Tag Archives: PGA Tour

Sahith Theegala’s quest for his first PGA TOUR win

By: PGA

JACKSON, Miss. – Sahith Theegala had qualified for his first Open Championship appearance, The 150th Open at St. Andrews, as a PGA TOUR rookie.

He earned a spot at the Home of Golf as an alternate via the Official World Golf Ranking (No. 62 at the time), a remarkable rise considering he was a year removed from zero status on either the PGA TOUR or Korn Ferry Tour.

St. Andrews is largely defined by its robust bunkering; a hole can be endlessly strategized based on wind direction, firmness, club selection and other factors.

Theegala is a chess enthusiast; he freely shares his chess.com username (it’s srtheegala) and gladly accepts challenges.

So when he and caddie Carl Smith mapped out their strategy for St. Andrews, the comparison was inevitable.

“I’ve joked all year with Carl, ‘It’s chess, not checkers,’” Theegala laughed in advance of this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship. “We were out at St. Andrews plotting the bunkers, ‘It’s chess, not checkers, Carl.’”

Theegala has long applied the “chess, not checkers” mindset in his rise through the golf ranks. After suffering a wrist injury as a senior at Pepperdine in fall 2018, he returned for a fifth year. The following season, without an opportunity to compete at Q-School due to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced combined season, he went about earning enough non-member FedExCup Points to qualify for the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals, in which he earned his first TOUR card.

Theegala qualified for last month’s TOUR Championship as a first-year PGA TOUR member, his season kick-started by a T8 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he led through 54 holes at the Country Club of Jackson. He cooled down in a final-round 71 to finish three back of winner Sam Burns, but the golf world was put on notice.

Playing out of the Korn Ferry Tour graduate category, Theegala needed that top-10 in Mississippi just to earn a spot in the following week’s Shriners Children’s Open. Now by virtue of his top-30 finish on the 2022 FedExCup, he’s fully exempt for the next two seasons on TOUR.

Theegala returns to the Country Club of Jackson as a second-year TOUR member and with the second-best odds to win, behind only Burns. He recalls looking at his tournament odds early last season and seeing, “I was near last out of every field.” Now the public expects him to break through any week.

Rather than shying away from the expectations, he’s relishing them.

“Max Homa just talked about it at the Fortinet (Championship), being the odds-on favorite there … in previous years, he said he would use that as extra pressure. Now he’s taking it head-on and being like, ‘Dang, that’s cool that I’m the favorite of the tournament. Let’s go get this thing done,’” Theegala said. “That’s pretty cool to see. It’s cool to know (my odds) are up there.

“Golf is such a crazy game; it’s just a hard game. There are very few times in golf where you’re truly happy. Trying to strive toward accomplishing stuff that maybe personally I didn’t think was possible a few years ago, now I do think is possible. The constant drive to get better; I do feel a little bit of that is almost an intangible, inherent love for the game … There’s something over getting the next hurdle that’s just so satisfying.”

In his first year as a TOUR member, Theegala was close. After his near-miss at the Sanderson Farms Championship, he played his way into another 54-hole lead at the WM Phoenix Open, long known as one of the TOUR’s most stadium-like settings.

Looking back, he describes it as “playing in front of 10 million people.” With several family and friends in attendance, he attempted to drive the green on the short par-4 17th but pulled it slightly left, the ball finding a greenside pond. He made bogey, followed by a closing par to finish one back of a Scottie Scheffler-Patrick Cantlay playoff.

He was devastated but reflects on the experience as a season highlight nonetheless.

“It was crazy how many people were there,” Theegala said. “That’s going to be a memory that I’m never going to forget. Still hurts. It’s going to hurt. People have said, ‘Oh, if you ever win …

“No. It’s still going to hurt, no matter what. But it was such a special week. Really kept me going for the rest of the year.”

He finished fifth at the Memorial presented by Workday and was runner-up at the Travelers Championship, making double bogey on the 72nd hole at TPC River Highlands to finish two back of Xander Schauffele.

But the lanky, oft-smiling California native has kept fighting. He rebounded from an opening 74 at the following week’s John Deere Classic to finish T16, and he made the cut at The Open en route to a T34. He added two more top-15s to close his first TOUR season, and he arrives in Mississippi fresh off a T6 at the 2022-23 season-opening Fortinet Championship.

