PGA tour

PGA Tour makes stops in Texas

As is usual, the PGA Tour will make a couple of stops in Texas before the highly coveted Masters Championship gets underway later this month.

The first tournament of the Texas swing was the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, which was played late last month. It was played at the five-year-old TPC San Antonio.

The two courses of TPC San Antonio, the AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons Course, are consistently rated as two of the hardest courses on the PGA Tour by scoring average. Their long distance and brutal winds make birdies a lot harder to come by than most PGA Tour venues.

Texas native Jimmy Walker won the event with a 11-under-par 277. Other notables in the field included 2014 FedEx Cup Champion Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Harris English and Jimmy Walker. Former Longhorns Jordan Spieth, Justin Leonard, Jhonattan Vegas and Lance Lopez also competed.

Notably, this was be Lopez’ first PGA Tour start. After a successful college career, he has struggled to translate his game to the professional level. That changed when he shot a 6-under 66 at the Monday qualifier to make the field for the tournament. Lopez looked to take advantage of the opportunity to help him gain access to even more PGA tournaments.

Spieth came into the event fresh off of his win at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida two weeks ago. Before the event, he was ranked ninth in the FedEx Cup rankings and was a favorite to win. However, he finished four strokes behind Walker for second place. 

Leonard is the veteran of the Longhorn trio as his 21-year career and 12 PGA Tour wins show. His season has gotten off to a slow start with only one top-10 finish and he has been cut from five of the ten tournaments he has played in.

Next, PGA Tour will head to the Golf Club of Houston for the Shell Houston Open.

The course has traditionally served as a warm-up for the Masters with the golf course set up to emulate many of the same features as Augusta National.

Last year, Matt Jones won the event, which was his first win on the PGA Tour. His 15-under-par total forced him into a playoff with Matt Kuchar whom he would eventually defeat.

Notables in the field include Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth, all of who are ranked in the top-10 in the World Golf Rankings.

Play will get underway on Thursday, April 2. It will be televised on the Golf Channel.

World Golf Hall of Fame announces newest members

By Matthew Adams

       On Wednesday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced that its 2015 class will consist of Englishwoman Laura Davies, Australian David Graham, American Mark O’Meara, and late course designer A.W. Tillinghast. 

       This year’s process was different from previous years because many golf writers were eliminated from the process, relying on a 16-member voting panel  Members of this panel included Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and R&A Chief Peter Dawson and three selected golf writers. 

       With these changes, the usual ceremonies around the week of the Players Championship did not occur due to the process being reevaluated.  A lot of outrage existed in 2013 when Fred Couples, only 1 major win, and Colin Montgomerie, no major victories, beat out Graham and O’Meara for the spots. 

       Although the golf world is happier to see Graham finally make it into the Hall of Fame, the issue this year is that Ian Woosnam was left off.  Woosnam is a 29-time European Tour winner, was the world’s number 1 player from April of 1991 to March 1992.  During the streak, he went on to win the 1991 Masters. 

       Yet as the golf world gripes about this issue, recognize that the process is getting better and enjoy the current celebration. 

       Graham has been waiting a long time for this, and is more than deserving.  In his career, Graham finished his career with eight career PGA Tour Titles, five on the Champions Tour.  His biggest wins consist of the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion.  His performance is still viewed as a benchmark for tournament golf.   With these wins, Graham became the fourth Australian to win a major championship and the first to win the U.S. Open. 

       O’Meara is most famously known for his run through the 1998 tour.  He finished with wins at the Masters and the Britsh Open Championship.  O’Meara also went on to claim the PGA Player and Tour Player of the Year Awards. 

       Davies is less known compared to her counterparts, but her impact has been just as important in the LPGA Tour.  Within the golf world, Davies won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open and named Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996. 

       For British honors, Davies was named a Member of the British Empire in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth the II and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, the highest award for a British citizen.  

        Tillinghast has been recognized for his golf courses that he created throughout the United States in the early 20th century.  One of his famous sights includes Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Jack Nicklaus won 2 of his 4 U.S. Open’s and Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Open in 2005.    By Matthew Adams

       On Wednesday, the World Golf Hall of Fame announced that its 2015 class will consist of Englishwoman Laura Davies, Australian David Graham, American Mark O’Meara, and late course designer A.W. Tillinghast. 

       This year’s process was different from previous years because many golf writers were eliminated from the process, relying on a 16-member voting panel  Members of this panel included Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and R&A Chief Peter Dawson and three selected golf writers. 

