Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Ryder Cup dates set, event to be played in late September in Scotland

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The 2014 Ryder Cup will be the event's 40th staging and the second time it has been held in Scotland.
PA Sport 

Series: Ryder Cup
Howling winds and torrential rains accompanied Tuesday's date announcement for the 2014 Ryder Cup, but organizers dismissed fears of another weather-disrupted event in Britain.
The 2014 biennial match between Europe and the United States will take place Sept. 26-28 on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles.
Europe currently holds the Ryder Cup, having triumphed at Celtic Manor last October in an event that went into a fourth day for the first time in history due to adverse weather in Wales.
While golf's entry into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will lead to a restructuring of the sport's already-packed calendar, the 2014 Ryder Cup will remain in its traditional place on the schedule, rather than an earlier date that might be less susceptible to bad weather.
The wet surroundings and lying water on the King's Course by the Dormy Clubhouse, where Tuesday's announcement was made, must have made for uncomfortable viewing, but European Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills maintained the weather is not a concern.
"It's in its traditional date," said Hills. "We are not an indoor sport. You have instances where tournaments in July have had to go into Mondays, so it's not an unusual occurrence. We have to deal with what we've been given.
The possibility of changing the date was examined, he said, adding that Ryder Cup officials were comfortable with the late September slot.
"If we had played the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor we'd have had three days' straight sunshine this year," he said. "We're very confident of delivery in this particular date."
The competition will be played in the traditional three-day, 28-point format and there is the possibility of an additional day's play, if required.
"There's always been a provision that you could run over into that extra day," Hills added.
It will be the 40th staging of the Ryder Cup and the second time the event has been held in Scotland. In 1973, the contest was played at Muirfield in East Lothian.
There is a particular poignancy about the event returning to Gleneagles, too.
"The precursor to the first match in 1927 was a friendly match played here, at Gleneagles, in 1921," Hills explained. "It's something of a homecoming."
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond was present at the announcement. He estimates the Scottish economy will benefit by up to $150 million from the event, which is to take place in the same year as Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games.
In an effort to allay fears over the Scottish climate, Salmond read out figures relating to conditions at Gleneagles earlier this year, describing them as "balmy sunshine."
And the SNP leader, for one, is relishing the prospect of the Ryder Cup returning to Scotland.
"It's going to be enormous. I'm feeling the excitement already -- 2014's the next year of Homecoming (a celebration of Scottish ancestry)," he said. "It's also the year of the Commonwealth Games, where the whole Commonwealth will come to Glasgow for a great multi-sport event. And then in September it's the Ryder Cup."
The 2012 Ryder Cup will take place at the Medinah Country Club near Chicago next September, with Jose Maria Olazabal as captain.
Scotland will have to wait until early 2013 to discover if Colin Montgomerie -- or any other Scot -- is awarded the captaincy for 2014. It was a debate Salmond avoided.
"It's a decision which is taken by the tournament committee of the PGA European Tour," Hills said. "Normally that would take place in the second committee after the Chicago match, sometime early in 2013."
Two other announcements were made, with drinks giant Diageo joining as an official partner of the 2014 tournament.
Changes to the course were also made public, with adjustments made at the ninth, 10th and 18th holes following proposals by 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Solid in a Snap

Posted Aug 13, 2008

By Sam Angell

Matt Katula doesn't want you to read about him after the game, but he's quietly becoming one of the best.

The date was Nov. 20, 2005. The Baltimore Ravens were celebrating a 16-13 overtime victory over their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A 44-yard field goal by Matt Stover provided the margin and erased a four-game losing streak that included a heartbreaking 20-19 loss at Pittsburgh.

Then-rookie Matt Katula had a vital role on that play, as well as two earlier field goals the team could not have done without. He had passed the ultimate test for an NFL long snapper, helping his kicker boot a game-winner, but his locker was not mobbed by the media. Then, on Monday morning, he opened the paper and skimmed the game story.

Katula was never mentioned, and he smiled.

Born Aug. 22, 1982 in Brookfield, Wisc., Katula is fulfilling a dream, following a successful tenure at the University of Wisconsin with a steady career in the National Football League. And he would rather you not know it.

“You don’t know who I am unless I mess up,” the Ravens’ long snapper said. “I think that’s the way we live as snappers. It’s better that way. Just stay behind the scenes and do your job, and if nobody knows who you are, that’s fine.”

Amongst his peers, though, Katula is very well-known. His contributions to the Ravens’ kicking game have given him a reputation as one of the premier long snappers in the NFL.

“Matt is one of the best snappers I’ve ever been with,” said Stover, who enters his 19th season. “He’s consistent. That’s huge for my confidence. I just go when I’m supposed to go and I know that ball is going to be there. It just gives me that much more confidence to be able to kick it through.”

That confidence comes with experience, as Stover, Katula and punter Sam Koch have teamed on field goal attempts – including four successful game-winners – for three full seasons heading into this year.

“We’re in a rhythm,” Katula said of the relationship. “This is our fourth year together, and everybody knows what the other guys are going to do. We just trust each other implicitly. That makes our job easier.”

Too easy, perhaps, for Stover.

