Category Archives: Featured

Weather Steals Spotlight in Round One of Puerto Rico Open

By A.J. Jones

Rio Grande, Puerto Rico – On day one of the Puerto Rico open, a welcomed light drizzle of rain began just after 1 p.m. but within a minute it subsided. Closer to 2 p.m. the sky opened and presented the field of players and spectators of the tournament with just enough rain to provide relief from the Caribbean sun that was intensifying, keeping the temperature comfortably in the low 80’s.

Although wind gusts reached 30 miles per hour, the weather did not seem to phase Thursday’s leader, Andrés Romero, who finished the day at 6-under-par 66.  

According to his interpreter, “He says he likes playing in the wind, he always liked playing in the wind, …very tough for everyone, not only for him. So yeah, he has to think a lot more than a regular round because, for example, No. 15, he hit a 6-iron from 150 yards, but yeah, he was playing well and feeling confident so that helped a lot.”

Of the four Puerto Ricans playing in the tournament, including Max Alverio, Jeronimo Esteve, Edward Figueroa and Rafael Campos, Figueroa finished at the top of the group at one-under-par 71. He told El Vocero de Puerto Rico that despite weather conditions, he was satisfied with the way he played and he is looking forward to getting back on the course on Friday.

Figueroa stated, “I’m pleased with it. I feel like I could have done a little bit better. I mean, obviously every round you feel like that but it was tough. I mean, it’s just crazy out here, you know. On the island the conditions change so quickly, so drastically. You’re pretty much playing in a hurricane at one point and then it’s clear and it’s beautiful right now… But I love it. I love every second being out here and the support from everybody… It means a lot to me.

Although the sun, the rain and the wind were mitigating factors in round one of the Puerto Rico Open, the challenging Tom Kite designed Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico offers an adequate amount of shade and spectacular views of the island’s mountains and beaches. Puerto Rico has hosted the tournament for a decade, with a break in 2018 to offer a pro-am which raised funds for Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

This year, the goal is to secure $750,000 in much-needed sports equipment for local youth. With the assistance of supporters from around the world, the forecast for the tournament’s success is bright.

Puerto Rico Open welcomes PGA TOUR for 11th annual edition

By PGA Staff

RÍO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO – The Puerto Rico Open kicks off tomorrow at the Coco Beach Golf & Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has been a proud host of the PGA TOUR over the last decade and is excited to host the event in 2019 and 2020. With a one-year hiatus in 2018 to host a charity pro-am for Hurricane Maria recovery, the Puerto Rico Open is now back and stronger than ever as Puerto Rico’s major professional sporting event.

The island welcomes incoming World Golf Hall of Famer Retief Goosen and six other former major winners including Graeme McDowell and Trevor Immelman to begin its second decade on the PGA TOUR schedule. Daniel Berger, and defending champion D.A. Points also highlight the lineup.

Since the tournament’s inception in 2008, the Puerto Rico Open has also helped elevate the careers of several PGA TOUR stars with strong play, including the likes of Jason Day, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Emiliano Grillo, making it a coveted tournament amongst PGA TOUR players. This year, over 130 golfers will be playing for a $3 million purse, with the winner earning 300 FedExCup points. Amongst them, four Puerto Ricans will be playing on home turf, including Max Alverio, Jero Esteves, Edward Figueroa and Web.com Tour’s Rafael Campos.

Born in San Juan, Campos is the only Puerto Rican with a world ranking (381st) and has competed in all 10 Puerto Rico Opens, with top-10s in the last two playings (T10/2017, T8/2016). Campos recently became the first Puerto Rican to win on the Web.com Tour when he won The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic last month, moving to No. 3 in “The 25”. “The 25” represents the top-25 golfers in the Web.com Tour Regular Season who are guaranteed a PGA TOUR card for the following season, hence placing him at the cusp of earning his PGA TOUR card for the first time.