Theegala didn’t watch much of last week’s Presidents Cup, aside from a bit of Sunday Singles. He understands the noise that he was a popular candidate for a captain’s pick, but he doesn’t believe he earned a spot on the team. That sentiment – believing he didn’t earn his spot – fuels him.

He’ll have more chances to represent the U.S. Team. He’ll take the long view.

“The energy was incredible,” Theegala said of the Presidents Cup. “I love how the guys are so into it. I’ve never played on any (U.S.) team .. I didn’t play on a junior golf (national) team or the Walker Cup, so I have a little chip on my shoulder. I wasn’t good enough to make those, so I might as well try to make one in the future.

“I love to use anything as fuel to the fire, so I think the reason I didn’t watch the first couple days, using it as more fuel. I don’t think I earned my way onto the team at all, and I wasn’t close on points or anything like that, but it’s definitely something I’ll use as motivation moving forward.”

Chess, not checkers.

‘Patty Ice’ returns as Cantlay defends BMW Championship

By: PGA tour

WILMINGTON, Del. – Patrick Cantlay stared robotically off into the distance as he left the par-4 10th green of Wilmington Country Club. It was the look of a measured struggle to keep things under control, or perhaps he was just taking stock of his situation.

Cantlay had just carded his second bogey in a three-hole stretch and fell two shots off the pace to put his BMW Championship title defense under severe stress. At that moment a voice pierced out above the others in the throng of people clamoring to get close during the first ever PGA TOUR event in the state of Delaware: “Let’s go, Patty Ice!”

Patty Ice. It was the nickname born amongst the large crowds in the same tournament a year ago at Caves Valley in Maryland, where Cantlay, reveling in a newfound popularity amongst the masses, found a way to victory. That same stoic Cantlay would carry on his form and claim a fourth win of the season at the TOUR Championship a week later, capturing the FedExCup.

It might be hyperbole to suggest the sound of that voice pierced into Cantlay’s consciousness this time around, but it seemed to coincide with a last deep breath and an end to his pensive gaze. Was it time for Patty Ice to return? Had he ever left?

Some might suggest the surgically efficient winner from a year ago had failed to reappear in 2022. Cantlay had a win on his resume leading into the BMW, but it came with the help of teammate Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. In individual stroke play events, he’d had to settle for 10 top 10s without a trophy. He’d lost playoffs to Scottie Scheffler at the WM Phoenix Open and Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage. Had the ice melted?

No. In fact he’d never left at all. Because it was the ability to accept those fates that allowed Cantlay to immediately bounce back with a birdie on the 11th hole Sunday, add another at the 14th and then throw an epic dart into the 17th to set up a go-ahead birdie.

And when he found himself in a tough fairway bunker lie on the 72nd hole, needing par for victory, Patty Ice produced a slashing shot to the green to secure the first ever defense of a FedExCup Playoff event. Now he heads to the TOUR Championship seeded second and will try to become the first ever repeat FedExCup champion.

Chez Reavie wins Barracuda Championship for third PGA TOUR title

By: PGA TOUR

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Chez Reavie won the Barracuda Championship on Sunday, holding on in the breezy final round of the PGA TOUR’s lone modified Stableford scoring event for his third TOUR title.

Six points ahead entering the day, Reavie had a six-point round for a one-point victory over Alex Noren on Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood layout.

The 40-year-old Reavie became the first PGA TOUR winner aged 40 or over since Lucas Glover a year ago in the 2021 John Deere Classic. The Arizona player finished with 43 points.

“I’ve been working hard,” Reavie said. “I’ve been hitting the ball and I knew I could do it. I just kept grinding, and here we are.”

With the event also sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Reavie earned spots on both the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour through the 2024 seasons.

“I’ll get over there,” Reavie said. “I had no idea that that was on the table until I finished. I’m excited. I would love to go to Europe and play and maybe go play in the BMW or something. I’d enjoy that a lot.

He also won the 2008 RBC Canadian Open and 2019 Travelers Championship.

Reavie had four birdies and two bogeys Sunday. Players get five points for eagle and two for birdie, while a point is deducted for bogey and three taken away for double bogey or worse.

“It was stressful out there today with the wind and missing some putts early,” Reavie said. “Was fortunate to make some good putts coming in and pull it off.”

Reavie birdied the par-5 12th and made his last birdie on the par-4 16th, holing a 15-footer after his flop approach hit a seam in the grass and shot forward. He got up-and-down for par from a greenside bunker on the par-3 17th, holing a 5-footer, and tapped in for par on the par-4 18th.

