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Schauffele leads Colonial over host of stars in tour return

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The PGA Tour went three months without playing. It took three days to show fans what they were missing, even if all they could do was watch on TV. Eight players had at least a share of the lead at some point Saturday in the Charles Schwab Challenge. When the third round at Colonial ended, 14 players were separated by three shots. And not just anybody. Xander Schauffele, among the growing roster of young stars in golf, finished off his six-birdie round with a 12-footer on the last hole for a 4-under 66. The six players one shot behind included Jordan Spieth, whose short game helped him navigate some early trouble and nerves. He had the lead until going not making a birdie on the back nine. Still, his 68 gave him his best 54-hole position since Colonial a year ago as he tries to end three years without winning. Also one shot behind was Justin Thomas (66) and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, who quickly got into the mix with birdies on his last two holes for a 66. Rory McIlroy (69) and Justin Rose (68) were among those three shots behind. Patrick Reed, who had to birdie three of his last six holes Friday to make the cut with one shot to spare, shot 63 and was three back. All this with hardly any noise. “I don’t have like a huge effect on the crowd I’d say, so not having fans isn’t the craziest thing to me,” Schauffele said. “It just does feel like I’m playing at home with some of my buddies. It’s quiet. You make three birdies in a row, you can kind of give yourself a pat on the back.” This wasn't entirely a TV show. A few houses in the Colonial neighborhood put up their own hospitality tents to see limited golf, the rowdiest behind the 16th tee and another down the 15th fairway. Fans gathered on the balcony of an apartment complex along the 14th, which also brought ou the first, “Get in the hole!” since the PGA Tour returned for the first since since March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the course, there were no bursts of cheers as Spieth rammed in a 40-foot putt on the eighth hole or stuffed his approach to 3 feet on No. 9 to take the lead. A few dozen of the essential personnel — broadcast crews, volunteers for scoring — were around when Schauffele made his birdie for the lead at 13-under 197. But there are leaderboards that show only the score — no need for updates on FedEx Cup leaders or statistical data for each player as he prepares a shot because that's for the fans, and there are none. That will be the only way anyone knows where they stand in what figures to be a wild chase to the finish. “When you have spectators and things, you get on a roll, and most of the time you feed off of that,” said Branden Grace, whose third straight 66 left him one shot behind. “I remember when I won Hilton Head and played well in the majors, the crowd started getting behind you and you start feeling like you can’t do anything wrong. At the moment, it’s just you and your caddie out there.” Colonial is the first of five tournaments in the return to golf that doesn't allow spectators. Players have had three days to adjust to the lack of sound. Sunday is different, everyone trying to generate their own momentum without the energy typically delivered from outside the ropes. “When you get into contention and have a chance to win a golf tournament, that adrenaline starts pumping,” Woodland said. “It’s been a little different. The first two days there wasn’t too much adrenaline. There will be adrenaline going, which you have with fans or without fans. Tomorrow should be fun.” Spieth passed a big test, with another to come as he tries to end nearly three years without a victory. Five times last year, he started a tournament with two rounds in the 60s and was left behind when he couldn't break par on Saturday. There were a few anxious moments for him, such as an iron off the fifth tee that would have finished on the practice range if not for a fence in place for the tournament. He got up-and-down from short of the green to escape with birdie. His next tee shot was right and banged off a cart — one the loudest sounds of the day — leaving him blocked by a tree. He punched it low into a back bunker and saved par. But he didn't make a birdie over the final nine holes, and the 15th cost him when he decided to wait for the players to hit on the 16th tee and started thinking too much about an 81-yard wedge. He hit it fat and made bogey. “ I feel comfortable going into tomorrow that I can shoot a good score,” Spieth said. “If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But I learned a bit about what was going on when I really felt kind of the nerves kick in today, and hopefully compensate for that tomorrow and hit some better shots.” The field was the strongest Colonial has seen, not surprising because so many players stuck at home for the last three months were eager for competition. And this week has made clear that so many of them came to play......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 14th, 2020

Out of the Woods: Tiger emerges for TV match with Lefty, QBs

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The purpose is to raise $10 million or more for COVID-19 relief efforts, and provide entertainment with four of the biggest stars from the PGA Tour and NFL. Another appeal to the Sunday made-for-TV exhibition, “The Match: Champions for Charity,” is a chance to see Tiger Woods swing a golf club for the first time in 98 days. Live golf is on television for the second straight Sunday, this one with the game's biggest headliner. Woods was last seen on television Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he moved cautiously in California's chilly late winter weather and posted weekend rounds of 76-77 to finish last among the 68 players who made the cut at Riviera. He skipped a World Golf Championship in Mexico City, and said his surgically repaired back wasn't quite ready in sitting out the opening three weeks of the Florida swing. And then the pandemic took over, and there has been no place to play. This is a reasonable start. Woods and retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning will face Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and signed this year with Tampa Bay. The match will be at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. It is Woods' home course and about 20 minutes from Seminole, where last week Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff ushered golf's return to live television. What to make of Woods? His only interviews were with GolfTV, the Discovery-owned channel with whom Woods has a financial deal, and a playful Zoom call with the other match participants hosted by Ernie Johnson of Turner Sports, which is televising the match. He described his health in the April 9 interview with GolfTV as “night and day.” “I feel a lot better than I did then,” Woods said. “I've been able to turn a negative into a positive and been able to train a lot and get my body to where I think it should be.” Mickelson has missed the cut in four of his five tournaments this year — the exception was third place at Pebble Beach, where he started the final round one shot behind Nick Taylor and closed with a 75. Just like last week, rust is to be expected for players who haven't competed in two months — three, in the case of Woods. Manning, meanwhile, is retired and is a golf junkie. Brady remains employed, and this week got in some informal work with his new teammates in Tampa Bay. No fans will be allowed, just like last week at Seminole. One difference is the players will be in their own carts, whereas the four PGA Tour players last week carried their bags. But this is as much about entertainment as competition. It's the second edition of a match between Woods and Mickelson, the dominant players of their generation and rivals by name, but not necessarily by record. Woods has 82 career victories to 44 for Mickelson, leads 15-5 in major championships and 11-0 in winning PGA Tour player of the year. Mickelson won their first made-for-TV match over Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, a pay-per-view event that ran into technical problems and was free for all. Lefty won in a playoff under the lights for $9 million in a winner-take-all match. He also has a 5-3-1 advantage over Woods in the nine times they have played in the final round on the PGA Tour, most recently in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2012 when Mickelson shot 64 to a 75 for Woods. He also stopped two streaks. Woods was going for his seventh straight PGA Tour victory when Mickelson beat him at Torrey Pines in 2000. Later that year, Woods had won 19 consecutive times on the PGA Tour when he had at least a share of the 54-hole lead until Mickelson beat him at the Tour Championship. Woods, however, captured the streak that mattered, holding off Mickelson in the final group at the Masters in 2001 to hold all four professional majors at the same time. The banter was lacking in Las Vegas, and perhaps having Manning and Brady will change the dynamics. The broadcast includes Charles Barkley providing commentary and Justin Thomas, whom Woods has embraced, on the course as a reporter in his television debut. After this exhibition, golf has two weeks before the PGA Tour is set to return at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas. Mickelson plans to play. Woods has not said when he will return......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