For over a decade, the Puerto Rico Open has also become an important platform to promote Puerto Rico as a world-class golf destination, as well as becoming a key driver of economic development on the island.

The Government of Puerto Rico, through the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), has been one of the event’s main sponsors since its debut in 2008, leveraging its worldwide exposure to benefit the Island’s bustling tourism economy. “Through the visit of professional golfers, their families, fans, international media representatives and tournament staff, this year’s event is expected to generate over $10 million in economic impact to the Island, 5,250 room nights, 600 direct and indirect jobs, 600 direct and indirect jobs, 25 hours of Golf Channel coverage, a reach of 3.8 million viewers, and 4 days of great golf for the more than 10,000 spectators in attendance”, said PRTC Executive Director, Carla Campos.  “The Puerto Rico Open positions the Island as a perfect destination for top-tier sporting events and helps us to reinforce Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s message that Puerto Rico is open for business and for visitors”.

“We’re excited about the PGA TOUR returning to Puerto Rico in 2019 and 2020 for the largest annual professional sporting event on the Island,” said PGA TOUR Chief Tournaments & Competitions Officer Andy Pazder. “For more than a decade, Puerto Rico has been an incredible host to the PGA TOUR with its beauty, hospitality and weather and our members certainly look forward to another tremendous tournament experience at Coco Beach Golf & Country Club.”

John Norris, Senior VP, PGA TOUR Tournament Business Affairs added, “The PGA TOUR is proud to continue its partnership with the Puerto Rico Open in this comeback year. The Puerto Rico Open has been a tremendous partner in promoting and growing the game of golf in Puerto Rico and making a positive impact in the community. We look forward to an exciting four days of golf in one of the premier golf destinations in the Caribbean”.

“For 12 years the Puerto Rico Open has been the main sporting event on the island. Through a close partnership with Title Sponsor, the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the tournament provides a boost to the economy through tourism and the hiring of local vendors. The unique opportunity showcases the wonders of Puerto Rico to millions of viewers around the world. More importantly, the Puerto Rico Open is an unmatched platform to support the work of dozens of non-profit organizations that serve children and youth, helping promote sports and sporting values in our younger generations,” said Pedro Zorrilla, producer of the Puerto Rico Open.

Players, fans and Golf Channel viewers will get to see why Puerto Rico has received numerous accolades as a top travel destination in 2019, including The New York Times’ “Places to Go in 2019,” Costal Living’s “Top Tropical Destinations for 2019,” Forbes’ “Best Caribbean Beaches for 2019,” and Vogue’s “Here’s Where to Travel in 2019.” In partnership with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), will be using the worldwide exposure to invite travelers to visit the Island. “Our mission is to create a global brand for Puerto Rico and revitalize tourism to newly prosperous levels,” said Discover Puerto Rico CEO, Brad Dean. “Travel and tourism can drive economic growth and change lives when done well”.

The Puerto Rico Open celebrates its 12th year of giving back to the community, having donated over $1.5 million to more than 35 non-profit organizations. In 2019, the Puerto Rico Open is partnering with Good Sports, providing little league teams in Puerto Rico with much-needed sports equipment. The goal is to raise $750,000 worth of sports equipment for children in schools and sports teams across the Island. In addition to Puerto Rican golfer Rafael Campos, other professional Puerto Rican athletes have joined the cause, including Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (MLB Hall of Famer), Miguel Cotto (retired world champ boxer), Adriana Diaz (Pan American Games medalist – table tennis), Maria Torres (LPGA) and J.J. Barea (NBA point guard – Dallas Mavericks).

The Puerto Rico Open will be broadcast on the Golf Channel from Thursday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, Saturday from 2:30 to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Farmers Insurance Open Tiger Effect: Tiger Woods’ Fans Remain Loyal

By A.J. Jones

Justin Rose played incredibly well to win the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines at 21-under. Although there were a number of golfers who played well, it cannot be ignored that Tiger Woods had more fans on the course watching him finish 11 strokes behind Rose, than the entire field of players combined.