“Almost 10 out of 10 times, those laces are in front,” Stover said. “I’m getting so spoiled with it that I have to be careful. There are times when I get other snaps thrown by a coach because Matt and Sam are that good that you just have to stay on top of your game so you don’t get too complacent.”

As with most snappers, Katula did not set out to play the position. He served as the long snapper as a high school junior, hoping to be rewarded with more playing time as a senior. The dedication paid off, and he was recruited by Barry Alvarez and the Wisconsin Badgers as a defensive end.

But once a snapper, always a snapper, and it didn’t take long for Alvarez to discover his new recruit’s talent.

“I was actually joking around on a walk-through practice snapping to some guys, and Coach Alvarez came up to me and said ‘You’re the new backup,’” Katula remembered. “The rest is history, as they say.”

What started out as a joke with some teammates turned into years of dedicated hard work. The former defensive end quickly realized that protecting on kicks and sprinting downfield to cover punts were just as crucial as uncorking a snap with precision and speed.

“You’ve got to be accurate and fast, but you’ve got to protect, too,” said Katula. “You can’t let that go by the wayside. You’ve got to realize that on field goals, you’re going to have 300-plus pound guys running into you and you’ve got to be strong in there. You’ve got to support the guys next to you.

“Don’t be the weak link.”

Now starting his fourth season with the Ravens, Katula has proven to be anything but a weak link in the Ravens’ special teams.

With mounting pressure to end a losing streak and beat the Steelers that November day, Stover provided the kick the Ravens needed in overtime. The team had a win, and Katula’s teammates had a new confidence in their young long snapper.

And that was exactly the type of recognition Matt Katula wanted.

Sunday, December 1, 2013




サン・クロレラ クラシック 事前情報◇27日◇小樽カントリー倶楽部(7,471ヤード・パー72)>

 28日(木)から北海道にある小樽カントリー倶楽部で開催される、国内男子ツアー「サン・クロレラ クラシック」。本戦を翌日に控え、今大会の09年チャンピオンでもある石川遼はプロアマ大会に出場。18ホールをラウンドし調整を行った。







順位 選手名 スコア1 平塚 哲二 -7
2 池田 勇太 -6
3 K・アフィバーンラト -4
4 宮里 優作 -3
横田 真一 -3
孟 東燮 -3
キム・ヒョンテ -3
J・チョイ -3
上田 諭尉 -3
藤島 豊和 -3


サン・クロレラ クラシック 初日◇28日◇小樽カントリー倶楽部(7,471ヤード・パー72)>

 北海道にある小樽カントリー倶楽部を舞台に開幕した、国内男子ツアー「サン・クロレラ クラシック」の初日。





順位 選手名 スコア1 平塚 哲二 -7
2 池田 勇太 -6
3 K・アフィバーンラト -4
4 宮里 優作 -3
横田 真一 -3
孟 東燮 -3
キム・ヒョンテ -3
J・チョイ -3
上田 諭尉 -3
藤島 豊和 -3


サン・クロレラ クラシック 初日◇28日◇小樽カントリー倶楽部(7,471ヤード・パー72)>

 北海道にある小樽カントリー倶楽部で開催されている、国内男子ツアー「サン・クロレラ クラシック」の初日。





順位 選手名 スコア1 平塚 哲二 -7
2 池田 勇太 -6
3 K・アフィバーンラト -4
4 宮里 優作 -3
横田 真一 -3
孟 東燮 -3
キム・ヒョンテ -3
J・チョイ -3
上田 諭尉 -3
藤島 豊和 -3


サン・クロレラ クラシック 初日◇28日◇小樽カントリー倶楽部(7,471ヤード・パー72)>

 北海道にある小樽カントリー倶楽部で開催されている、国内男子ツアー「サン・クロレラ クラシック」は初日が終了。7アンダーでまわった平塚哲二が単独首位に立った。1打差の2位は池田勇太、3位はキラデク・アフィバーンラト(タイ)、4位タイには宮里優作らがつけている。





Friday, October 11, 2013

Standard Life Investments becomes first Worldwide Partner in Ryder Cup history

Standard Life Investments becomes first Worldwide Partner in Ryder Cup history

PGA.COM March 20, 2013 8:26 AM


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By PGA of America

The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will welcome the first designated Worldwide Partner in the event's history following an agreement between Standard Life Investments, Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America that will see the global asset management company become a Worldwide Partner to both the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups.

Never before has a company partnered with The Ryder Cup on both sides of the Atlantic, with the new ground-breaking agreement enabling Standard Life Investments to promote and market its association with The Ryder Cup on a truly global scale.

With a potential daily TV audience of 500 million people across 183 countries, The Ryder Cup has evolved into one of the sport's most valuable and prestigious global brands, making it the perfect partner for a dynamic company such as Standard Life Investments.

Keith Skeoch, CEO, Standard Life Investments, said: "Standard Life Investments is thrilled to become the first Worldwide Partner of The Ryder Cup. This sponsorship complements our reputation as a leading global asset manager with strong performance and a distinctive team culture. It is an integral part of our long-term brand building strategy and is a perfect match in terms of our heritage, client base and strong team ethos."

Pete Bevacqua, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America, said: "We are delighted to welcome Standard Life Investments as a Worldwide Partner to both the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups in what is an historical agreement.