       With these changes, the usual ceremonies around the week of the Players Championship did not occur due to the process being reevaluated.  A lot of outrage existed in 2013 when Fred Couples, only 1 major win, and Colin Montgomerie, no major victories, beat out Graham and O’Meara for the spots. 

       Although the golf world is happier to see Graham finally make it into the Hall of Fame, the issue this year is that Ian Woosnam was left off.  Woosnam is a 29-time European Tour winner, was the world’s number 1 player from April of 1991 to March 1992.  During the streak, he went on to win the 1991 Masters. 

       Yet as the golf world gripes about this issue, recognize that the process is getting better and enjoy the current celebration. 

       Graham has been waiting a long time for this, and is more than deserving.  In his career, Graham finished his career with eight career PGA Tour Titles, five on the Champions Tour.  His biggest wins consist of the 1979 PGA Championship and the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion.  His performance is still viewed as a benchmark for tournament golf.   With these wins, Graham became the fourth Australian to win a major championship and the first to win the U.S. Open. 

       O’Meara is most famously known for his run through the 1998 tour.  He finished with wins at the Masters and the Britsh Open Championship.  O’Meara also went on to claim the PGA Player and Tour Player of the Year Awards. 

       Davies is less known compared to her counterparts, but her impact has been just as important in the LPGA Tour.  Within the golf world, Davies won the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open and named Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996. 

       For British honors, Davies was named a Member of the British Empire in 1988 by Queen Elizabeth the II and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, the highest award for a British citizen.  

        Tillinghast has been recognized for his golf courses that he created throughout the United States in the early 20th century.  One of his famous sights includes Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Jack Nicklaus won 2 of his 4 U.S. Open’s and Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Open in 2005.    

       These four members will be enshrined on July 13, 2015 at St. Andrews instead of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fl.

       These four members will be enshrined on July 13, 2015 at St. Andrews instead of the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fl. 

Former Longhorn Jordan Spieth won a three person playoff to win the PGA Tour John Deere Classic Sunday evening. With the win, at 19-years old, Spieth is the youngest player in 80 years to win on the PGA Tour. The last under-20 to win on the PGA Tour was Ralph Guldahl in 1931 who won the Santa Monica Open.

Spieth defeated David Hearn and Zach Johnson with a two-foot putt and finished on-par on the fifth hole of the playoff round. He earned a spot in the Open Championship which will take place next week. 

WGC Accenture match play does not disappoint, bizarre and interesting throughout

A lot went on over the past two weeks in the world of golf, from snow in desert Arizona to many shocking upsets and it all happened during the same tournament, the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. This tournament is always a unique one because of its format, which is a 64-player tournament in the spirit of the famous NCAA March Madness tournament, which determines the champion of the Division I collegiate basketball world. The tournament is held every year at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz. While there’s nothing strange or unique about a golf tournament in Arizona, but snow in the Southwest, that definitely makes things interesting.

Round 1 was postponed with many of the matches still in play because of the unusual precipitation. The continuation of Round 1 on Day 2 saw two huge upsets that resulted in first round exits from the world’s No. 1- and 2-ranked golfers in the world, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. Both No. 1 seeds in their respective brackets, the career multi-major winners fell at the hands of 16 seeds Shane Lowry and Charles Howell III who combine for a total of four professional wins and just two PGA tour wins, both belonging to Howell. The world’s No. 1 golfer fell to Lowry by just one hole, while Woods fell to Howell III by two. However, seeding upsets aren’t too uncommon in match play. In Round 1 alone 15 out of the 32 matches had the lower seed move on to the next round, including two No. 2 seeds in Lee Westwood and Adam Scott falling in their respective opening matches along with two No. 3 seeds and two No. 4 seeds falling to their opponents.

Round of 32 to Final Four

Most of the Cinderella stories struck the cliché midnight in round two as only one of each of the 15 and 16 seeds advanced to Round 3. No. 16 seed Shane Lowry and No. 15 seed Tim Clark took their second round matches before falling in the elite eight. Only two of the elite eight golfers were seeded below eight, No. 11 seed Jason Day and No. 9 seed Robert Garrigus. Garrigus fell Matt Kuchar by three holes with two remaining in the match, while Day prevailed edging out No. 5 seed Graeme McDowell by one hole. This gave us a final four consisting of (11) Jason Day going up against (6) Matt Kuchar with the winner taking on the victor of the other final four match between No. 3 seed Ian Poulter and No. 6 seed Hunter Mahan. The two No. 6 seeds, Mayhan and Kuchar, were dominant and both cruised their way to victory with four-hole victories ending play in each match with three holes remaining. 