4-way tie for lead at Heritage as another wild finish looms

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The PGA Tour's return to competition has brought together the strongest fields of the year on courses that have not been overly punishing, and the result is the same. It's another free-for-all at the RBC Heritage. Webb Simpson practically had to apologize for a 3-under 68, in which he managed just one birdie on the back nine. He was part of a four-way tie for the lead, and that was good enough for him. He also knows good probably won't cut it Sunday at Harbour Town,. “It's not like I've got a three- or four-shot lead and could shoot a couple under,” he said. “It's going to take a good one.” Tyrrell Hatton had one of six rounds at 63, giving the 28-year-old from England a share of the lead as he goes for his second straight victory, albeit three months apart because of the shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. Abraham Ancer, so solid with his irons, had a 65 and joined the lead along with Ryan Palmer, who had a 66. They were at 15-under 198, a number that didn't even start to explain the low scoring. Even with Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele sputtering to 75s, the field was 223-under par, the lowest for any round since the RBC Heritage began in 1969. There were 35 players at 10 under or better, compared with only one player (Dustin Johnson) a year ago. The previous mark was seven players at double digits under par through 54 holes. Most telling were the opportunities on Sunday. There were 21 players separated by just three shots going into the final round. A week ago at Colonial, there were 14 players separated by three shots. “I think the fields have been extremely strong,” Ancer said. “Everybody out here was just eager to come out and play. Thre greens are a little bit soft, especially this week, and the ball isn't really rolling out as much as you're used to on the greens and on the fairways. That's yielding a little bit more birdies, for sure." Carlos Ortiz, who started this tournament with two double bogeys after playing only five holes, suddenly has a chance to grab his first PGA Tour victory after two eagles in a round of 63. He was one shot behind, along with Colonial winner Daniel Berger and Joel Dahmen, both with 63s. And there was more testing than usual. Players and caddies on the charter flight to Connecticut for next week's event had to take a saliva test Saturday for the coronavirus before they can get on the plane. Eleven others had testing Friday night because they were deemed to have been in close contact with Nick Watney, whose positive test on Friday was the first in golf's return. Among them was Sergio Garcia, who flew with Watney from Austin, Texas. The initial test was negative. Garcia was nervous as he waited for the result, though not so nervous he couldn't put down a 65 to join the chase. He was two shots behind, along with Ian Poulter and Joaquin Niemann. Bryson DeChambeau, starting the day one shot behind, hit his approach into the par-5 second in the trees and it never came down. He has added 40 pounds of mass, still not enough to uproot the tree and shake it loose. That led to a bogey, and more damaging was no birdies on the back nine for a 70. Even so, he remained three shots behind in a group that included Johnson, who birdied three of his last four holes to go from around the middle of the pack to 12-under 201, three shots behind and very much in the picture. That's all it took Saturday, and it likely won't be any different in the final round. Brooks Koepka quietly posted a 68 and was in the group three shots behind. Chalk it up to June, a new date for the RBC Heritage because of the pandemic. The tournament usually is the week after the Masters in April, when the temperature is slightly cooler, the greens are firmer and the rye grass hasn't been taken over by Bermuda. It's soft. And these are the best players in the world, all of them eager to get going again. “Because we're not at a major championship-style golf course last week or this week, where you're going to have separation because of bad scores, I think that's probably why,” Simpson said when asked to explain the bunched score. Perhaps that explains why Justin Thomas called it “the worst 66 I've ever shot in my life.” Hatton has won back-to-back before in his career, under entirely different circumstances. In 2017, he won in Scotland and Italy in consecutive weeks. Now he goes after two in a row three months apart, having won at Bay Hill in March before the pandemic shut down sports. It apparently wasn't long enough for anyone to accumulate much rush. “I think we’ve all had enough notice to try and get ready to play tournaments again,” said Hatton, who rented a house in Orlando, Florida, during the stay-at-home mandate. “So it’s not massively surprising to see guys playing as well as they are, and hopefully the guys at home are enjoying it, watching on TV.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 21st, 2020

Berger a winner at Colonial, and PGA Tour feels like it, too

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The PGA Tour spent two months learning about the COVID-19 pandemic and trying to develop a safe plan to return, followed by another month hoping for the best. Commissioner Jay Monahan said his confidence in the plan came with a dose of uncertainty. “If we ... got into a situation where we were dealing with a number of positive tests, that's something — candidly — that I lost a lot of sleep over in the weeks that preceded coming,” Monahan said. Monahan felt every bit a winner as Daniel Berger at the Charles Schwab Challenge. The tour administered 487 tests for the new coronavirus at Colonial, and the results on all of them came back negative. On the golf course, a dozen of some of golf's best players — from Rory McIlroy to Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele to Jordan Spieth — all had a chance going into the final round. “Listen, there is more work to be done,” Monahan said. “But this is a phenomenal start to our return.” It was a healthy return, except for a somewhat sickly finish. Berger made a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and heard the deafening silence of a big moment with no spectators allowed at Colonial. He got into a playoff when Collin Morikawa missed a 6-foot birdie putt for the win and Xander Schauffele missed his try from 25 feet. The playoff was held on the 17th hole, another reminder of how this week was different. Playoffs always start on the 18th hole because that's where the gallery is packed into the grandstands. With no fans allowed, and with the 17th tee right next to the clubhouse, off they went. Morikawa hit a deft chip to 3 feet. Berger chipped even closer from behind the green and rapped in his par. They presumably were headed to the 18th tee until Morikawa's 3-footer spun out, and Berger was the winner. Schauffele should have been in the playoff, but his 3-footer for par on the 17th in regulation dipped in the right side of the cup and spun out of the left side. Talk about a horrible horseshoe. “If there are fans and everything with the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ I’d probably be a little more (ticked) off,” Schauffele said. “Maybe that’s a good thing for me right now. But it was definitely weird." Justin Rose had an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th that looked good all the way until it wasn't. He finished one behind along with Bryson DeChambeau and Jason Kokrak, who also missed birdie chances on the last hole. This isn't the first time Rose or anyone else has missed a big putt. It wasn't the first time Rose let out a gutteral moan from missing. It was just the first time he actually heard it. “If the crowd are there, their groans or cries, whatever it may be, would have drowned me out,” Rose said. “You suddenly realize you actually do make some noise sometimes yourself. And it surprised me a little bit there on 18.” There were reminders all week of no fans, but rarely why golf had been shut down since March 12 because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, a pandemic that canceled one major (British Open) and postponed the others until later in the year. “The only time I thought about it was when I was having to take the tests, and that was really it,” Keith Mitchell said. “Hopefully, nobody comes down with it and we can keep on playing.” Players on the charter to the next stop — Hilton Head on the South Carolina shore — had to swing by the pool area at Colonial after the third round for a saliva test. If negative, they board the plane and don't have to be tested at Hilton Head. Everyone else driving, flying commercial or flying private face another test when they arrive. Tony Finau learned a new skill beyond chipping and putting. He learned to spit for his test. “You just kind of roll your tongue around inside your mouth, and it seems to bring a little bit more, and also if you just lean your face down, it seems to come out a little easier,” he said. So few talking about the virus was an indication of how safe it felt. In this case, the week doesn't end until the next tournament begins. “I was asked, ‘What’s a successful week look like?' It means us getting to the RBC Heritage and having another successful week,” he said. “I feel very good about the setup there, and we're ready to go again." Monahan had said as the tour prepared to return that it was critical not to fall into a trap that all is well. He said he wouldn't feel comfortable until told he could be comfortable, and likely would mean a vaccine. Morikawa said being back to golf and being back to normal were different matters. “Just because we played one week doesn’t mean we can go party and go do everything else like we used to,” Morikawa said. “We still have to follow these guidelines and maintain safety and strict rules with how far we stay from each other because it’s still out there. “We just have to be cognizant of what’s around us and where we put ourselves, because we want the tour to keep playing......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 15th, 2020

PGA Tour hopes to resume in June at Colonial with no fans

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The PGA Tour laid out an ambitious plan Thursday to resume its season the second week of June and keep fans away for at least a month, conceding that any return to golf depends on whether it can be played safely amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, was pushed back to June 11-14. Assuming golf gets the green light from government and health officials, the tour then would have an official tournament every week through Dec. 6 except for a Thanksgiving break. “Our hope is to play a role — responsibly — in the world’s return to enjoying the things we love,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “But as we’ve stressed on several occasions, we will resume competition only when ... it is considered safe to do so under the guidance of the leading public health authorities.” Golf is the first sport to announce plans for a restart, although its arenas are far different from other sports because it is played over some 400 acres. It was the second significant step to try to salvage the year, following last week’s announcement of three majors — including the Masters in November — going later in the year. Even as it announced a truncated schedule, several key details were still being contemplated, such as testing for COVID-19 at tournaments. “We have a level of confidence that is based upon ... changes and developments being made in the world of testing, available tests,” said Andy Pazder, the tour’s chief officer of tournaments and competition. “We’re following very closely, through the assistance of our expert medical advisers, the development of more large-scale testing capabilities. ... It gives us confidence that we will be able to develop a strong testing protocol that will mitigate risk as much as we possibly can.” The RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, previously canceled this week, was brought back to be played after Colonial on June 18-21. Those dates previously belonged to the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which plans to move to September. That would be followed by the Travelers Championship in Connecticut and the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit. The tour said its invitation-based tournaments — Colonial, Hilton Head and the Memorial — would have their fields expanded to 144 players. Memorial, with Jack Nicklaus as the host, takes the July 16-19 week that had belonged to the British Open before it was canceled. The World Golf Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, now has the dates (July 30-Aug. 2) when the Olympics were to be played. If all goes according to plan, the season would end on Sept. 7 at the Tour Championship with a FedEx Cup champion getting the $15 million bonus. That would be a 36-tournament schedule, down from 48 tournaments on the original schedule. Three more tournaments were canceled, one permanently. The Canadian Open, the third-oldest on the PGA Tour schedule, said it would not be played this year. Also canceled was the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky, typically held the same week as the British Open. The Greenbrier tournament in West Virginia was canceled for good. The tour had only 40 events in 2013, a short season to prepare for the start of its wraparound season that now begins in the fall. Even so, it could lead to a peculiar two seasons. The current season could have only one major championship; the PGA Championship is scheduled for Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco. The following season could have two Masters, two U.S. Opens, the PGA Championship and the British Open. Other details the tour still has to sort out was who fell under the “essential” category that would be allowed at tournaments beyond players, caddies, scoring official, rules officials and support staff. Pazder said at least 25 players are outside the U.S., along with at least 35 caddies, all subject to international travel restrictions. “We are playing very close attention to if and when those restrictions are changed,” he said. Tyler Dennis, the tour’s chief of operations, said officials also were considering the movement of everyone who would be at a golf tournament. Social distancing in golf is not difficult; some people continue to play golf in states where courses remain open. Still to be determined is how to keep other areas, even the flag stick, sanitized......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 17th, 2020

