PGA Golf

PGA News Wire
  • PGA Tour adds blood testing for PEDs next season
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    Starting next season, the PGA Tour will implement significant changes to its anti-doping procedure.

    • The Tour is adding blood testing and bringing its list of banned performance-enhancing substances in line with the World Anti-Doping Association, the Associated Press reports.

      The changes, which will take effect when the new season begins in October, will allow for the detection of Human Growth Hormone, which cannot be found through urine samples.

      However, the Tour plans to use urine samples for most of its testing. In addition, the Tour will publicly announce when golfers fail tests for PEDs as well as drugs of abuse.

      PED-related suspensions are not as common in golf as they are in other sports, but golfer Scott Stallings was suspended three months for violating the Tour's anti-doping policy in 2015.

  • Woods tweets he is seeking professional help
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 19, 2017

    Tiger Woods took to social media on Monday to announce that he is seeking "professional help" to deal with issues he has encountered with medication as well as problems managing his pain and sleeping.

    • "I'm currently receiving professional help to manage my medications and the ways that I deal with back pain and a sleep disorder," Woods wrote on Twitter. "I want to thank everyone for the amazing outpouring of support and understanding especially the fans and players on tour."

      Woods' announcement comes less than a month after he was arrested for DUI in Florida. The 41-year-old told law enforcement officials that he was taking Xanax on the night of his arrest, according to an unredacted version of the police report obtained by Golf Channel.

      Xanax is usually prescribed to treat anxiety and depression as well as insomnia.

      Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes-Benz on May 29 before police arrested him. The 14-time major champion was stopped in the middle of the road and his car had two flat tires and noticeable damage.

      However, Woods blew a 0.0 on a breath test for alcohol. He said he was not taking illegal drugs, but told police he was taking Xanax when asked if he was taking any medication.

      The police report also lists Vicodin, Solarex, Vioxx, and Turox as drugs that Woods had been prescribed.

      His arraignment, originally scheduled for July 5, was delayed last week until Aug. 9. No reason was given for the delay.

  • Defending Travelers champion Knox remains in background
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 19, 2017

    Even though he has established himself on the PGA Tour, Russell Knox of Scotland has yet to receive the recognition he deserves.

    • Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Bubba Watson will get most of the attention heading into the Travelers Championship this week at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., even though Knox is the defending champion.

      "It always feels nice (to be recognized), but at the same time, I blend in with everyone," said Knox, who has two PGA Tour victories, including the 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions at Shenzhen Golf Club in Shanghai, China. "It's nice to fly under the radar.

      "I don't know why people love professional golfers so much. We are just the same normal people as everyone else. I'll never be a person who is super-recognizable. (But) sure I hope I win lots of times and more people recognize me."

      Knox sank a 12-foot putt to save par on the final hole of the Travelers last year to shoot 2-under-par 68, getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker to beat Jerry Kelly by one stroke.

      That gave him his sixth victory as a pro and helped him finish fourth in the FedEx Cup point standings at the end of the regular season and 10th following the playoffs.

      "That's a putt I'll remember forever," said Knox, who played college golf at Jacksonville University and makes his home in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. "I felt like the Incredible Hulk when it went in. I could have ripped my shirt off.

      "I finished second three times since I (last) won. And I mean, I really wanted to get another one."

      Still, Knox was somewhat overshadowed even in victory.

      That's because Jim Furyk stole the show by shooting a PGA Tour-record 58 to finish in a tie for fifth.

      "Heck no, I dominated," Knox said with tongue firmly planted in cheek when asked what it felt like to share the spotlight with Furyk. "But no, I mean I'm friends with Jim. We live close to each other (in Jacksonville). I was very jealous of him.

      "I wanted to be the first person to break 60 two times. I shot 59 a few years back in (the Albertson Boise Open on Web.com tour). But, no, I'm very happy for him."

      Knox even has been overlooked a bit in his native Scotland, where many people believe he has deserved the Scotland Golfers of the Year Award each of the last two years in favor of players who stay and play at home, because he spends most of the year in the U.S. and rarely plays on the European Tour.

      He's the top-ranked Scot at 39th in the Official World Golf Ranking, down from a high of No. 18 last year.

      And there was some outrage back home when captain Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland failed to pick him for the European Ryder Cup team last year.

      "I was disappointed not to make the team," Knox admitted. "(But) it's in the past in my mind, to be honest. I try and play well for myself, my family, my sponsors and all of that.

      "I don't think about the Ryder Cup. As it gets closer (fall of 2018), it probably will be on mind."

      For now, he's concentrating on his title defense this week at TPC River Highlands, where he came from three strokes behind 54-hole leader Daniel Berger to win a year ago.

      Knox made a strong showing when he defended his other PGA Tour title in the WGC-HSBC Champions last year in China, finishing in a tie for ninth a year after becoming the first Scot to capture one of the World Golf Championships.

      Then he started this season with five straight finishes in the top 20, but struggled for a while before tying for 11th in the RBC Heritage and was 15th in the FedEx Cup standings last week before missing the cut in the U.S. Open.

      "I can come here with a lot of confidence to say, 'Let's do it again,'" Knox told reporters on Travelers Championship media day. "My game is good. I've missed a few cuts. I got a couple of bad breaks in some of the tournaments that caused me to miss the cut. And I didn't play great for a few weeks.

      "I'm very optimistic. I had some equipment issues, but I have that sorted out. I truly expect to have a big (performance) here. ... It will be an awesome feeling (to defend). I will be nervous, but it's going to be an honor to be called defending champion."

      Although you can count on several others getting more attention.

  • Golf notebook: Player assembles solid field for Invitational
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 19, 2017

    --Gary Player announced the field for the 2017 Berenberg Gary Player Invitational at Wentworth Club near London on July 23-24.

    • The latest edition of a global series that has raised more than $63 million for charitable causes will be played on the Edinburgh Course, a layout designed by the 81-year-old Player.

      "Through our series of global events, The Player Foundation continues to raise much-needed funds for children's causes and I look forward to welcoming many friends from the game, and VIP guests, to come together for such important, charitable giving," said Player, the nine-time major champion from South Africa.

      "Supported by our title sponsor Berenberg, I'm proud to say that this year's event at Wentworth will once again raise funds that will make a difference to, and positively affect the lives of, homeless young people via our chosen charity, Depaul."

      Among those in the field are Player, Fred Couples, Branden Grace of South Africa, Bernhard Langer of Germany, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, Martin Kaymer of Germany, Tom Watson, Trevor Immelman of South Africa, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Jamie Donaldson of Wales, Matteo Manassero of Italy, Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Tom Lehman, Sandy Lyle of Scotland and Caroline Masson of Germany.

      The first round will be played the day after the finish of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

      --Doug Ghim of Texas went 4-0 and Maverick McNealy of Stanford was 3-0-1 as the United States won nine of the 10 singles matches on the last day to rout Europe, 19 1/2 to 10 1/2 in the 21st Arnold Palmer Cup at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.

      Ghim became the 19th player to win all four of his matches in the event.

      The home team in the event matching the best college players from the U.S. and Europe won the event for the seventh consecutive year, and the U.S. leads the series, 11-9-1.

      McNealy trounced Rory Franssen of Scotland and Missouri, 8 and 7, while Doug Ghim defeated Stuart Grehan of Ireland and Maynooth University, 2 and 1.

      Nick Hardy of Illinois finished at 2-1-1 by beating Harry Ellis of England and Florida State, 3 and 2, and Norman Xiong of Oregon posted the same record by routing Harry Hall of England and UNLV, 8 and 7.

      The U.S. team was coached by John Fields of Texas, assisted by Andrew Dibitetto of North Carolina, and the rest of the team included Collin Morikawa of California, Sean Crocker of USC, John Coultas of Florida Southern, Sam Burns of LSU, Jimmy Stanger of Virginia and Chandler Phillips of Texas A&M.

      McNealy and David Wicks of Europe and Jacksonville University earned the Michael Carter Award, given to the player on each team who best represent the ideals of sportsmanship, integrity and upholding the game.

      Morikawa, a junior at California, was selected by players on both squads as winner of the special exemption into the PGA Tour's 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla.

      Morikawa's selection was based on the golfer who best represents Palmer's values.

      "It was an incredible and memorable experience that I'll never forget," said Morikawa, who posted a 2-2 record. "Representing the USA is always an honor, and to come out with the win on home soil is always a good feeling.

