hole in the 14th fairway. He chunked that flip wedge into a bunker and made bogey and closed with a 70 to finish alone in third. In his last three tournaments — two majors and a World Golf Championship — Stenson has two runner-ups and a third.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., finished the tournament in a tie for 47th place.
Jonas Blixt, another Swede, also had a 70 and finished fourth. Masters champion Adam Scott never made a serious of move and shot 70 to tie for fifth. Defending champion Rory McIlroy made triple bogey on the fifth hole to lose hope, those he still closed with a 70 and tied for eighth, his first top 10 in a major this year.
Dufner two-putted for bogey on the 18th from about 10 feet and shook hands with Furyk as if he had just completed a business deal. He hugged his wife, Amanda, and gave her a love tap on the tush with the cameras rolling.
Asked if he had ever been nervous, she replied, “If he has been, he’s never told me.”
That’s what gives Dufner is own personality on the PGA Tour. His pulse didn’t appear to be any different on the opening tee shot than when he stood on the 18th hole.
“I would say I was pretty flat-lined for most of the day,” he said.
Among the first to greet Dufner was Bradley, who beat him in the PGA playoff at Atlanta and was behind the “Dufnering” craze from earlier this year.
Dufner went to an elementary school in Dallas as part of a charity day as defending champion in the Byron Nelson Classic. A photo showed him slumped against the wall in the classroom next to the children, his eyes glazed over, as the teacher taught them about relaxation and concentration techniques. The pose was mimicked all over the country, giving Dufner some celebrity for his zombie appearance.
Now he’s known for something far more important.
Dufner became the sixth player to win a major with a round of 63, joining Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Raymond Floyd, Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.
He is the third first-time major champion of the year, and the 15th champion in the last 19 majors who had never won the big one. Woods is responsible for the latest trend, mainly because he’s not winning them at the rate he once was.
Woods extended his drought to 18 majors without winning, and this time he wasn’t even in the hunt. For the second straight round, Woods finished before the leaders even teed off. He closed with a 70 to tie for 40th, 14 shots out of the lead.
“I didn’t give myself many looks and certainly didn’t hit the ball good enough to be in it,” Woods said.
Furyk wasn’t about to beat himself up for another major opportunity that got away. He had a share of the lead at the U.S. Open last year until taking bogey on the par-5 16th hole with a poor tee shot. His only regret was not making par on the last two holes — the toughest on the back nine at Oak Hill — to put pressure on Dufner.
Not that anyone would have noticed.
An Auburn graduate and all-around sports nuts, Dufner can’t think of any other athlete who plays with so little emotion.
“But those sports are a little more exciting — big plays in basketball, home runs in baseball, big plays in football. That will get you pumped up,” he said. “For me, golf is a little bit more boring. I hit it in the fairway or I didn’t. Usually I’m struggling with the putter, so there’s not too much to get excited about with that.”
His name on the Wanamaker Trophy?
That was good for a smile.
“Nobody can take that away from me,” he said. “It’s a great accomplishment for me, and I’m really excited about it.”
Brandt Snedeker has had his eye on the RBC Canadian Open title for some time.
The early arrival of a baby in Texas helped make it happen.
Snedeker moved to the top of the field of the RBC Canadian Open after second-round leader Hunter Mahan withdrew when his wife unexpectedly went into labour, and held on Sunday for his second victory of the season and the sixth of his career.
Mahan, who had a two-stroke lead at 13 under through 36 holes, rushed home to be with wife Kandi, who gave birth to daughter Zoe early Sunday.
“Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me. I can’t thank Kandi enough for going into labour early. I don’t know if I’d be sitting here if she hadn’t,” Snedeker said with a laugh after shooting a final-round 70 to finish 16 under. “But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament. I missed a golf tournament when my first was born, and it was the best decision I ever made. I’m sure Hunter would say the same thing.”
‘This is a tournament I said early on in my career I wanted to win just because my caddie is actually from Canada and it’s his national open. It meant a lot to him, meant a lot to me.’
— Brandt Snedeker
Dustin Johnson (70), Matt Kuchar (71), William McGrit (68) and Jason Bohn (71) tied for second at 13 under behind Snedeker, who said winning the PGA Tour’s only stop north of the border is special for a number of reasons.