Koepka leads at East Lake as stars get some separation

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Brooks Koepka took a one-shot lead with a two-putt birdie on the final hole Friday at the Tour Championship. Koepka, the No. 3 seed in the FedEx Cup who started the tournament at 7-under par, had a 3-under 67 and reached 13 under in the new format where the score to par is what decides who wins the $15 million. He was one shot ahead of Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, who were headed different directions when their rounds ended. Coming off a birdie at the 17th, McIlroy sliced a 5-wood out of the trees on the 18th to set up a birdie for a 67. Thomas didn't make a birdie on the back nine and shot 68. Xander Schauffele made eagle on the 18th and was two shots behind......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2019

Trump restarts public speeches, falsely claims Covid has a cure

US President Donald Trump will give a public speech at the White House on Saturday for the first time since testing positive for Covid-19, and will also hold a Florida rally next week in an attempt to relaunch his stumbling reelection campaign with only 25 days to go. Knocked off the campaign trail by his hospitalization for three nights last week, the president is in the midst of a frenetic bid to catch up with surging Democratic challenger Joe Biden. On Friday, during an extended media blitz, he falsely claimed that Covid-19 now has a cure. He also revealed that he’d been told he was near death at the worst of his bout with the virus, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans and severely dented his chances of winning a second term on November 3. Saturday’s speech, which a senior administration official said would be on Trump’s favored theme of “law and order,” will give him a chance to dispel lingering doubts about his health. The crowd will be on the South Lawn of the White House, while the president will stand up on the balcony, the official said, confirming US media reports. And on Monday, Trump will take another big step by holding a rally in Sanford, in the crucial electoral state of Florida, his campaign said. The events come despite continued questions over how sick Trump was last week and how complete his recovery is now, with White House officials refusing to answer basic queries including the date on which the president first contracted the virus and whether he has tested negative since. – ‘Better than a vaccine’ – On Friday, Trump gave a marathon interview to right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh in which he said the experimental Regeneron antibody cocktail that he took as part of therapeutic treatment was “a cure.” It’s “a total game changer” and “better than a vaccine,” he said. In fact, there is no cure and still no approved vaccine for the coronavirus. Trump repeatedly asserted that he feels fine and he has been backed up by statements from the presidential physician, Sean Conley. But in his Limbaugh interview, Trump suggested for the first time that he had been close to death, had it not been for the therapeutic drugs. “I’m talking to you today because of it. I could have been a bad victim,” he said, referring to friends of his who had died from Covid-19. Trump said that doctors told him afterward, “you were going into a very bad phase.”  “You know what that means,” said the president. According to Conley, Trump is now fit for a “safe return to public engagement” from Saturday. – Battle for attention – Trump has tried to fill the gap left by his enforced absence from the campaign trail by making back-to-back appearances on friendly media outlets. He twice spoke at length on Fox on Thursday and was due back on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight show late Friday, appearing from the White House where he was to undergo what the network described as an on-air “medical evaluation,” conducted remotely by Fox contributor Doctor Marc Siegel. Biden, however, is already picking up the pace of travel, with a stop in Nevada on Friday after going to Arizona on Thursday. Polls show Biden leads heavily in key demographics including women and the elderly, prompting analysts to talk increasingly of a possible landslide victory. Trump’s biggest liability — overwhelming public dissatisfaction over his handling of the coronavirus crisis — has returned as the headline issue of the campaign thanks to the president’s own infection. Adding to the pressure, congressional Democrats who control the House of Representatives unveiled plans for a commission to investigate a president’s physical and mental fitness for the job — a move clearly meant to jab at Trump. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said it was time to examine Trump’s “disassociation from reality.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 9th, 2020

LPGA returns with Kang posting 66 at Inverness for the lead

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Danielle Kang went more than six months without competing and looked as though she had never been away, playing bogey-free at Inverness Club for a 6-under 66 and a one-shot lead in the LPGA Drive On Championship. The LPGA Tour’s much-awaited return from the COVID-19 pandemic brought an immediate sense of its new world. Kang had no idea where she stood after a closing birde. “There aren’t any leaderboards on the golf course,” Kang said. Inverness, where Paul Azinger beat Greg Norman in a playoff at the 1993 PGA Championship, is hosting the Solheim Cup next year and offered to stage the first event back for the LPGA Tour since the Women’s Australian Open on Feb. 16. The LPGA Tour remains in northeast Ohio next week before heading to Scotland. Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England also played bogey-free for a 67. Celine Boutier of France and Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa also were at 5 under until both made bogey on the closing hole. They settled for a 68. The foremost global tour in golf attracted 130 players from some 30 countries, though it was missing the leading stars from powerhouse South Korea. Jin Young Ko, the No. 1 player in the world, and Sung Hyun Park have stayed home and are playing on the Korean LPGA. Neither is expected to travel to Scotland for the Women’s British Open in three weeks. The lone Korean among the top 10 -- a rarity given the country’s strength in women’s golf -- was Hee Young Park at 70. Kang, a former Women’s PGA champion, paid particular attention to the speed of the greens at Inverness, making six birdies and a number of key par putts to keep her round going. “Even if you hit a good shot, it’s not an easy putt,” Kang said. “I almost three-putted from 9 feet. Definitely had a really good attitude, and it was really fun to be back.” The LPGA Tour is not allowing spectators, though that wasn’t a problem for Kang. She was more concerned about her etiquette with two other players, different from a more casual attitude at home. Kang played only twice at the start of the year in the Florida events, including a third-place finish Jan. 23 at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. The field attracted four of the top 10 from the world ranking, and Kang (No. 4) Minjee Lee of Australia (No. 8) were the only ones to break par. Lee shot 69. Nelly Korda, the highest-ranked player at No. 2 in the world, opened with two birdies in three holes and closed with another birdie. It was the part in between that cost her, and she had a 76. Lexi Thompson, who has slipped to No. 9, opened with a 73. For most of them, it was simply good to be back. Lydia Ko made a long birdie to close out her round of 69, joining Lee and Amy Olson. “I saw some of the girls and I was like, ‘Man, it’s nice to not see you through a virtual app or on social media,’” Ko said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 1st, 2020