      "It's also an honor that my team voted me to represent Mr. Palmer and be a participant in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I look forward to the opportunity and couldn't be more excited about it."

      Starting next year for the matches at Evian Golf Resort in Evian, France, the competition will match players from the U.S. against an International team of college players, with each team having 12 male and 12 female golfers.

      --As expected, Phil Mickelson withdrew from the 117th U.S. Open before the start of the first round so he could attend his daughter Amanda's high school graduation in California, missing the tournament for the first time since 1993.

      Mickelson kept his name in the field until the last minute in the hope of a weather delay at Erin Hills, but skies were clear at the start of the opening round.

      "Obviously it's a tournament that I want to win the most, and the only way to win is if you play," Mickelson said recently. "But (the graduation) is one of those moments where you look back on life and you just don't want to miss it. I'll be really glad that I was there and present."

      The five-time major champion, who turned 47 last Friday, has finished second six times in the U.S. Open, and needs a victory in our national championship to complete the Career Grand Slam.

      Amanda Mickelson gave the commencement address on Thursday at the Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif., where she is senior class president.

      Roberto Diaz of Mexico took Mickelson's spot in the field, playing in his first major championship.

      --Unfortunately, not all the news was made on the golf course in the 117th U.S. Open last week at Erin Hills.

      During the second round, a 94-year-old man from Wauwatosa was reported to be non-breathing and without a pulse in a grandstand on the sixth hole at about 1:30 p.m., according to the Washington County sheriff's office.

      Rescue personnel arrived within three minutes and CPR was performed on the man on-site before he was transferred to an ambulance, where he was pronounced dead, according to the county's medical examiner's office.

      "Our thoughts and prayers are with those surrounding this individual during this difficult time," the USGA said in a statement.

      Officials said the death seemed to come from natural causes.

      During the first round the day before, a blimp crashed near the golf course and the pilot, Trevor Thompson, was reported to be in serious condition at a local hospital.

      Thompson was operating an advertising blimp that that flew over the course but deflated, burst into flames and crashed off the grounds.

      "I was teeing off and I looked up and saw it on fire, and I felt sick to my stomach," Jamie Lovemark said. "I had the shakes. I felt terrible for the people inside. I didn't know what was going on. It was a horrible sight. I don't know what happened. I hope the guys got out OK.

      "It was a horrific scene. I've never seen a plane crash, blimp crash, anything like that. So it was pretty awful. I thought they might stop play. I don't know. It was scary."

      The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the blimp was sponsored by PenFed Credit Union and was flying over Erin Hills with an advertising sign trailing.

      --South Dakota is one of several states which have never hosted a PGA Tour event, but residents will get the next-best thing.

      The PGA Tour Champions and Sanford Health announced the Sanford International presented by Cambria, a new event, will be contested at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls for the first time on Sept. 21-23, 2018.

      Tournament officials, who announced a $1.8 million purse, signed a five-year agreement with the PGA Tour Champions.

      "We are excited to welcome Sanford Health to the PGA TOUR family," said President Greg McLaughlin of the PGA Tour Champions. " ... The Sanford International will benefit from the passionate golf fans in South Dakota, and I am confident that this will quickly become a premier event on our annual schedule."

      It is the fifth new event announced by PGA Tour Champions over the last two years, and joins a schedule that features tournaments in four countries and 18 states.

      Andy North, who captured his U.S. Open in 1978 and 1985, will serve as host of the Sanford International.

      "I have seen firsthand what an incredible emphasis Sanford Health puts on doing things the right way," said North, chairman of the Sanford International Board. "That includes everything from taking care of patients to leading the way on bringing major events to the community. I have no doubt The Sanford International will be a highlight on PGA Tour Champions."

      Said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus, who will serve as Ambassador for the tournament: "It is special to have great people -- philanthropic people -- who care about the game of golf and the people involved in the game.

      "First, you are bringing the tournament to Sioux Falls, a new venue for the Champions Tour and a city that loves its sports. Now, you combine the efforts of Denny Sanford and Sanford Health -- a team that cares so much about people and their collective health -- into a golf tournament that raises money for the community and good causes, isn't that just impactful and at the same time fun? Isn't that exactly what the PGA Tour is all about?"

      Sanford Health is one of the largest health systems in the nation as well as the largest employer in the Dakotas.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 19, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel both days; Saturday and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. on CBS, both days.

      LAST YEAR: Russell Knox of Scotland came from three strokes behind in the final round and sank a 12-foot putt for par on the final hole to ensure his second PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Jerry Kelly. Knox, who also won the 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions in China, took the lead in the Travelers with birdies on the 13th and 14th holes, and after a bogey at No. 16, got up-and-down for par from a greenside bunker on the 18th hole. Kelly holed his second shot from 113 yards for an eagle on the 12th hole and closed with a 64 that included a 37-foot birdie putt that he left short on the last hole in an effort to force a playoff. Jim Furyk stole the show when he set a PGA Tour-record 12-under 58, including a hole-out eagle from 135 yards on the third hole.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 12:30-3 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Kirk Triplett collected his fifth title on the Champions Tour, shooting 7-under-par 65 to win by two strokes over Bart Bryant and Mike Goodes on a course softened by two inches of rain overnight. Triplett, who won three times on the PGA Tour, took charge by carding four straight birdies through No. 16 in the final round before sinking a clutch six-foot putt for par on the 17th hole and closing with a routine par. Bryant took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the 14th hole, but hit a wild drive on the next hole and was unable to find his ball in the woods, taking a triple-bogey 7 on his way to a 69. Goodes closed with a 68 playing alongside Triplett.

      LPGA TOUR: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 5-7 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Lydia Ko of New Zealand set a tournament record by shooting 9-under-par 62 in the second round before making birdies on four of the first five holes of the final round to take command on her way to a three-stroke victory over Candie Kung of Taiwan and Morgan Pressel. Ko, who collected her 13th LPGA Tour victory and has since added a 14th, could even afford two late bogeys to finish at 17-under 196 and break the tournament scoring record set a year earlier by Sei Young Kim of South Korea by two strokes. Kung had three birdies down the stretch in a closing 69, while Pressel, who had at least a share of the lead each of the first two days after starting with 65-63, shot 71 in the final round.

  • Thomas sets Open scoring record with 9-under 63
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, June 17, 2017

    ERIN, Wis. -- Justin Thomas established a U.S. Open record on Saturday with a 9-under-par 63 to get to 11 under after 54 holes at Erin Hills.

    • Thomas' 9-under round broke Johnny Miller's record for lowest score in relation to par. Miller held the previous record after he shot 8 under at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

      Thomas posted the fifth 63 in U.S. Open history, but it is the first to take place in the third round. His historic round included nine birdies, including three straight to finish the front nine.

      Thomas, who had two bogeys on Saturday, birdied Nos. 15 and 17 before he hit a three-wood on his approach shot on the par-5 18th hole to set up a short eagle putt that allowed him to get to 9 under for the round.

      "It was obviously an awesome day," Thomas said. "My game has felt pretty good all week and it was just one of those (days) -- it was just trying to take advantage of the opportunities I had."

  • Fan dies at U.S. Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, June 16, 2017

    ERIN, Wis. –- A 94-year-old Wisconsin man died of natural causes during Friday's second round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

    • According to local authorities, rescue personnel and Washington County sheriff's deputies stationed at the tournament were dispatched to the grandstand at the No. 6 hole to attend to the unidentified man, who was reported to not be breathing and not have a pulse.

      Rescue personnel arrived within three minutes of the call and began CPR. The man, who is from Wauwatosa, Wis., was transferred to an on-site ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.

      Foul play is not suspected and the death appears to be of natural causes, authorities said.

  • Blimp crashes near U.S. Open course
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, June 15, 2017

    ERIN, Wis. -- An advertising blimp not associated with the United States Golf Association or the U.S. Open broadcast crashed and burst into flames in an open field during Thursday's opening round at Erin Hills Golf Club.

    • The blimp crashed approximately a half-mile from the course at 11:15 a.m. local time and plumes of black smoke could been seen as play continued.

      According to local law enforcement officials, first responders arrived on scene and began treating the pilot.

      No other people were involved in the accident, which is being investigated by local authorities.

      "Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time," USGA officials said in a statement released on Thursday.

      ESPN.com reported that the pilot was "alert and conscious" and was flown by helicopter to the hospital.