“I just stayed patient,” Reavie said. “I knew I was going to have to. I knew some guys were going to make a lot of birdies early. I was hoping to be one of those guys, but the putter was kind of letting me down early. Just tried to keep it as close as I could to the hole and give myself some good looks.”

Noren had a 14-point round. The Swede is a 10-time winner on the DP World Tour who joined the PGA TOUR in 2018.

“I love this course,” Noren said. “It was pretty tricky today with the wind. It’s been a roller-coaster of a week, obviously, but when you make the cut, you think, well, this is a great week anyway, and then I played good on the weekend and had a blast today.”

Martin Laird was third at 38 after a seven-point day.

“Really tough out there in the wind.,” Laird said. “It was gusting all over the place. I think I started six back of Chez, so I knew he was obviously playing really well. I’d have to play a pretty special round today to catch him.”

Mark Hubbard finished fourth at 37, and Scott Gutschewski was fifth at 35.

Celebration of Champions kick-starts special week at The Open

By: PGA

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Rory McIlroy beamed as he grabbed the hand of Tiger Woods and excitedly pointed up to a window high in the Rusacks Hotel that flanks the 18th fairway at St. Andrews.

The pair then waved animatedly in the direction of 22-month-old Poppy McIlroy, daughter of the 21-time PGA TOUR winner and four-time major champion as they finished up play in The Open Championship’s Celebration of Champions on Monday.

Just moments earlier they had posed for photos together on the Swilken Bridge, with 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus no less, but this moment was arguably just as incredible. It was raw. It was pure. And in an age where renumeration can dominate headlines, it showed what this is really all about. Being part of, or bearing witness to, history.

This is indeed a very special week – one that will ultimately crown the champion golfer of the year – but one that is so much bigger than any leaderboard. For this is the 150th Open Championship. At the home of golf.

It is a celebration of the game born in the Scottish sheep paddocks around this area that has now blossomed into a game that will see hundreds of thousands of fans swarm through the gates this week. It is a game that is still inherently open to all and enjoyed by multiple generations.

And while Poppy likely won’t ever remember the special time where Woods, an 82-time TOUR winner with 15 majors – two of which came at St. Andrews – made her the center of attention despite being in the middle of a spiritual setting on golfs grandest stage… Rory will.

“If you had of told 10-year-old me that I would play in something like this I’d have hardly believed it. Playing with my idol, ahead of such a special week, it’s just really really cool,” McIlroy said.

Woods and McIlroy were part of the last four-person team that included two-time Open champion Lee Trevino and 2018 Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall to take on the first, second, 17th and 18th holes at the Old Course in a better ball format competition that, as the name suggests, celebrates the former champions of The Open.

1408071832

Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino pose for a photo at the Celebration of Champions Challenge during a practice round prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Fans were treated to a cavalcade of legends including gems of the past like Tom Watson and Gary Player to current stars Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa among many more. Nicklaus is also here to become just the third American, behind Benjamin Franklin and Bobby Jones, to be given honorary citizenship of the town having won The Open here in 1970 and 1978.

This was pinch yourself stuff. Tell your grandkids stuff. One golf analyst was going to leave early to buy a desk fan for his non-air-conditioned accommodation before the light bulb went off… when will you see something like this ever again?

The fans cheered for them all. But they saved the loudest roars for Woods who will tee it up Thursday in likely his last real chance of making it three wins at the iconic venue. Despite the numerous complications he faces with his body following a car accident last year, Woods showed glimpses of the smarts that helped him dominate in 2000 and plot his way to another win in 2005 as he birdied two of the four holes.

If there was a way to count it, it’s possible a world record number of phone photos would’ve been taken in the four-hole stretch. A chef at The Old Course Hotel on the 17th fairway snuck away from his burners and grabbed his pictures through the glass while down below him, sitting out on a grass lawn, was former Masters champion Adam Scott and his father Phil, also realizing the significance of the occasion enough to come out and soak it all up.

“For a lot of guys who haven’t been here like myself, to come here, look out the hotel, walk down 17, 18 on Sunday when you have the public just walking, that’s the coolest experience as a fan, as a golfer, anyone could ask for because it’s a game for everyone,” defending champion Morikawa said.

“The stretch of just teeing off on No. 1, just seeing 17, just seeing 18, you feel the history, and you feel the importance of everything that has come before us at this golf course and golf in general. It’s really cool to be here.”