Column: The revolving door at No. 1 in the world ranking

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Jon Rahm is the No. 1 player in the world. The best player in golf? That depends on the week. Webb Simpson looked to be tough to beat when he won the RBC Heritage, giving him two victories, a runner-up finish and a third place in his last six PGA Tour events. But then Dustin Johnson won the Travelers Championship, renewing conversations that when he puts in the time, no one has a greater package of talent. During his two weeks off, however, golf became obsessed with super-sized Bryson DeChambeau and his 200 mph ball speed that carried him to victory in Detroit, his seventh straight top 10. And then two days after DeChambeau took a 10 — ideal for gymnastics, not so much for golf — on the 15th hole at Muirfield Village to miss the cut, Rahm built an eight-shot lead at the turn and held on for a victory at the Memorial that sent him to No. 1 in the world. For how long? Longer than Tom Lehman, for sure. Of the 24 players who have been No. 1 since the world ranking began in 1986, Lehman was there the shortest time — one week. And just his luck, he took that week off, so he never even played a tournament at No. 1 in the world. Rory McIlroy, whom Rahm replaced at No. 1, and Justin Thomas can return to the top if they win the World Golf Championship this week in Memphis, Tennessee. At least that's easier to track than two weeks ago, when five players at the Memorial had a mathematical chance of reaching No. 1. Whether the reason is depth or parity, it's become a revolving door that doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. Brooks Koepka started the year at No. 1, and McIlroy took over in February. Rahm was asked Tuesday if he considered them the best players in the world while they were at No. 1, and if he looks at himself that way now. “I think nowadays it's really tough to determine one player,” Rahm said. "Because yeah, Brooks is having a hard year right now. He's not playing his best. But he has won four majors in the last few years. Rory played amazing last year. It's hard to dictate one player alone. But it would be foolish of me to say that I'm not here thinking I'm the best player. “And I think all the great players out there who have got to this point are playing like they believe they're the best player,” he said. “In golf, you need to prove that every week.” McIlroy and Johnson have done that better than anyone over the last decade. McIlroy has reached No. 1 on eight occasions for a total of 106 weeks. Johnson has been there five times for a total of 96 weeks. During their longest stretches — 64 weeks for Johnson, 54 weeks for McIlroy — there was little argument. With Tiger Woods, there was no argument. Not since Woods in 2009 has a player started and finished a year without surrendering the No. 1 ranking. It was the eighth time Woods did that. Consider the 281 consecutive weeks Woods was No. 1, from the 2005 U.S. Open until the 2010 HSBC Champions. In the last 281 weeks, No. 1 has changed hands 27 times. Phil Mickelson was never on that list, and Rahm was quick to point out that playing against Woods in his prime certainly didn't help Lefty's cause. “But it still doesn't take away from what I've done,” Rahm said. “Now at the same time, getting here, it's great. I played great golf the last four years. ... It's not only to get here. but to stay here, hopefully for a long time.” Of the previous 23 players to reach the top of the ranking, seven won in their debut at No. 1. The most recent was Johnson in 2017 at the Mexico Championship, his second of three straight wins. The most timely belonged to Adam Scott, who had three chances to reach No. 1 by winning, and then got there during a week off. He returned and won at Colonial. The best was Ian Woosnam. He got to No. 1 in 1991 and then won the Masters. It's just a number. Rahm understands the world ranking enough to realize it's a product of two years, not one week. He should be proud, just as the 23 others before him. Thomas reached No. 1 after The Players Championship in 2018 and didn't play until the Memorial. He conceded to feeling a little different. “I just remember being a little more nervous because it's like all eyes are on you, and you're the best player in the world, so you feel like you should kind of play up to that,” he said. He tied for eighth. It could have been worse. Jordan Spieth missed the cut in his debut at No. 1. Adding to the volatility of the No. 1 ranking is the strength of the fields, which have been loaded with the world's best players since the restart and will remain strong with this World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup playoffs and then the U.S. Open, all in the next two months. Getting to No. 1 is hard work. These days, staying there might be even harder......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 29th, 2020

Finau leads Memorial at 65 as Woods has quiet return to golf

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Tiger Woods was back on the PGA Tour for the first time in five months Thursday and saw Muirfield Village like never before. It was practically empty. Woods opened with a 10-foot birdie and there was silence. He finished with a 15-foot birdie for a 1-under 71, leaving him five shots behind Tony Finau in the Memorial, and he walked to the side of the green and stood with Rory McIlroy, chatting briefly before they nudged their elbows toward one another without touching. It’s a different world, Woods keeps saying. It was a reasonable return. “Got off to almost an ideal start and got a feel for the round early,” Woods said. “I just didn’t make anything today. I had looks at birdies, but I really didn’t make much.” He left that to Finau, who seemed to make everything. Finau finished with seven birdies over his last 10 holes on a Muirfield Village course that was faster and tougher than last week in the Workday Charity Open. That gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Palmer. The greens are being replaced after the Memorial, so there’s no concern about them dying out. They were 2 feet faster on the Stimpmeter, the wind was strong and often changed direction without notice. That showed in the scoring. Only seven players broke 70, compared with 35 rounds in the 60s for the first round last week. This is the first itme in 63 years the PGA Tour has played consecutive weeks on the same course. Muirfield Village only looked like the same course. “It’s night and day,” Palmer said. “The greens, they’re 2, 3 feet faster for sure. So I knew it wasn’t a course you had to just go out and light up.” It wasn’t a course to overpower, either. Bryson DeChambeau hit one drive 423 yards with the wind at his back, leaving him 46 yards to the pin on No. 1, a hole where he recalls hitting 5-iron in the past. That was a rare birdie. With wedges in his hand, he still managed only a 73. Collin Morikawa won at Muirfield Village last week at 19-under 269, beating Justin Thomas in a playoff. Morikawa opened with a 76. Thomas, who didn’t make a bogey until his 55th hole last week, had two bogeys after two holes. He shot 74. Dustin Johnson shot 80, his highest score on the PGA Tour in more than four years. Rickie Fowler shot 81. By now, players are used to seeing open spaces with minimal distraction. That wasn’t the case for Woods, who last played Feb. 16 when he finished last in the Genesis Invitational during a cold week at Riviera that caused his back to feel stiff. The absence of spectators was something new, and it was even more pronounced with Woods playing alongside McIlroy (70) and Brooks Koepka (72). They still had the biggest group, with 36 people around them on the 16th green. That mostly was TV and radio crews, photographers and a few volunteers. No one to cheer when Woods opened with a birdie and quickly reached 2 under with a wedge that spun back to a foot on the third hole. And there was no one to groan when he wasted a clean card on the back nine with a bunker shot that sailed over the green into the rough. “I definitely didn’t have any issue with energy and not having the fans’ reactions out there,” Woods said. “I still felt the same eagerness, edginess, nerviness starting out, and it was good. It was a good feel. I haven’t felt this in a while.” U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele each shot 68, with Jon Rahm among those at 69. McIlroy had two splendid short-game shots on the back nine that led to par and birdie, and he was in a group at 70 that included Jordan Spieth and defending champion Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay hit a pitch-and-run across the fifth green that last week would have settled next to the hole. On Thursday, it kept rolling until it was just off the green. Finau didn’t play last week, so he wouldn’t know the difference. “I don’t know about an advantage, but I definitely felt like I played this golf course this way before,” Finau said. “I don’t know what the numbers might be as far as the guys that played last week compared to this week. I’ve played this golf course in these type of conditions, and it definitely helped me.” DeChambeau brought the pop with five more tee shots at 350 yards or longer, two of them over 400 yards. Some of his tee shots wound up in places where players normally hit into the trees or rough and can’t reach the green. But he failed to capitalize with short clubs in his hands. He hit a wedge into a bunker on the 14th and his chip went over the green, which would not have happened last week. He had to make a 6-footer to save bogey. He also was a victim to the swirling wind at the worse time — a 7-iron from 230 yards over the water to the par-5 fifth. The wind died and he never had a chance, leading to bogey. “When I was standing over it, it was 20 miles an hour downwind. And when I hit it, it dead stopped. Can’t do anything about it,” DeChambeau said. “That’s golf, man. You’re not going to shoot the lowest number every single day. I felt like I played really bad. My wedging wasn’t great. If I can tidy that up, make some putts, keep driving it the way I’m doing, I’ll have a chance.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2020

