I don’t know Steve Elkington personally. His long run of relevance as an elite professional golfer was dying down by the time I started covering the beat in 2004, so other than maybe a couple of long-forgotten news conference questions and recalling that he owned a beautiful swing and an ugly wardrobe, I really don’t know the man. But therein lies the beauty – and, sometimes, ugliness – of social media. Through outlets like Twitter, we are able to get to know people whom we otherwise wouldn’t. Unfiltered, unvarnished thoughts straight from the source. When it comes to golfers, many have employed social media as a tool to bring thousands of fans inside the ropes with them. I’ve learned that Ian Poulter has a sports-car fetish, Zach Johnson loves barbeque and Luke Donald has a much better sense of humor than what comes across in interviews. I’ve also learned that Elkington is hateful, classless and in desperate need of attention. The last one is just my opinion. The first two, if we are to believe the level of rancor often emanating from his Twitter feed, can be submitted as facts. The latest example came just after noon eastern time on Tuesday, as Elkington felt the need to go public with his thoughts on Michael Sam, the former Missouri linebacker who recently told the world he’s gay, just two months prior to the NFL Draft (Editor’s note: This is a screen capture; tweet was deleted): Efforts to reach Elkington for comment through his agent were not immediately returned. A PGA Tour media offical emailed this response to GolfChannel.com: “Under our regulations, conduct unbecoming a professional includes public commentary that is clearly inappropriate or offensive. With respect to this matter, and consistent with our longstanding policy, we do not comment on player disciplinary matters.” Elkington replied to one tweeter by insisting that his stance was not homophobic, but rather a perspective on the television coverage. By the time you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that he’ll attempt to make further amends, too. That’s been his modus operandi in the past. Tweet first, ask for forgiveness later. Like last July, when he tweeted that a couple of caddies at the Senior British Open “got rolled by some Pakis,” a reference to the large Pakistani population in Southport, England. After deleting the tweet and receiving a police escort to the course the next day, he hinged his apology on the fact that he was Australian and didn’t realize the racist connotations – forgetting, of course, that he’s lived in the Houston area for much of his professional career. Or last November, when he tweeted about a helicopter crashing into a Scottish pub with the punchline (and I use that term loosely): “Locals report no beer was spilt.” Once again, he deleted the tweet; once again, he issued an apology. Or just a few weeks ago, when he responded to a female journalist’s tweeted photograph with a question about breast size. He followed that one by maintaining that he likes the reporter and even issued one of his familiar cartoons about it. Just one of these incidents would have been one too many for Elkington, but maybe we could have given him the benefit of the doubt, accepted the apology and moved on with our lives. Not anymore. This pattern of hatred – or at least perceived hatred, as if he wants the public to believe he’s more spiteful than he actually is – is embarrassing to himself, distressing to the game of golf and deplorable in a progressive society than often doesn’t have to deal with such juvenile frivolities. If he is guilty of even just the minimum charge, then it’s being a lunkhead without a license. There’s no crime in living life with ignorance, but don’t expect the rest of us to fail to take notice. Just in case you believe I’m being particularly prudish in this stance, understand that I’m hardly alone. During last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, just after Elkington’s tweet about Pakistani robbers, one top-20 major champion golfer told me: “I used to love the guy. He was one of my favorites. That swing was so good. But after following him on Twitter for a little while, I’ve realized the kind of person he really is.” There’s a good chance that if Elkington had never clicked the button to sign up for a Twitter account years ago, he’d be remembered for that buttery golf swing that earned him the 1995 PGA Championship title and nine other PGA Tour victories in a career that spanned parts of four decades. That’s the beauty – and ugliness – of social media. There’s another beauty to this whole story, though. Unlike in a news conference setting at a tournament, we can all just choose to ignore him. I don’t know the man. I can’t say whether he is racist or homophobic or neither. But his pattern of tweets over the past year prove that he’s either both of these things or wants us to think he’s both of these things – before he apologizes, of course. Then it’s back to business as usual, until the next time he posts a controversial tweet. And yes, history shows there will be a next time. For this, we can finally give him the benefit of the doubt.