      Patrick Walsh, CEO of AirSign, an advertising firm, identified the pilot to ESPN as Trevor Thompson. Walsh told ESPN the crash was due to a failure of the skin near the top of the ship.

      Walsh credited crew chief Matt Schmidt with saving Thompson's life after Schmidt, the first to arrive at the crash scene, pulled Thompson away from the burning blimp before it exploded.

      The blimp was advertising for PenFed Credit Union.

  • Fowler off to fast start at U.S. Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, June 15, 2017

    ERIN, Wis. -- Rickie Fowler birdied seven holes for an opening-round 7-under-par 65 to claim a two-stroke lead over three competitors following the morning wave of players on Thursday at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

    • Fowler's opening salvo tied a PGA record for the lowest score to par in the first round of a U.S. Open, matching Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, who each shot a 7-under 63 in 1980 at Baltustrol Golf Club.

      Fowler strung together three straight birdies starting with the par-5 18th hole before he made the turn and birdied the first and second holes. Fowler also had a birdie on the par-5 seventh hole before finishing with back-to-back pars as rain earlier this week softened greens and allowed for more room for error on the fairways.

      Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood of England and Brooks Koepka each shot 5-under 67 to pace the rest of Thursday's morning field.

      Phil Mickelson withdrew from the U.S. Open on Thursday morning, opting to skip the golf major to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony.

  • Mickelson withdraws from U.S. Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, June 15, 2017

    Phil Mickelson withdrew from the U.S. Open on Thursday morning, opting to skip the golf major to attend his daughter's graduation ceremony.

    • Mickelson initially held out hope that he could be in attendance for his daughter's big day in California and still make his tee time in Wisconsin, provided Mother Nature add an assist in the form of a rain delay. The absence for a major is his first since the 2009 Open Championship.

      Mickelson's daughter, Amanda, is the senior class president at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, Calif. She is expected to give a commencement speech.

      Roberto Diaz of Mexico, who was the next alternate, was slated to take the afternoon tee time of Mickelson, who holds the U.S. Open record with six runner-up finishes. It's the lone major preventing the 46-year-old Mickelson from a career Grand Slam.

      Mickelson is a five-time major champion who claimed the third leg of the Grand Slam when he captured the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland, but he has not won since.

      In 2013, when Amanda graduated from middle school, Mickelson flew home from Philadelphia for the event, and then flew back and arrived at Merion Golf Club in Haverford, Pa., about two hours before his first-round tee time.

      One of Mickelson's six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open came in 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., where he wound up one stroke behind Payne Stewart -- one day before Amanda was born.

      Mickelson was wearing a pager and had he gotten word that Amanda was coming earlier, he said he would have withdrawn from the tournament and headed back to California for the birth of his first child.

  • Erin Hills is mystery to be uncovered at U.S. Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, June 14, 2017

    In most weeks on the PGA Tour, it's the players that rule the discussion for the individual events, which march along week to week without much fanfare outside those that regularly follow the game.

    • All that is changed on U.S. Open week, when the stakes are raised and the course steals the limelight.

      This year, Erin Hills in the rural Wisconsin town of Erin (about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee) is the host course for the 117th edition of America's golf championship. And it's a bit of a mystery to those players from around the world who will tee it up beginning Thursday.

      Part of the intrigue surrounding this championship is that the players chasing the second major of the season are as much in the dark about how this big-shouldered, fescue-framed, inland links course will play as those of us who will be watching.

      Erin Hills, which can be stretched to more than 8,200 yards from its back tees, will play at 7,741 yards and to a par of 72. It will be the first par-72 setup in a U.S. Open since 1992, when Pebble Beach Golf Links hosted and ninth since World War II.

      "It's a well-designed, well-bunkered golf course with a bunch of tee box options," 2015 U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth said. "It's kind of tough to prepare because there's three or four tee boxes on almost every hole that we could be playing from. We'll just get out there and just see what they give to us.

      "At the U.S. Open it's very tough but still fair and exciting, and you expect par to be an extremely good score. I think that's knowledge. And here, with my early thoughts, I don't see par winning the tournament. I see closer to 5- to 10-under.

      "Someone who has very good control of the ball off the tee will have plenty of opportunities to make birdies, given the conditions that we're expecting. And I think the USGA is very much OK with that."

      It's the third course in the last decade to host a U.S. Open for the first time (after Torrey Pines in 2008 and Chambers Bay in 2015). It is also the first course in the state of Wisconsin to host a U.S. Open and the first U.S. Open to be held in the American Midwest since 2003 when Olympia Fields, outside Chicago, hosted.

      The 2017 U.S. Open generated 9,485 entries, the fifth-highest in history. To be eligible, a player must have a handicap not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional.

      A field of 156 players will chase the $12 million total purse, of which $2.16 million and 600 FedExCup points will go to the winner. The field will be cut to the top 60 and those players tied at that standing after 36 of the 72 holes, and there will be an 18-hole playoff on Monday if there is a tie after regulation play ends Sunday evening.

      Forty-nine of the top 50 players in the world -- led by world No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson -- will compete in the event. Ryan Moore is the lone player missing from that group due to a shoulder injury.

      The field includes 25 major championship winners, led by five-time winner Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els of South Africa (who has won four majors), Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (four), Angel Cabrera of Argentina (two), Zach Johnson (two), Martin Kaymer of Germany (two), Spieth (two), Bubba Watson (two), Lucas Glover, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Danny Willett and Justin Rose of England, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Jason Day and Adam Scott of Australia, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Jim Furyk, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Keegan Bradley and Stewart Cink.

      McIlroy, who has been away from the PGA Tour since The Players Championship last month as he rehabs a rib injury, has had more time than most to see how Erin Hills will play.

      "One of the course architects, Dana Fry, walked around the course with us which I thought was really beneficial," McIlroy said Monday. "From what I've seen so far, it's really good. I feel like you can be aggressive off the tee and be aggressive with your approach shots. If you do miss a green, it's not that you're going to be chipping out of the thick rough. It goes in these collection areas and runoffs. It's a little bit of a different challenge than what we faced in U.S. Opens in the past."

      There are also 14 amateur participants competing in the event. The U.S. Open has had eight amateur winners (five players), most recently John Goodman in 1933. The last amateur to finish inside the top 15 was Spencer Levin (who tied for 13th) in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills.

      Following the third round of the 2017 Memorial Tournament, Mickelson announced that he will likely not be competing in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, due to a time conflict with the high school graduation of his daughter, Amanda.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 12, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: 117th United States Open at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1 and 6-9 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. EDT-conclusion, on Fox Sports.

      LAST YEAR: Dustin Johnson finally claimed his first major title after several disappointments, overcoming a controversial one-stroke penalty on the fifth hole to win by three shots over Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy and Shane Lowry of Ireland at Oakmont Golf Club in Oakmont, Pa. DJ closed with a 1-under-par 69 to capture the title one year after he three-putted on the final green, including a 12-footer for eagle that would have won the title, to lose to Jordan Spieth by one stroke at Chambers Bay. Johnson, who has finished in the top 10 seven times in majors the last three seasons, capped his victory with a four-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. He is playing in his first major this year, having missed the Masters in April after sustaining a back injury the day before the first round when he fell down a flight of stairs.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: American Family Insurance Championship at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 12:30-3 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Kirk Triplett collected his fifth title on the Champions Tour, shooting 7-under-par 65 to win by two strokes over Bart Bryant and Mike Goodes on a course softened by two inches from overnight rain. Triplett, who won three times on the PGA Tour, took charge by carding four straight birdies through No. 16 in the final round before sinking a clutch six-foot putt for par on the 17th hole and closing with a routine par. Bryant took a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the 14th hole, but hit a wild drive on the next hole and was unable to find his ball in the woods, taking a triple bogey 7 on his way to a 69. Goodes closed with a 68 playing alongside Triplett.

      LPGA TOUR: Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 4-7 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 3-6 p.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Sei Young Kim of South Korea sank a three-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Carlota Ciganda of Spain and earn her fifth LPGA Tour title after also winning five times on the LPGA of Korea Tour. Kim, the 2015 LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year, hit a brilliant approach shot from 124 yards out of the rough to set up her winning birdie after making a bogey on the final hole of closing a 3-under-par 68 to fall into a tie with Ciganda. The Spaniard finished the final round with five straight pars for a 67 in search of her first LPGA Tour victory, but won twice later in 2016. Kim is 3-0 in playoffs on the LPGA Tour, also having won the 2015 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic and the 2015 LPGA Lotte Championship in extra holes for her first two titles on the circuit.