Koepka among those who have to catch up in FedEx Cup

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The question was perplexing to Brooks Koepka, perhaps because it was missing specific context or because it takes a lot to make him worry. He was asked going into the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head if he felt any sense of urgency. “Urgency for what?” he replied. Koepka missed three months after a knee injury in October when he slipped on wet concrete at the CJ Cup in South Korea and had to withdraw. When he returned, he played five times — his only top-20 finish was a tie for 17th in Saudi Arabia — and then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for three months. Having played only four PGA Tour events, he was No. 213 in the FedEx Cup standings. The only time he didn’t make it to East Lake for the FedEx Cup finale was in 2015, when he missed a month with an ankle injury. He finished 35th. Koepka was unaware that history is working against him this year. In the last 10 years, Jim Furyk is the only player to be outside the top 200 in the FedEx Cup standings with nine events remaining and reach the postseason. “I just go play golf, just keep doing what I’m doing,” Koepka said that day. “I feel like I’m playing good, so eventually it will come.” He closed with a 65 at Harbour Town to finish seventh and moved up 56 spots to No. 148. And then he withdrew the following week from the Travelers Championship out of caution when his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus. He returns to the Workday Charity Open this week having slipped seven spots to No. 155. Six tournaments are on the schedule between now and the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Furyk in 2016 turned it around with a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open. Only one major and one World Golf Championship remain on the schedule. Koepka has company in that regard. British Open champion Shane Lowry spent most of his time on the European Tour late last year and into the first month of 2020, so he has only seven starts on the PGA Tour and is at No. 148. C.T. Pan, who played in the Presidents Cup, has missed seven of nine cuts since January and is No. 182. Sergio Garcia is at No. 122. One week can change everything. Dustin Johnson, who missed the entire fall recovering from knee surgery, was off to a slow start before the pandemic and missed the cut at Colonial upon his return. Two weeks later, he won the Travelers Championship and moved up to No. 22. Koepka still has the World Golf Championship at TPC Southwind, where he won last year, and the PGA Championship, where he tries to become the first player to win three straight times in stroke play. There is time. Plus, he's not one to sweat such matters. BONES ON THE BAG Matt Fitzpatrick came over from England for the restart of the PGA Tour, and caddie Billy Foster stayed behind. The idea was for Fitzpatrick to get used to the protocols, and then Foster would join him for the World Golf Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, and the PGA Championship in San Francisco. Fitzpatrick used Cayce Kerr for three tournaments. And then he got an offer he couldn’t refuse for two weeks at Muirfield Village: Jim “Bones” Mackay, the longtime looper for Phil Mickelson who now does course commentary for NBC Sports. “I was absolutely shocked,” Fitzpatrick said. “Everyone knows his place in the game and how well he’s done. Even just walking around here, people are excited to see him back and on tour. For me, I was very taken aback.” It wasn’t an accident. Fitzpatrick has an endorsement with Workday, whose CEO knows Mackay and suggested he reach out to Fitzpatrick. They will be working together the next two weeks at the Workday Charity Open and the Memorial. LET’S PLAY TWO Muirfield Village is hosting different PGA Tour events in consecutive weeks, which hasn’t happened in 63 years. The last time was in 1957, when Roberto de Vicenzo won the All American Open against an 83-man field at Tam O’Shanter Club in Illinois. Dick Mayer won the World Championship of Golf on the same course a week later. That was the 10th straight season that the All American Open and World Championship of Golf were held at Tam O’Shanter in successive weeks. Lloyd Mangrum was the only player to win both events in the same year (1948). According to the PGA Tour, there was one other tournament held on the same course in back-to-back weeks. That was in 1956, when the Dallas Centennial Open and the Texas International Open were held at Preston Hollow to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of Dallas being founded. Both events were never played again. DRIVE ON Maybe some of the PGA Tour players should borrow the “Drive On” slogan from the LPGA Tour. That’s all they’ve been doing since the restart last month in Texas. Russell Knox drove his RV from the north Florida coast to Colonial, and then back toward the Atlantic coast to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. From there, he and his wife went north to Connecticut to the Travelers Championship. At that point, they hired a driver (they were passengers) for the trip to Detroit, and now they’re in Ohio. But they had company. One of his closest friends on tour, Brian Stuard, also bought an RV. “We’ve been traveling along with him,” Stuard said. “Decided to do it and really enjoy it so far. Not sure if we’re going to continue to do that. Those were some long drives. But it’s worth it once you get it there.” And then there’s Viktor Hovland. The Norwegian played at Oklahoma State and still lives in Stillwater, so he decided to take the four-hour drive to Colonial. “Then I just kept on thinking, ‘Well, what if I just take my car to all these tournaments?’ I looked it up, it’s 16 hours to Hilton Head. It’s 13 hours to Connecticut. ... Yeah, been having a lot of fun so far.” He drove through the night from Fort Worth, Texas, to Hilton Head and didn’t feel great when he arrived. He took in some views from Connecticut to Detroit. “It’s really nice just driving through New York and Pennsylvania,” he said. “It’s really hilly and a lot of cool views on the way.” DIVOTS Matt Fitzpatrick is hopeful fans will return, especially for the Masters — not so much for him, but his parents. “I know my parents really want to come watch that one,” he said. ... The Senior British Open, canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will remain at Sunningdale next year. ... After his victory in Detroit, Bryson DeChambeau was listed as the betting favorite over Rory McIlroy in the three majors this year. STAT OF THE WEEK The last three PGA Tour events were won by players from the top 10 in world — Webb Simpson (9) at Hilton Head, Dustin Johnson (6) at Hartford and Bryson DeChambeau (10) at Detroit. The last time that happened was in the summer of 2018 when Johnson (1) won the Canadian Open, Justin Thomas (3) won the Bridgestone Invitational and Brooks Koepka (4) won the PGA Championship. FINAL WORD “I’ll be devastated if I don’t play well.” — Charles Barkley on playing the American Century Championship for celebrities......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 8th, 2020

10 things that make Alyssa Valdez phenomenal

Alyssa Valdez has arguably made the biggest impact in Philippine volleyball.   Her skills, passion and charisma endeared her to volleyball supporters, purists or casual fans, from all walks of life. She brings energy and leadership to every team that she’s joined. Valdez draws a huge crowd every time she plays. Valdez is the poster girl of the sport that for years struggled to draw mainstream attention in a nation which considers basketball as its biggest sporting event. The 27-year old pride of San Juan, Batangas is the face of local volleyball. So on her birthday today, let’s look at some of the things that makes the Phenom really phenomenal.   Two-time UAAP women’s champion Valdez is Ateneo de Manila University’s undisputed Queen Eagle. Talks about the Lady Eagles’ breakthrough championship will not be complete without the mention of her name. After two years of bridesmaid finishes, Ateneo bagged its first-ever UAAP title in 2014 after beating the thrice-to-beat De La Salle University in four games in the Finals despite leading a young band of Lady Eagles playing under the new system of Thai coach Tai Bundit. The following year, Ateneo, with Valdez at the helm, retained its crown in a tournament-sweeping fashion.      Three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player Her skills during her collegiate career stood out among her peers. Valdez’s effort was rewarded with three Most Valuable Player awards in Season 76, Season 77 and in her last playing year in Season 78 in 2016. She also pocketed the Season 76 Finals MVP award.   Young phenom Valdez didn’t build her reputation overnight. It was her hard work and effort that brought her where she is right now. She was still a diamond in the rough when she was recruited by University of Sto. Tomas in a regional meet. But the Espana-based squad polished Valdez into a real gem of a player. Valdez, backed by a powerful lineup that featured the likes of Kim Fajardo and Jaja Santiago, won three straight UAAP girls’ titles and in the process collected three season MVPs. She was also named UAAP high school athlete of the year twice.        National team mainstay With her talents, dedication and good work ethics, Valdez has been a mainstay with the national team. Her first tour of duty was in 2008 when she represented the country in the Asian Youth Championship held in Pasig City. She joined the PHI Team in the 2014 FIVB Southeast Asian Zone qualifier in Vietnam. In 2015, she donned the tricolors for the Asian U-23 Championship and on the same year saw action in the country’s return in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore after a decade of absence. Since then Valdez participated in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur and 2019 Manila SEA Games. She also took part in the 2017 Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.     2015 SEA Games flagbearer Valdez also carries the honor as being the first-ever volleyball player to become the PHI flag-bearer in the SEA Games. She marched holding the national color in front of Team Philippines during the traditional parade of nations inside the OCBC Arena in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games.   Accomplished commercial league star She has been collecting commercial league titles since high school starting from the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball League. Valdez was also successful in the different conferences of the defunct V-League, racking up championships and individual accolades. In the Premier Volleyball League, she powered Creamline to three titles including a sweep of the Season 2 Reinforced and Open Conferences in 2018. She won three conference MVP awards.      Import abroad International leagues took notice of Valdez’s talents and charm so it’s not surprising that she landed offers to play abroad. Valdez played as an import in Thailand for 3BB Nakornnont from 2016 to 2017. After her stint in Thailand, Valdez flew to Taiwan to play for Attack Line.   Host, Actress, TV personality Valdez is a regular fixture in different sports shows in ABS-CBN S+A. She’s a host, courtside reporter and a game analyst.   Valdez also had a few showbiz stints. She appeared in some Kapamilya teleserye including a cameo in ‘And I Love You So’ in 2016 alongside Julia Barretto and Miles Ocampo and in the movie ‘My Letters to Happy’ with by TJ Trinidad and Glaiza De Castro.    Aside from her TV and movie career, Valdez is also one of the most recognizable athlete product endorsers.   Social media influencer She is also one of the most popular Filipino athlete on social media. As of posting, Valdez has 1.9 million Twitter followers, 1.3 million followers on Instagram and her YouTube channel has more than 76,000 subscribers.   Featured in the Olympics Channel website While the likes of Sisi Rondina, Jaja Santiago and Bryan Bagunas were featured in the FIVB website, Valdez’s impact on Philippine Volleyball was highlighted in a feature article in no less than the Olympic Channel website. The article touched about her humble beginnings to her meteoric rise and why she is regarded as the nation’s brightest star in the sport. These are just some of the things take make Valdez a true pride of our nation in the sport Happy birthday, Alyssa!.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 29th, 2020