SHEPPARTON, Australia – Last November Jarrod Lyle exceeded everyone’s expectations, even his own. Before teeing off for his first competitive round in nearly two years at the 2013 Australian Masters, Lyle acknowledged that he didn’t really know what to expect since beating leukemia for the second time. “You get out there and you hit shots that you’ve never hit before and you sort of think to yourself, ‘I don’t know where that one came from, and I don’t like it,’” Lyle said before the Australian Masters. “You know I’ve hit a few hosels out of bounds and got myself into a bit of trouble, but you know it’s all part and parcel of coming back.” From those lowered expectations came an opening-round 72 at Royal Melbourne, followed by a relatively stress-free 71 and then a Saturday 70 to head into the final round tied for 29th place. Although he struggled on Sunday (79) and tied for 57th, his enthusiasm was not dampened. “I couldn’t be happier,” Lyle said. “I’m just loving the whole opportunity and looking forward to playing for the first time in a long time.” With the ultimate goal a return to the PGA Tour, where he was beginning his fifth full season in 2012 when he was diagnosed for the second time with leukemia, Lyle continued his comeback at this week’s Victorian Open. When Lyle does return to the Tour, his fellow competitors may not recognize him. The chemotherapy and radiation treatments he endured in his second bout with cancer caused a significant weight loss. For the first time in his career he has started to split time between the gym and practice tee. The swing, however, will be the same. Following his successful bone-marrow transplant in 2012 and his decision to return to competitive golf, Lyle reunited with his former swing coach Sandy Jamieson, who met the Australian while he was attending the Victorian Institute of Sport and worked with him earlier in his career. “I felt we had unfinished business, and at times our relationship when I was coaching him there was a fantastic relationship,” Jamieson said. “So the chance to sort of rekindle that was probably one of the most exciting things professionally that has happened to me.” Lyle’s initial competitive concern was a predictable lack of length off the tee. In 2010 he ranked 23rd in driving distance on Tour. At the Australian Masters he said his lack of power and stamina was his biggest concern. “When we started working together it was in the middle of the winter and Jarrod was worried that he had lost all of his distance,” Jamieson said. “But the thing is with golf pros, they follow the sun, and he hadn’t had a winter hitting golf balls for probably 10 years,” While the broad brush strokes of Lyle’s comeback are set, with the ultimate goal a competitive return to the PGA Tour, the specifics remain a moving target. Lyle will have 20 events under his major medical exemption to earn $283,825, which combined with his earnings before he was diagnosed with leukemia would match No. 125 on the 2012 money list. According to his manager, Tony Bouffler, the plan is for Lyle to return to America in August to play three “rehab” starts on the Web.com Tour. He is allowed a total of five rehab starts, and the Australian Masters and Victorian Open count against that total. Then Lyle hopes to pick up his PGA Tour career in October at the start of the 2014-15 season, depending on which events he’s able to get into. All that, however, is contingent on his continued recovery and his game. “There’s things that I still need to keep a close eye on health-wise, and the doctors are probably a little reluctant to let me travel too far away, so it’s not worth me trying to get back too early,” Lyle said. “I don’t want to go over there and waste my medical (exemption) by coming over too early and not being prepared enough to play.” What is not unclear is his drive to play the Tour again. His finish at the Australian Masters may have fueled his confidence, but not his desire. That was always there.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – There was a party at Augusta National Golf Club on Wednesday evening before this week’s Masters began. It took place on the back lawn, right behind the clubhouse, not far from the first tee. The scene wasn’t considered overly formal, but – like most parties around here – it featured plenty of green jackets. Really, this was a party for the club’s membership to get reacquainted with one another on the eve of its annual crown jewel. Officials from other golf organizations and a few titans of industry hobnobbed, too. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were served. It was a festive little celebration underneath the fading sun, a warm breeze greeting all attendees. Competitors in the tournament were also invited – and those two dozen competing for the first time were especially encouraged to attend. There might have been a few present, but one source reported seeing only one of the 97 players who are here this week. That player was Jordan Spieth – and his plus-one was his mom. “He was allowed to invite one guest,” Chris Spieth said. “I think it was kind of special that he picked me.” The story could end here and it would still provide terrific insight into the 20-year-old as a person. Scoring for the 78th Masters Tournament Masters Tournament: Articles, videos and photos But it wouldn’t explain how a guy who tried to hide his ear-to-ear smile walking off the first tee Thursday morning is tied for the lead entering Sunday’s final round. It wouldn’t explain how he’s opened with three under-par scores in his first three competitive rounds on this course. It wouldn’t explain how he could be on the verge of eclipsing Tiger Woods as the youngest Masters champion in history. No, for that answer, we must look deeper into this party. Hardly intimidated by the scene, Spieth walked around the hallowed turf and politely shook hands with everyone he met, referring to them as sir or ma’am, just like he always does. At one point, he locked eyes with Jack Nicklaus, who was holding court with a USGA official. They’d only briefly met before, but the six-time Masters champion waved him over and they spoke for a few minutes. Well, not really. Nicklaus spoke. Spieth listened. “Obviously, a guy with six green jackets could have some advice,” Spieth later explained. “He told me that from the middle of these greens, there’s no difficult par.” It would be shortsighted to suggest that their brief conversation alone has lifted Spieth to his current position on the leaderboard. After all, he’s also received immeasurable advice from fellow University of Texas product Ben Crenshaw, himself a two-time Masters champion. And even at his young age, he’s shown enough talent to win a PGA Tour title, compete in the Presidents Cup and rise to 13th in the world ranking. The guidance from Nicklaus would have been meaningless if the talent level didn’t already exist. Through three rounds, though, it’s obvious that this counsel has had a profound effect on the way Spieth has approached this course. Normally an aggressive player, he’s dialed it back to aim for fewer flagsticks in favor of the center of more greens. “Definitely, yeah, compared to normal,” he affirmed. “I’ve never picked so many targets at the middle of the greens when I’ve see the pins on the side and committed to it. “I’m like, well, I want to go at the pin. But you can’t do it here. I have a lot of respect for this golf course.” His ball-striking abilities are gaining the respect of everybody watching, too. Spieth is tied for the tournament lead, hitting 75.93 percent of all greens in regulation. During the third round – a day on which he’s often struggled in the past – he hit 13 of 18 greens, good for third place in the field and a second straight score of 2-under 70. Meanwhile, the man who dispensed such valuable words has been watching. Nicklaus owns six green jackets, but he’s similarly piling up an impressive record of advising Masters champions. Both Trevor Immelman (2008) and Charl Schwartzel (2011) sought his advice prior to their victories. He knows Spieth could keep that every-three-years streak intact. “He seems like a genuinely nice young man,” Nicklaus told GolfChannel.com. “Jordan is obviously a very good player. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He’s very mature for a 20-year-old.” That maturity level hasn’t just gotten him into uncharted territory for someone below the legal drinking age. It hasn’t just elevated him to amongst the game’s elite. It hasn’t just placed him on the cusp of becoming the youngest major champion in over a century. It is because of Spieth’s maturity that when he met Nicklaus this week, he said almost nothing. He just listened. “It was really cool getting to talk with him for a few minutes,” Spieth said. “Just being in his presence, knowing he’s the all-time leading major winner and get what I could out of him.” It is also really cool that a discussion on the back lawn at Augusta National on Wednesday evening between a six-time Masters champion and a first-time competitor has become so important. It will be even cooler if it leads to history.