For the record, the team of Sir Nick Faldo, Louis Oosthuizen, Zach Johnson and John Daly – all winners at St. Andrews – posted the low score Monday to claim bragging rights over the fellow former champs. They won be three shots and perhaps foreshadowed what might be a birdie fest later in the week. Some are fearful the modern golfer might have usurped The Old Course … Nicklaus isn’t one of them.

“They might shoot low. So what? That’s sort of the way I look at it. They’re shooting low now compared to what they shot 100 years ago. But times change and golfers get better, equipment gets better, conditions get better,” Nicklaus said.

“I don’t think it really makes a whole lot of difference, frankly. It’s St. Andrews and it is what it is, and it will produce a good champion. It always has. That’s the way I look at it. Bobby Jones always said a golfer’s resume isn’t complete unless he’s won at St. Andrews.”

And so we await which golfer will complete his resume – but ultimately – just being part of this iconic week – is enough.

 

Rory McIlroy returns to RBC Canadian Open to face strong field

By: PGA Tour

TORONTO, Ont. – Rory McIlroy marked his ball with a Canadian $1 coin, nicknamed a ‘Loonie,’ the last time he played the RBC Canadian Open. He received one from his pro-am partner in 2019 and that extra luck worked. He won.

This year, tournament organizers came prepared.

“I turned up to the locker room and there was already one in my locker,” said McIlroy with a smile. “And then one of my pro-am partners gave me one this morning on the first green as well.

“I’m loaded with loonies this week.”

McIlroy will (finally) defend his title this week in Canada, three years after he won by seven shots at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. He flirted with 59 much of the final day before shooting a thrilling 61 that separated him from the field.

He comes to St. George’s Golf and Country Club looking to go back-to-back for the first time on the PGA TOUR, but to do it he’ll have to top one of the strongest fields north of the border in recent memory.

McIlroy is one of five golfers ranked in the top 10 in the world who are teeing it up this week in Toronto, including Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. The top two players in the FedExCup are making their Canadian Open debuts. Scheffler, who also sits atop the world ranking, has won four times this year, including the Masters, while Burns earned his third win of the season by beating Scheffler in a playoff at the recent Charles Schwab Challenge.

PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and THE PLAYERS champion Cameron Smith are the other two top-10 players in the field this week. There are 20 Canadians teeing it up in their national open as well, including Corey Conners, the top-ranked Canadian in the FedExCup standings.

“It’s really exciting to have those guys here,” Conners said of the stout field. “I think national championships, wherever they’re played, have a little bit more prestige and guys think really highly of this event. There are so many historic names on the trophy, and it would be awesome to be added to that and I think a lot of those guys feel the same way. It’s a good part of your legacy to be able to call yourself a Canadian Open champion and national open champion.”

McIlroy comes into the week after a T18 at the Memorial. He notched three consecutive top-10 finishes in his previous three starts, including a runner-up at the Masters and an eighth-place finish at the PGA Championship. He sits 15th on the FedExCup standings.

So far, he’s “loved” St. George’s Golf and Country Club, which is hosting its sixth RBC Canadian Open. He said it’s a “really good” traditional layout – built in 1929 – that will serve as a strong place to compete before next week’s U.S. Open.

McIlroy will be grouped with Conners and Thomas for the first two rounds.

Thomas said he took a few days off after he missed the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge and celebrated his PGA Championship victory with some high-school friends back home in Louisville. Playing the week before the PGA Championship paid off with his win at Southern Hills and he’s hoping it will do the trick again with the U.S. Open coming next week. But Thomas is quick to recognize the legacy of the Canadian Open, as well. This is the 111th playing of the tournament.

“You look at the history of this event, it kind of speaks for itself,’ says Thomas. “The opportunity to come to a place and a tournament that’s so historic … definitely makes it a little bit more special.”

Scheffler said “it was easy” for him to include the Canadian Open in his schedule with a comparable set-up at St. George’s to The Country Club at Brookline. With seven of the top 25 in the world (Matt Fitzpatrick, Tony Finau, Tyrell Hatton and Shane Lowry are the others) all playing this week, it’ll be a solid challenge.

“I’m preparing for next week’s U.S. Open, but I really want to win this week. I really want to win every time I tee it up and play,” says Scheffler. “We (drew) a really good field this week and so definitely looking forward to competing against these guys.”

While Scheffler is on top of the FedExCup standings with his excellent play so far this season, it’s two-time FedExCup winner McIlroy who has quickly become the top draw in Canada.

