Saturday, January 6, 2018
Thursday, July 20, 2017
British Open 2017: You won’t believe how little golf Brooks Koepka has played since winning the U.S. Open
SOUTHPORT, England — Brooks Koepka’s biggest smile following an opening 65 at the 146th British Open had nothing to do with how he played, but rather, a Las Vegas trip to celebrate his U.S. Open victory. “We had fun,” Koepka said with a wide grin, befitting of one of those What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas commercials. When asked to elaborate, Koepka drew laughs in the media center with a coy, “It was fun,” before adding as little detail as possible. “I had a few friends out. We had a good time.”
In case you don’t get the drift, Koepka wasn’t talking about playing golf in Sin City. In fact, you won’t believe how infrequently he touched his clubs in the five weeks between winning at Erin Hills and showing up at Royal Birkdale. Twice. A round with his agent and a photo shoot. That’s it.
Yet there was Koepka on Thursday, grabbing a share of the early lead with Jordan Spieth. So how was he able to snap back into tournament mode so quickly despite an extended break? Quite easily, actually.
“It’s just a mental thing. I don’t think it’s anything else. If I start playing four or five weeks in a row, everything just seems to get nonchalant, I guess you could say,” said Koepka, who admitted to struggling more when he went back to the gym following his Vegas jaunt. “You get to be in the routine and get used to it. And it just doesn’t seem — it just doesn’t ever seem like I’m fully ready to play. If you take some time off and kind of recharge mentally, physically, I feel like I’m in really good shape right now, even with that time off mentally.”
Jason Gay wrote a story in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal about how Roger Federer has used extended periods of rest to his advantage late in his career, most recently winning last week’s Wimbledon after sitting out the entire clay season. In Federer’s case, the time off is taken to combat the tennis great turning 36 next month. With Koepka, a gym fanatic nearly a decade younger, the benefits he reaps from rest all have to do with motivation.
“I was chomping at the bit to get back, kind of those last few days at home. I was excited to get over here. I just wanted to play golf. I just wanted to get back inside the ropes. I wanted to have those juices flowing,” Koepka said. “Sometimes it’s hard even when you’re practicing at home, if you’re playing with buddies or just playing by yourself, really hard to get up for it. I mean, I think — it’s funny, I’ll play with my dad and shoot 75 every time or higher. It’s hard to get into it. It’s something, you just need a little bit of competitiveness and a little bit of something to get me going.”
Koepka didn’t really get going on Thursday until birdieing the par-4 eighth and then ripping off three consecutive birdies on 11-13. He made his lone bogey on No. 16, but bounced back with an eagle on the par-5 17th by holing a difficult bunker shot.
“Seventeen was actually a terrible lie in the bunker,” Koepka said. “It was in one of the those rake marks. And my caddie told me to get inside 10 feet; that would be pretty good. And luckily enough it went in.”
Lucky or not, Koepka taking apart a course in a completely different manner than his destruction of Erin Hills was impressive. Not that we should be too surprised that a player who honed his skills in Europe before becoming a PGA Tour star is comfortable playing links golf. And we definitely shouldn’t be surprised that Koepka is comfortable on the big stage.
“Anytime you’re excited, you’re extremely focused when you’re out here,” Koepka said. “And it’s a major championship, and if you can’t get up for that, you might as well go home.”
If Koepka keeps playing like this, he might be going home with another trophy. Well, after another trip to Vegas first.
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Thursday, July 13, 2017
Rory McIlroy had hoped to bounce back from a missed cut at the DDF Irish Open and build some momentum for Royal Birkdale. Instead, he got more of the same during a disappointing opening round at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
McIlroy wobbled out of the gates, playing his first four holes in 4 over at Dundonald Links including a double bogey on No. 13. While he birdied the next hole and rallied with three more birdies from Nos. 3-7, the Ulsterman closed with a disappointing bogey on No. 9, his final hole of the day, to post a 2-over 74.
That score left him behind both Rickie Fowler (67) and Henrik Stenson (72) in the day’s marquee grouping, and he sat seven shots off the lead shared by Fowler, Ian Poulter, Andrew Dodt and Callum Shinkwin.
McIlroy hoped a final-round 64 at the Travelers Championship would provide a spark, but thus far he remains adrift. This is now his third straight round of even par or worse, dating back to last week when he shot 72-73 at Portstewart during a week when 24 under won the tournament.
McIlroy has work to do in the second round to avoid back-to-back missed cuts, a fate he has not suffered since missing consecutive cuts at the BMW PGA Championship and Irish Open in May 2015.