"We believe The Ryder Cup is among the most valuable sponsorship investments in sport and are confident that Standard Life Investments will reap tremendous value from their Worldwide Partnership on both sides of the Atlantic.

"This announcement follows the launch of the unified Ryder Cup global brand identity and the stated aim of Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA of America to secure global partnerships going forward."

Richard Hills, Europe's Ryder Cup Director, added: "As a company, with a strong global reach and Scottish heritage, Standard Life Investments share our commitment to teamwork and helping people achieve their full potential.

"We look forward to working closely with the Standard Life Investments team in delivering a world class Ryder Cup at The Gleneagles Hotel; a Ryder Cup that will create a positive and long lasting legacy for the game in the 'Home of Golf'."

Notes on Standard Life Investments / Standard Life

With assets under management of £163.4bn ($263.9bn) Standard Life Investments is one of Europe's major investment houses. Employing over 1,000 people and headquartered in Edinburgh, Standard Life Investments maintains offices in a number of locations around the globe including Boston, Hong Kong, London, Beijing, Montreal, Sydney, Dublin, Paris and Seoul. In January 2012 Standard Life Investments teamed up with John Hancock Mutual Funds to make its award-winning Global Absolute Return Strategies (GARS) Fund available to the United States retail marketplace.

Standard Life Investments was launched as an investment management company in 1998. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Life Investments (Holdings) Limited, which in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Life plc. With a reputation for innovation in pursuit of client investment objectives Standard Life Investments' capabilities span equities, bonds, real estate, private equity, multi-asset solutions, fund-of-funds and absolute return strategies.

Established in 1825, Standard Life is a leading provider of long term savings and investments to around 6 million customers worldwide. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Standard Life has around 9,000 employees internationally.

The Standard Life group includes savings and investments businesses, which operate across its UK, Canadian and European markets; corporate pensions and benefits businesses in the UK and Canada; and its Chinese and Indian Joint Venture businesses. The Group has total assets under administration of over £211bn ($342bn).

Standard Life plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has approximately 1.5 million individual shareholders in over 50 countries around the world. It is also listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, ranking it among the top 10% of sustainable companies in the world. All figures at 30 September 2012

About Ryder Cup Europe

Ryder Cup Europe, which comprises representatives of The European Tour (60%), of the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland (20%) and The Ryder Cup European Development Trust (RCEDT) (20%), owns the rights of The Ryder Cup when the competition is held in Europe. The European Tour is the Managing Partner and has prime responsibility for all matters concerning The European Team; the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland is the Founding Partner; and The Ryder Cup European Development Trust is responsible for the management of the Trust.

About The PGA of America Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.

Watson gives back one U.S. captain's pick for Ryder Cup

Watson gives back one U.S. captain's pick for Ryder Cup

The Sports Xchange March 20, 2013 10:50 AMThe SportsXchange

Tom Watson is relinquishing one of the four captain's picks for the 2014 Ryder Cup matches in Scotland with the intention of fielding a more representative team.

Watson said the top nine U.S. players in the Ryder Cup standings will qualify and he will make three captain's selections.

"Giving our players one more opportunity to earn a spot on merit, I believe, is the right thing to do," Watson said Wednesday at a news conference. "I will use all possible resources in choosing these three captain's choices to complete the best possible team in order to win the cup back for the United States."

Before the 2008 Ryder Cup, Paul Azinger expanded the U.S. captain's picks to four, used a points system based on PGA Tour earnings rather than top-10 finishes and weighted results from the year in which the Ryder Cup was being played more heavily.

The result was an American victory over Europe at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in 2008. But the U.S. side has since dropped the last two matches.

From 1989 until 2006, the U.S. captain had two wild-card selections.

LPGA: Defending champ Tseng forced out of Kia Classic

LPGA: Defending champ Tseng forced out of Kia Classic

The Sports Xchange March 20, 2013 3:20 PMThe SportsXchange

Defending champion Yani Tseng was forced to withdraw from this week's Kia Classic after oversleeping and missing her tee time for Wednesday's pro-am.

"I'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't feeling well last night and accidentally overslept and missed my tee time for the pro-am this morning," Tseng said in a statement. "I was extremely excited to compete this week to defend my title at the Kia Classic and to try to regain the No. 1 spot. This was an unfortunate mistake and I want to apologize to Kia, my sponsors and all of the fans."

Tseng won last year's event at the Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif. by six strokes. She was aiming to recapture the No. 1 spot in the Rolex World Rankings after American Stacy Lewis took over the top spot for the first time in her career with her second consecutive victory last week in Phoenix.

Tseng's pursuit will have to wait at least one more tournament, but she remains one of the most popular players on the LPGA Tour. She was one of at least 60 people Lewis said texted her to congratulate Lewis on taking over the No. 1 ranking.

"The coolest one I think is the one I got from Yani. I know she may have said that she wanted to lose that spot to kind of help her, but I know she didn't want to lose No. 1 and she was very just very nice to me and congratulations, you played awesome, and kind of added at the end that she was coming after me now and to watch out," Lewis said. "We kind of have a cool relationship built over the last few years and I think it's something that's going to continue."