“This is a tournament I said early on in my career I wanted to win just because my caddie is actually from Canada and it’s his national open. It meant a lot to him, meant a lot to me,” said the 32-year-old from Nashville. “Third oldest tournament on Tour and it’s got some great history to it, and now to put my name on that trophy, it means a lot.”
After a Saturday that saw a number of players score in the mid-60s thanks to a calm morning and a soggy afternoon, Glen Abbey Golf Club bit back with breezy conditions at the suburban course some 40 kilometres west of Toronto.
“The wind was blowing very hard. Every fairway was tough to hit, every green was getting firm. It placed an importance on managing your golf ball,” Snedeker said. “I was able to hit some quality shots coming down the stretch when I needed to and put the ball in the right spot.”
Snedeker, who pocketed $1,008,000 of the tournament’s $5.6-million purse, also won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February and is finally healthy after a bothersome rib injury.
“First part of the year, I couldn’t do anything wrong. I was playing fantastic, and I got injured. I feel like I’ve been fighting to get myself back to the way I was at the beginning of the year,” said Snedeker. “I’m not saying I’m there, but I’m close to the way I was playing in the beginning of the year.”
Snedeker, the 2012 FedEx Cup champion whose best-ever finish at a Canadian Open was a tie for fifth at Glen Abbey in 2009, was 1 under on the day after the front nine and birdied No. 10 to move to 16 under overall. He gave that shot back on No. 12, but birdied No. 16 and parred No. 17 and No. 18 to secure the victory.
“It feels great to get a win to validate all the hard work I’ve put in over the past three months where I haven’t played my best,” Snedeker said. “To win a tournament like this with those pivotal holes coming down the stretch means a lot.”
Johnson started the day in a group three shots back of Snedeker and fought his way into a share of the lead, only to see the wheels fall off in spectacular fashion at No. 17 with a triple bogey that started with an errant drive.
“I was playing really well,” Johnson said. “Really confident, swinging the driver really good. So you know, it’s a driver hole for me, and I just blocked it a little bit, made a poor swing.”
John Merrick, who tied a course record on Friday with a 62, shot 71 to finish in a tie for sixth at 12 under. David Lingmerth started the day in the final group a shot back Snedeker but ended up with a 75 to finish in a tie for 12th at 10 under.
David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., was the top Canadian at the par-72, 7,253-yard course with a final-round 73 to finish at 4 under. The 34-year-old had three birdies on Sunday to go along with two bogeys and double bogey to finish in a tie for 44th.
“It wasn’t the finish that I was really looking for. I had a nice chance today,” said Hearn, who was also the low Canadian at the tournament back in 2006. “I’ll take away some positives from the week. I appreciate the support from everyone here this week and it always feels good to play at home.”
Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., shot an even-par 72 to finish tied for 49th at 3 under. The 43-year-old’s tournament highlight came in Friday’s second round when he fired 67 to briefly get into contention.
“I’m playing fine. Just missing too many short putts. I missed a number the last couple days inside six, seven feet, just missing way too many of those,” said Weir, who made his first cut at a Canadian Open since 2009. “You need those to keep your round going sometimes and I just didn’t capitalize when I had opportunities.
Holly Sonders Co-Host Morning Drive and School of Golf on Golf Channel, @HollySondersGC
Holly Sonders has become a very visible golf personality from one of the network Golf Channel programs she is on including: “Morning Drive,” “Playing Lessons,” and “School of Golf”. If that is not where you can place her from, she is also currently gracing this months cover of ”Golf Digest,” she is the one and only Holly Sonders!
Sonders has fast become one of the most recognized golf personalities out there, and it’s not just because she happens to be strikingly gorgeous, it’s because she can actually play the sport. This former Lady Spartan, has proven that fact by helping her team win the Big Ten Golf Championship in 2007 and have you seen this golfer play in a Pro-Am lately? You want to be paired with Sonders because she can play golf just as well as the boys demonstrating it every time.
She was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer 20 questions with me, so let’s get to what you all have been waiting for!