The people who love Tiger represent all walks of life. And although Woods has had his professional and personal ups and downs, his fans remain extremely loyal. They brave immensely crowded conditions to get a glimpse of their favorite son. At Torrey Pines, fans followed Woods for 18 holes, often not being able to see more than the top of his head because there were several additional rows of spectators in front of them. They still enthusiastically continued to cheer without regard to his position on the leaderboard.

When Woods is added to a field of tournament contenders, it elevates the level of excitement surrounding the event. He brings droves of fans; fans who bring a level of devotion to a player that is rarely seen in any sport. For those who love to follow Tiger Woods, his next PGA appearance will be in the Genesis Open at the Riviera Country Club on February 11-17, 2019. Anyone who has never witnessed the Tiger Effect, in person, may want to go to the Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, California to experience it firsthand.

LPGA Announces Q-Series for 2018

What is the Brand New Q-Series Coming in 2018?

One of the biggest changes coming to the LPGA in 2018 is the revamping of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament, the process whereby players from the United States and all over the world compete to earn membership onto the LPGA. This year, a record 361 players started Stage I in California.

It’s currently a three-step process where non-members generally start at Stage I in California. This year, exactly 90 players advanced from Stage I to Stage II, which takes place in Venice, Florida. The top 80 and ties advance from Stage II to Final Stage, where the top 20 earn what is considered “full” LPGA membership while finishers 21 through 45 earn “partial” or “conditional” LPGA membership.

What’s Staying the Same?

Stage I and Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tournament are not going anywhere. Recent college graduates, those testing the waters early and the influx of players around the world hoping to reach the LPGA will still have to grind through the five-round gauntlet that is Stage I, which some consider the hardest because of the pressure and the 115–degree summer temps in the dessert.

What’s Changing?

Instead of Stage II feeding into Final Stage, it will feed into the Symetra Tour, for the most part. There will be some exceptions where top finishers at Stage II will qualify for the Q-Series.

Final Stage in Daytona Beach will be replaced by this new concept called the Q-Series, which will take place in October. It will be two, four-day tournaments on two separate golf courses in the same market and scores will be cumulative over the eight rounds of competition.

Who Qualifies for the Q-Series?

The major goal of the Q-Series is to identify the most LPGA-ready talent. In the past, Final Stage was at one golf club, played over five rounds. Someone could have a bad week or catch the flu or experience the yips on the greens. It’s a roll of the dice. One tournament over five rounds doesn’t adequately provide the best glimpse at who should be on the LPGA.

That’s where Q-Series helps to find the top performers. Players that finish No. 101 to 150 on the LPGA money list during the current season will qualify along with those that finish No. 11 through 30 on the Symetra Tour money list. Players in the top 75 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings will also qualify for Q-Series.

Additionally, the top five players according to Golfweek’s Collegiate Rankings will also skip Stages I and II and right into the Q-Series.

Finally, the top finishers from Stage II will round out the field.

The field will be 108 players and there will be approximately 45 spots up for grabs for the 2019 season.

LPGA Announces Kingsmill Championship Contract Extension

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., – The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and Kingsmill Resort announced recently a contract extension for the Kingsmill Championship Kingsmill Resort, which has held the Kingsmill Championship tournament annually since 2003, will renew its title sponsorship for an additional three years (2018-2020).

“We are thrilled Kingsmill Resort has extended our long-term partnership as it ensures that we will continue the rich tradition of showcasing the best golfers in the world, at one of the very best resorts in the world,” said LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan.

“Everything at Kingsmill is first class –– from the beautiful resort, to the championship River Course, to the incredible volunteers, to the way they treat players and fans alike.”

The contract extension allows the LPGA to continue to add to the list of past Kingsmill Championship winners, which includes the likes of LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb.