  • U.S. Open players cautiously optimistic about Erin Hills
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 12, 2017

    Jordan Spieth claims Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis., site of the 117th U.S. Open this week, is a bit like Chambers Bay, and that's just fine with him because he won the national championship there two years ago.

    • Spieth also sees some differences between the two layouts.

      "Chambers Bay, you had big mounds to play off onto the greens," said Spieth, who is at Chambers Bay two months after capturing his first major title at the Masters.

      "(Erin Hills) is kind of rolling hills, although neither one has a tree that I remember on the golf course. It was kind of a new-style American links type. They both are. But I think they'll play tremendously different."

      The United States Golf Association needs a U.S. Open without controversy after the greens at Chambers Bay were sub-standard, something officials did not admit to until the tournament was over, and last year champion Dustin Johnson overcame a questionable penalty when his golf ball moved slightly on the fifth green.

      And Adam Scott has some more advice for tournament officials.

      "Let's just have something that's a challenge and interesting, not just playing brutal," said Scott, indicating that the perceived goal of the USGA to have a winner at even par is flawed. "The ball is in their court. Hopefully they get it right this time, just from a playability standpoint.

      "If their major pinnacle event requires courses to be the way they are, it doesn't set a good example. ... (The USGA has) taken criticism for the last two years; I'm sure they're not liking it. ... Let's just have something that's a challenge and interesting, not just playing brutal."

      Erin Hills is built on farmland in central Wisconsin and opened in 2006, even though it appears to have been there forever. It is an American course with a bit of a Scottish feel and if the wind blows, as it often does, the USGA will have all the difficulty it seeks with the U.S. Open.

      So far, the players who have been there seem to like the course, but of course none of them have yet to hit a shot in competition.

      "Had a good couple of practice rounds at Erin Hills and really like the course," Johnson wrote in a Twitter post after taking a reconnaissance trip to Wisconsin last week. "Looking forward to defending next week."

      Erin Hills, located about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, has no water hazards and only a few trees, its defense coming from intricate bunker complexes, tricky plateau greens and the traditionally thick U.S. Open rough -- this time in the form of fescue grass.

      Wind should make the course play firm and fast, not to mention that the USGA has set the yardage at 7,693 yards.

      "If there's no wind for four days, that would be highly unusual, but they'll definitely shoot lower scores," said Executive Director Mike Davis of the USGA, who set up the U.S. Open course.

      "These greens are so good. They're going to make putts, and then you've got a par 72. But listen, at the end of it, contrary to what so many think, we're not after a certain winning score. What we really are after is to see if we can set the golf course up in such a way that tests every aspect of the game."

      Erin Hills hosted the 2008 Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, won by Tiffany Joh, who now plays on the LPGA Tour. In 2011, the USGA returned to the course for the U.S. Amateur, won by Kelly Kraft, who plays on the PGA Tour.

      Kraft, who failed to make it into the field through Sectional Qualifying last week in Columbus, Ohio, said the course doesn't play as long as the listed yardage because, "The ball can really run and get moving out there."

      The course is located at southern end of the Kettle Moraine, a dramatic landscape that was shaped by glacier activity millions of years ago. The terrain at Erin Hills, which will be the first par-72 course to host the U.S. Open since Pebble Beach in 2010, features difficult side-hill lies, and the players will face some unusual stances because of the slopes.

      The USGA's Davis had called it, "Shinnecock Hills on steroids."

      For what it's worth, the USGA got exactly what it wanted at Shinnecock Hills in 1996, when Corey Pavin won at even par.

      Of course, that's not necessarily what the players and fans want.

  • Golf notebook: Lost clubs spark Twitter tirade
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 12, 2017

    --Michael Buttacavoli, who plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, flew overnight on American Airlines from Ecuador to Miami to play a U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta, Fla.

    • Buttacavoli, who played college golf at Rice, made it to Florida for his 7:26 a.m. tee time, but his clubs did not. Rather than play with borrowed clubs, he withdrew from the qualifier and then had this exchange on Twitter with American Airlines:

      Buttacavoli: "Thank u @AmericanAir. 1 golf bag w/ priority tags on plane & the only bag u can't find. Unfortunately have to WD from @usopengolf sectionals."

      American: "We want to reunite you as quickly as possible. Please verify your bag tag number via DM."

      Buttacavoli: "Already filed a missing bag report. It's too late. I already withdrew. You just needed to do your job in the first place."

      American: "This wasn't the experience we had planned for you, our sincerest apologies."

      Buttacavoli: "Priority tags r meaningless. Told u 100 times. Stop apologizing. Don't need sympathy or u to be PC. Just do better. U have yet to show that."

      American: "We're happy to help as much as we can and we're reaching out to our Baggage team. We'll follow-up via DM with more info."

      Buttacavoli: "Still waiting on that DM. Have another flight booked to POP tmrw for my next event. Hoping not to swallow my expenses for 2 events in 1 week."

      American: "As soon as we get an update, we'll let you know immediately. We're sorry this is taking longer than expected."

      Emiliano Grillo of Argentina had a similar experience when he landed in Rio de Janiero for the Olympic Games last summer, but his clubs did not.

      The airline that lost them? American.

      --Steve Stricker applied for a special exemption to play the 117th United States Open this week at Erin Hills in his native Wisconsin but was denied.

      So he went to U.S. Sectional Qualifying in Memphis, Tenn., and earned a spot in the second major of the year by shooting 67 at Ridgeway Country Club and 65 at Germantown Country Club.

      "It means a lot," said the 50-year-old Stricker, who has played on both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions this season. "Not getting an exemption was a motivational factor.

      "Not that I deserved one, but it's been driving me to achieve this goal. And I'm just happy that I'm going to get to play. It's a relief to get to play in the first one in my home state."

      Stricker, whose best finish on the PGA Tour this season was a tie for seventh in the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial, has won 12 times on the circuit and posted 11 top-25 finishes in 19 U.S. Open appearances.

      A total of 72 players earned U.S. Open spots through sectional qualifying.

      Among the PGA Tour players to make it at 10 sectional qualifiers across the country were 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, Martin Laird of Scotland, Jamie Lovemark, Bryson DeChambeau, David Lingmerth of Sweden, Harris English, Bud Cauley, Jason Kokrak, Daniel Chopra of Sweden and J.T. Poston.

      Among those who failed to qualify were three-time major champion Vijay Singh of Fiji, two-time U.S. Open champ Retief Goosen of South Africa, 1997 PGA champion Davis Love III, former World No. 1 Luke Donald of England, Duffy Waldorf, Jason Gore, James Hahn and John Merrick.

      --Projections had Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand taking the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings last week, but it didn't happen, and Lydia Ko of New Zealand remained at the top.

      Ko, who in 2015 became the youngest top-ranked player at the age of 17, remained No. 1 for the 84th consecutive week and 103 weeks overall after a computer error indicated she would lose the top spot.

      The LPGA Tour published a statement from WWGR Inc., which compiles the rankings, saying that there was an error in their projections, and Ko remained ahead of Jutanugarn by .01 points.

      "When running the projections, the tool used the date on which the projections were run, rather than the date when the rankings would be released. Thus when projections were run last week, they included the 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic in the event count for both Lydia Ko (51 events) and Ariya Jutanugarn (58 events)," the statement read.

      "When the Rankings were run today, that event correctly dropped from the Rankings' 104-week cycle and reduced the total number of events for both players by one (Ko 50 events; Jutanugarn 57 events) which resulted in average world ranking points of 8.37 for Ko and 8.36 for Jutanugarn. So Ko maintains the No 1 position by a .01 point margin."

      The LPGA Tour telephoned Ko and Jutanugarn to explain the confusion and set the record straight.

      Jutanugarn left nothing to chance on Sunday, when she sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Lexi Thompson and In Gee Chun of South Korea to win the Manulife LPGA Classic.

      On Monday, Jutanugarn was No. 1.

      --Two weeks after returning from neck surgery that put him out of action for three months, Padraig Harrington thought his career was over after being hit on the left elbow by an amateur who took a practice swing during a clinic.

      Harrington withdrew from the FedEx St. Jude Classic last week, but said he expects to be out only about two weeks.

      "Thankfully, nothing was broken, just 6 stitches," Harrington, a three-time major champion, wrote on Twitter. "I thought it was the end of me playing competitive golf.