20 QUESTIONS WITH HOLLY SONDERS
1. How did you get your start playing golf? Did you have any interests in any other sports at a young age?
My mom got me into golf at age six, she has been club champion for 22 years at our course in Ohio. I also played basketball and ran track all the way up through my high school graduation.
Untitled2. What do you consider the most polished aspect of your game? Putting? Driving?
I was a very solid ball striker (during junior golf and college at Michigan State). I played blade irons and also hit it long for a girl off the tee…like 240-250 yards.
Putting was my weakness.
3. Going back to when you played at Michigan State, what was your proudest achievement as a Lady Spartan?
Winning the 2007 Big Ten Championship as a team…The same day our men’s team also won the title too.
4. You joined the Golf Channel in January of 2011, who has been your favorite person to work with and why?
I loved working with my better half Erik Kuselias (who moved up to NBC Sports and NBC Sports Radio in April 2012). Many people cannot work with their partner/spouse but we had fun every day, we are best friends.
Untitled25. Golf has been struggling to bring in new viewers, what is one thing you would say to people to get them to watch and play the game?
I’ve had this idea since i started playing… a round of golf needs to be 12 holes. Most people do not have five hours to spend away from their families on the weekends or after work or the extra income to spend on expensive greens fees.
6. How does it feel to be an avatar in the World Golf Tour game?
Pretty cool. Mine was the first one to come out so all of my co-hosts were able to poke fun at me (her). I think she’s a little pale, (could use a tan haha) but overall it’s cool.
7. Who has been the most memorable person to play golf with when it comes to playing in a Pro-Am and why?
John Daly (because he’s John Daly) or Rickie Fowler because he got his first win on the PGA Tour the week we played together at Wells
8. What is the best piece of advice you would give a new golfer who was starting to play the game?
Spend more time chipping and putting than you do on the driving range.
Untitled9. Let’s talk about your fashion on the golf course, how would you describe it?
I signed a deal with Cobra/Puma at the beginning of this year, couldn’t be more pleased. Bright colors and sharp cuts tailored to my figure and size…I LOVE the shoes. I hope to design my own golf/lifestyle shoes and clothing for Puma someday.
10. How would your Co-Hosts of Morning Drive, describe you in three words?
Intelligent, Supportive and Witty.
11. Have you ever been star struck by a golfer that you have met? If not, who would it be?
Never star struck, just humbled and fortunate to meet some of the legends like Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player. Annie lives down the street from Golf Channel and still stops by often.
12. Let’s talk workouts, what do you do to stay in shape?
No free weights…no machines anymore.
I put on 15 lbs of muscle my first year at MSU and picked up 30 yards off the tee. I like to be leaner nowadays, not so bulky. Lots of body- weight exercise like planks, lunges, squats. 500 abs 3-4 times a week, usually standing and/or twisting to get my oblique’s.
I live in FL where there’s always a chance I might be in a bikini so muffin- top is unacceptable! Lean and lengthened is what I strive for.
213. A lot of people associate you with the face of women’s golf, how do deal with the pressure holding up that image?
I feel fortunate, I welcome the challenge of helping to grow this game and bringing more eyes to the sport…especially to the LPGA.
14. Who is the sports broadcaster that you would like to mold your career after?
Too many to choose one…I work with the faces I grew up watching on Golf Channel. It’s surreal sometimes still for me that I’m there.
15. A lot of your fans are excited to see you gracing the cover of Golf Digest, what was the best part of that experience?
The simple fact they chose a female to be on the cover of their golf/fitness issue is fantastic. Health and fitness are growing in importance in the golf community and that’s a very good thing.
16. If we were to look at your top three songs played on your iPod, what would they be?
Some techno/club tracks. Like David Guetta, etc.
17. If we raided your fridge right now, what would we find?
Honestly…not much.I am a terrible cook. And when I stock up on groceries, I usually eat them even when I’m not hungry. Like half box of cereal when I’m on the phone and don’t even realize it!
Untitled318. For all the readers, we have to ask are you single, dating or locked down?
Locked down with a great guy.
19. What is your idea of the perfect date?’
In Miami, drinks, food, lots of laughs.