Also hot on Lewis' heals is third-ranked Na Yeon Choi, who also had an opportunity to take over the No. 1 spot with a victory last week.

"I just know that I'm going to have fun," Lewis said of playing with the No. 1 ranking. "I know there's a lot of people that would love to be in my position right now and that's why I just want to have fun and enjoy it.

"I'm not going to say I want to be in this position for a certain number of weeks or years because you can't do that, there's too many other good players out here. So I'm going to just enjoy this position and keep trying to win golf tournaments."

Jane Park leads after first round of Kia Classic

Jane Park leads after first round of Kia Classic

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange March 21, 2013 11:01 PMThe SportsXchange

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The good vibes on the golf course had been missing for a while for Jane Park. But after a strong opening round at the Kia Classic at Aviara Golf Club on Thursday, Park couldn't help but relish in her fortune.

"I love this style of golf course, so maybe that's why I played pretty well today," Park said.

Park shot a six-under par 66 to lead the field heading into Friday's second round at the $1.7 million event. Park recorded birdies on four of the initial six holes and finished with six overall. She shot par the rest of the round and finished with no bogeys.

"Well the weather was fantastic today like it always is in San Diego and I just wanted to take advantage of that and the fresh greens this morning," said Park, who is seeking her first LPGA tour win. "And fortunately I made a ton of putts today."

She also said it felt great to be completely healthy for the first time in three years. Back and neck pains and tendonitis in her wrist had plagued her. And she also battled maturity issues.

"Some injuries and some personal family issues, and I don't know, just growing up, I guess," said Park, currently ranked 298th. "I got on Tour pretty young. I was only 19, fresh out of my first year at UCLA, and thinking back it might have been a little premature. But yeah, it was just growing pains."

She added, "I think my preparation in the off-season was much better this off-season than it has been in the past. My career's been riddled with injuries and different things here and there, but I prepared really well and I was confident coming into the week."

Park turned pro in 2006. She managed runner-up finishes at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay and the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas Championship in 2008 and finished 25th on the money list.

But her struggles began in 2010, when she failed to register a top-10 finish for three seasons. In 2012, she made the cut in only seven of 15 events. This year, she missed the cut at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix last week and tied for 48th at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in February.

But all that seemed to be behind her Thursday.

"It's great to finally get a good round under my belt," Park said. "It's a little difficult to not play as well as I know I can, but I think with a lot of hard work I can get up there."

Caroline Hedwall and Karrie Webb were a stroke back at 67. Hedwall had eight birdies overall, including six on the front nine, but suffered a double bogey on the 10th hole and a bogey on 16.

"It's always nice to get off to a good start and you're up there right away," Hedwall said.

Webb had six birdies overall and a bogey on 13.

Giulia Sergas and Jessica Korda were tied for fourth at 68. Paula Creamer, Se Ri Pak and Amanda Blumenherst, who had an eagle, were among 10 players three shots off the lead.

Blumenherst was especially pleased with her round.

"I just had a very solid round of golf," she said. "I really didn't line it up where I was dropping long putts. I was hitting the ball really well and when I hit it within six feet, they were birdie putts and the eagle, so I just played consistent golf."

Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in the world who won the past two events, finished four shots back at 70. Lewis birdied the first three holes on the front nine, but bogeyed the 9th and 14th.

Lewis, who captured the HSBC Women's Championship in Singapore and the RR Donnelley Founders Cup in Phoenix last week, is shooting for her third consecutive Tour victory.

Regardless of who prevails, a new champion will be crowned when the event concludes Sunday. Yani Tseng, the defending champ, was withdrawn Wednesday morning after she overslept and missed her pro-am time.

NOTES: With March Madness tipping off Thursday, it was inevitable the conversation would turn to hoops. Blumenherst, a Duke grad, predictably said she the Blue Devils would win the national championship despite family conflicts. "My parents went to Indiana, though, so I have them in the finals. So we have a family house divided." Jane Park, who attended UCLA, was asked which team goes further in the postseason, the Lakers or UCLA. "I'm going to say UCLA," she said.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Potter wins Par 3 Contest, edging Kuchar

Potter wins Par 3 Contest, edging Kuchar

PGA.COM April 10, 2013 9:02 PM


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Ted Potter got a crystal vase for ihs victory in the Par 3 Contest.(Getty Images )

By Paul Newberry, Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Ted Potter Jr. won the Par 3 Contest at Augusta National, the light-hearted precursor to the first major of the year.

Potter won on the second playoff hole Wednesday, making a birdie at No. 9 to beat Matt Kuchar. Phil Mickelson was eliminated on the first extra hole. Ernie Els and Nick Watneyalso shot 23, but they had already left the course and didn't take part in the playoff.

Lee Westwood's mum walked away from the ninth hole, waving her hand in front of her face on a balmy spring day.

"I feel sorry for the caddies," Trish Westwood said with a flushed smile.

At least she wasn't wearing white coveralls and hauling around heavy bags as the mercury climbed into the mid-80s Wednesday. Still, there was nowhere else she wanted to be.

Such is the appeal of the Par 3 Contest, one of those Masters traditions like no other.