Monday, June 26, 2017
June 25 (Reuters) – Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to win the Travelers Championship in a playoff on Sunday and become the second youngest player in the modern era behind Tiger Woods to post 10 PGA Tour victories.
In a finale that would have done Woods proud, Spieth sank his 60-foot sand shot at the first extra hole for birdie to edge fellow American Daniel Berger at TPC River Highlands.
The precise execution enabled Spieth to overcome a back nine meltdown in which he putted poorly and almost allowed fast-finishing Berger to steal victory.
Spieth carded a closing 70 to Berger’s 67, the pair finishing at 12-under-par 268, two strokes ahead of compatriot Charley Hoffman and New Zealander Danny Lee.
“For the bunker shot to go in, that was awesome. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a moment like that again,” an excited Spieth said in a greenside interview after clinching his 10th victory at the age of 23 years, 10 months and 29 days.
Woods was the youngest since detailed records began in 1983 to reach 10 victories. He was 23 years, six months and four days when he posted the milestone.
A flair for the dramatic is nothing new for Spieth, who also holed a bunker shot for his first victory at the 2013 John Deere Classic.
“It’s incredible. It feels like we’ve been out here for a long time but it’s only been four years,” he said.
“I feel very fortunate to play golf for a living. That was my dream growing up. To live for these moments and produce moments like that, I feel very lucky, very blessed.”
The former world number one did not feel so blessed after missing two putts from inside four feet on the back nine to almost fritter away what had looked like being a comfortable victory. He then struck a tree with his drive in the playoff, only to get a fortuitous bounce.
“It was a battle,” he said. “That putter let me down a little for most of the round. I felt more comfortable in the bunker than from four feet (and) I got really lucky to hit the tree and have it go in the fairway.”
The playoff loss deprived 24-year-old Berger of a second victory in three starts, having won the St. Jude Classic two weeks ago.
“I played great today so I’m not going to be too upset,” said Berger, who sportingly gave Spieth a thumbs-up gesture when his rival holed the winning bunker shot.
“It’s just Jordan doing Jordan things.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris / Ian Ransom)
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Thursday, June 8, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
Whether you are making the pilgrimage to Wisconsin to watch the 2017 U.S. Open, or are you planning to play Erin Hills in the future, the following is a golf course guide to help you find the right course(s) to fill out your journey.
Well, unless you qualify to play in the U.S. Open, the course is currently closed and will not reopen until after the 2017 event (late June). The tee sheet is filling up fast for the 2017 season, so make your plans ASAP. Not able to get a tee time? Do not rule out early/mid fall. Autumn golf in Wisconsin offers amazing fall colors and best of all…no mosquitos.
Why should Erin Hills be on your bucket list? Well, in the 117 years of the U.S. Open, only six host courses are open to the public.
1) Bethpage Black, 2002, 2009
2) Pebble Beach, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2019
3) Chambers Bay, 2014
4) Torrey Pines, 2008, 2021
5) Pinehurst #2, 1999, 2005, 2014, 2024
6) Erin Hills, 2017
Washington County Golf Course
Located less than 15 minutes away from Erin Hills, Washington County GC is a must play! Arthur Hills built a gem that is consistently ranked as one of the Top 25 Municipal Courses in the nation. Washington County is offering exclusive packages for golfers during the U.S. Open including meals and transportation.
Until Erin Hills was built, this Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course was the #1 ranked public golf course in the Metro Milwaukee area. The Bog is located roughly half way between Erin Hills and Whistling Straits and is a great course to play if making that loop. The Bog is located approximately, 25 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee and 40 minutes from Erin Hills.
Wisconsin’s only Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is rated #70 in nation by Golf Digest. Located 60 miles north of downtown Milwaukee in Sheboygan Falls, WI, The Bull is easily accessible on I-43 north.
Brown Deer Golf Club
Brown Deer Golf Course is the former site of The Greater Milwaukee Open and US Bank Championship, a PGA TOUR stop from 1995-2008.
Whistling Straits/Blackwolf Run – Destination Kohler
Whistling Straits hosted the 2004, 2010, and 2015 PGA Champion and is the future home for 2020 Ryder Cup. Blackwolf Run Whistling Strait’s sister property has also hosted a number of professional championships including the Andersen Consulting World Golf Championships in 1995, 1996, and 1997 as well as the U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 and 2012.