20. Who would you feature as the next Sports Babe of the Day?
My colleagues Kelly Tilghman, Lauren Thompson, Win McMurray, or Lara Baldesarra.
I’m A Walking, Golfing Miracle
Golf Saved My Life: Zakki Blatt
This is a wonderful story reprinted from Golf Digest magazine that I loved and hope you will enjoy. Golf can be a very inspiring game and draws so much on your strengths. What a wonderful experience to have golf distract you from the cards you have been dealt.
There are so many stories of the positive effects of golf and this is one of them.
By Zakki Blatt
With Max Adler
Photo by Bill Cramer
Stainless steel, plastic, nylon, titanium, cow parts, pig parts and cadaver sewn into my pericardium: my million-dollar heart after 12 surgeries.
My first memory is in the hospital. The light is bright, and I’m on my back, aware of being in this world. The image is fleeting, but there. I was only a few weeks old, and some people say this is impossible. But in my next memory I’m definitely 3. I’m with my mom going up the ramp to the doctor’s office, and I have a horrible, sticky pain in my chest.
By age 5 I knew there was something wrong with the way I couldn’t keep up with other kids, but I didn’t know it was out of the ordinary to see a doctor four times a week. It didn’t strike me as particularly odd to overhear arguments about how long you would live. It wasn’t until I was 9 that my condition was truly explained to me.
I was born with a complex heart defect. When I was a month old, I suffered a stroke that wiped out half my brain. This is why I have such limited use of the left side of my body. There are severe deformities in my lungs, and my immune system is a joke. I’m not the first “blue baby” in my paternal lineage, but I’m the first to survive. I’ve never attended school. I’ve lived on the pioneer of surgery, and medical articles have been written about me.
When I was 15 I felt like giving up. Despite how hard I’d fought–enduring collective years in hospitals, swallowing umpteen medications a day, being told I couldn’t play baseball and given a yo-yo, the very act of breathing–I’d reached a point where I was just tired of it all. Every little victory was followed by greater setbacks. I was ready to go.
Worse was life at home. My dad and mom were constantly fighting. The police had our address memorized, I’m sure. A visit to family court solved nothing, and I couldn’t help but feel my medical issues were a root cause. Nothing’s more stressful than being unable to run from a fight. My dad will tell you that my mom poisoned me against him, but the bottom line is, I haven’t seen him in three years, and don’t plan to.
What I was also getting really sick of, with so much time in the hospital, was cartoons. My cardiac therapist was a big golfer, and so we began watching a lot of Golf Channel. I got into it. I told my mom I wanted to visit a golf course before I died.
The first time I went to The First Tee of Greater Philadelphia, I was overweight and arrived in a stroller with an oxygen tank pushed by my mom. Coach Jeff showed me how to putt. And then I putted against the other kids, and it was about the happiest day of my life. This place wasn’t the hospital, and it wasn’t home.
At age 16 I had never left the sight or sound of my mom, except with trained personnel. It took some sweat for coach Jeff to convince my mom I would be OK with him on the course. We took a cart, and my mom almost freaked when we came back and she saw I was without my oxygen cannula.
“It’s OK, Mom,” I said. “I feel fine without it.”
When I’m on the golf course life is almost perfect. I have a two-handed backswing and a one-handed through-swing because my left hand won’t stay on the grip. But there are infinite ways to hit a golf ball pure, and I can make lots of bogeys, sometimes pars. In golf you have to let go of the past a little bit at a time and focus on what’s next, which is something I’m pretty good at.
I’m now 19 and recently grew for the first time in years. I’ve reached 5 feet, and to accommodate this I just had 10 screws put in my legs. I’ve got another surgery for my ankles this spring, but, hey, I’m excited for anything that’s going to help me gain distance.
The doctors can’t believe my progress. I tell them not to overthink it. When you’re relaxed, the body can heal faster. It’s the golf, stupid.
Coach Jeff and my mom just got married, but that’s a whole other story. My life is like a reality show. I’m ready to go away to college.
Read More http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/2013-04/golf-saved-my-life-zakki-blatt#ixzz2ZyPcQK81
Since I couldn’t have said it better myself, this description of Phil Mickelson’s great win at The British Open at Muirfield is courtesy of PGATour.com.