This is, of course, attributed to winning in his debut in 2019 – “It would be nice to keep that percentage up this week, for sure,” he said – and the fact that he acted as the ‘defending’ champion for two extra seasons. His group drew the biggest crowds in Wednesday’s pro-am at St. George’s.

“I’ve worked hard to get to this position,” he says. “I mean if I didn’t like the attention I would go and I would play another sport or I would get another job or whatever. But there’s a lot of things that come along with being one of the top players in the game and yeah, I do relish it. I like that, I like being in that position.”

Another position McIlroy enjoys being in is first place on PGA TOUR leaderboards, something he’ll try to do again this week in Canada.

And he’s got a good-luck coin ready to go.

RBC Canadian Open makes long-awaited return

By: PGA Staff

The population of Toronto is higher than that of Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. In fact, Toronto is the fourth-most populous city in the whole of North America.

And its mayor, John Tory, is a big fan of golf.

Count Tory as just one person who is thrilled to see the RBC Canadian Open return to the PGA TOUR schedule after a two-season hiatus due to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a big event,” Tory, who has been Toronto’s mayor since 2014, told PGATOUR.com. “It creates a lot of activity in the city for people to come and visit… and it’s just one more sign of a return to more normal life after a dismal period during the pandemic.”

The RBC Canadian Open is the only North American event on the TOUR’s schedule not to have been contested in both 2020 and 2021. The membership of St. George’s Golf and Country Club voted in favor of keeping the event at its course after the cancellation of 2020 and again in 2021, and the championship will return to the club – 11 miles from the CN Tower – for the sixth time.

In his Canadian Open debut, Rory McIlroy shot a 9-under 61 to win the 2019 Canadian Open by seven shots. The crowd was abuzz. McIlroy was the most notable entrant in that year’s field, and the Toronto Raptors were in the midst of their NBA Championship run.

So how do tournament organizers top that effort?

By going as big as possible.

“You take the bad and make the best out of it,” said Tournament Director Bryan Crawford. “When it was time to come back, we were going to come back in a big way, and that’s what is about to happen.”

John Sibley, Golf Canada’s Chief Commercial Officer, called this year’s Canadian Open the “largest operational undertaking” in the organization’s history. There will be approximately 210,000 square feet of hospitality – 92,000 more than at Hamilton Golf and Country Club three years ago.

The Rink will also make its return. It’s a somewhat Canadian cliché, but the par-3 16th hole will have hockey boards set up around it along with hospitality suites dubbed “penalty boxes.” But even Corey Conners, Canada’s top-ranked male golfer, enjoys The Rink’s buzz. He says he plans on giving away “a jersey or two” during tournament week.

“The atmosphere is really cool,” said Conners. “It’s something new and a little extra special about the event and hopefully we can hit some good shots.”

RBC Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Mary DePaoli has had a hard time containing her excitement with the return of the bank’s home-country event. RBC and AT&T are the only title sponsors on the TOUR schedule that operate two separate tournaments.

DePaoli said her team has learned a lot from operating the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head the last two years and is keen to put some of those lessons into practice at St. George’s. She said she’s excited for the support from the hometown fans, as well as PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan and PGA TOUR Chief Tournaments & Competitions Officer Andy Pazder.

“They cannot wait to see this tournament come back online and mark the return of it back to Canada,” DePaoli said. “They know from their players there is a lot of enthusiasm for this tournament. They’re very proud of this tournament.”

Golf in Canada, despite its shortened season, has experienced a boom similar to most cities in North America. Between the pent-up excitement for the event and golf’s never-before-seen popularity, it should be a thrilling week for Canadian fans.

 It’s also shaping up to be an excellent field.

McIlroy returns to defend his title from 2019. FedExCup leader Scottie Scheffler also will be there, as will PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, and PLAYERS champion Cam Smith.

There’s also a plethora of Canadians looking to win their national championship; there hasn’t been a homegrown winner since Pat Fletcher in 1954. Led by Conners and buoyed by fellow Presidents Cup hopefuls Mackenzie Hughes and Adam Hadwin, the Canadian contingent is strong. In fact, this could be the best year in recent memory for Canadian hopefuls.

Hadwin was low Canadian in 2019, finishing sixth at Hamilton. Mackenzie Hughes finished T14. Four Canadians made the cut.

“It’s a really special week for me… it’s right up there with the majors on my schedule,” said Conners. “I’m looking forward to trying to get myself in contention and I know it’ll be a great event. I’ve been telling lots of people: The Canadian fans are sure going to be excited that the PGA TOUR is coming back north of the border.”