Sand Valley Golf Resort
New golf course/resort alert! Sand Valley, a Coore and Crenshaw design, will be in the conversation for best new course in 2017. If you want to cross it off your bucket list you will need to drive approximately 2 hours north of Erin Hills. A second course, Mammoth Dunes, is scheduled to open in 2018.
Play Where The Locals Play
Located just 10 miles east of Erin Hills on Holy Hill Road (HWY 167/HWY O). With 45 holes you should have no issue getting a tee time. During the U.S. Open week, tee times start with cart at $50 four 18 holes and $30 for 9 holes. They are now accepting tee times and they must be paid for in advance.
Fairways of Woodside
Located within 20 miles southeast of Erin Hills, Fairways of Woodside is a tale of two nines. The opening nine has birdie opportunities galore with shorter holes and wide open terrain. The back nine lengthens and plays through the Kettle Moraine forest.
Hartford Golf Club
A semi private club located less than 7 miles from Erin Hills, Hartford Golf Club is a throwback course that opened for play in 1929. The layout is highlighted by the par-3 17th that features a huge tree 30 yards directly in front of the putting surface. The course also has a three hole practice facility.
Broadlands Golf Club
40 minutes south of Erin Hills resides The Broadlands, one of the state’s most popular public courses. The layout features a mix of wide open spaces, stunning elevation changes that lead to spectacular shot vistas throughout.
Morningstar Golfers Club
Simply put, Morningstar Golfer’s Club rests on one of the finest pieces of land in the state. Every style of hole from links to north woods is apparent on this stunning layout built on an abandoned quarry. Thirteen of their 18 holes are visible from their impressive clubhouse.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017
Davis Womble played four years of college golf at Wake Forest, then made an interesting decision after graduation: He took a regular Monday-to-Friday job rather than try to play pro golf.
Akshay Bhatia, 15, is from Wake Forest – the town, not the college – and hopes to have a long professional career ahead of him. He also has some lofty golf dreams, saying he’d like to be the first to shoot a 59 in the Masters at Augusta National.
The two amateurs had a common goal Wednesday of advancing through the U.S. Open local qualifier at N.C. State’s Lonnie Poole Golf Course. Both did, Womble carding a 4-under 68 that was the low score of the day and Bhatia finishing third with a 2-under 70.
J.T. Griffin of Wilson, a pro golfer who played at Georgia Tech, had a 69, and Kevin O’Connell of Cary and Tim Bunten of Concord survived a four-man playoff for the final two qualifying spots after shooting 71s on a sunny, muggy day. Bo Andrews of Raleigh was the first alternate.
The qualifiers advance to U.S. Open sectionals, which will set the final field for the 2017 Open at Erin Hills Golf Course in Erin, Wis.
“I’m one step closer to playing in our U.S. Open,” Bhatia said, smiling. “I just want to have fun in the next event. I’ll have a lot of people rooting for me, so it will be exciting.”
And should he play well enough to make it to Erin Hills?
“It would be a dream come true,” he said. “The odds of playing in it are very slim, but I believe in myself to make it. It would be awesome. But we’ll see.”
Bhatia has another U.S. Golf Association event before the U.S. Open sectional. Bhatia and Grayson Wotnosky of Wake Forest often play and practice together at TPC Wakefield Plantation, and the two qualified as a team to play this month in the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Pinehurst.
“Again, it should be fun,” Bhatia said. “We’re best friends. It will be interesting.”
Wotnosky, 15, had a 74 Wednesday at Lonnie Poole.
Womble, 23, is a High Point native and once was a junior star in the Carolinas. He was a steady four-year starter for Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas and was named an academic All-America.
Many college golfers have tunnel vision, their eyes locked in on a pro golf career. Womble took a job as a corporate strategy analyst with Hanesbrands in Winston-Salem rather than, say, enter a Web.com Tour qualifying event or try to grind his way through minor-league golf.
“It was a good choice for me,” Womble said. “I’m enjoying playing golf and falling in love with the game again.”
Womble, tall and lanky at 6-6, said he has attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open in the past but hadn’t reached the sectionals. Lonnie Poole was a good course for him – he said he once shot 62 in an N.C. Amateur qualifier.
Like Bhatia, Womble realizes it’s a long shot to go through local and sectional qualifying and grab a spot in the Open field. Then again, he said, “Somebody has to do it every year. If I play like I did today, I’ll be absolutely fine. I played really solidly.”
It wasn’t the first U.S. Open qualifier for Bhatia, either. The first, he said, was when he was 10. And a scratch golfer.
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