Category Archives: sports

Watch: Golfer hits captivating 'stingers' with his putter

Tiger Woods made the “stinger” one of his trademark swings on tour, but he’s not the only one that can execute the low trajectory stroke.

Dave Benford not only matched Woods’ ability to hit the piercing shot, he did so by nailing it 250 yards with a putter – a club with roughly three to four degrees of loft.

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Keith Pelley Q&A: On being European Tour CEO and modernizing golf

Since arriving as European Tour CEO in August 2015, Keith Pelley has been shaking up the golf world.

Pelley, who has a business background in sport and entertainment, is bringing new ideas to the tour and professional golf. Pelley created the GolfSixes tournament in May, an event that saw two-man teams play in six hole matches with a shot clock, loud music, and microphones on players during the tournament.

The 53-year-old Canadian answered a number of questions through email for a two-part Q&A about the ideas he’s brought to the sport, how they’ve been received, and the future of the tour.

deCourcy: How have the first two years gone for you as CEO of the European Tour?

Pelley: I think we have made significant progress over the past two years but we still have a lot to do. Everything takes time to an extent, and when I took on the role I knew a potential for growth existed on the European Tour, and I think we are starting to see that now. We are truly a global organization and in my time so far there have been some significant milestones achieved. The introduction of the Rolex Series has been transformational for our Tour, plus our players continue to perform admirably on the world stage. Innovation continues to be a hot topic for us, in terms of our digital output, and we have also made significant inroads with Strategic Alliances across Asia, Australasia, and Korea, as we look to continue growing those international relationships.

deCourcy: You believe golf needs to wake up, what part of the product has been lacking in your opinion?

Pelley: There is a narrative for change in the game right now because there is no question that golf needs to modernize to appeal to wider markets. Making a connection with the spectators and fans is key to that, both on site at our tournaments or through our digital output. Introducing innovative formats is a major part of broadening our appeal to new audiences. We also need to continue to address one of the biggest talking points in the game, which is slow play. Our commitment to making golf faster and more appealing to fans has resulted in a new format, the Shot Clock Masters, which will take place in Austria in June. It’s going to be a fascinating addition to our schedule next year, an experiment for us, and hopefully it will help us combat slow play and reduce round times – further evidence of our desire to embrace innovation.

deCourcy: You’ve had a number of innovative ideas, how have fans/players reacted to the concepts?

Pelley: We’re a members’ organization, so you are never going to get every single player fully on board with every single thing we do, but as long as the idea isn’t a hindrance to them, and the majority of the players are behind it, then we will try it. As for the fans, as the saying goes, ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time,’ but the majority of golf fans buy into what we are trying to do.

deCourcy: What was the takeaway from the GolfSixes tournament in May?

Pelley: GolfSixes came from the European Tour’s desire to embrace innovation and originality in professional golf. Ultimately, with this shorter format of the game, we want to broaden the appeal of our sport to the millennial demographic. It was a proof of concept but the feedback from all our stakeholders was most definitely that the concept worked. Sky Sports told us that their audience study showed that 19 percent of people who tuned in to GolfSixes had never watched a European Tour event before and it was the second-most watched event from Europe on the Golf Channel in the US. We are in the entertainment content business with golf as our platform and GolfSixes is the perfect illustration of that. I think this format, as well as the interactive digital experience for fans and the innovative television coverage, will help people enjoy the sport more and help speak to a new audience. It returns to our schedule in 2018 and I am very much looking forward to shaping this event from what we learned this year.

deCourcy: Have there been ideas that haven’t worked?

Pelley: Of course there have but in everything we do, the idea is to be entertaining and fashionable, to make watching irresistible and our tournaments the place to be. What drives all entertainment is creativity. You need a working culture in which our employees can unleash their imaginations without restraint. We want daring ideas and want them put into action. We want our people to reek with positivity and know they have permission to fail. I want them to know that my first answer to their ideas will tend to be “yes” rather than “no” or “maybe.” Some awesome ideas – or at least kernels of ideas – have come from this already.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Thompson on missed putt: 'I don't know what happened there'

Lexi Thompson’s lone bogey Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship cost her more than just a potential playoff with Ariya Jutanugarn.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end it. I don’t know what happened there,” Thompson told Randall Mell of the Golf Channel.

Thompson was a two-foot putt away on the 18th green from likely winning LPGA Tour Player of the Year and ascending to world No. 1 for the first time. Her putt, however, lipped out, opening the door for Jutanugarn, who drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to pass the young American for the win.

“Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about (the awards),” added Thompson. “Maybe just a little bit of adrenaline. I guess it’s just golf. Crazy things happen like that. I’ll move on.”

The 22-year-old did take home $1 million for winning the year-long Race to the CME Globe, and won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average, but watched Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu share Player of the Year honors.

Earlier in the season, Thompson suffered a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, when she incurred a four-stroke penalty in the middle of her final round.

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Austin Cook fires 62 to take RSM Classic lead

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.

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Donald withdraws from RSM Classic after being hospitalized with chest pains

Luke Donald was forced to withdraw from the RSM Classic prior to the opening round Thursday after being hospitalized for chest pains.

“Well that wasn’t quite the finish to my year I had in mind! Had some chest pain last night and into this morning and it kept getting worse,” the Englishman wrote on Instagram. “After some medical advice, I had to withdraw and was shipped off to the hospital to get my heart looked at. After seven hours of tests all looks good with my heart thankfully.”

Donald was scheduled to play with Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar in the final calendar event on the PGA Tour, but was replaced by Mark Wilson, who carded a 2-over-par 72.