Even the mayor thinks someone from the Canadian contingent has a good shot this year at St. George’s. Tory, 67, remembers George Knudson and Moe Norman and Mike Weir, but their successes came as singular stars. Now, he said, Canada has strength in numbers.

“I’m very proud of that as a golfer and as a Canadian,” he said. “We still have that one elusive victory – to have a Canadian win the Canadian Open. But given the performance of some of our players on the TOUR, this may well be the time that happens and that would be a wonderful thing.”

The mere return of the RBC Canadian Open itself is already a wonderful thing.

Jon Rahm returns to site of win, bizarre WD at the Memorial

By: PGA Tour

DUBLIN, Ohio – He won in 2020.

He led by six but had to withdraw with a positive COVID test in 2021.

Jon Rahm comes into the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday having seen the highest highs and the lowest lows at Muirfield Village – or so it seems. The truth, he says, is more complicated. Yes, he wanted to become the first player since Tiger Woods to successfully defend his Memorial title (2000-01), but not getting to do so wasn’t going to define his year.

“Yes, I walked off the course, I was told I couldn’t play, and I was mad for about 10 minutes,” he said. “I allowed myself to be upset. But instantly my switched flipped and I called my wife and I made sure that she was OK, and my son was OK.

“Once I knew they were okay,” he continued, “I was in my little trailer, that little COVID hut we had, and me and my caddie were laughing. We ordered milkshakes and we were laughing at the funny part of everything, right. I mean, the fact that that happened; that I had a six-shot lead and it’s gone, I can’t even play, right. I mean, it’s just – the irony of it all …”

Much has been said of Rahm’s maturation on the PGA TOUR, but perhaps no vignette better captures his equanimity than the Memorial a year ago. He had just completed his third round when he was told of the positive test, and while he was clearly aghast at the news, the image of him laughing about it soon after, milkshake in hand, speaks volumes.

Still intense, but possessed of plenty of perspective, Rahm, 27, has found a gear that is serving him well. When he was asked about his putting struggles earlier this season, he shrugged it off, said the flatstick would come around, and won the Mexico Open at Vidanta a month ago, his seventh TOUR win. He’s 11th in the FedExCup, second on the Official World Golf Ranking.

Now the husband and father of one, with another on the way, is headed into a two-week stretch in which he’ll be a big favorite (Memorial) and the defending champion (U.S. Open). He admits his game isn’t at its absolute peak, but it’s not far off.

“I’m comfortable and confident it could be getting better,” he said.

“I can tell you the first time I played here in 2017, I believe, for some reason, I absolutely hated it,” he added. “… I think it was my first missed cut as a pro (it was his second), and I was just like, ‘I’m done. Never going back.’ And Adam (Hayes), my caddie, kept telling me, ‘Man, I’m telling you, this place is great for you. You just need to learn … certain holes and certain shots.’”

Winning here in 2020 changed everything, and he has called the golf he played at last year’s Memorial some of the best of his career. Then he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. He’s a popular pick to capture his second Memorial this week.

Despite everything, he said, he won’t be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

“It’s a whole new tournament,” Rahm said. “I can’t be playing, let’s say, mad at what happened last year. Is it motivation? Yes. But you know, it’s not much more added to what I already had.”

Beau Hossler rides experience at Colonial to a share of the lead

By: PGA Tour

FORT WORTH, Texas — Beau Hossler earned a share of the lead Thursday while almost no one watched. He kept it Friday in front of thousands.

Hossler shot 9-under 66-65 at the Charles Schwab Challenge on two wildly different days at Colonial Country Club. His first round included eagles on two par-4 holes, both of them so late in the day that nearly everyone had vacated the property. His second round was an easier quest — five birdies, no bogeys, barely a sweat on his visored brow — down fairways lined with plentiful spectators getting a head start on the holiday weekend.

And that’s exactly what Hossler got, too. He and Scott Stallings took the early lead of the $8.4-million tournament, one of the oldest on the PGA TOUR.

“Today felt, frankly, never really stress-free, but as stress-free as it’s going to get,” Hossler said. “It felt like I was in play. I never was that out of position. Yesterday I was kind of grinding more.”

Through 36 holes, Hossler gained more than nine strokes on the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and nearly six in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. He ranked first in both categories. He ranked second in scrambling, converting 10 of 11 attempts in the first two rounds.