Phil was spectacular as even he said. Phil thought this final round of 66 could have been the finest competitive round he has ever played especially where and why he was playing. He was magnificent on the final day.
Phil Mickelson Wins The 2013 British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland
GULLANE, Scotland — Phil Mickelson is mystified no more by links golf. He has his name etched in a silver claret jug to prove it.
Mickelson delivered his best closing round ever in a major Sunday — at the British Open, of all places — when he ran off four birdies over the last six holes for a 5-under 66 at Muirfield to win the third leg of the career Grand Slam. He also earned 600 FedExCup points to move to second in the standings.
“This is such an accomplishment for me because I just never knew if I’d be able to develop the game to play links golf effectively,” Mickelson said. “To play the best round arguably of my career, to putt better than I’ve ever putted, to shoot the round of my life … it feels amazing to win the Claret Jug.”
At the end of a rough-and-tumble week along the Firth of Forth, Mickelson was the only player under par. He wound up with a three-shot win over Henrik Stenson, one of four players atop the leaderboard during a final round that was up for grabs until Mickelson seized control in the final hour.
Lee Westwood, who started Sunday with a two-shot lead, fell behind for the first time all day with a bogey on the 13th and never recovered. He closed with a 75. Masters champion Adam Scott took the lead with a 4-foot birdie on the 11th, and closed as sloppily as he did last year. He made four bogeys starting at the 13th, and a final bogey on the 18th gave him a 72. At least he has a green jacket from the Masters to console him this year.
Tiger Woods, in his best position to win a major since the crisis in his personal life, stumbled badly on his way to a 74 and was never a serious challenger.
Westwood said he didn’t play all that badly. Instead, he paid tribute to what will be remembered as one of the great closing rounds in major championship history.
“When you birdie four of the last six of a round any day, that’s good going,” Westwood said. “With a decent breeze blowing and some tough flags out there, it’s obviously a pretty good experience. When you do it in a major championship, it’s an even better experience.”
But this major championship? Phil Mickelson?
He had only contended twice in two decades at golf’s oldest championship. One week after he won the Scottish Open in a playoff on the links-styled course of Castle Stuart, Mickelson was simply magical on the back nine of a brown, brittle Muirfield course that hasn’t played this tough since 1966.
Tied for the lead, Mickelson smashed a 3-wood onto the green at the par-5 17th to about 25 feet for a two-putt birdie, and finished in style with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th to match the lowest score of this championship.
Mickelson figured a par on the 18th would be tough for anyone to catch him. When the ball dropped in the center of the cup, he raised both arms in the air to celebrate his fifth career major, tying him with the likes of Seve Ballesteros and Byron Nelson.
“Best round I’ve ever seen him play,” said his caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay. Mickelson shared a long hug with his caddie and whispered in his ear, “I did it.”
His final surge was right about the time Westwood and Scott began to fold.
Scott, trying to join an exclusive list of players who have won a green jacket and a claret jug in the same year, made a remarkable recovery from the dunes right of the par-3 13th hole, only to miss the 7-foot par putt. He took three putts for bogeys on the next two holes — from long range on the 14th, and from 20 feet on the 15th — and found a bunker on the next.
Westwood started to lose his grip on the jug with bogeys on the seventh and eighth, and failing to birdie the downwind, par-5 ninth. Presented with birdie chances early on the back nine, his putting stroke began to look tentative. He hit into the dunes on the right side of the 13th to make bogey and never caught up.
Westwood and Scott tied for third with Ian Poulter, who played a four-hole stretch in 5-under around the turn and closed with a 67. At 1-over 285, he canceled a flight home in case of a playoff. Moments later, with Mickelson pulling away, the outcome was clear.
Making this even sweeter for Mickelson is that just one month ago he lost out on yet another chance to win the U.S. Open, the missing link of a career Grand Slam. Mickelson twice made bogey with wedge in his hand on the back nine at Merion and had his record sixth runner-up finish.
Mickelson joins an elite list of winners at Muirfield, which is considered the fairest of the links on the British Open rotation. All but two of the Open champions at Muirfield are in the World Hall of Fame. Mickelson is the only winner who already has been inducted.