“Kingsmill Resort is honored and incredibly excited to once again partner with the LPGA Tour as we announce the extension of a 35-year-old tradition of professional golf being played at Kingsmill Resort,” Kingsmill Resort’s Chief Operations Officer John Hilker said. “On behalf of our staff and the thousands of volunteers who make the Kingsmill Championship possible, we look forward to working within the Hampton Roads community to provide individuals, families and juniors an opportunity to create and share lifelong memories surrounding the game of golf.”

At the 2017 Kingsmill Championship, current World No. 2 Lexi Thompson famously skydived into her pro-am tee time and then went on to set a tournament scoring record and capture her eighth career win on the LPGA Tour. Thompson was thrilled to hear the LPGA is continuing its annual stop in Williamsburg, saying, “I’m excited to hear that the LPGA will continue to have the Kingsmill Championship. It’s always been one of my favorite stops on Tour with some of the best fans. I can’t wait to return to the Kingsmill Resort next year to defend my title.”

LPGA Tour players consistently rave about the Kingsmill Resort, especially three-time Kingsmill Championship winner and LPGA Tour veteran Cristie Kerr, who said at this year’s tournament: “I just love the feel of the place. It’s a big golf course. It’s a classic golf course with very good greens. I just love the layout.”

Seven Named as 2017 Inductees into the PGA of America Hall of Fame

By PGA of America

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Gary Player, Renee Powell, Mickey Wright and Lew Worsham, a foursome that impacted American and global golf, lead a class of seven inductees to be enshrined in the PGA of America Hall of Fame.

The 2017 class, to be honored Nov. 2, at the PGA’s 101st Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, also features 2012 PGA Golf Professional of the Year Mike Schultz of Tequesta, Florida; Joe Tesori of Dewitt, New York; and the late visionary golf administrator George Henry Schneiter, formerly of Salt Lake City.

“The PGA of America takes great pride in welcoming this exceptional class into the PGA Hall of Fame. They represent some of the most significant contributors to our Association and to the game of golf,” said PGA of America President Paul Levy. “This class captured many of the prize jewels of our sport; stood strong against social injustice; inspired junior players and future professionals; gave hope to military Veterans; and whose on-course success left an indelible mark in our sport. Their names will be inscribed among those who have made golf the greatest game.”

Hole 17 at the River Course: The Most Historic 177 Yards of Golf In America

The River Course, Williamsburg, Va. – On the colorful scorecard, hole 17 at Kingsmill Resort’s River Golf Course reads like thousands of other golf holes around the world: 177 yard Par 3. And that’s a shame. It should read: “You are about to play the most historic 177 yards of golf in America. Take it all in. Don’t rush. Look around and imagine how this very land played a role in American history starting in 1607.”

Thanks to its strategic and inviting position overlooking the James River, the tee box features clearly visible remnants of the earthen works (a hastily made fort or defensive structure) from the American Revolution, which was then repurposed (location, location, location) in the War Between the States. Today a Civil War cannon and flag guard this sacred ground. We’re sure some golfers would like to use the cannon to launch their ball to the tee (not allowed).

But well before aggression – or the early settlers who arrived to this very shoreline to seek a new home –Native Americans lived here and enjoyed the oysters still plentiful and being served up at the 19th hole at Kingsmill. Today, when golfers walk between the tee box and the green at the River Course’s 17th hole, they are stepping on the same land where the Jamestown settlers stepped off their boat in 1607. Those settlers would later sail upriver and start what is now the United States of America at Jamestown. The old pilings in the river are the location of their original port and the beginning of the road from the James River to Williamsburg, the amazing Colonial town that’s still thriving 400 years later. To the left of the hole are the foundations of what was basically a pub, early warehouse, hotel and some say a brothel all dating way back before 1776.