Everyone from mothers to small children -- some barely old enough to walk -- take on caddying duties. The greats of the game, long past their prime, thrill the patrons with a few more swings. Technically, they're keeping score, but everyone knows it's all for fun. No need to get worked up about these nine holes. That's for Thursday, after everyone moves over to "the big course."

"It's a good way to unwind before the stress of the tournament starts," Brandt Snedeker said after finishing up. "This is a great way to relax and spend time with your family."

This picturesque spot -- nine exquisite little holes tucked into the northeast edge of Augusta National Golf Club -- provides another of those quirky trademarks that sets the first major of the year apart from the next three.

Where else can you see a threesome that includes Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player? Where else can you see former top-ranked tennis player Caroline Wozniacki on the bag for her boyfriend, Rory McIlroy? Where else can you find 91-year-old Jack Fleck, who won the 1955 U.S. Open in one of golf's greatest upsets, taking a few whacks?

"It's fun down here," Fred Couples said. "It's a good little spot."

Especially when Nicklaus, Palmer and Player -- with 34 major championships among them -- stroll around the "little course" for an hour or so, providing a running commentary on the deteriorating state of their once-mighty games.

After the 83-year-old Palmer sliced one into the water, he joked, "That was my last ball."

"I can loan you one," the 73-year-old Nicklaus quipped, as he hunched over to tee up his ball.

"Is my credit good?" Palmer asked.

"Good with me," Nicklaus said.

The Par 3 Contest was first played at Augusta National in 1960, on a course designed by architect George Cobb and club founder Clifford Roberts. There are nine holes covering a tidy 1,060 yards, ranging from the 70-yard second to the 140-yard sixth. As Palmer can attest, there are two bodies of water that can come into play, DeSoto Springs Pond and Ike's Pond -- named after former president and club member Dwight Eisenhower.

No one has ever won the Par 3 Contest and gone on to win the Masters, which doesn't bode well for Potter.

Fred Couples was asked about the Par 3 jinx. He just shrugged it off.

"I wouldn't mind winning this once. But I've never been close," he said.

Augusta National awards a prize to the winner, as well as those finishing closest to each hole. Or for going in the hole.

Like 61-year-old Ben Crenshaw, who aced the 115-yard seventh -- holding out his arms, grinning from ear to ear, and soaking in the applause.

Watney broke into a much more demonstrative celebration when he made a hole-in-one at the 135-yard ninth, running around the tee box chest-bumping with his playing partners and the caddies.

"I'm not sure what that was," Watney said. "I'm sure we looked like fools, but it was fun."

He feigned a leap into the pond, but thought better of it.

"I guess I chickened out," Watney said sheepishly.

Wozniacki, on the other hand, didn't come close to a hole-in-one when McIlroy handed her a club at the ninth.

She wound up, took a mighty swing -- and sent the ball dribbling into the water, just a few yards away.

For those with families, the Par 3 Contest provides a chance to spend the day with their children -- young and grown-up.

"It's really cool," said three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo. "Fortunately, my big kids wanted to caddie. Georgia, my daughter, is 20 and she hasn't been back to Augusta in moons. She booked the bag, which is really nice.

"I'm living on memories here," he added.

And, really, that's what the Par 3 Contest is all about.

Luke Donald will always remember when he turned the putter over to his 3-year-old daughter, Elle, as is the custom on the final hole.

She whacked the ball hard -- a little too hard -- and sent it zipping past the cup. She rolled in the next one, however, then sprinted off the course with her parents in pursuit.

"She hit it a little hard, but she made the comeback," her dad said. "I like the aggressive stroke."

Palmer was too aggressive on the final hole, striking the ball with that low, whipping swing that served him so well in his day. He was trying to take aim at the flag tucked in the front of the green. Instead, he came up short, the ball rolling down the bank and into Ike's Pond.

Nicklaus and Player got safely across the water, playing to the back of the green, then all three of the legends strolled slowly around the pond, accompanied by the roars of an appreciative crowd.

Palmer didn't quite make it the green. He plopped down in a marshal's seat off the side, signing a few autographs but looking downright pooped.

"I think I'm done playing," he said, managing a weak smile.

Until next year, that is.

The 2013 Masters under way at Augusta National

The 2013 Masters under way at Augusta National

PGA.COM April 11, 2013 12:08 PM


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Most consider four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods the favorite to win the green jacket this week.(Getty …

By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP National Writer

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Sixteen players have won major championships since Tiger Woods got his last one.

Yet he's the one everyone is chasing.

Woods teed off Thursday morning at the Masters as the overwhelming favorite to win his fifth green jacket. He has already won three times this year and reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.

"I feel comfortable with every aspect of my game," Woods said. "I feel that I've improved and I've gotten more consistent, and I think the wins show that."

Playing in a group with Luke Donald and Scott Piercy on an overcast day at Augusta National, Woods parred the first three holes. Britain's David Lynn was the early leader at 4 under through 12 holes, one stroke ahead of Jim Furyk.

About three hours before Woods teed off, the tournament began with ceremonial shots from three of golf's greatest players -- 83-year-old Arnold Palmer, 77-year-old Gary Player and 73-year-old Jack Nicklaus.

Palmer was clearly pleased with his effort, which settled right in the middle of the fairway. He pumped his right fist as the crowd roared.