It was the 43rd win of his PGA TOUR career. The guy who once couldn’t win the big one now has five majors in the last nine years. This one returns him to No. 2 in the world ranking for the first time in nearly three years.
Woods, meanwhile, now has gone 17 majors without winning, and that pursuit of Jack Nicklaus and his benchmark of 18 majors — Woods is stuck on 14 — doesn’t look any closer. He three-putted twice in four holes and looked like just another contender on this Sunday.
He attributed his round to not getting the right pace on the greens, which he said were progressively slower.
“I felt like I was really playing well today, actually the whole week, ” said Woods, who has not broken 70 in the final round of his last seven majors. “I really hit so many good shots and really had control of my ball this week. As I said, it was just trying to get the speed, and I just didn’t get it.”
The 2013 British Open starts on Thursday at Muirfield Golf Club in Scotland. The usual cast are favorites but there could be surprises. These videos put it all in perpective. Phil Mickelson is ready having won last weeks Scottish Open as is Jordan Spieth who won The John Deere Classic.
Tiger Woods is trying to end his 5 year major champioship =drought and Ernie Els is back to try and repeat. It will be exciting.
Phil Mickelson won The 2013 Scottish Open to get himself ready for the British Open at Muirfield. I think he’s got a great shot at it.
Ken Duke needed 187 starts on the PGA Tour to get his first win, securing it at a tournament that is building a reputation for such breakthroughs.
The 44-year-old journeyman made a 2 ½ foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to beat Chris Stroud at the Travelers Championship.
Stroud, who also was looking for his first title, had chipped in from 51 feet on the 18th hole, to get to 12-under par and force the playoff.
But Duke made the better approach shot on the second extra hole, bouncing his ball in front of the flag and rolling it close.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time,” said Duke, who turned pro in 1994.” I’ve been on the Canadian tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, all of them; Web.com, and it’s just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA Tour.”
Duke, who came in ranked 144th in the world, is the sixth golfer in eight years to get his first PGA Tour win here, joining J.J. Henry (2006), Hunter Mahan (2007), Bubba Watson (2010), Fredrik Jacobsen (2011) and Marc Leishman last year.
Canadian Graham DeLaet finished a stroke back in third place with a 269.
DeLaet a native of, Weyburn, Saskatchewan, said his thoughts this week have been with the people of Alberta, where widespread flooding is blamed for at least three deaths and forced thousands to evacuate.
He had the words “For Alberta” written on his cap Sunday.
The 2009 Canadian Tour player of the year pledged to donate $1,000 for every birdie he made to help the relief efforts.
PGA Tour Canada, a bank and a Canadian businessman all agreed to match the donation. He finished with three birdies on Sunday and nine for the weekend.
“Hopefully it puts a small dent in what they need,” he said. “But our hearts are still with them.”
Watson finished fourth, two shots behind, after making a six on the par-3 16th hole.
“You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do,” Duke said. “That’s why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out because they believe they can do it. It’s kind of one of those things once you finally do it it might come easier the next time. That’s kind of the way I feel.”
Duke wouldn’t have been in position to win at all had luck not intervened on the 10th hole, when his ball ricocheted off a tree and onto the green to about 5 feet from the pin, allowing him to make birdie.
After a 17-foot birdie putt on the next hole, he made a 45-footer on the 13th hole, a shot that looked as though it might go past the hole to the right, before falling in.
He battled Watson for the lead down the back nine, until the former Masters champion found trouble on the 16th.
Watson put his drive into the water and put his next shot over the green.
He finished two strokes back in fourth place.
“The wind affected the first shot, and the wind didn’t affect the next shot,” Watson said. “I flew it three feet past the hole, which you can’t do right now because the greens are so firm.”
Duke looked as though he had the tournament sewn up after saving par on 18, despite a tee shot that went well right and onto a hill, and a second shot that went just over the green. He used a putter to put the ball within 2 feet, then sank the putt as the crowd roared for what they thought was a winning shot.