Mickelson added to field in a US Open without qualifying

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer The USGA is leaning a little more on the world ranking and a lot more on tournament results over the next two months to fill the 144-man field for a U.S. Open that will be without open qualifying for the first time in nearly a century. The exemption categories announced Thursday include a spot for Phil Mickelson. A runner-up six times in the only major Lefty hasn’t won, the most devastating was in 2006 at Winged Foot, just north of New York City, where the U.S. Open is set to return Sept. 17-20. The COVID-19 pandemic that forced the U.S. Open to move from June also cost the championship its identity of being open to all. Open qualifying wasn’t possible for two stages at nearly 120 courses across the country and into Canada, England and Japan. The idea was to create a field that reflected a typical U.S. Open — the elite and the aspiring, from every continent in golf, pros and amateurs. And while it won’t be 36 holes of qualifying, it still comes down to playing well. “We are excited that players will still have an opportunity to earn a place in the field,” said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director of USGA championships. The top 70 from the world ranking on March 15 are exempt. Along with increasing that category by 10 spots, the USGA chose to use the last ranking before it was frozen during the shutdown in golf worldwide. That helps European Tour players, such as Eddie Pepperell and Robert MacIntyre, who are not able to play until July 9 — a month after the PGA Tour resumed with strong fields and big ranking points. That also momentarily leaves out Daniel Berger, who went from outside the top 100 to No. 31 with his victory against a stacked field at Colonial. But the USGA will use the Aug. 23 ranking — after the first FedEx Cup playoff event — as its reserve list, and about seven spots are expected to come from there. Mickelson was No. 61 when the ranking was frozen, and now is at No. 66. Mickelson, outspoken about the USGA and how it sets up U.S. Open courses, said in February that he would not ask for a special exemption if he was not otherwise eligible. With his five majors and Hall of Fame career — not to mention his legacy of silver medals in the U.S. Open — Mickelson likely would have received at least one exemption. Now he won't have to worry about that. In 2006, Mickelson had a one-shot lead playing the 18th hole when he drove wildly to the left and tried to hit 3-iron over a tree. He hit the tree, hit into a plugged lie in the bunker and made double bogey to finish one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy. Bodenhamer said the 36-hole qualifier in England typically is the strongest, along with one in Ohio after the Memorial. Thus, 10 spots will be awarded to the leading 10 players (not already eligible) from a separate points list of the opening five tournaments on the European Tour’s U.K. swing when its schedule resumes. The Korn Ferry Tour also gets 10 spots — five from this season’s points list through the Portland Open, and then a special points list of three events that typically comprise the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The leading five players from that list also get into Winged Foot. “We’ve got a pretty good mix of players,” Bodenhamer said. “Looking at the data, looking back at what the fields have been the last five years, there was a lot of Korn Ferry representation. We wanted to create pathways and allow those categories to earn their way in.” That held true for the amateurs. The U.S. Open already has six amateurs who earned spots by winning the U.S. Amateur or British Amateur, for example. The USGA also will take the leading seven amateurs available from the world amateur ranking on Aug. 19. The rest of the field is similar to what the British Open has done with its International Finals Qualifying for the PGA Tour. Two spots from the top 10 will earn exemptions from the Memorial, 3M Open, Barracuda Championship, FedEx St. Jude Invitational and Wyndham Championship. Three spots will be available from the PGA Championship. And for the international presence, two spots will be given to the leader money winner in the most recent season on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, the Asian Tour, the PGA Tour of Australasia and the Japan Golf Tour, which gets two spots. “We think this is the best path forward,” Bodenhamer said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2020

5 players withdraw, 1 tests positive, nerves frayed on virus

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Brooks Koepka and Webb Simpson were among five players who withdrew from the Travelers Championship, four of them out of a chain-reaction abundance of caution over the coronavirus that put the PGA Tour on notice. “The snowball is getting a little bit bigger,” Graeme McDowell told The Associated Press after withdrawing Wednesday because his longtime caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive for the virus. The tour released results that showed three positive tests at the TPC River Highlands in Connecticut — Cameron Champ and the caddies for Koepka and McDowell. There were no positive tests on the Korn Ferry Tour event in Utah. As it enters the third week in its return from the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down golf for three months, the tour has administered 2,757 tests at PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour events in five states, with seven positive results. On the PGA Tour alone, there have been 1,382 tests and four positive results. “It's a low number on a percentage basis, but every number hurts,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “I think we all need to remind ourselves that we're all learning to live with this virus. "It's pretty clear that this virus isn't going anywhere.” Nick Watney was the first player to test positive last week at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, which was teeming with people on summer vacation. Champ tested positive on Tuesday at the Travelers and immediately withdrew. Four more players withdrew even with negative test results. Koepka said his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive and then took another test that came back negative. No matter. He chose to withdraw, and was especially gutted that his younger brother, Chase Koepka, withdrew after earning a rare chance to play through a Monday qualifier. When his brother made it, Koepka arranged a house for him to stay in starting Tuesday, so he had his brother stay with him in the meantime. Then, the brothers played a practice round with McDowell and British Open champion Shane Lowry. Both Koepkas said they felt they should withdraw because they were in close contact with someone who tested positive. “I feel terrible for Chase,” Koepka said. “This course is made for him, he's playing as good as I've ever seen him. And I put him in that situation. It's one thing if I withdraw. He doesn't get this opportunity very often.” Simpson, who won the RBC Heritage last week with a record score that moved him to No. 5 in the world, withdrew when he learned a family member had tested positive. Monahan said the tour would continue, and that there was no set number of positive tests that would lead to golf shutting down again. “We feel like we're on a path that's going to allow us to continue to sustain our return to golf,” Monahan said. “But rest assured, there won't be many sleepless nights. When you're working in a world of uncertainty, these are the things you worry about.” Monahan sent a memo to players that outlined increased measures in its health and safety protocols. Those include testing players before and after they take charter flights. Swing coaches now face mandatory testing each week and will be considered part of the bubble, and the fitness trailer will be at tournaments to keep players from going to gyms. He also said the tour will no longer pay for players or caddies to be in self-isolation for positive tests if they have not followed the health and safety plan. “All of us have an extraordinary responsibility to follow these protocols,” Monahan said, adding he has been guilty at times as he adjusts to a new way of living. “For any individual that does not, there will be serious repercussions.” He did not say what the punishment would be. The tour does not publicize disciplinary actions or fines. McDowell says his caddie flew on a commercial flight that was packed from Dallas to Orlando, Florida, after he missed the cut at Colonial. That Monday, they went to a memorial service — along with Elliott, who grew up with McDowell in Northern Ireland, and McDowell's trainer — and then they all drove six hours to Hilton Head. “The problem is, people are out here passing tests when they could still have the virus,” McDowell said. “That’s what we’re learning. Ricky passed a test on Monday and he just failed it this morning.” The PGA Tour's return to tournaments started with a perfect record — 487 tests for players arriving at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas; 98 players on the charter flight to South Carolina; 369 tests at Hilton Head Island. All came back negative. But there now has been four positive tests in the last six days, and Monahan said no one should be surprised if there are more next week in Detroit, or the following two weeks in Ohio. “I think this is the reality of what we're all living under,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to make that not be the case. But I don’t think anybody should be surprised. I’m certainly hopeful we won’t. But to be able to say that we’re going to not have any cases ... would be disingenuous because we're all learning as we're going.” McDowell said he would take two weeks off and hoped to return in July for the first of two weeks in Ohio. So much depends on the virus and whether it reaches a level that it's not prudent for golf to continue. “Do we shut down, start up in a month's time, two months' time? You come back and what's changed?” McDowell said. “I think the tour is doing a pretty good job. It's just so difficult to control everybody outside the gates. “We have to get through to the other side of this.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 25th, 2020