"The only nerves are to make sure you make contact," Nicklaus quipped. "It doesn't make a diddly-darn where it goes."

Sandy Lyle, John Peterson and amateur Nathan Smith followed the former champions to the tee, beginning their rounds under gray skies after three warm, sunny days of practice. There was a good chance of rain by late afternoon.

Woods hasn't won a major since 2008, and he has gone eight long years since his last victory at Augusta.

Clearly, the aura of invincibility is no longer there.

Woods is eager to regain it.

"Obviously, Tiger is Tiger," Piercy said. "He's always going to be that target. He knows it, and that's how he wants it. But there's a lot of people getting closer. And the golfing gods, or whatever you want to call them, have a lot to do with winning. A bounce here, a bounce there. A lip in, a lip out."

Angel Cabrera got one of those bounces off a pine tree and back into the 18th fairway in 2009 that helped him save par and win a playoff on the next hole. Sure, he was a former U.S. Open champion, but the big Argentine was No. 69 in the world that year, the lowest-ranked player to win the Masters.

The hole got in the way twice for Charl Schwartzel in 2011, once on a chip across the first green that fell for birdie, another a shot from the third fairway that dropped for eagle. He finished with four straight birdies to win.

Zach Johnson was just a normal guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who would not seem to fit the profile of a Masters champion. He wasn't very long, didn't hit the ball very high and didn't go for the green in two on any of the par 5s. He won by two shots in 2007.

"The favorite is all media-driven, all public-driven," Johnson said. "There are no surprises out there. There's probably 70 or 80 guys that you would not be surprised one bit if any of them won."

Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo didn't name them all, but his list kept growing when he talked about 20 players who could win the Masters, all from what he referred to as the second tier and described as "pretty darn good."

Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald. Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas. Louis Oosthuizen and Schwartzel.

Not to mention three-time winner Phil Mickelson, defending champ Bubba Watson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

"Yes, Tiger is the favorite," Faldo said. "He's strong. He's determined. We will see. But he's going to be chased by a lot of really good players."

©2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

Jack Nicklaus: Never had a sit-down Masters talk with Tiger Woods

Jack Nicklaus: Never had a sit-down Masters talk with Tiger Woods

PGA.COM April 11, 2013 12:51 PM


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Unlike his close relationship with former rival Arnold Palmer (left), Jack Nicklaus said he and Tiger …


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Jack Nicklaus has shared his secrets and strategy about Augusta National with anyone who wanted to learn from a six-time Masters champion, a list that includes Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Nicolas Colsaerts. But not Tiger Woods.

Nicklaus said he's never had a sit-down with the man who is trying to break his records.

In fact, he said they hardly talk at all.

"I never really had a conversation with Tiger that lasted more than a minute or two -- ever," Nicklaus said Thursday morning after hitting the ceremonial tee shot. "He stayed away from me from a conversation standpoint. Never had a conversation on the Masters in general. I've said, 'Hello, how are you doing? Nice playing this year. You've played very well.' End of conversation. People ask me, 'Has Tiger ever talk to you about his record?' Never one word."

Nicklaus said he was surprised Woods hasn't talked to him about the Masters, though he's not the least bit offended. Woods, after all, figured out the course quickly. He won the Masters three times in his first six years as a pro.

"He's got his own focus and what he does, and I respect that," Nicklaus said. "I respect when somebody is involved in their deal. They concentrate on what they do and not what you did. That's OK. It's not my position to go talk to him about it. I respect that. I wouldn't intrude on that."

Even so, it offered some rare insight into the relationship between Woods and Nicklaus, with whom he has been linked ever since Woods was a youngster and kept a timeline of the milestones Nicklaus achieved in his career.

They spent time together at the Presidents Cup during the four times Nicklaus was captain, and Nicklaus has sat at his side during the champion's interview the five times that Woods won the Memorial. Nicklaus even shared one story from the Presidents Cup when he noticed Woods and Mickelson spending time together. Nicklaus had ready plenty of stories about the tension between them.

"I said, 'You guys seem to get along.' And he said, 'Yeah, we get along fine.' I said, 'What all this about that other stuff?' He says, 'I don't know. Just press stuff.' So I said, 'You guys want to play together?' And he said, 'I'd rather not.'

"The point being, he's got a little bit of his number," Nicklaus said. "And he doesn't want anyone to get really close to him because he feels like he's got a little dominance over them. I understand that. You've got to respect that."

Nicklaus and Woods played together only once in the majors, the opening two rounds of the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla. They also were teammates in the old "Battle at Bighorn." Woods once told a story of asking Nicklaus about all the rivalries he faced during three decades, and how Nicklaus told him, "Just make sure you're always part of the conversation." Nicklaus said even that chat in South Africa didn't last very long.

"I get along fine with Tiger. I like Tiger. I don't have an issue with Tiger. There's always pleasantries and so forth," he said.

Woods moved from Orlando, Fla., to the West Palm Beach area last year after building a home along the ocean with his own miniature range. The speculation was which golf club Woods might join, and he settled on The Medalist. Several other pros are members at The Bear's Club, which Nicklaus built as his home course in Florida.