Dramatic chip shot
It looked even more secure when Stroud’s second shot hit near the stick, but then rolled well off the green. That just set up the dramatic chip shot.
Stroud hit his tee shot over the cart path and 94 yards from the hole on the first playoff hole, while Duke’s first shot jumped out of a fairway bunker and into the rough.
Duke bounced his second shot onto the green. Stroud’s went into a greenside bunker.
Stroud chipped to 8 feet but had to watch as Green almost sank a long putt that would have ended it.
The two both struck the ball well on the second playoff hole, but Stroud missed a 25-foot birdie putt, and Duke made his short putt.
“I had three shots from 94 yards on 18, the exact same yardage, and I could not figure out a way to stop that ball,” Stroud said. “Regulation, luckily, I chipped it in.”
Watson, Charley Hoffman and DeLaet began the day tied for the lead, but 21 other players were within five strokes.
Webb Simpson shot a 65 to finish at 271, then headed home immediately after his round despite being just a stroke behind the leaders at the time. He said he knew the score wouldn’t be good enough to win.
“I’m itching to get to my family, so I’m going to head to the airport,” he said.
Justin Rose followed his U.S. Open win by shooting 6-under par for this tournament. He was in contention, with two birdies on his first seven holes, but didn’t get another until the final hole and made three bogeys. He said fatigue was a factor.
“I’m still able to put one foot in front of the other,” he said. “I still feel OK, but my guess is there’s just a little bit of sharpness that I might be lacking.”
No player has gone back-to-back after capturing the U.S. Open since 1997, when Ernie Els won the Buick Classic at the Westchester Country Club in New York.
Rose plans to play next week at Congressional before taking two weeks off to prepare for the British Open.
See all the highlights of The Travellers Championship in the following two videos. Major milestone for Ken Duke
Justin Rose Wins the 2013 U.S. Open Golf Championship at Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia, Pa.
Justin Rose clinched his maiden major title to become the first Englishman for 43 years to win the US Open.
The 32-year-old won by two shots from now six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson and Jason Day on a gripping final day.
Rose, also the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo in 1996, fired a level-par 70 to end one over as overnight leader Mickelson carded 74.
Australian Day took 71 as England’s Luke Donald (75) collapsed to six over on the treacherous Merion course.
Rose led by one going up the difficult 18th and hit a stunning four-iron approach to set up a par four.
After tapping in his final putt, he looked up to the sky with tears in his eyes, and admitted later to thinking of his father and long-time mentor Ken, who died from leukaemia in 2002.
Mickelson, celebrating his 43rd birthday, needed to birdie the last to force an 18-hole play-off on Monday, but the four-time major champion could only make a bogey five.
“It wasn’t lost on me that today was Father’s Day,” said Rose of his gesture when he was presented with the trophy on the 18th green.
“A lot of us come from great men and we have a responsibility to our children to show what a great man can be.
“For it to all just work out for me, on such an emotional day, I couldn’t help but look up to the heavens and think that my old dad Ken had something do do with it.”
Rose, who was born in Johannesburg but brought up in Hampshire, burst onto the wider scene as a 17-year-old amateur when he finished in a tie for fourth in the 1998 Open at Royal Birkdale.
He went on to miss 21 consecutive cuts when he joined the paid ranks, before winning his first professional event in 2002. His biggest victory to date was the WGC Cadillac Championship last March.
Rose’s previous best major finish was tied-third in the US PGA behind Rory McIlroy last year, while he has had six other top-10s in majors.
He becomes the third UK winner of the title in four years after Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (2011) and Graeme McDowell (2010).
The last Englishman to lift the US Open was Tony Jacklin, who won by seven shots at Hazeltine, Minnesota, in 1970. Five other Englishmen won the US Open pre-war, while a host of Scotsmen won early editions of the event.
Rose first hit the front at the eighth hole as the lead changed hands countless times on a tumultuous final day.
Mickelson was seemingly finished after two double bogeys in his first five holes, but the mercurial home favourite holed his second shot for an eagle at the 10th to regain top spot and reignite his challenge.
The pair duelled down the notorious final stretch – with Hunter Mahan also sharing the lead at one point – but Mickelson was unable to avenge his Ryder Cup singles defeat by Rose last year and clinch a first US Open title.