Mahan-Kuchar Final Round

In the championship matchup between the two six seeds, Matt Kuchar came out strong, capitalizing on Mahan bogeys on the 4th and 5th holes, getting on holes No. 6 and 8 to go up by four holes after the front nine was completed. Mahan immediately recovered to kick off the back nine, taking the 10th and 11th holes thanks to a Kuchar bogey on 10 and a birdie on 11 to chop the lead in half to two. The two tied on 12 with birdies on the par three before Kuchar birdied the 13th hole versus a Mahan bogey to stretch the lead to three with five holes left. Mahan did not let that discourage him as he would take the 14th with a birdie. The two would pencil in birdies on 15, and Kuchar bogeyed 16 to which Mahan pulled within one hole by taking advantage with a par and two holes to go. Kuchar finished off Mahan who conceded hole 17 to give Matt Kuchar his first PGA tour victory of the 2013 season and the fifth PGA Tour win of his career.  

Sophomore golfer Jordan Spieth’s journey to the PGA Tour hit a roadblock Friday. He failed to advance to the Q-School finals and will not be able to earn his PGA Tour card this year.

Spieth was planning to go professional at the conclusion of the Q-School finals had he earned his PGA Tour card, but he was unable to crack the Top 20 in the four-day second round to advance. The sophomore finished the tournament with a score of 8-under-280, which was good for a tie for 26th place and three strokes shy of what he needed to advance.

Golfers are required to finish in the Top 25 in the Q-School finals in order to join the PGA Tour, with all other finals qualifiers having the opportunity to compete in the Web.com Tour. Since he was unable to qualify for the finals, Spieth will have a decision to make regarding his future.

Spieth will have the option to return to Texas for the remainder of the season and attempt to go pro following the NCAA championship, although he could pursue a professional career immediately in a number of different scenarios. He could play overseas, compete in Web.com Tour events through Monday qualifiers or participate in PGA events through sponsorship exemptions.

While Spieth has made a decision on his future, he has yet to publicly disclose his intentions.

“I’ve looked at all options everywhere,” Spieth told GolfWeek. “I know what I’m going to do, I’m just not saying anything right now.”

The Longhorns would like to have Spieth return, as he has been their strongest and most consistent player over the past year and a half. Currently the fifth-ranked collegiate golfer, the sophomore earned Big 12 Conference Player of the Year honors in 2011 and was instrumental in leading the

Longhorns golf team to its third national championship.

Should Spieth return to Texas for the remainder of the 2012-13 season, there is a strong chance that he will turn pro at the conclusion of the NCAA championship. Another possible scenario would see him return next season and compete in Q-School again next fall for an opportunity to earn his PGA Tour card.

If Spieth were to turn pro this January, he could compete in PGA Tour events through sponsorship exemptions throughout the season. He would likely have no trouble getting sponsorship exemptions when the PGA Tour comes through Texas, as he has already competed under such circumstances at the Byron Nelson in 2010 and 2011 and at the Texas Open in 2012.

For now, though, Spieth is focused on getting some rest and taking his time in preparing for the future.

“I’m just going to go home now and get some food and get some rest, enjoy Thanksgiving and we’ll see what happens,” Spieth said.

Printed on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 as: Spieth fails to advance, falls short of tour card

SHANGHAI — PGA champion Keegan Bradley cares more about counting birdies than votes. He flew halfway around the world with the intention of winning a World Golf Championship, not any kind of an award.

Whatever the case, he sure made this PGA Tour player of the year discussion a lot more interesting Thursday.

Bradley did most of his damage on the par 5s at Sheshan International with three birdies and an eagle, which carried him to a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead after the one round of the HSBC Champions.

“A very rewarding round,” Bradley said.

Bo Van Pelt extended his awesome Asian adventure. Coming off a six-shot win in Malaysia last week, Van Pelt had 67 and was tied for second with the Swedish duo of Alexander Noren and Fredrik Jacobson.

The PGA Tour felt it should wait until after the HSBC Champions to send out its postseason awards ballot because this tournament counts as official if a PGA Tour member were to win. If there was one player considered a threat to Luke Donald as player of the year, it would be Bradley. Winning in Shanghai would give him a tour-leading three victories, including a major and a World Golf Championship.

Bradley only laughed when asked if his opening 65 was enough to make Donald nervous.