That’s 177 yards of history from the Native Americans to the Jamestown Settlers, Williamsburg, the American Revolution and Civil War to where LPGA players now tee off in an annual professional golf tournament. Kingsmill Resort is also the place where President Clinton, Bush (43) and Obama have come to meet, relax, work and rehearse for debates. Today golfers, families, couples and friends come to Kingsmill Resort’s hallowed ground to make their own history.

And while you may not eagle this hole (which would be a hole in one, too) it’s quite common to see the American Bald Eagle flying overhead. They nest on the grounds of Kingsmill Resort. Perfectly fitting for the most historic 177 yards of golf, in America.

Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” In golf, amateurs call this a mulligan, and if there is any golf hole in America to pause, stop, take it all in – and repeat – this is it.

Steph Curry Gains Respect for His Golf Game From Naysayers

By A.J. Jones

Steph Curry proved naysayers wrong when he shot a 74 on Thursday and Friday of the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic. Curry received a sponsor’s exemption in order to be able to compete. There were some people who believed that he may have taken a spot that someone who depends on golf to make a living may have needed. Others thought he would fail miserably.

The biggest story from Curry’s professional golf debut was the amount of new spectators who came to watch him play at TPC Stonebrae. There was no doubt that the majority of the gallery watching the tournament had never attended a professional golf event previously.

Always humble, Curry commented, “Unbelievable gallery out here. Hopefully that continues through the week. Just unbelievable opportunity to play out here with these guys.”

The winner of the tournament, Martin Piller, shot a 68 on Thursday, a 62 on Friday, a 68 on Saturday and a 64 on Sunday. Piller said that his putting was the key to his success. “With putting … it’s kind of contagious,” he said. “You see a couple go in and it snowballs in the right direction for you. I started putting well last week and it continued into this week.”

The tournament was a success for all involved. The players had a larger gallery watching them play, the Web.com tour received greater exposure, and the Ellie Mae Classic raised a considerable amount for the Warriors Foundation. Also, Curry proved that, if he were to ever want to leave professional basketball, he can be competitive in professional golf.

Jordan Spieth wins Travelers Championship in dramatic playoff

By Pat Eaton-Robb

The Associated Press

CROMWELL, Conn. — Jordan Spieth needed an extra hole, a little bit of luck and an amazing final shot to finish off a wire-to-wire victory in the Travelers Championship.

The two-time major champion holed out from 60 feet for birdie from a greenside bunker on the first hole of a playoff with Daniel Berger on Sunday at TPC River Highlands.

The 23-year-old Texan joined Tiger Woods as the only PGA Tour players with 10 victories in the era since World War II. Woods won 15 times before he turned 24.

“That was one for the ages,” said Spieth, also the winner at Pebble Beach in February.

Spieth held a one-stroke edge after each of the first three rounds. He closed with an even-par 70 to match Berger — who birdied three of the final six holes for a 67 — at 12-under 268.

Berger, the Memphis winner two weeks ago before missing the cut last week at the U.S. Open, just missed a 50-foot putt from off the 18th green left that would have forced a second playoff hole.

“Jordan does Jordan things,” Berger said. “So there’s not really much you can say. I’m obviously disappointed, but happy to be in the position I was in today.”

Berger began the round in third place, three shots back. He tied Spieth for a lead with a 5-foot birdie putt on 15 as Spieth was making bogey on 14 and tied him again with a birdie from 8 feet at 17.

The pair, playing a group apart, both hit their approach shots on 18 into the same greenside bunker. Both chipped out close to the hole and both saved par to force the playoff.

Berger hit his drive on the first playoff hole left and into the crowd behind a fairway bunker. Spieth seemed to clip a tree left landing in the fairway but about 150 yards short of his normal drive and 230 yards from the hole.

Spieth’s approach fell into bunker. Berger’s ran off the green to the left.

Spieth had to back up after hitting his bunker shot to see the hole. When the ball rolled straight in the cup he threw his club and did a flying chest bump into caddie Michael Greller.