      "I was hit on the elbow with a practice swing by an amateur I was coaching at an outing. There's no truth in the rumour that it was the amateur's best strike of the day."

      Harrington, who tied for 31st in the Memorial Tournament a week earlier, did not qualify for the U.S. Open this week at Erin Hills. He plans to be ready in plenty of time for the Open Championship next month at Royal Birkdale, where he won in 2008.

      --Leona Maguire of Duke was selected as winner of the Annika Award as the top player in Division I women's college golf for the second time in three years.

      Maguire, a junior from Ireland, also won the award as a freshman in 2015.

      "This award is a huge honor for me," Maguire said on the Golf Channel. "It's something I'm very, very proud of to get the opportunity to win again."

      Maguire almost did not return to the Blue Devils for the Spring season after advancing to the final stage of LPGA Tour Qualifying School. However, she dropped out of the tournament and said she will stay at Duke until she graduates next year.

      After her return, Maguire claimed three victories, and during the 2016-17 season she did not finish outside the top six in any of her 10 tournaments, including two seconds and three thirds.

      Maguire finished the season as the top-ranked player in the Golfweek-Sagarin Rankings and also was voted the 2017 Women's Golf Coaches Association National Player of the Year.

      Alison Lee of UCLA won the inaugural Annika Award in 2014 and Bronte Law, another Bruin, took it last year.

      --Noah Goodwin, the top-ranked junior in the nation, recently shot 13-under-par at Oakmont Country Club in Corinth, Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News.

      Goodwin, a 16-year-old junior at Laurel Springs School who committed to SMU, broke the course record by two strokes.

      "On hole 13, I had a chip shot for eagle, and that was the first time I thought about 59," Goodwin told the newspaper in an email. "The people in my group were talking about the course record of 61.

      "I chipped in to be 9-under. The chip in for eagle was a major highlight of the round."

      Goodwin, who was runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur, added birdies on Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 17 before missing a 20-footer for birdie on the last hole.

      He tried to qualify for the U.S. Open this week at Erin Hills, but missed out by two strokes in Sectional Qualifying.

      --Michael Putnam was odd-man out in a four-player playoff for three spots in U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in Columbus, Ohio.

      But Putman, who played college golf at Pepperdine, made it into the field for the 117th U.S. Open this week at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis., when Ryan Moore withdrew because of a shoulder injury.

      "Just received the call from the @usopengolf that I will be playing next week #erinhills. can't wait!! Thanks everyone who was cheering me on," Putnam wrote in a Twitter post.

      The 34-year-old Putnam has won three times on the Web.com Tour and captured the circuit's Player of the Year award in addition to being the leading money winner in 2013.

      Moore, also 34, who has won five times on the PGA Tour, is expected to be out three to four weeks.

      Jeremy Moore, Ryan's brother and manager, said the strained shoulder is a minor injury, but that Moore's doctor recommended he take time off to let it heal.

      Interestingly, both players were born in Tacoma, Wash., and grew up near University Place, Wash.

      --Golf will remain in the Olympic Games at least until 2024 after the International Olympic Committee Executive Board on Friday approved that all 28 sports from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will return.

      Golf was played in the Olympics in 2016 for the first time since the 1904 Games in St. Louis.

      "The IGF is gratified to learn of the IOC Executive Board's decision to include golf in its recommendation for the Olympic Games Programme in 2024," the International Golf Federation said in a statement on Saturday. "We look forward to learning the outcome of the final vote at the IOC Session in September.

      "We were always confident that golf would deliver exciting men's and women's competitions in Rio de Janeiro and even at that, it exceeded our expectations. Now, we are excited to build upon the success from last year as we prepare for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and, hopefully, beyond."

      The recommendation of the IOC Executive Board is set to be ratified by all IOC members at the 130th IOC Session scheduled for Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru.

      On that date, it also will be announced whether the 2024 Olympics will be hosted by Paris or Los Angeles.

      Golf will be played in the 2020 Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Tokyo.

      Justin Rose of Great Britain won the gold medal, with Henrik Stenson of Sweden grabbing the silver and Matt Kuchar of the United States taking the bronze in the men's golf competition in Rio.

      Inbee Park of South Korea won the women's gold medal, with Lydia Ko of New Zealand earning the silver and Shanshan Feng of China taking the bronze.

  • Jobe notches 1st Champions Tour victory
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, June 11, 2017

    Brandt Jobe won his first PGA Tour Champions event on Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa, capturing the Principal Charity Classic by one shot.

    • Jobe shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round to finish at 14-under 202 at the Wakonda Club to end a winless streak that went back to 1998. His first victory came in his 32nd start on the Champions Tour.

      "It's hard. You're out here to win, and I haven't done as good of a job as I would have liked," said Jobe, who had his 19th consecutive round of par or better. "This is nice. It's a little bit of a relief."

      Scott McCarron and Kevin Sutherland finished tied for second at 13-under. McCarron shot a 66 for the best round of the day while Sutherland had an eagle on the final hole to finish with a 68.

      Tour money leader Bernhard Langer (67), who was seeking his third consecutive victory, finished fourth at 12-under, and Scott Verplank (68), Tom Lehman (69) and Steve Flesch (69) tied for fifth, a stroke behind Langer.

      Jobe, who began the final round tied with Glen Day, birdied the fifth, eighth and 13th holes before getting a bogey on the 14. He responded with a birdie on the 15th. He saved par after a wayward tee shot on the 17th, then parred the 18th to win.

      McCarron, a teammate of Jobe's when they were at UCLA, made a charge by recording six straight birdies, enabling him to tie for the lead with five holes remaining.

      But he missed birdie putts on 17 and 18, leaving him a stroke behind.

      "I hung in there," McCarron said. "When you have one of your best friends win a golf tournament, it means a lot to him, so really proud of him."

      Langer ruined his chances at another title on Saturday, when he had five bogeys in the second round. But he rebounded with a 67 Sunday.

      "I just didn't quite have it in me," Langer said.

      Day, who was tied for the lead when the day began, shot a final-round 76 and wound up tied for 13th.

  • Golf gets extended through 2024 Olympic Games
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, June 10, 2017

    Golf will remain in the Olympic Games at least until 2024 after the International Olympic Committee Executive Board on Friday approved that all 28 sports from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will return.

    • Golf was played in the Olympics in 2016 for the first time since the 1904 Games in St. Louis.

      "The IGF is gratified to learn of the IOC Executive Board's decision to include golf in its recommendation for the Olympic Games Programme in 2024," the International Golf Federation said in a statement on Saturday. "We look forward to learning the outcome of the final vote at the IOC Session in September.

      "We were always confident that golf would deliver exciting men's and women's competitions in Rio de Janeiro and even at that, it exceeded our expectations. Now, we are excited to build upon the success from last year as we prepare for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and, hopefully, beyond."

      The recommendation of the IOC Executive Board is set to be ratified by all IOC members at the 130th IOC Session scheduled for Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru.

      On that date, it also will be announced whether the 2024 Olympics will be hosted by Paris or Los Angeles.

      Golf will be played in the 2020 Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Tokyo.

      Justin Rose of Great Britain won the gold medal, with Henrik Stenson of Sweden grabbing the silver and Matt Kuchar of the United States taking the bronze in the men's golf competition in Rio.

      Inbee Park of South Korea won the women's gold medal, with Lydia Ko of New Zealand earning the silver and Shanshan Feng of China taking the bronze.

  • Woods told police he was on Xanax during DUI arrest
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, June 9, 2017

    Tiger Woods told law enforcement officials that he was taking Xanax on the night of his DUI arrest, according to an unredacted version of the police report obtained by Golf Channel.

    • This version of the Jupiter (Fla.) Police Department's report was not redacted like the version they released to the media last week.

      Xanax is usually prescribed to treat anxiety and depression as well as insomnia.

      Woods, 41, was found asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes on May 29 before police arrested him on a DUI charge.

      However, Woods blew a 0.0 on a breath test for alcohol. The 14-time major champion said he was not taking illegal drugs, but told police he was taking Xanax when asked if he was taking any medication.

      The police report also lists Vicodin, Solarex, Vioxx, and Turox as drugs that he had been prescribed.

      "I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Woods' statement read at the time. "I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly."

      He is scheduled to be arraigned on July 5 at Palm Beach County court.