"I asked him when he came to Florida if we wanted to come to The Bear's Club," Nicklaus said. "He stayed away from it. He didn't want to intrude where I was. He never told me why, but other people told me, 'He says he didn't feel comfortable being there where I was because that was a record he was trying to break.' I said, 'I don't care about that. We'd like to have if you want to play and be part of it.' He comes out and plays quite often. I'd include him in everything

"But everybody has their own personality. That's not a fault. It's not a criticism. It just is what it is."

So what kind of golf talk is Woods missing out on?

Nicklaus spoke mainly about taking risks only when the percentages and the situation called for it, and realize that a shot into the middle of just about any green at Augusta National will leave a reasonable chance at birdie.

He still thinks about the 3-wood he hit into the water on the 15th hole that cost him in the final round of the 1971 Masters.

"One shot shouldn't be a shot that puts you out of the tournament," Nicklaus said. "I needed to make 4. I didn't need to make 3. I should have laid the ball up. Why put yourself out of the tournament on one shot? That's the thing I stress.

"I wouldn't take risks unless it was necessary to take risks," he said. "These guys that come to me and ask me about the tournament, basically what I tell them is there's a half-dozen shots on this golf course (where) you can put yourself out of the tournament."

He mentioned the tee shot on the par-5 second hole; the second shot into No. 11; the tee shot on the par-3 12th. The tee shot and the second shot on the par-3 13th; and the second shot on the par-5 15th.

"Think about what you're doing on them," Nicklaus said. "If you've got a 50-50 chance of doing it, certainly I wouldn't be doing it. If you've got a 90-10 chance, think real hard about it, and try to make sure you eliminate the 10. It's a golf course that when you make a mistake, it's really difficult to make up for it."

©2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

As Always, the Masters Leaves Lasting Memories

As Always, the Masters Leaves Lasting Memories

Rick Woelfel April 18, 2013 5:13 PM

Each major championship leaves impressions that become part of the history of championship golf.

The 2013 Masters was no exception. In the end, it produced one of the most dramatic finishes in the tournament's history and offered a reminder of why golf is unique among major sports.

With that in mind, here are some of the most vivid memories of the 2013 Masters:

A New Star Emerges

Even before arriving at Augusta National, Adam Scott had an impressive resume. But fair or not, there is a chasm that separates players who have won major championships from those who have not. On Sunday evening, Scott crossed that divide by making two of the biggest putts of his life.

Scott's ball striking has never been issue. It's always been his putting that has held him back. At the Masters, however, his putting stroke stood up to the ultimate test. Scott turns 33 in July and, theoretically, is entering his prime as a player.

In my view, there is no limit as to what he can achieve. And by the way, he's placed in the top three in the last three majors.

Respect Still Matters

The mutual respect between Scott and Angel Cabrera, the man he defeated, was evident, particularly during their playoff. They were two highly motivated athletes trying their best to beat one another, but they were also two sportsmen fully cognizant of each other's abilities. Their embrace at evening's end is the most vivid image we'll take away from the week.

What About Tiger?

My thought heading into the Masters was that Tiger Woods would play reasonably well but not win. In the end, he wound up tying for fourth, an impressive performance for any player other than Woods himself.

At age 37, Woods is still an elite player, the best in the world when he's at the top of his game. But the gap that for so long separated him from his peers has narrowed considerably.

The Rules Apply to All

There were two significant rules controversies during the week. The view from here is that both were handled correctly. Guan Tianlang deserved the slow-play penalty he received Friday. The official who issued the penalty had an obligation to protect the entire field. The fact that Guan is an amateur and just 14 years old is irrelevant, in my opinion.

As for Tiger Woods, the rule that allowed him to play on the weekend in the wake of his two-stroke penalty for taking an improper drop was crafted with situations like this in mind, so players would not be subject to disqualification for penalties incurred after the completion of a round.

Woods arouses so much passion in the golfing world that his defenders and detractors alike were caught up in the emotion of the moment.

Fortunately, reason won out over passion.

A Final Thought

All major professional tours should immediately end the policy of accepting phone calls from television viewers regarding rules infractions. Having a trained rules official monitor a tournament telecast for possible infractions is one thing. Accepting the intervention of an untrained person who may have a stake in the outcome of a tournament is quite another -- and the practice should be dispensed with.

Rick Woelfel resides near Philadelphia, near some of the finest golf courses in the world, but this has done nothing to enhance his own ability as a golfer. He prefers to write about the sport instead. Rick is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and has covered the sport for more than 25 years.

Miyazato takes clubhouse lead

Miyazato takes clubhouse lead

Kyle Galdeira, The Sports Xchange April 18, 2013 8:00 PMThe SportsXchange

KAPOLEI, Hawaii -- Strong winds made an impact on Thursday's second round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in West Oahu, and Ai Miyazato in turn made a familiar charge to the top of the leaderboard.

Miyazato, the event's defending champion, took sole possession of first place at 9-under-par 135 after firing a 4-under 68 early in the day.

The No. 9 player in the Rolex Rankings finished her round on the front nine, and she used a blistering streak of five birdies through the final seven holes, including a long birdie putt from the edge of the green on the par-3 8th, to skyrocket into the lead.

The Japan native entered this week with three top-25 finishes so far in 2013, including a runner-up position at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup a month ago in Phoenix. Miyazato claimed last year's inaugural Lotte event, holding off Spain's Azahara Munoz and South Korea's Meena Lee by four strokes.