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Mark Calcavecchia’s 8-foot closing putt for birdie put him in a better mood and sole possession of the second-round lead in the Regions Tradition at Shoal Creek. Calcavecchia insisted that only the first benefit was meaningful. He shot his second straight 3-under 69 on Friday to reach 6 under and take a one-stroke lead over Jay Haas at the Champions Tour major. Haas had a 70 after they came in as part of a four-way tie. Haas missed a 4-footer on No. 18 to give Calcavecchia a shot at the solo lead at the midway point. Calcavecchia said finishing with a birdie improves his mood, lead or no lead. ”It really doesn’t matter, other than the fact that I’m happier that I made the putt on the last hole, made the 8-footer for birdie as opposed to missing it,” said Calcavecchia, who is seeking his first Champions Tour win since the 2012 Montreal Championship. ”Sixty-nine sounds better than 70, it always has. ”It always feels good to birdie the last hole. Leading as opposed to being tied for the lead, that makes no difference whatsoever to me.” It was the highest score for a 36-hole leader at the Tradition since J.C. Snead was 6 under at Desert Mountain in 1996. The 36-hole leader has only won one of the last nine majors on the 50-and-over tour, with the exception being Mark Wiebe last year in the Senior British Open. Calcavecchia’s main concern is a rib problem he aggravated late in Thursday’s round, leading to upper back spasms. He said it began flaring up again after swings starting on No. 14 Friday. ”It’s like a delayed reaction, then it kind of goes away,” he said. Kenny Perry and Olin Browne were 4 under. Perry had a 68, and Browne shot 71. Browne was part of the first-round logjam along with Chien Soon Lu, who shot a 77. Haas birdied the first four holes, and Calcavecchia had three birdies on the first six holes. ”I didn’t put myself into a lot of bad positions,” Haas said. ”Being 4 under after four was kind of a dream start and it kind of slowly got away from me. But I like my position. I feel pretty good about my situation going into the weekend.” He bogeyed No. 5 after landing in the bunker and then three-putted No. 15 for another bogey. Haas followed that with a 35-footer for birdie on No. 16. Calcavecchia also had a bogey on the 15th hole after having a bad lie about 10 yards right of the green. He chipped it some 15 feet past the hole. Calcavecchia said he started his round knowing Haas had gotten off to a good start and that Tom Pernice Jr. – who finished with a 70 and was four strokes back – had also opened with four straight birdies. Beyond that, he said he’s not a scoreboard watcher. ”There’s no point in really looking at this stage,” Calcavecchia said. ”You’re just trying to play the course and make as many birdies as possible and pars. Still a long way to go. If it was a three-rounder like most of our regular tournaments, it would be a little different story maybe. But we’re only halfway done.” Haas takes a different approach. ”I look at scoreboards all the time,” he said. ”I like seeing my name up there and seeing what’s going on and all that. It’s such a long race and there’s so much golf left to be played that I’m not too concerned about one shot here and there. You hate to throw any shots away obviously, but I’m still feeling pretty good about where I am.” Perry had three birdies on the final nine holes and was already looking forward to Round 3. ”Saturday’s the rocking chair day as I call it, and I’ve got to make my move on that day,” said Perry, who also had two bogeys. ”I need to shoot another one of these or a little better to get back into it for Sunday.” Defending champion David Frost was five strokes back and two-time winner Tom Lehman was six away from the lead. Both had 71s. Fred Couples was 7 over after a 77.
Scoring for the 2014 Memorial Tournament
MELBOURNE, Australia – Matthew Millar overcame blustery winds to shoot a 3-under 68 – one of the best rounds of the day at Huntingdale – and take a one-stroke lead after three rounds at the Australian Masters. Adam Scott, who led after the first two rounds, bogeyed his opening hole and struggled all day for a 77 and was five strokes behind. He began and ended the back nine with consecutive bogeys on 10-11 and 17-18. Millar had a 7-under total of 206. Andrew Evans shot 70 and was in second place, followed by four players tied for third, two strokes behind: Peter Senior (68), Michael Sim (68), John Senden (71) and Matthew Guyatt (73). American George McNeill was the highest-place non-Australian in seventh place after a 73, three strokes behind. Scott was in a group at 2-under that included American amateur Bryson DeChambeau (72). Millar says his game is suited to Huntingdale; the traditional home of the Australian Masters which is hosting the