  • Ko barely keeps No. 1 in Rolex Rankings
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 5, 2017

    Ariya Jutanugarn's bid to claim the No. 1 slot in the Rolex Rankings will have to wait at least one more week.

    • Projected to end Lydia Ko 83-week reign atop the rankings, Jutanugarn instead remained at No. 2 this week, trailing Ko by 0.1 point due to a miscalculation in the ratings.

      Jutanugarn of Thailand remained at No. 2 while So Yeon Ryu of South Korea was third. Ryu could have vaulted to No. 1 with a top-three finish at this weekend's ShopRite LPGA Classic but she failed to make the cut.

      American Lexi Thompson and In Gee Chun of South Korea held down the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

      In fact, the only change among the top 10 was the addition of Sweden's Anna Nordqvist, who moved up two slots to No. 10 following her runner-up finish to In-Kyung Kim at the ShopRite Classic on Sunday.

      Kim's victory propelled her up seven spots to No. 23 in the rankings.

  • Family obligation likely to keep Mickelson out of U.S. Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 5, 2017

    When Phil Mickelson was asked if he would make any early trips to Erin Hills, site of the U.S. Open next week even though he is playing this week in the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Lefty played it coy.

    • Mickelson was scheduled to make his fourth bid to complete the Career Grand Slam by winning our national championship, but he said he was altering his approach to major preparation, hoping to change his luck in the tournament.

      "I'm taking a whole different approach to Erin Hills, and that is, I'm not going to do anything," said Mickelson, who has finished second in the U.S. Open on six occasions and hasn't won anywhere since claiming the third leg of the Grand Slam in the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland.

      "I haven't been to Erin Hills."

      Turns out, he's probably not going to Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis., at all. He announced on Saturday that he doesn't plan to play because the first round of the U.S. Open is on the same day his daughter, Amanda, graduates from Pacific Ridge High School in Carlsbad, Calif.

      And he's known it for quite some time, but kept it to himself.

      Mickelson, a five-time major champion, informed Executive Director Mike Davis of the United States Golf Association on Saturday that he probably won't play in the U.S. Open, but he has not officially withdrawn.

      Lefty said there still is a chance he could play, if for instance, rain comes into play in the first round at Erin Hills.

      "I mean, obviously it's a tournament that I want to win the most, and ... the only way to win is if you play and have a chance," Mickelson said after the third round of the Memorial Tournament.

      "But (his daughter's graduation) is one of those moments where you look back on life and you just don't want to miss it. I'll be really glad that I was there and present."

      While Mickelson probably will not be in the field for the second major of the year, he will keep his commitment to play this week for the seventh time in Memphis, Tenn.

      Even though he has never won the FedEx St. Jude Classic, TPC Southwind has become one of Mickelson's favorite stops on the PGA Tour.

      Lefty has finished no worse than a tie for 11th in the tournament in the last four years, closing with a 3-under-par 67 in 2013 to wind up two strokes behind Harris English in tie for second, and finishing with another 67 last year to again tie for second, three shots behind Daniel Berger.

      "I just think it's a wonderful, fair test," said Mickelson, who also tied for third with a final-round 65 two years ago, and tied for 11th in 2014. "That's why we have just a discrepancy in scores. We have a lot of guys going low, also a lot of guys going high.

      "Esthetically it might look kind of plain. The greens are very small, small targets. The course challenges you with precision as opposed to overwhelming length and so you really have to be precise off the tee to maneuver around trees in the right spots so you have shots into the greens.

      "You can hit fairways because out of the rough hitting these small greens is extremely difficult and it just ... rewards great shots with a putt that is not a ridiculous breaking putt. You can really get it going on the greens."

      Even though Mickelson is a combined 34-under in the last for years at TPC Southwind, the course was something of an acquired taste for him

      He shot 70-71 -- 141 in his first appearance in the 2001 St. Jude Classic to miss the cut by two strokes, and tied for 59th in 2001, when he shot 75 in the final round.

      To the fans in Memphis, it doesn't matter what he shoots.

      "Phil Mickelson's been huge for the FedEx St. Jude Classic," tournament director Darrell Smith said. "He's played four straight years. He's played well. He was right in the hunt the last two years. To be able to say Phil Mickelson is coming to Memphis every single year is just great for the event, for the city and St. Jude.

      "I think Memphis and the whole region, they like the superstars and for a superstar and a true legend of the game to constantly have Memphis in his plans is refreshing. The city itself is a little bit of an underdog city and when you get a guy like Mickelson who likes Memphis, it makes Memphians proud. They're always pulling for him and they want him to succeed.

      "To have Mickelson back for the fifth straight year, it's really, really special."

      Lefty has something more special than a golf tournament the following week.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 5, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 4-7 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EDT on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Daniel Berger shrugged off a three-hour rain delay and claimed his first PGA Tour victory, shooting 3-under-par 67 to beat Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Brooks Koepka by three strokes. Berger, the 2015 Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour after finishing in the top 10 on six occasions including second twice, didn't blink when 42-time PGA Tour winner Mickelson pulled to within one stroke early on the back nine in the final round. Berger responded with birdies on three of the next four holes, including a 32-foot putt on the 14th hole and a 22-footer on the 15th, before closing out the victory with four straight pars. Koepka had two late birdies to post a 66, while Mickelson and Stricker both wound up at 67. Dustin Johnson was another shot back in third after a 63, including a 17-foot eagle putt from the fringe on the 16th hole while shooting 7-under 29 on the back nine.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Principal Charity Classic at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday through Sunday.

      TV: 7-9 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Scott McCarron won for the first time on the PGA Tour Champions, and for the first time anywhere since the 2001 BellSouth Classic on the PGA Tour, by making birdies on the last three holes to beat Billy Andrade by one stroke. The then-50-year-old McCarron, who closed with a 7-under-par 65, tied Andrade for the lead with a birdie on the 16th hole, sank a 36-footer from the fringe for birdie on No. 17 and dropped in a winning 10-footer for birdie on the last hole. Andrade shot 68 after taking the lead with a 63 a day earlier. McCarron, who played the last 47 holes without a bogey, has won twice more on the senior circuit, equaling the three victories he had on the PGA Tour.

      LPGA TOUR: Manulife LPGA Classic at Whistle Bear Golf Club in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 1:30-3:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 3-5 p.m.; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Caroline Masson of Germany captured her first LPGA Tour victory by shooting 5-under-par 67 to hold off Karine Icher of France, Minjee Lee of Australia and Mi Hyang Lee of South Korea by one stroke. Masson, whose only pro victory came in the 2012 Women's South African Open on the Ladies European Tour, trailed by three strokes entering the final round and fell further behind by stumbling to a double bogey on the first hole. However, the German star birdied the next three holes and had nine birdies in all during the final round, but had to sweat out Lee's finish before claiming victory. Masson was putting on the practice green when the South Korean missed a 12-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.

  • Golf notebook: Eligibility plan set for PGA Tour's Korea debut
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, June 5, 2017

    The PGA Tour announced the eligibility categories for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, the circuit's first-ever event to be played in South Korea at the Club @ Nine Bridges on Jeju Island on Oct. 19-22.

    • The tournament will have a 78-player field, with five set aside for members of the Korean Golf Tour and two from the Asian Tour, who will compete alongside many of the top players from the PGA Tour.

      "Having a PGA Tour regular-season tournament in Korea is extremely meaningful," said Chairman Hwee-Bu Yang of the Korean PGA. "It's also exciting that many Korean prospects will get an opportunity to compete at the world-class level.

      "I am confident that the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges will play a major role in developing Korean men's golf."

      The winners of the KPGA Championship on June 22-25 and the newly- sanctioned Genesis Championship on Sept. 21-24 on the Korean Tour also will receive invitations to tournament.

      In addition, the top three players from the Genesis Points, the Korean Golf Tour's Order of Merit, as of Oct. 9 will earn exemptions for the tournament.

      The Asian Tour's Order of Merit leader and the Korean player with the highest Order of Merit standing on the Asian Tour as of Oct. 9 also will receive exemptions into the event.

      In addition, the top three Korean players in the Official World Golf Ranking on Oct. 9 will earn invitations. If any of these three players already are qualified based on their position in the FedExCup standings or placement within the KPGA or Asian Tour, the exemption(s) will go to the next-highest-ranked player(s).

      Title sponsor CJ also will have eight exemptions to offer, with five of those reserved for PGA Tour members. The other three exemptions have no restrictions.