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Hughes excited to defend title for 1st time on PGA Tour

TORONTO – There were plenty of new experiences for Mackenzie Hughes in his rookie season on the PGA Tour in 2016-17, but he’s set to experience another first as a sophomore, entering this week’s tournament as the defending champion for the first time in his pro career.

“It’s always a great feeling coming back to a tournament that you’ve had great success at and won,” Hughes told theScore Tuesday ahead of the RSM Classic. “It’s certainly a memory that sticks out in a large way for me. … First PGA Tour win. It’s going to be pretty exciting to be one of the guys that people are talking about. I have a couple of extra obligations this week.”

Hughes claimed his maiden title last November on a cool Monday morning in Sea Island, Ga., by draining an 18-foot putt from just off the green on the third playoff hole.

“It’s fun. It’s one of those things you hope you get used to, where you start to do stuff like this every year, coming back to a tournament and defending. But more importantly just great memories at the golf course and looking forward to having a great week.”

While defending on the PGA Tour is certainly foreign for the 26-year-old, trying to go back-to-back in a tournament isn’t. In 2012, Hughes won the Canadian Amateur for the second straight year, winning by one shot at Camelot Golf and Country Club just outside of Ottawa.

“That’s definitely something to draw on,” said the Dundas, Ontario, native. He added, “I think the expectation of I need to defend or I need to win can sometimes hold you back. So, I usually don’t try and get too much into that frame of mind, I just try to go out there and play some good golf and just kind of see where that puts me. If I do my own thing, and play good golf … I usually like my chances.”

Hughes recently became a father for the first time when his wife Jenna gave birth to Kenton Robert Hughes in late October, and with the RSM Classic ending the fall portion of the 2017-18 campaign, the second-year PGA Tour pro is looking forward to the offseason.

“I think it’ll involve a lot of late-night feedings … that’s just a hunch I have,” he said. “But it’ll be fun to just have that time off, and the time to really spend with him and my wife … to be able to help out as much as I can. I’m really excited for that, and being a dad.”

While the golfer is uncertain when he’ll resume his playing schedule in 2018, he’s firm on his objectives for next season.

“I just want to get better. I want to improve as a golfer, and I think I’m on the right track to do that. I’ve got great people around me helping me do that. So, I’m looking forward to the follow-up season.”

As for his immediate goals this week in Georgia:

“All I’m trying to do is focus on the things I can control, and if I do those things – like I did last year – I’ll have a pretty good chance come Sunday.”

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Kizzire holds off Fowler to win 1st career PGA Tour title at OHL Classic

Patton Kizzire claimed his first career PGA Tour title Sunday, winning the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.

Kizzire fired a final-round 67 to finish at 19-under par for the week, holding off a late charge by Rickie Fowler to win by one shot.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I felt good,” Kizzire told the Golf Channel. “I’ve been in some pretty tough spots before, and I drew on those experiences. It means a lot. I’m pretty excited right now, pretty emotional, and I was glad to get it done.”

Fowler grabbed a solo second finish in his 2017-18 PGA Tour debut with rounds of 65-67-67-67, while Si Woo Kim finished in third place, which was his first top-10 result since winning THE PLAYERS in May.

Charles Howell III and Martin Pillar shared fourth position at 14-under par.

The win earns Kizzire invitations for the first time to Sentry Tournament of Champions and The Masters.

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Fowler in 3-way tie for lead in Mexico

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (AP) Rickie Fowler saved par from a bunker on his final hole for a 4-under 67 and a three-way share of the lead after 36 holes of the rain-delayed OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

Patrick Rodgers made his first bogey of the tournament on his 35th hole Saturday at El Camaleon Golf Club. He wound up with a 65 and was tied for the lead with Fowler and Patton Kizzire, who finished his 70 on Friday.

They were at 10-under 132. The second round, delayed by rain Friday, did not resume until 1 p.m. because of more bad weather.

John Oda, in his first start as a pro, shot 65 and was among those one shot behind.

Fowler is playing for the first time since the Presidents Cup on Oct. 1.

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Report: PGA Championship returning to Valhalla in 2024

Valhalla Golf Club will once again stage another big golf event, with the PGA Championship reportedly returning in 2024, according to Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier Journal.

The Kentucky layout held the PGA Championship in 1996, 2000, and 2014, with Mark Brooks, Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy all lifting the Wanamaker Trophy. The club also hosted the 2008 Ryder Cup matches, when the U.S. defeated Europe 16.5-11.5.

“I think that’s a great thing for Valhalla, a great thing for the city of Louisville, but even a greater thing for the PGA of America to be able to bring it back to a course they own,” said former president of the PGA of America Ted Bishop.

The PGA of America announced in the summer that beginning in 2019, the tournament will move from August to May, becoming the second major on the schedule.

“Can’t put into words how much this excited me to hear,” Justin Thomas, a Louisville native, wrote via his Twitter account. “The PGA Championship is coming to the 502 again!!”

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Patton Kizzire opens with 62 in Mexico; Fowler 3 behind

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Patton Kizzire carried some momentum from last week in Las Vegas by running off six straight birdies and opening with a 9-under 62 that gave him a two-shot lead Thursday in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

Kizzire closed with a 64 in Las Vegas to tie for fourth, his best finish in more than a year on the PGA Tour. Playing in the first group, Kizzire finished the front nine with two straight birdies, and then made four straight birdies on the back nine at the El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba. A bogey on the 18th gave him a 62.

Vaughn Taylor played bogey-free for a 64.

Rickie Fowler, playing for the first time since the Presidents Cup, was at 65 along with PGA Tour rookie Brandon Harkins.

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