Colonial spectators in bushes and temporary tents off course

By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Max Butcher and his buddies felt as if they had front-row seats at Colonial, even in the bushes with no spectators allowed on the course. The group of five recent graduates from nearby TCU stood in a small gap between a row of shrubbery and a chain-link fence Saturday. They had a view of the fourth and fifth holes during the third round of the PGA Tour's first tournament in three months. “This is as good as it gets right now, and I can’t complain,” said Butcher, who has been in that spot multiple days this week. They had to push through gaps in the bushes to get to there but Jack Kurz, who stood next to Butcher, said the close-up view made it “almost better than getting a ticket." There were no tickets for anyone, not even for Colonial members. The PGA Tour isn't allowing spectators the first month back after the long hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those members did have obstructed views from one of three temporary viewing areas set up in the yards of homes on the edge of the course. One was along the main road that leads to the clubhouse, and two others were near the 15th and 16th holes. One member watching Saturday from a raised tent across Colonial Parkway with partial views of parts of the second, third and fourth holes, called it “bittersweet.” The member, who didn’t want to give his name, wasn’t happy to be on the outside looking in, but was glad the tournament was being played three weeks after it was originally scheduled. He said others with him felt the same way. Held since 1946, Colonial is the longest-running PGA Tour event at the same venue. Cheers from a temporary grandstand erected in a backyard near the 16th tee box could be heard at the far end of the golf course. Nearby in another yard was another raised tent dubbed “Mockingbird Deck” — after the street name. When Corey Conners hit an approach to about 5 feet at No. 15 in the second round, he got quite a reaction from those outside spectators who could see it. “Yeah, it was pretty cool,” Conners said. “I know we’re used to getting applause and whatnot, and cheers when we hit good shots. So yeah, that felt nice. It was definitely different because that’s not happening really anywhere else on the golf course. So it put a smile on my face for sure." Jordan Spieth noticed people peeking through the fence by the No. 1 green and behind the second tee, where some rode up on their bikes. The Dallas native who attended the Colonial at times growing up was asked if he would ever try to sneak on a course. “I wouldn’t try and sneak on. I don’t think that’s going to go well for you,” Spieth said. “But certainly try and get a view." One man did get through the fence in a corner near those bushes beyond the fourth green Friday and watched some golf before he was forced to leave. Everyone stayed outside the fence there Saturday, with Butcher and his buddies among about a dozen spectators watching the holes that are part of Colonial's “Horrible Horseshoe” — including that long par-3 fourth hole and the difficult No. 5 hole that runs parallel to the Trinity River. The TCU grads were directly behind the fifth tee box, only a few feet from the players. “They definitely give us a reaction, they definitely are willing to talk to us and they like having us here even though you can’t have fans on the course right now," said Butcher, who had a ball tossed to him Friday from Sebatian Munoz, the No. 9 player in the world. Chris Zelda, standing in the shade not far from that group, has lived in Fort Worth for 33 years and has been going to the Colonial that whole time. He missed only one day in his unusual viewing spot this week, and planned to be there again Sunday to watch all the groups go by before going home to watch the rest on television. “Under the circumstances, I’m not disappointed at all. I think the way that this whole thing has been handled has been great,” he said. “I’m just glad these guys came, and I think they were ready to come and I think there’s people who were ready to come out and see it.” Including the guy who brought his six-foot ladder to get a view during the first round. “I saw him get his ladder out, I thought he was going to go do some work on the condos down there or something,” Zelda said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2020

Hilton Head field stacked with winners, but no Tiger Woods

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The field for the RBC Heritage next week includes 114 players who have won on the PGA Tour, the most of any event since the tour began keeping track in 2000. It just doesn't have Tiger Woods. For the second straight week, the top five in the world will be competing as golf resumes its schedule from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown that began in March. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial was the first event back, with protocols that included mandatory testing for players, caddies and essential personnel when they arrive. All 487 tests were negative. Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 1 player, will be at Hilton Head for the first time since 2009. Brooks Koepka will be playing for the first time. Missing from the top 10 for the second straight week are Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood, the latter two living overseas. Woods only played Hilton Head one time, in 1999. It was thought he might return at Hilton Head, especially with no likely appearances for him until the Memorial on July 16-19. Speculation increased when a marine tracking site indicated his yacht “Privacy” was just off the Georgia coast near Sea Island. But there could be family obligations as his daughter's 13th birthday is Thursday. The RBC Heritage is followed by the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit and a new tournament for this year at Muirfield Village that precedes the Memorial, which Woods has won five times......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 13th, 2020

Varner leads as McIlroy charges in PGA return

Harold Varner overcame a triple-bogey start to maintain the lead at the halfway stage of the Charles Schwab Challenge on Friday as the hard-charging Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth appear poised to strike. Varner, one of three players of black heritage in the top 200 in the world rankings, fired a four-under-par 66 at Colonial […] The post Varner leads as McIlroy charges in PGA return appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 13th, 2020

Golf makes a conservative return with an eye on the long run

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan went from wondering if any golf would be played this year to a schedule that resumes next week with a calendar filled through Thanksgiving. What hasn't changed is his belief that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic isn't over just because golf is back. “I don't think it's over," Monahan said Friday in a telephone interview. “I'm really confident in the plan. But you spend a lot of your time, given the uncertainty, thinking through scenarios that could play out. That's what we'll continue to do. We won't be comfortable until we're told we can be comfortable. That will be when we have a vaccine and there's no risk.” Golf is the second major sports league to return behind NASCAR, which began racing three weeks ago and ran nine national series races in a span of 14 days. The Charles Schwab Challenge next week in Fort Worth, Texas, has one of the strongest fields in Colonial's rich history, starting with the top five players from the world ranking. There will be no spectators for at least a month, even though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week moved the state to Phase III in the recovery that allows outdoor events at 50% capacity. “We've developed a safety plan that doesn't include spectators. That's what we stand by,” Monahan said. “We want to have a sustained return. If you think about a run to go through the FedEx Cup, we want to make sure week to week we're not taking on unnecessary risk.” Monahan said he is “not the arbiter of confidence,” rather it comes from guidance of health experts at all levels and a plan that involves testing players, caddies and essential personnel as much as twice a week — trying to create a bubble for the traveling circus that is golf. Players were mailed a test kit and were recommended to use it before they travel. They will be tested when they arrive at tournaments and before they leave if they're on charter flights the tour has arranged, and then the process is repeated at the next tournament. Thermal readings and health surveys are required daily, along with sanitizing and social distancing. “It's the only manner we could return,” he said. The tour added another layer this week in a deal with South Dakota-based Sanford Health to have mobile labs at every tournament, with capacity to get results in a matter of hours without taking away resources from the markets where they play. Monahan said CBS Sports is creating its own bubble for the telecast, with Jim Nantz the only person in the booth and other analysts working remotely. Ninety days will have passed from the opening round of The Players Championship, which was canceled the next day, until the first tee shot at Colonial. “We all went home dealing with the same questions,” he said. “How do I get a complete understanding of where we are with the virus and all the elements? How do we recognize that we're turning off (canceling) 11 events? How do you think about resumption and at the same time develop a safety and testing program, not our area of expertise?" The reset began with the majors picking new dates — the British Open was canceled — with the PGA Championship in San Francisco moving to Aug. 6-9, the U.S. Open in New York on Sept. 17-20, and the Masters on Nov. 12-15. “At that time it was very unclear where we would be with safety and testing,” Monahan said. “It could have been earlier than we are, it could have been through points of next year. Information was changing by the minute.” Now that golf is returning, Monahan couldn't predict when spectators would return. He said the tour has worked with tournaments the last several years on building a reserve fund for a crisis such as this. “If you’re not selling tickets, and there’s not hospitality, you don’t have the pro-am experience or the honorary observer program for the sponsor ... that’s a significant financial impact on those tournaments, and the impact on the way tournaments connect with their communities,” he said. Tournaments and their title sponsors still have managed to raise money for their local charities. The Zurich Classic matched last year's donation of $1.5 million to a children's services foundation. The John Deere Classic expects $10 million in donations, even though it canceled its July event. The pandemic is not the only talking point as golf tries to get back on track. The tour on Friday posted Monahan's letter to staff and players on the nation's civil unrest, which the AP first reported on Tuesday. He had a 10-minute video conversation with Harold Varner III, one of three PGA Tour members of black heritage, who wrote passionately on social media on George Floyd, killed when a white police officer held a knee to the back of Floyd's neck while the black man was handcuffed. The conversation was scheduled before the protests began, and Varner was chosen because he's on the Player Advisory Council and golf was ready to resume. “We'll be talking about COVID and civil and social unrest for some time,” Monahan said. “Next week will not be an exception on that front.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2020