“For me, it’s very heart-breaking,” said Mickelson, who had previously finished second at the event in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009. “This was my best chance on a golf course I really liked. I felt like this was as good an opportunity as you could ask for and to not do it hurts.”
Former world number one Donald, who played alongside Rose, fell away early with three straight bogeys from the third and then a double bogey on the sixth.
Open champion Ernie Els (69) and Americans Jason Dufner (67), Hunter Mahan (75) and Billy Horschel (74) ended tied-fourth.
World number one Tiger Woods’s challenge was already over before the final round and he ended 13 over after a 74, while second-ranked McIlroy took 76 for 14 over.
“I did a lot of things right. Unfortunately I did a few things wrong, as well,” said Woods, chasing a 15th major title and first since 2008. “I struggled with the speed (of the greens) all week.”
A field of 156 travels to suburban Philadelphia this week for the 113th playing of the U.S. Open and will find a treasure trove of history, eclectic and iconic golf holes and the possibility of a very special experience at Merion Golf Club in pursuit of the nation’s championship.
It will take at least 72 holes to determine a champion, but we know many of the contenders and favorites well in advance of Thursday’s first shot.
Many eyes will be on the headline-grabbing pairing of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Adam Scott for the first two rounds.
The above picture is of the clubhouse and the first tee. Lots of great tradition at Merion.
Rory McIlroy expresses his thoughts about this years U.S. Open Golf Championship at Merion Golf Club
Inside Golf discusses Merion Golf club in great detail as to why it is a wonderful golf course to play this year’s U.S. Open
Past interview with Jack Whitaker who gives his thoughts about the wonderful course, Merion Golf Club, home of this years U.S. Open Golf Championship
Matt Kuchar won the 2013 Memorial Golf Champioship in dramatic style. The home of Jack Nicklaus was a spectacular venue for this great win. Matt proves that a major championship is probably in his future as his career gets stronger and stronger.
Kuchar fired a four-under 68 on Sunday to win the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village at 12-under, and in the process, he proved that he is on the verge of winning a major.
Kuchar started Sunday playing in the day’s final group for the second consecutive week, and for the second consecutive Sunday, he fired a 68.
The difference this time is that his score was good enough to earn him the victory. After finishing second last week, Kuchar notched his second victory of the year.
With the win, Kuchar will move up to No. 4 in the rankings.
This is the first time that the six-time PGA winner has won multiple events in a year. It also means he is the first golfer not named Tiger Woods to capture more than one PGA crown this year.
Kuchar’s other win this year came at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. His last win before that came at the 2012 Players Championship. What do all of those tournaments have in common? They are all prestigious events with top fields.
This is an impressive list of victories for a little over a year’s time, and it indicates that Kuchar is ready to take the next step in his development.
Kuchar turned pro in 2000, and he made an instant impact. He finished second at the Texas Open in 2001, and he won The Honda Classic in 2002. Kuchar then began to lose his way a bit, and he became a Tour afterthought.
Then, Kuchar began tweaking his swing in 2009 and 2010, and he hasn’t looked back since. Kuchar has become one of the most consistent players on the Tour.
See all the highlights and analysis in these great videos.
Tiger Woods finished 20 strokes behind Matt Kuchar, who won the Memorial Tournament.
Matt Kuchar speaks after winning the 2013 Memorial Tournament. Joining him is tournament founder, Jack Nicklaus.
This ia a video analysis of Matt’s swing at The Memorial
Jack Nicklaus’s 2013 Memorial Golf Championship, One Of Golf’s Special Events, the Tournament is played each year in the conspicuous honor of greats of the game. As an invitational tournament, the Memorial prides itself on not only a top-ranked field, but also an event rich in honor, tradition and excellence. Fans experience golf at its finest in this legendary venue.
The Golf Channel reviews all the players and what to look for.
Watch this preview. The event starts today, May 30, 2013.
Rory and Tiger are ready for a great duel.
Watch these great interviews with Jack Nicklaus about this year’s event and past events.
Jack Nicklaus’s 2013 Memorial Golf Championship, One Of Golf’s Special Events