With considerable wind in the forecast for Saturday, Hossler said he hoped his experience at Colonial — the former University of Texas Longhorn estimated he’d played the course more than 20 times since moving to Texas from California — would help his campaign to win for the first time in his five years on the TOUR. In fact, Hossler said, he welcomed menacing conditions.

“To be honest, from my perspective, the harder the golf course plays, I think it favors me,” he said. “I’ve never been a player that thrives on shooting 30-under par in a tournament.”

Hossler has made two cuts in four starts at the Charles Schwab. His best finish was a tie for 40th in 2019.

His current season includes a third-place finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and two Top 10s, the most recent at the Valero Texas Open. Hossler had his chances last month in San Antonio, but shot even-par 72 in the final round. He finished in a tie for fourth.

May is a different month. Colonial is a different course.

“Hopefully it plays difficult,” Hossler said, “and smart strategy and good commitment and good execution is what will come out on top.”

Power Rankings: Charles Schwab Challenge

By: PGA TOUR

Ages and number of appearances for each of the 15 projected contenders ranked open the capsules. (You’ll see the same leadoffs in Sleepers and Draws and Fades.) It’s definitely different, but if it seems silly, what transpired last year proved the point of the exercise. Detail on that, how Colonial Country Club tests and more below.

POWER RANKINGS: CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE

RANK PLAYER COMMENT
15 Davis Riley Davis Riley
Age 25; first appearance. Proof that the Power Rankings isn’t beholden to the trend among winners, the PGA TOUR rookie has finished a respective fifth, T9 and T13 in his last three starts.
14 Tommy Fleetwood Tommy Fleetwood
Age 31; first appearance. Not a rookie like Riley but a debutant, nonetheless. The Brit improved in every round of the PGA Championship and co-led the finale with a 67 to place T5.
13 Patton Kizzire Patton Kizzire
Age 36; seventh appearance. He’s the closest to the statistical center in the field. What’s eerie is that he finished T3 last year; the 2021 champion, Jason Kokrak, finished T3 in 2020.
12 Justin Rose Justin Rose
Age 41; ninth appearance. He’s part of the trend at Colonial. He was 37 and in his fifth start when he took the title in 2018, but he’s gone for four top 20s and hasn’t missed a cut.
11 Gary Woodland Gary Woodland
Age 38; fourth appearance. Placed ninth in 2020, T14 in 2021, recorded a scoring average of 67.875 in those eight rounds and has authored numerous examples of impressive form in 2022.
10 Abraham Ancer Abraham Ancer
Age 31; fifth appearance. Fresh off a T9 at the PGA Championship where he regained form tee to green. Hasn’t missed a cut at Colonial and finished T14 in each of the last two editions.
9 Max Homa Max Homa
Age 31; fourth appearance. Unfazed. In a zone. Perspective as a soon-to-be father that he’s acknowledged has influence, but his talent rules the day. Added a T13 at the PGA Championship.
8 Sungjae Im Sungjae Im
Age 24; fourth appearance. The positive spin of him missing the PGA Championship due to COVID-19 is that he’s rested and didn’t experience the rigors of last week’s major. T10 here in 2020.
7 Brian Harman Brian Harman
Age 35; 10th appearance. A recent surge lifted him into the bubble to qualify for the U.S. Open, but his confidence already should be high what with six top 25s at Colonial since 2015.
6 Sam Burns Sam Burns
Age 25; third appearance. He’s part of the small contingent for which the learning curve hasn’t applied. He’s so balanced. Just two months removed from defending his title at Copperhead.
5 Collin Morikawa Collin Morikawa
Age 25; third appearance. Leading the PGA TOUR in final-round scoring average (67) with eight rounds contributing. Still out to avenge his playoff loss here in 2020. T14 last year.
4 Justin Thomas Justin Thomas
Age 29; third appearance. Yes, it will be a challenge to amp back up after the emotional turmoil on Sunday at Southern Hills, but his floor is highest than most. He’s soared all season.
3 Will Zalatoris Will Zalatoris
Age 25; second appearance. He’s evolved from Zalatoris: God of the Non-members to Zalatoris: God of the Non-winners. Tops on TOUR in SG: Approach-the-Green and SG: Tee-to-Green.
2 Scottie Scheffler Scottie Scheffler
Age 25; third appearance. His missed cut at Southern Hills is evidence that he’s human, but he’s also rested for two more days in advance of his return home to the DFW metroplex.
1 Jordan Spieth Jordan Spieth
Age 28; 10th appearance. Bummed about a T34 at the PGA, but there’s no place like home. The former winner at Colonial (2016) also has a trio of runner-up finishes among eight top 15s.