Four-year effort brought historic SEA Games silver - De Guzman

The Philippine men’s volleyball team’s historic silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December is the culmination of the squad’s four-year effort to bring honor to the country. Overshadowed by the more popular – and sometimes controversial - women’s team, the Pinoy spikers worked silently since the country’s return in the biennial meet in 2015 after a decade of hiatus. Team captain John Vic De Guzman said in an interview in the ‘Athletes’ Tribune’ podcast that the previous national team’s mentored by Oliver Almadro and Sammy Acaylar blazed the trail for the success of the current Dante Alinsunurin-coached squad. “Alam naman natin na kahit magkaiba sila ng coaching ‘yun pa rin ang iisang goal nila – ang magka-medal. Yun nga nakuha namin noong 2019,” said De Guzman, who played in all three national selections. The Philippines, for the first time since the 2005 SEA Games was held in the country, fielded a men’s team in the regional sporting spectacle in Singapore. The Marck Espejo-bannered Nationals, who were was composed of then UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila University’s core, won against Malaysia before bowing down to powerhouse Myanmar and Thailand. Two years later, Almadro was replaced by Acaylar. De Guzman was the only player from the previous team to return for another tour of duty and was named team captain. Top hitters Bryan Bagunas and Ranran Abdilla joined the squad, which trained in South Korea. However, the Nationals ended up with the same result:  a lone win over East Timor and defeats at the hands of Vietnam and Indonesia.        “Ang pinaka na-observe ko before kasi si Coach Sam, ‘yung way niya ng pagtuturo ‘yung mga before, like endurance, sprinting, circuits more on ganoon kami,” said De Guzman, who led College of St. Benilde to its breakthrough NCAA title in 2017. “Which is noong 2017 ‘yun naman ang pinagpapasalamat ko kay coach Sam kasi sobrang lakas ng katawan namin.” With Alinsunurin on board, the Nationals saw the return of Espejo, Rex Intal and setter Ish Polvorosa while De Guzman, libero Jack Kalingking, Abdilla and Mark Alfafara retained their spots from the previous lineup. Veteran playmaker Jessie Lopez and new faces like Kim Malabunga and setter Owa Retamar also joined the crew.    “Nu’ng time ng tryout, na-feel ko rin na compared noong 2017, nu’ng 2019 siguro mas complete ang lineup ng men’s volleyball,” said De Guzman. “Lahat ng hinahanap namin noong 2015 at 2017 nakuha namin nitong 2019 kaya mas powerful ang lineup, mas maganda ang defense, mas matatangkad and siguro nakatatak na rin sa puso namin na kailangan naming iangat ang men’s volleyball.” Heading into the SEA Games, the Filipinos participated in a pocket tournament in Thailand where they finished third and held a training camp in Japan. “This time kasi (under coach Dante) more on technique and naging key namin para makakuha ng medal sa SEA Games,” De Guzman shared. “Kung paano ‘yung pinaka best way kung paano mag-block, best way kung paano papalo and defense ‘yun naman ang na-adopt namin kay Coach Dante,” he added. “Yung mga nakalaban namin sa Japan pinag-aralan na namin kung ano ang pinaka-best na paraan para ma-block ang bola, best na paraan para ‘yung connection nyo sa i’sat isa. Yun ang pinag-aralan namin.” With good preparation and solid lineup, the Nationals surprised Cambodia and Vietnam with straight sets victories. A loss to Indonesia put the host team into a collision course with defending champion Thailand. The Nationals pulled off a huge upset in the semis when they outlasted the Thais in five sets in a come-from-behind fashion to assure themselves of a first-ever silver medal since 1977 and first podium finish since wining bronze in the 1991 edition. However, Indonesia’s firepower and experience were too much for the Filipinos to handle in gold medal match. The Nationals may have failed to win the elusive gold but the squad did achieve its goal of stepping on the podium once again. De Guzman and the team are now looking forward for another chance for the top podium next year in Vietnam.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 26th, 2020

Temperature checks, virus tests part of PGA return

Coronavirus testing and daily temperature taking will be part of the US PGA Tour’s health and safety plan when it returns next month, officials confirmed Wednesday. The PGA Tour plans to resume without spectators on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, where four-time major winner Brooks […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsMay 14th, 2020

Column: No fans means same sport, different arena

By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Rory McIlroy contemplated what golf would be like without fans. This was five days before there was no golf at all. “I'd be OK with it,” he said at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, unaware the new coronavirus was about to shut down golf for at least three months. “It would be just like having an early tee time on the PGA Tour.” And then he added with a laugh, “I guess for a few guys, it wouldn't be that much different.” McIlroy had one of those early times when he was a 20-year-old rookie on the PGA Tour. He teed off in the second round of the Honda Classic at 6:59 a.m. So this will be going back in time for McIlroy, along with the rest of the sport. The PGA Tour set a target of June 8-14 at Colonial in Texas to resume its schedule, with no fans for at least a month. Even if the Charles Schwab Challenge doesn't prove to be the return, golf will be without spectators whenever it starts. Will it matter? Low score still wins, no matter who's there to see it. But it will be a new arena. “I could play without fans, but I don't think I'd play as well,” McIlroy said Tuesday on his GolfPass podcast with Carson Daly and Stephen Curry. “Especially on a Sunday, back nine, you feed off that energy. You hear roars on other parts of the golf course and you sort of know what's going on. All those dynamics are in play when you have people there." The dynamics go beyond noise, of course. Nathan Grube, the tournament director of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, is preparing it to be the third tournament, the last weekend in June, if golf resumes on schedule. There is hope. There is excitement. There are no grandstands being erected. That wouldn't be a big problem at the TPC River Highlands, which features a stadium design and allows for good viewing, especially over the closing holes. But imagine other courses without stands, without hospitality suites, with nothing but green grass, white sand in the bunkers, the occasional water hazard. Think about Mackenzie Hughes trying to play a cut into the 18th green at the Honda Classic, only to pull it into the middle of the bleachers. He was given a free drop. Years ago, the safe play on the 18th at Doral was to put it into the grandstands beyond the green to take water out of the equation, knowing there would be a free drop. “They're not going to catch errant shots on some holes,” said Mark Russell, a senior rules official on the PGA Tour. They are temporary immovable obstructions, and they are a big part of modern golf. That's why the USGA, and then the R&A, created a number of drop zones (white circles) in front of the grandstands around the 18th hole, starting with Winged Foot in 2006, to avoid taking too much time figuring out where to drop for shots into or behind the stands. In a few cases, it allowed for a player to advance his ball closer to the hole without hitting it. Speaking of Winged Foot, consider that no fans on the course means the rough will remain just that. Phil Mickelson, as an example, has been known to hit tee shots so far off line that the ball comes to rest in an area where gallery traffic has trampled thick grass and led to a reasonable lie. (Maybe if there were no fans at Winged Foot, he would have had to play toward the 18th fairway instead of hitting 3-iron, which led to double bogey and a runner-up finish in the 2006 U.S. Open.) Fans were Arnold Palmer's best friends — literally, in so many cases, but also keeping some of his wild shots from straying too far off line. Tiger Woods once came to the 18th hole at Bay Hill tied for the lead when he pulled his tee shot. It was headed out of bounds but instead struck one of the thousands of spectators in the neck. From grass that had been flattened by the gallery, he hit 5-iron to 15 feet and made birdie to beat Mickelson by one shot. No gallery? It's happened before, most recently in Japan because of flooding. Before that, Congressional had no fans for the third round of the AT&T National because of trees downed by a wind storm. Woods, the biggest draw in golf, won both tournaments. Sound is underrated in golf, especially at scenic Augusta National. Woods spoke to studying every leaderboard so when he heard a roar, he would have a better idea of who did what. Max Homa recalled his first PGA Tour victory, a year ago this week at the Wells Fargo Championship, and how electric it was walking up the 18th fairway. The next tournament he plays will be different. “It will be weird,” Homa said Tuesday. “I imagine the first person to win, it probably will be the strangest of their lives. It sounds very selfish of us to not want to play in front of fans because it won't be electric. But people are craving sports, craving entertainment. I'd carry my bag in front of nobody if needed.” Without fans, without noise and excitement, it won't be the same. But it will be golf. And for the time being, that will do......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2020