      It is anticipated that there could be upward of 20 players either born in Korea or of Korean descent playing in the inaugural PGA Tour event in the country.

      Top Korean candidates are Si Woo Kim, who made the 2017 Players Championship his second PGA Tour victory, Sung Kang, James Hahn, Kevin Na, Byeong Hun An and Seung Yul Noh.

      --When Bernhard Langer captured the Senior PGA Championship recently for his ninth major title on the PGA Tour Champions, he surpassed Jack Nicklaus' eight as the most on the senior circuit.

      Not so fast, said Gary Player, the greatest South African golfer ever.

      Player is credited with winning six Senior majors: the 1986 PGA Seniors Championship, the 1987 Senior Tournament Players Championship, the 1987 U.S. Senior Open, 1988 PGA Seniors Championship, the 1988 U.S. Senior Open and the 1990 PGA Seniors Championship.

      But he also won the Senior British Open three times before it was declared a major in 2003.

      "What I would say is that every tournament has to start somewhere, and then it evolves," the 81-year-old Player told Golf Digest. "The Masters in 1934 was not what it would become, but every player who has won it is recognized as a major winner.

      "I remember Arnold Palmer ... telling me it was B.S. that the Senior (British) Open Championship wasn't a major. He so regretted not winning the championship when he was playing senior golf because playing on an old links where golf began was very special for him.

      "I wonder, what would the status of the championship be if Arnold had won it three times?"

      One thing Player and Langer have in common is that they have always been in tremendous physical condition and continued to play at a high level after others began to fade with age on the PGA Tour Champions.

      Most of the top players these days spend at least part of most days working out in the gym, but Player and Langer did that before almost anyone else.

      "My nine majors and career grand slam on the senior tour outrank my nine majors and career grand slam on the regular tour," Player said.

      "It took the world a long time to realize how tough the competition was on the senior tour, and so winning all the majors in a shorter window of time is a great accomplishment."

      And in his mind, he also has won nine Senior majors.

      --Ai Miyazato of Japan, who has won 25 times around the world in her illustrious career, announced that she will retire at the end of this season.

      The 31-year-old Miyazato, who was born in Okinawa, said she has battled with her motivation the last four years.

      "I actually began feeling this four to five years ago, and at that point I basically had to keep going while groping for some way to deal with it," said Miyazato, who said she reached her decision last summer but did not reveal it until now.

      "So I fought on for four years, but I couldn't really admit to myself that the motivation wasn't coming back, and I wasn't able to practice enough or throw myself into training. ... The ideal I wanted just wasn't there anymore."

      Miyazato won five titles of her 15 titles on the Japan Tour as a rookie in 2004 before joining the LPGA Tour in 2006 and winning nine times on the U.S. circuit, the last in the 2012 NW Arkansas Championship.

      Her first LPGA title came in the 2009 Evian Masters in France, which has since become a major, and she rose to No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings in 2010 while winning four of the first nine tournament of the season on the U.S. tour.

      "If there is a nicer person on the planet than Ai Miyazato, I haven't met him or her yet," LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said. "She treats everybody with class, she's has never said no to a fan, she's been incredible to me and my staff."

      Miyazato never won a major title, coming closes with ties for third in the Women's PGA Championship in 2006 and 2010, and again in the 2009 Women's British Open (2009).

      --Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, captain of the European team for the Ryder Cup matches next year, selected Robert Karlsson of Sweden as the first of his assistant captains.

      The 47-year-old Karlsson has won 11 times on the European Tour, becoming the first Swede to claim the Euro Tour Order of Merit title in 2008, and also teamed with Henrik Stenson to win the 2008 World Cup of Golf for Sweden.

      "(Karlsson) has been one of my closest friends on tour for many years and, not only that, he is immensely respected by all the players, both by his peers and the younger guys now emerging," Bjorn said.

      "His playing credentials are impressive, having been a former European No. 1, and he also knows the unique atmosphere of the Ryder Cup, having represented Europe both home and away."

      Karlsson has never won on the PGA Tour, but lost in playoffs to Lee Westwood in the 2010 St. Jude Classic and to Harrison Frazer in the same tournament a year later.

      A two-time Ryder Cup selection, Karlsson posted a 1-2-4 record in 2006 and 2008.

      "To get the call from Thomas was very special and I'm really looking forward to being part of the Ryder Cup again," Karlsson said. "It is a great honor to be a vice captain and I'm very much looking forward to the next 16 months."

      The Ryder Cup will be played Sept. 28-30, 2018, at Le Golf National outside Paris.

      --Oklahoma claimed its second NCAA Men's NCAA Golf Championship with a 3-1-1 victory over defending national champion Oregon in the match-play final at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

      The Ducks captured their first national title by beating Texas in the final last year on their home course at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.

      "I had a good feeling (this) week," Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl said. "If (we) had an opportunity this week, they were going to do something crazy good. This has been our best individual year. We had five individual (tournament winners), which not a lot of teams can say. The firepower was there.

      "This is so special. I'm just so happy for our guys (and) our former players that have helped build this program. This is awesome. I'm so happy."

      Oklahoma claimed its first NCAA title since winning in 1989 at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmonds, Okla.

      Blaine Hale gave the Sooners their first point in the match-play final by defeating Norman Xiong, 4 and 3, with a birdie putt on the 15th hole, and Max McGreevy followed with a 3-and-2 victory over Edwin Yi.

      Brad Dalke gave Oklahoma its winning point with a 2-and-1 victory over Sulman Raza.

      "It means so much," said Dalke, whose father played on the 1975 Sooner football team that won the national championship. "This team we have, we are all just brothers. To be able to come out here and win this thing with my guys and make the last putt to clinch it, it is so cool.

      "I can't wait to get a ring like my Dad's. It is still sinking in."

      Wyndham Clark provided Oregon with its only point by beating Rylee Reinertson, 1 up, with an eagle on the final hole, while Grant Hirschman of Oklahoma halved his match with Ryan Gronlund.

      In the semifinals, Oklahoma downed Illinois, 3-1-1, while Oregon got past Vanderbilt, 3-2.

      The Sooners beat Baylor, 3-2, in the quarterfinals, while Oregon edged Oklahoma State by the same score, Illinois defeated USC, 3-1-1, and Vanderbilt disposed of UNLV, 3-2.

      Earlier in the week, Braden Thornberry of Mississippi claimed the NCAA individual title by four strokes over Mason Overstreet of Arkansas.

      --Senior Monica Vaughn and sophomore Linnea Strom of Arizona State received exemptions to the LPGA Tour's Marathon Classic in July as a result of their performances at the 2017 NCAA Women's Golf Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

      Vaughn overcame a two-shot deficit in the final round to win the individual national championship, becoming the sixth Sun Devil to claim the title.

      "This will be my very first LPGA event, my first professional event I've ever played in, so that's huge for me," said Vaughn, from Reedsport, Ore., who claimed three titles in her college career.

      "I'm lucky to be there with my teammate. It's going to be a blast. We'll just give it our best show and see how it goes."

      Strom, from Sweden, claimed the winning point for Arizona State against Northwestern in the match-play final, giving the Sun Devils their eighth NCAA Championship.

      She won the 2014 Spanish International Amateur Championship.

      "(The exemption) came as a surprise, and I'm really happy to have the opportunity to play in an LPGA event," Strom said. "I'm very excited to do that with Monica, and it's going to be a lot of fun to see how it is out there with the professionals."

      The 2017 Marathon Classic will take place on July 20-23 at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.

      --Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina, a great golfer who unfortunately was remembered most for one of the biggest gaffes in the game's history, died at his home in Buenos Aires at the age of 94.

      The Argentina Golf Association said De Vicenzo, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, broke his hip last month in a fall at his home and that his health had been deteriorating ever since.

      "He was a strong, strong, good player," Jack Nicklaus said. "I think he was an instinctive player. He played with his feel. He just played by feel. And he was strong. He was very long (off the tee) for those days. But I just remember we played, not a lot, but we probably played with him, I suppose, a dozen times.

      "And we played a few tournaments. We played a few practice rounds. And I just always enjoyed his company. He was a nice man, and you always miss nice guys."

      De Vicenzo, who claimed 230 titles around the world, is credited with only one major title, the 1967 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, where he beat Nicklaus by two strokes.

      However, he is most known for signing an incorrect scorecard and finishing one stroke behind Bob Goalby on his 45th birthday in the 1968 Masters, instead of going to an 18-hole playoff with Goalby the next day. He had to take a 66 instead of the 65 he actually shot.