“Maybe,” he said. “You know, all I’m trying to do is win this golf tournament. I know there’s a lot on the line, and there’s some awards to be won. I’m sure Luke is not very interested in this tournament. I’m sure he’s sleeping. But I hope to keep playing well, and let those fall where they fall.”

Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, finished his PGA Tour season in style. He closed with a 64 to win Disney for his second win of the year, giving him the money title and Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average. However, he was kept from playing the HSBC Champions because his wife is expecting their second child any day.

The award is determined by the players, who suddenly are paying a lot more attention.

“There’s only two people in the race as far as I’m concerned — Luke and Keegan,” Adam Scott said. “If Keegan were to win this week, it’s probably a tough decision, but I would vote for Keegan. It’s a major, a WGC and a PGA Tour event in his rookie year. That’s going to be a better year. A major has to hold some weight, and then you add a World Golf Championship.”

“Winning the money title and scoring average is nice and an incredible achievement,” Scott said. “But winning tournaments is what it’s about. Keegan would have my vote.”

Nick Watney said he already has made up his mind. No matter who wins this week, he’s voting for Donald.

“I feel as though Luke has earned it,” Watney said.

Bradley isn’t too wrapped up in the discussion quite yet. He found satisfaction in being the only player in the 78-man field without a bogey. And while his length off the tee was an advantage, he made three birdies on the par 5s with a wedge in his hand. He also had another rookie moment when he found himself in awe of playing alongside Lee Westwood and Scott, even as he outplayed both of them.

“For me, every week I’m amazed at who I’m around,” Bradley said. “And to be in a group like that in this tournament, and to play like that on this course is very rewarding and it means a lot to me ... I know I say this a lot. But I feel like I have to pinch myself out here, because of what’s going on and just how much fun I’m having doing it.”

It’s already been a dream season for the 25-year-old rookie, and it might not be over just yet.
 

First-year tour pros aren’t supposed to win right away — they’re supposed to take their lumps and learn from their mistakes on their way to victory.

But Brendan Steele apparently did not get that memo, earning his first PGA tour victory in his freshman season on tour at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio on Sunday.

“I don’t even know what’s going on right now,” Steele said. “I’m on cloud nine. It’s amazing.”

Steele was solid all week and remained part of a crowded leaderboard going into Sunday, alongside big names such as Adam Scott. But unlike Scott, who tied for 23rd, Steele endured the harsh conditions and wind and delivered a steady final round.

Steele made it to red numbers for the first time on Sunday, with a birdie at the par-5 second hole but gave the stroke back with a bogey at five. He then birdied the par-3 seventh, putting himself at 8-under, and as it turned out, that was all he needed for the win.

He walked the back nine right alongside his prime competition, with fellow Californian and PGA-tour rookie Kevin Chappell matching him shot for shot at 8-under the whole way until the 17th, where a miss-hit second shot from 87 yards by Chappell placed him out of position and forced a bogey on the hole.

“I had 87 yards and figured it was playing 100,” Chappell said. “I’ll be honest, I think I just fell asleep. When I found the ball in flight, it was right of the hole, and I was like ‘Whoa, what just happened?’”

Steele walked up to the 18th tee with a one-shot lead and needed a par to secure the victory. He hit a drive dead center of fairway to start it off and decided to lay up with a nine iron to wedge distance instead of going at the green from 250 yards away.

Then at that moment, nerves might have struck as he proceeded to fly his wedge over the green, putting his par in jeopardy. Chipping for four, he rolled the ball past the hole, brushing the edge of the cup in the process, leaving him seven feet away from par and the win.

Steele stepped up and knocked it into the back of the hole, ending the round with an emphatic double fist pump, celebrating the win.

“I try to keep it pretty much under control,” Steele said. “Just an outrush of emotion there, I couldn’t believe I had actually done it.”

Steele had a bit of a slow start to his PGA Tour career, missing the cut in six of his first 11 starts. His best finish of the year prior to the Valero Open was a tie for 17th at the Farmers Insurance Open. But Steele had no doubt that he had the ability to succeed on tour, even if the results weren’t there early on.

A lot of the confidence Steele shows stems from his wire-to-wire win at last year’s Nationwide Tour Championship, which vaulted him into the top 25 of the standings, allowing him to earn his tour card.

“I definitely feel [the Tour Championship] helped me, just giving the right mind-set and really trying to stay away from the outcome on each shot and for the day,” Steele said.

A pair of former Longhorns, Jhonattan Vegas and Justin Leonard, played in the tournament, but both finished outside the top 25. Austin resident Rich Beem began the final round in contention for the victory, but he dropped from contention quickly to finish tied for 15th.