Hyo Joo Kim, a 17-year-old from South Korea, finished at 1 under on the day to move her to 7 under and into a second-place tie for the tourney among Thursday's early finishers. The KLPGA member birdied two of the final five holes to push her second-round score under par. Fellow South Korean Hee Kyung Seo, the 2011 Rookie of the Year, emerged unscathed with an even-par 72 to remain at 7 under.

No. 2 ranked Stacy Lewis carded a 71 to pull into fifth place at 6 under for the event. The two-time winner in 2013 can regain the No. 1 ranking with a victory this week.

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn took a few steps back a day after shooting a tournament-record-tying 64, which resulted in her owning the lead after round one. On Thursday, the 17-year-old shot 75 on the heels of two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on the par-3 16th -- quite a departure from her seven birdies and an eagle notched Wednesday. Despite the setback, the Ladies European Tour rookie remains in contention with a two-day mark of 5 under.

Who is the Worst Player to Ever Have Won a Major?

Who is the Worst Player to Ever Have Won a Major?

Travis Mewhirter April 19, 2013 12:14 AM

COMMENTARY | A commenter on a Yahoo! Sports story a few days back posed a rather intriguing question, and one that I felt inspired to answer both out of curiosi
ty and amusement: Who is the worst player to have won a major?

It's a valid question. We always talk about who the best player not to have won a major is. Just a few weeks ago I made an argument that Justin Rose is the likely president of that pained club. But who is that one guy that raised a trophy or kissed a jug or donned a green jacket where everybody watching let out a collective "huh?"

The requirements for this not-so-prestigious award go as thus: if a player has won more than one major, they do not qualify. If a player is younger than 35 and still hovering around their prime, they have plenty of time to improve or find their game and, thus, do not qualify. Multiple top ten finishes was also a sign of consistency and proved to be a saving grace for many. Lastly, the major had to be the player's lone victory on tour. It doesn't matter if they won the Waterbury Open against Happy Gilmore and his neighbor, The Accountant -- a non-major win is a non-major win.

So, there have been 131 one-time major winners. You'd be surprised at some of the names on that list, guys like Darren Clarke, Ben Curtis, Tom Lehman, Paul Azinger, Tom Kite, Davis Love III…it goes on.

After careful evaluation, the contest boiled down to eight finalists: Jack Burns, Willie Auchterlonie, Shaun Micheel, Tom Creavy, Jack Simpson, Tom Kidd, Fred Herd, and Sam Parks Jr.

Never heard of half of them? I don't blame you. Between that group of eight misfits, there are four British Open titles, two PGA Championship titles and two U.S. Open titles. Now, I think most of us can remember Micheel, who nestled in one of the most clutch wedges in PGA Championship history.

He made Cleveland (the brand, not the city) one of the happiest companies on Earth that day. But after that, it was all downhill. Micheel was cut in 11 of his next 18 majors, didn't play in six more as a pro, and failed to crack the top 20 in any aside from one exception, and that was a runner-up finish at the PGA in 2006. That runner-up was his ticket out of the running for this most notorious award.

Next, we're going to lump Simpson, Burns, Auchterlonie, Herd and Kidd together because their wins came before the 1900s, meaning they didn't really get a fair crack at the majors as they are today: four per year, 72 holes each. Simpson won the Open Championship in 1884 shooting 78-82 for a whopping total of 160 in 36 holes which sounds absolutely insane considering that modern-day players are furious with anything over par. Even crazier, Kidd won the 1873 Open Championship and he shot an opening round 91. A 91! And he won! Automatically those scores don't count. They were, after all, playing with the modern-day equivalent of a croquet set and a wiffle ball.

So, with those six out, we are down to Creavy and Parks. What's interesting about Creavy is that he won the 1931 PGA Championship in a match play format. (For those wondering, the PGA Championship adopted stroke play in 1958.) That's something to consider. Do we use modern day formats only, or is Creavy OK because he won under circumstances that he had no control over? We'll let it slide, only because Parks' only major win, the 1935 U.S. Open, also came before 1958.

Before making our final decision between the two, some stats and facts to consider: Parks played in 34 majors, obviously won one, was cut in 12 of them, and never cracked the top 15 again. Creavy, meanwhile, has a smaller sample size, playing in just 11 majors. He missed the cut just once, the 1940 U.S. Open, and did post two more solid finishes in the match play-style PGA, making it all the way to the semifinals and the quarterfinals in the years following his big win, but never a runner-up as Micheel did. Those semi- and quarter-final appearances, however, proved to be the difference-maker that offset Parks' overwhelming volume of majors played.

So, to the masochistic golf fans out there who just needed to know the bottom-dweller of all major-winning bottom dwellers, there you have it: Mr. Sam Parks Jr. is your worst player to ever have won a major.

Travis Mewhirter has been working in the golf industry since 2007, when he was a bag room manager at Piney Branch Golf Club in Carroll County, Maryland, and has been involved, as a player, since 2004. Since then, he has worked at Hayfields Country Club, where the Constellation Energy Classic was formerly held, and has covered golf at the high school, college, and professional levels.