      "I play golf all over the world for 30 years, and now all I can think of is what a stupid I am to be wrong in this wonderful tournament," De Vicenzo said afterward, even though others were quick to blame Tommy Aaron, his playing partner, who kept the Argentine's scorecard and wrote down the incorrect score on one hole.

      Years later he said: "I had to admit my mistake, which is proper for a sportsman and a gentleman. I could not blame Tommy Aaron. ... All that I lose at the Masters is the Green Jacket. The prestige, no. My name is in the Masters forever."

      De Vicenzo also played on what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions and won the 1980 U.S. Senior Open by four strokes over amateur Bill Campbell.

  • Dufner leading when play suspended at Memorial
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, June 4, 2017

    DUBLIN, Ohio -- It wouldn't be the Memorial Tournament without a weather delay.

    • Rain has been practically an annual tradition since 1976 when Jack Nicklaus founded the event.

      Play was suspended twice in the final round Sunday, first at 4:18 p.m. EDT for 77 minutes and again at 6:48 p.m. with just six players on the course. Play resumed again shortly after 8 p.m.

      It was the second consecutive Sunday in which play was suspended at Muirfield Village and the 27th Memorial Tournament that saw a weather day in the event's 42-year history.

      Jason Dufner had a two-shot lead at 13 under at the second stoppage. His tee shot on No. 18 was in the rough. Dufner's playing partner, Rickie Fowler, was in second at 11 under, and he also found the rough off the 18th tee.

      India's Anirban Lahiri (65) was the clubhouse leader at 10-under 278. Daniel Summerhays, who began the day with a three-shot lead, was also 10 under through 15 holes. Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar were 9 under. Summerhays was facing a bogey putt on the par-3 16th. Kuchar was through 16 holes, and Thomas and Watson were on No. 17.

      Dufner, who was 4 under for the day through 17 holes, was in the midst of a bogey-free final round after nearly shooting himself out of the tournament on Saturday with a 5-over 77. He shot back-to-back 65s in the first two rounds to take a commanding five-stroke lead into the weekend, establishing a 36-hole scoring record of 14 under.

      Lahiri made a Sunday charge, beginning the day 10 shots behind Summerhays. Eighteen holes later, Lahiri was 10 under after a bogey-free 65. He was waiting in the clubhouse since 4 p.m. in case of a playoff.

      Muirfield Village felt more like an arcade than a lush, pristinely manicured golf course on Sunday as players pinballed all around the leaderboard. Four players -- Summerhays, Dufner, Fowler and Watson -- led outright or shared the lead on an afternoon filled with momentum swings.

      Summerhays found trouble off the tee on the par-4 third, which began a two-hole spiral of double bogey-bogey. Birdies on the par-5 fifth and seventh holes gave Summerhays a share of the lead again, but he frittered it away after bogeys at 10 and 11.

      Watson birdied three of his first six holes to take sole possession of the lead at 12 under until bogeys on Nos. 7, 8 and 12 put a dent in his chances.

      Fowler appeared to seize control of the tournament after a birdie on the par-5 11th. However, a bogey on the par-4 14th and a squandered opportunity on the par-5 15th seemingly derailed Fowler's chances. On No. 15, he hit a fan going for the green in two and failed to get up and down for birdie.

  • Mickelson will miss U.S. Open for daughter's graduation
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, June 3, 2017

    Phil Mickelson was set to make his fourth attempt to complete the career Grand Slam in two weeks at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, but told them New York Times on Saturday he will withdraw from the tournament in order to attend the high school graduation of his daughter, Amanda.

    • Mickelson has finished second in the U.S. Open six times, but it is the only major he has never won.

      "As I look back on life, this is a moment I'll always cherish and be glad I was present," Mickelson told the Times. "There's no greater joy as a parent."

      Mickelson is a five-time major champion who claimed the third leg of the Grand Slam when he captured the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland, but he has not won since.

      The first round of the 2017 U.S. Open is scheduled for June 15, the same day as Amanda Mickelson's graduation from Pacific Ridge High School in Carlsbad, Calif.

      In 2013, when Amanda graduated from middle school, Mickelson flew home from Philadelphia for the event, and then flew back and arrived at Merion Golf Club in Haverford, Pa., about two hours before his first-round tee time.

      Mickelson will turn 47 on June 16.

      One of Mickelson's six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open came in 1999 at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., where he wound up one stroke behind Payne Stewart -- one day before Amanda was born.

      Mickelson was wearing a pager and had he gotten word that Amanda was coming earlier, he said he would have withdrawn from the tournament and headed back to California for the birth of his first child.

  • Police dashboard video shows disoriented Woods
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 31, 2017

    A dashboard video of Tiger Woods' early Monday encounter with police provides a picture of what occurred when the golf star was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

    • The recordings were made available to several news outlets by Jupiter, Fla., police on Wednesday and show what happened after Woods was found asleep inside his Mercedes, which had two flat tires.

      CNN reports that a video shows Woods' car almost halfway out of the right lane, protruding into a bike lane. The brake lights are on, and the right turn signal is blinking.

      "Do you know the reason I'm out with you now, right?" one of the officers asked Woods, according to the USA Today report.

      Woods responded, "No."

      "It's because you're out in the middle of the road," the officer said. "Do you remember me telling you that before?"

      "Yes," Woods said.

      When asked where he was coming from, Woods said, according to USA Today, "Jupiter," but when asked again he said, "LA."

      "Where are you coming from right now?" the officer said.

      "I was going down to Orange County," said Woods, who grew up in Southern California.

      Asked where he was headed, Woods said, "I have no idea."

      One recording shows an officer giving Woods a field sobriety test. According to CNN, Woods puts his right foot on the hood of the officer's car, and tries to tie his shoes.

      The officer asks him, "Are you all right?" He then tells Woods he can perform the test without shoes.

      The video shows Woods walking unsteadily, then returning to begin the tests. The officer asks him if he has been drinking, and he says no.

      When asked whether he had been taking medications, Woods says yes and the officer asks which ones. Woods' response is not heard.

      Woods struggles to walk the white line that separates the bike lane from the other lanes, and he has trouble following directions to recite the alphabet.

      When the officer performs a test in which Woods is asked to follow a red light with his eyes, the officer says, "You're not even looking at the light."

      "I'm following the light," Woods says.

      Eventually, Woods has his hands handcuffed behind his back.

      Woods blew a 0.0 on a breath test for alcohol. He said in a statement released Monday night that the incident was a result of an unanticipated reaction to prescription medication and not from alcohol.

      "I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Woods' statement read. "I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly."

      Woods, 41, told police he was taking several prescriptions at the time of his arrest, the police report said. He "had extremely slow and slurred speech."

      The 14-time major champion was arrested at 2:49 a.m. ET on Monday and booked at 7:18 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 5 at Palm Beach County court.

      Woods announced last week that he had undergone another back surgery in April, his fourth since March 2014. He will be sidelined for the rest of the 2017 season.

      Woods last played at the Dubai Desert Classic in February, withdrawing after shooting an opening-round 77. He also played at the Farmers Insurance Open in February, missing the cut after opening 76-72.

  • Woods found asleep in car before DUI arrest, per police
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 30, 2017

    Tiger Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his car before police arrested him on a DUI charge on Monday morning in Jupiter, Fla., according to the police report released Tuesday.

    • However, Woods blew a 0.0 on a breath test for alcohol. The golf star said in a statement released Monday night that the charge was a result of an unanticipated reaction to prescription medication and not from alcohol.

      "I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Woods' statement read. "I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly."

      Woods, 41, told police he was taking several prescriptions at the time of his arrest, the police report said. He "had extremely slow and slurred speech" and had difficulty completing road side tasks, per the report.

      The police report also indicated that Woods changed his story regarding where he was coming from as well as his destination.

      The 14-time major champion was arrested at 2:49 a.m. ET on Monday and booked at 7:18 a.m. He was released on his own recognizance at 10:50 a.m. and is scheduled to be arraigned on July 5 at Palm Beach County court.

      Woods announced last week that he had undergone another back surgery in April, his fourth since March 2014. He will be sidelined for the rest of the 2017 season.

      Woods last played at the Dubai Desert Classic in February, withdrawing after shooting an opening-round 77. He also played at the Farmers Insurance Open in February, missing the cut after opening 76-72.