event for the first time in seven years now the event is rotated. ”I love playing the sand-belt,” he said. ”I guess the golf course is not like modern-day long, long. So there’s a lot of holes where I can hit driver, and if I’m playing half reasonable, I’m hitting it reasonably straight. For me, it’s good, just suits my eye.” Scott won the Australian Masters in 2012 at Kingston Heath and 2013 at Royal Melbourne, but lost playoffs at Huntingdale in 2002 and 2003. If his game doesn’t improve on Sunday, he could be heading to next week’s Australian Open in Sydney without an elusive win at Huntingdale. Senior, a Champions Tour regular and two-time winner of this event back in the 1990s, didn’t mind the brisk southerly breeze. ”When the conditions are like this, I always give myself a little bit of a chance,” Senior said. ”I’ve been driving the ball really well and you have to do that here at Huntingdale. I managed to hole a couple of good putts on the back side.” Senior just missed gaining his full status on the Champions Tour for next year, but intends to return for what he expects will be his final year before quitting the U.S.-based seniors circuit. ”I’ll get into every tournament but two next year,” he said. ”So, I’m going to go back to the short putter next year, so playing one more year on the Champions Tour. I’ve had enough of being away from home. Still enjoy the golf. Still love it. But just time’s come to an end and I just feel like I want to stay at home.”
NASSAU, Bahamas – The misnomer is that there is a specific lineup of courses where “Bubba Golf” plays: Augusta National, Torrey Pines, Trump National Doral. Bubba Watson can add a new stop to that rotation following this week’s event at Albany Golf Club, where the free-swinging southpaw carved and cajoled his way to a three-stroke victory on Sunday at the Hero World Challenge, which will be played, at least for the near future, at the big Bahamian ballpark. Albany checks all the right boxes for Watson – long for a course at sea level (7,267 yards), with five par 5s, and not a magnolia tree in sight that must be weaved around, over or through (even though he’s proven pretty adept at that, too). Even before the first tee shot this week, Jordan Spieth pegged Watson as the man to beat. “Bubba will like it, there’s nothing blocking the tee shots,” the defending champion said on Wednesday. Like nearly everything else Spieth has done this season, he called this week’s outcome perfectly. Watson took a two-stroke lead into a rainy and windy final round, birdied four of his first seven holes and didn’t allow anyone to get closer than two strokes thanks to a closing 66 and a 25-under total. Not bad for a guy who committed to the tournament, then withdrew when his family had trouble completing the travel paperwork for his son, and finally stepped back in when Jason Day decided to spend some extra time at home with his newborn daughter. Had Watson known the Ernie Els-designed Albany course was going to be so much to his liking and suited to his brand of uniquely creative golf, he probably would have never considered missing the event. On Saturday, Watson was asked for his definition of “Bubba Golf” and the answer was telling: “It’s having fun, right? And that’s what we should be doing, having fun and hitting shots,” he said. Hero World Challenge: Articles, photos and videos Watson’s totals for the week scream “fun,” which is slightly ironic considering the two-time major champion didn’t immediately take to Albany. “This course is better than I am,” he said following an opening 67 on Thursday. “But today I showed how I can beat it.” Specifically, Watson explained that Albany’s greens were too small for his liking, comparing them to those at RBC Heritage at Harbour Town on Hilton Head, where he hasn’t played since 2007. It’s those modest putting surfaces, however, that may have given Watson his advantage this week. “Every year he’s in the top 5, top 10 in tee-to-green strokes gained,” said Rickie Fowler, who finished third after a final-round 64. “That’s big when you start getting small greens, just because he may have shorter clubs in, but he’s hitting as many or more greens than people and has more looks [at birdie].” There is also something to be said for Watson’s creativity from tight spots, like when he scrambled from what he called a “wasteland” on the 18th hole to salvage a par on Day. 2. “I don’t know what Bubba would say, but for me I’d call that [shot] 1-in-50 to pull that off,” Spieth said. While Albany certainly qualifies as a Bubba-approved venue, it would be a disservice to the quirky 37-year-old to label him a big ballpark specialist. He’s won the Travelers Championship twice – which is played at TPC River Highlands, one of the circuit’s shortest