“If I was in Berger’s shoes, I be cursing Jordan Spieth right now for the break off the tee and then holing a 30-yard bunker shot, that’s a lot of luck,” Spieth said.

Spieth didn’t waste any time extending his lead to three strokes Sunday. He hit his approach shot to 6 feet on the first hole and made the birdie putt, then made a 5-footer at No. 2. But those would be his final two birdies until a 16-footer on the 15th hole.

He also survived a couple of big scares. The first came when his drive on 13 went right but stuck on the side of a hill to stay out of the water. He missed a 7-foot birdie putt, but saved par.

He then hit his tee shot on the 15th left, just avoiding the water and the hazard line in the rough. He chipped to the middle of the green and made a 16-foot putt for birdie, which he thought he had missed. .

His second shot at 17 also looked as if it might hit the course’s signature lake, but landed just on the edge of the green and he made par.

“That’s a lot of luck,” Spieth said. “But I took advantage of the good breaks and am happy to come out on top.”

He’s the third player to go wire-to-wire alone in the lead at the Connecticut event. Gene Littler did it in 1959 and Tim Morris in 1982. Spieth’s only other wire-to-wire win was the 2015 Masters.

Sunday’s win was also his first win in a tournament debut. The last player to win in Cromwell in his first start was Phil Blackmar in 1985.

Charley Hoffman (66) and Danny Lee (67) tied for third, three strokes back.

Boo Weekley, who began the round a shot back in second place, shot 37 on the back nine to tie for fifth at 9 under, despite the support of a large gallery, which could be heard cheering “Boooo!” and “Boo-S-A!” every time he did something good.

Rory McIlroy tried to find his short game this week and used his third putter Sunday to help him shoot a 64, his lowest round on the tour this season. He tied for 17th at 6 under.

“I must say I felt a little more comfortable on the greens than I did the previous three days,” McIlroy said. “So, this might be one that stays (in the bag) for a few weeks.”

Defending champion Russell Knox had a poor round, with six bogeys on his first 10 holes. He shot a 73 to finish at even par.

Grayson Murray had the tournament’s only hole-in-one, acing the 177 yard eighth hole with an 8-iron. It also was the first on tour for the 23-year-old North Carolinian. He shot a 68 to finish at 5 under.

The Best Golf Courses in Virginia

  1. (1) Kinloch G.C., Manakin-Sabot •
  2. (3) The Olde Farm, Bristol ≈
  3. (2) Robert Trent Jones G.C., Gainesville ≈
  4. (4) The Omni Homestead Resort (Cascades) (pictured above), Hot Springs ≈^
  5. (5) The Highland Cse. at Primland, Meadows of Dan ≈^
  6. (New) Trump National G.C. Washington D.C. (Championship), Potomac Falls
  7. (6) Ballyhack G.C., Roanoke ≈
  8. (9) The Virginian G.C., Bristol
  9. (13) The C.C. of Virginia (James River), Richmond
  10. (19) Kingsmill Resort & G.C. (River), Williamsburg ★
  11. (8) Spring Creek G.C., Gordonsville ^
  12. (10) Golden Horseshoe G.C. (Gold), Williamsburg ^
  13. (11) The Club at Creighton Farms, Aldie
  14. (17) The Foundry G.C., Powhatan
  15. (New) Two Rivers C.C., Williamsburg
  16. (New) Full Cry at Keswick G.C. ★
  17. (18) Mattaponi Springs G.C., Ruther Glen ★
  18. (20) Bay Creek Resort & Club (Nicklaus), Cape Charles ★
  19. (15) Hermitage C.C. (Manakin), Manakin-Sabot m
  20. (New) Pete Dye River Cse. Of Virginia Tech, Radford ★

KEY TO SYMBOLS
(2015-’16 ranking in parentheses)
America’s 100 Greatest Course
≈ America’s Second 100 Greatest
^ America’s 100 Greatest Public Course
★ Other public-access course