Bryson DeChambeau, Viktor Hovland, Webb Simpson, Colonial CC member Ryan Palmer, defending champion Jason Kokrak and other previous winners of the Charles Schwab Challenge will be among the notables reviewed in Draws and Fades.

When considering which tournaments are the easiest to predict, the Charles Schwab Challenge is at the top beside the Masters. (However, given how the first major of the year has evolved in three spins since its November edition of 2020, it may no longer require the apprenticeship that generates expectations. More on that another time.) The construct of an invitational limited to 120 golfers helps, but next week’s Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, also host to 120 on the only course that’s ever hosted it (Muirfield Village), doesn’t follow a familiar script.

Get a load of this… The last 19 winners in advance of the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge had an average age of 36 and had logged an average of six starts at Colonial prior to their first victory on the course. Last year, in what was his seventh appearance and within one week after his 36th birthday, Jason Kokrak prevailed. Remember, this Power Rankings already was citing both ages and total appearances. All Kokrak did was follow the instruction. (The specific time frame of the last 19 winners before Kokrak dates back to the year after Sergio Garcia broke through in 2001. He’s both the most recent first-time PGA TOUR winner at Colonial and the most recent to win his first appearance.)

Settling for finding the dartboard with a winner often defines the acceptable, but Kokrak split the arrow. Although there is a spectrum with two endpoints for just about everything, and despite how it shook out last year, no process of prognostication can rely solely on such basic variables, but the historic track in Fort Worth, Texas, caters to all skill sets, so attributes that underscore experience, like age and total appearances, are elevated.

Colonial is a stock par 70 that tips at 7,209 yards as it has since 2016. The 2021 scoring average of 70.208 landed within the cone of expectations, while it also reflected stronger winds in the first and final rounds.

Bentgrass greens average just 5,000 square feet, and they could reach 13 feet on the Stimpmeter, so approaches from bermuda rough, which could be as high as three inches, need to be precise. Last year’s field averaged 7.90 (of 14) fairways hit, about 11 greens in regulation per round and three par breakers after hitting GIR. That slotted Colonial within the third-hardest in all three of those measurements among all courses during the super season of 2020-21.

It’s never easy but Kokrak made it seem that way. He ranked eighth in distance of all drives, fourth in accuracy off the tee, first in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, second in GIR, 10th in proximity to the hole and second in SG: Tee-to-Green. He also checked up seventh in SG: Putting and fifth in putting: birdies-or-better.

Kokrak also finished T12 in par-5 scoring. The pair of par 5s – Nos. 1 and 11 – annually ranks among the toughest sets of all courses, but that’s primarily due to the 635-yard 11th hole. Just two years ago, it was the eighth-hardest in relation to par on the course. Last year, it was fourth-easiest and Kokrak played it in bogey-free 2-under. He won by two strokes.

Overall scoring this week also should align with history, at least until the weekend. Wet weather will give way to a dry opening round on what could be receptive turf for low scores. Winds also will be light until the machine starts cranking on Friday afternoon. Come Saturday and Sunday, daytime highs likely will eclipse 90 degrees and gusts could exceed 30 mph. It has the makings of how the 36-hole leader’s score in relation to par could stand up for victory. So, once again, wisdom and experience in the conditions should factor.

Bubba Watson diagnosed with torn meniscus

By: PGA Tour

Bubba Watson looked like he was firing on all cylinders when he tied a tournament record with a second-round 63 at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills last week.

As it turns out, he wasn’t.

After congratulating PGA winner Justin Thomas on social media Monday, Watson, who fell back with rounds of 73-75 on the weekend to finish T30, said he was playing on a torn meniscus and would have to pull out of this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge.

Here is the post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cd6H6GLplfg/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

If Watson is out for four to six weeks, it could also mean missing the U.S. Open and Travelers Championship, where he’s a three-time champion. At 43, the 12-time PGA TOUR winner said last week, he’s had to make a few concessions to age, including using a lighter driver shaft.

“I’ve had a lot of issues over the last couple years,” Watson, who is 146th in the FedExCup and 69th in the Official World Golf Ranking, said at Southern Hills. “Had a lot of PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy) done on my wrist, PRP done on my knees. I’ve had a lot of issues.”