layouts (6,841 yards) – and the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, widely considered a ball-striker’s paradise. “I get nervous just like anybody else, and I just try to find a way to get the ball in play,” said Watson, who set the stage for his Sunday romp with a then-course record 63 on Saturday. “I hit some big slices today, hit some big hooks today, just [trying] to get the ball in play. I’m just trying to look for a score. I’m not looking for perfection.” Although generally speaking, Watson certainly favors open fairways with straightforward visuals – or, put another way, a layout that offers a right-brainer like Bubba immediate and unimpeded feedback – but there is more to his magic than that. Courses like Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club, host of this year’s Barclays, have far too much subterfuge and, ultimately, doubt for a player like Watson. “I’m not making excuses about how I play golf,” Watson said at The Barclays, where he took a one-stroke lead into the third round before finishing alone in third place. “But you look at the golf course, it’s [a lot] of blind shots. … For me, being a visual player, I can’t see my landing and how I want to shape the balls.” It’s the kind of thought process that at least partially explains Watson’s record at the Open Championship, where his best finish is a tie for 23rd. It also offers a glimpse into why his competitive tastes when it comes to golf courses seem so eclectic. Length would appear to be the common thread, but for an artist like Watson that would be a wild generalization and an unfair assessment when it comes to his unique brand of golf. There are a handful of places where “Bubba Golf” is the perfect mix of power and originality. After his show this week at the Hero World Challenge, he can add Albany to that list, but Watson is much more than simply a horse for a specific course.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jason Day set the 36-hole record at The Players Championship on Saturday morning. By the end of a long and laborious day of big numbers, he was hanging on by the seat of his pants on a TPC Sawgrass that was as frightening as ever. Through it all, one aspect never changed: Day is in charge, and he looks like he will be tough to beat. On a vastly different golf course with greens that felt like putting on glass compared with the previous two rounds, Day overcame two double bogeys with a strong back nine for a 1-over 73 to maintain his four-shot lead. But what a wild ride. Day four-putted from 18 feet for double bogey and made another double bogey when he blasted out of sand across the green into deep rough as his lead shrunk to one shot. From there, the world’s No. 1 player played 3 under with no bogeys over the final 10 holes to restore some semblance of order. He was at 14-under 202. Any thoughts of adding to the record book were gone. But when a shootout turned into a survival, all that mattered was the lead. Ken Duke turned in the best round of the tournament by making six birdies over his last seven holes for a 65, more than 10 shots better than the average score. He was four shots behind along with Hideki Matsuyama (67) and Alex Cejka (72). The Players Championship: Articles, photos and videos ”I’m just a player on the PGA Tour,” Duke said. ”They’re all good out here, and when you get some good number and make some good putts, the scores are there. … But it was a great round. This golf course is very difficult with this condition, and it was a really unbelievable round.” As tough as the greens were to putt – there were 148 three-putts or worse – the Stadium Course still presented its typical set of problems. Russell Knox was trying to stay in the mix when he put three shots into the water on the island-green 17th and took a 9. That ruined his round (he shot 80) and his chances. Kevin Chappell was three shots behind when he had to play his second shot with his feet on the planks framing the water on the 18th hole. Having made two eagles, he closed with a double bogey to fall six shots back. Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and defending champion Rickie Fowler all missed the cut when the storm-delayed second round was completed Saturday morning. If there was a consolation, it was not having to take on Sawgrass at its scariest. Shane Lowry of Ireland, playing in the final group, played his opening four holes in 5 over. That feel-good story of tournament rookie Will Wilcox, who made the first hole-in-one in 14 years on the island-green 17th on Friday? He hit in the water Saturday to make double bogey and wound up with an 82. Sergio Garcia took six putts from just off the sixth green. Paul Casey took five putts from about 8 feet on the 15th hole. Day had his moments. He finished his second round at 15-under 129, breaking by one the 36-hole record Greg Norman set in 1994. Day didn’t make a bogey until his 39th hole of the tournament. But that was inevitable. ”You had putts that never stopped,” Jhonattan Vegas said after a 79. Day’s first blunder was a four-putt double bogey on the sixth hole, which started with an 18-foot birdie putt that he nearly made. It could have been worse. His 5-foot putt for double bogey nearly spun out of the cup. He answered with a wedge to 2 feet for birdie, but then had more trouble off the green at the par-3 eighth. This time, he had to make a 6-foot putt for double bogey. And while his card was clean on the back nine, the biggest break of all came at the 15th. He was short of the green in three, certain to drop at least two shots, when Day chipped in from just over 50 feet for par. Then, he pounded a 3-wood and hit a towering 8-iron to 6 feet on the par-5 16th. He missed the putt and had to settle for birdie, made a 10-foot par putt on the 17th and finished with a solid par. One more round, and no one is sure what to expect now. The opening two rounds were soft and vulnerable, and the 163 rounds under par shattered the record in the 35 years The Players has been at TPC Sawgrass. Day (Thursday) and Colt Knost (Friday) tied the course record with a 63. Day broke the 36-hole record. Lowry and Rory McIlroy set a record with a 29 on the back nine. Saturday was a different story. The average score the opening two rounds was 71.02. It was 75.59 on Saturday. There were 82 rounds under par on Thursday, 81 rounds under par in the second round, and only six of them on Saturday. Of the 76 players who made the cut at 2-under par, 60 of them had a double bogey or worse. There were 86 scores of double bogey or worse. Day had two of them. And he still has a four-shot lead.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It’s a misfortune Jared Wolfe didn’t expect to endure. A pro for nearly a decade, Wolfe, 32, had been toiling on PGA Tour Latinoamerica for the past three seasons. Last summer, he finally gave himself an ultimatum: If he didn’t earn one of the five available Korn Ferry Tour cards, he’d do something else in 2020. Medical sales, probably. But Wolfe finished in the top 3 in his last two Latinoamerica starts and placed third on the money list. That earned him a second promotion to the Korn Ferry Tour, and this time he made it count, winning the second event of the year. Six months after contemplating a career change, the holy grail – the PGA Tour – was now within reach. Then the pandemic shut down the tour for three-plus months. And then they announced there’d be no promotion this season, postponing graduation for the top 25 players until fall 2021. Golf Central KFT adds fall events to ’20-’21 wraparound sked BY Will Gray — May 4, 2020 at 9:26 AM The Korn Ferry Tour has added five fall events to help round out what will become the 2020-21 wraparound season. The news hit hard. “My first thought was, All right, we’re going to have double the points now, this and that,” Wolfe said last week, “and then I said, ‘You know what? Stop. Stop thinking about this. Let’s be excited about the fact that we could potentially have 40 more events to win twice and get the (instant) promotion. If we focus on that, even if we fall short, we’re going to be all right. It’ll be enough to get into position and get a Tour card.” And if things don’t work out? Seems he’s already made a few connections. Out of work in the middle of a pandemic, Wolfe took a job in early March with Rev-Med, a sales organization in Jacksonville that offers ancillary medical services. He cold-called clinics to sell and raise awareness about PCR testing for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. “It’s a fun, challenging, sales-type deal that was competitive,” he said. “You eat what you kill type of thing. If you do well, you’re going to get paid for it, and if you don’t, you’re spending gas money. It’s the same thing as mini-tour golf.” Wolfe worked for about two months and pocketed a few thousand bucks, all while keeping his game sharp for the restart. “After doing it for a few months, I’m happy to be back playing golf,” he said. Current Korn Ferry Tour money list Walking around TPC Sawgrass last week, Wolfe said he’d never seen a field of players and caddies in such a good mood. But that first-day-of-school feeling will soon give way to the harsh reality of life on a developmental tour, a traveling circus that now plays 17 of the next 18 weeks, for mostly $600,000 purses, with no immediate payoff. Wolfe might not have anticipated being in position to earn a Tour card this fall, but that was the expectation at the start of the year for future studs like Davis Riley and Will Zalatoris, both 23. Riley has already won once this season and currently sits second in points. In a normal year, he’d basically be guaranteed a promotion, but now he’s in the same position as Wolfe: picking his spots in a jampacked schedule, trying to give himself the best opportunity to win twice more and earn an instant promotion. “It’s a bummer,” Riley said, “but there’s not much you can do about it. All I can do is control what I can and try to be prepared every week.” Riley is roommates in Dallas with Zalatoris, his former U.S. Junior Amateur opponent (2014) and another talented youngster for whom much was expected. During the tour’s hiatus Zalatoris played every day for six weeks, oftentimes with Jordan Spieth and Tony Romo. All of Zalatoris’ hard work appeared to pay off – he played in the final group Sunday in the Korn Ferry Challenge, and his tie for sixth improved his position from 18th to 14th on the mega-season points list. Golf Central Playing down a tour, List still savors victory BY Ryan Lavner — June 14, 2020 at 5:33 PM PGA Tour member Luke List, playing a tour down after not qualifying for Colonial, said winning felt no different Sunday at TPC Sawgrass. “I’m looking at it as an opportunist,” he said. “I can get my card that way and carry a lot of confidence coming out of it. If I play good golf, I’m going to be on the PGA Tour. Davis and I both know we’re capable of winning three times and getting the automatic exemption.” There is one small perk at the end of this portion of the season: The top 10 in points will receive limited PGA Tour status for next season and gain entry into opposite-field events. But barring a big week in Bermuda, in late October, it likely won’t be in the players’ best interest to chase those starts in 2021 and further jeopardize their standing on the Korn Ferry Tour. “You really just need to ride it out,” Jonathan Randolph said. And Randolph is used to that end-of-season drama, bouncing back and forth between the PGA and Korn Ferry tours since 2015. Between the end of the Korn Ferry season last September and then the pandemic, he’s basically had off seven of the past nine months – the longest break of his golf career, at any level. So, he’s worked on his game. He’s gotten in better shape. He’s spent more time with his growing family. “It’s filled me up in ways that golf can’t fill me up,” he said. “I love my job. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. But you can’t get as full with one week at home, and I’ll be home three times between now and October. That’s a side of it that people can’t see.” There’s a cost to chasing his dream, and it’s why, like Wolfe, he can’t help but feel as though the clock is ticking. “I’m frustrated because I want to play the PGA Tour next year,” he said. “I’m 31. I’m in my prime. I’m supposed to be entering some smooth-sailing years, and it feels like I’m in purgatory. But I look forward to the opportunity to prove to myself that I’m in my prime.” A larger sample size should produce a stronger graduating class, but there’s bound to be a few oddball cases in a roughly 50-event mega-season. Guys who struggle this season but catch fire the next. Those who win but don’t earn cards. College seniors who start rolling next summer and steal a few spots. Still, a simple truth remains. “The good ones,” Randolph said, “always find a way to get it done.”
SUN CITY, South Africa – Jamie Donaldson took a share of the lead after two rounds at the South African Open on Friday with a 9-under 63, one shot off the course record. The Welshman, a former European Ryder Cup team member, made 10 birdies at Gary Player Country Club and only a bogey on the par-4 No. 4 prevented him from equaling Lee Westwood’s course record from 2011. He finished with a pair of birdies. Donaldson joined South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout (67) at the top of the leaderboard at 10 under overall. Full-field scores from the South African Open Bezuidenhout stayed on track for back-to-back wins after a victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, also in South Africa, last weekend. Justin Rose in 2017 was the last player to win European Tour tournaments in consecutive weeks. Bezuidenhout could have led but missed a close-range birdie putt on No. 18. Donaldson, Bezuidenhout lead at South African Open The co-leaders have a two-shot advantage over two more South African players tied for second, including Dylan Frittelli (68). Frittelli is seeking his first win on the tour since 2017, and after a breakthrough of sorts at a major tournament this year when he finished tied for fifth at the Masters. Frittelli’s cause was aided on Friday by a chip in for birdie from near the bunker on the par-3 No. 3. He is at 8 under along with Dean Burmester (69).