Monthly Archives: June 2019


So Yeon Ryu, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson- 1st Tee, 7:59 A.M.

The 2017 champion of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G enters Arkansas playing her most consistent golf of the 2019 campaign. So Yeon Ryu has finished in the top 10 in three consecutive events. She finished tied for second at the U.S. Women’s Open, in ninth place at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, and T10 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Ryu is scoring consistently during this run, as she’s had nine rounds under par. Ryu is teeing it up for eighth straight year, with four top 10 finishes to her name. In addition to her victory in 2017, she finished in second in 2013 after a playoff with Inbee Park, along with a fifth-place finish in 2014 and a T10 in her debut. Ryu is averaging a 66 in the second round at Pinnacle Country Club, highlighted by a 61 during her victory in 2017.

The 2016 champion tees it up off one of her best rounds of the year, carding a 68 at the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to match Ryu’s finish of T10. Lydia Ko has six career starts at the Walmart NW Arkansas championship, and has finished in the top 10 five times. Ko finished T4 in 2013, T2 in 2014, T6 in 2015, and T9 last year. Her lowest round in the tournament was also, like Ryu, her second round of her victory, when she shot a 62 in 2016.

Brooke Henderson makes her second career start at Pinnacle Country Club this week. The most winningest Canadian on the LPGA or PGA Tour rebounded from making the cut on the dot to a T30 finish at the third major of the year last week. Henderson’s first appearance at Arkansas was in 2016, where she missed the cut.

Jin Young Ko, Stacy Lewis, Lizette Salas- 1st Tee, 8:21 A.M.

The other two-time winner on the LPGA Tour tees off 22 minutes after Henderson, as the Rolex World Golf Rankings No. 1 golfer makes her second appearance at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Her only appearance was a top 10 finish, when she finished T9. She moved from 21st place after the second round to T9 after a final round 65, two shots off Hataoka’s best closing round of the tournament.

The 2008 Arkansas graduate will have the chance to woo pig for the 12th time in her career, as she’s been in the tournament every year since 2008. The 2014 winner has five other top 10s alongside her victory at Pinnacle Country Club. Lewis has carded an opening round 66 in her past two starts, matching her career best opening round at Pinnacle Country in 2011.

Lizette Salas comes to Arkansas off an appearance in the final pairing of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for her best finish of the 2019 season of T5. It’s Salas’s sixth career start at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, and she carded the best round of her career last season. She fired a 64 to start the event, finding herself in second place after the opening 18. She went on to finish T18, her third top 25 finish in her five appearances.

Ariya Jutanugarn, Nasa Hataoka, Charley Hull- 1st Tee, 8:32 A.M.

Ariya Jutanugarn joined Salas in the final pairing at Hazeltine National, finishing T10 for a second consecutive top 10 finish. She’s making her fifth career start at Pinnacle Country Club, where she had her best career finish in Arkansas last season at T27. She opened the tournament with back to back 66s, putting herself in contention on Sunday.

The defending champion returns to the home of her first career victory. She’s returning to Arkansas having recorded a victory and two other T2 finishes. Those T2 finishes have both come in her last four starts, recorded at the Pure Silk Championship and the Meijer LPGA Classic. Her (-21) she recorded last year is her lowest career score to par in an LPGA tournament for the 2017 LPGA rookie.

Charley Hull rounds out the pairing, coming in off three top 16 finishes in her last four starts. She had her best finish of the 2019 season over that stretch, carding a T4 at the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. Hull made her only appearance of her career at Pinnacle Country Club last season, when she finished T37.

Alternate Lashley records career-best score, leads field in Detroit

DETROIT – Living life on the alternate’s list doesn’t provide a whole lot of glamour. Nate Lashley will tell you that without hesitation. But at the same time, the he’s thankful for the opportunity he has at this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic to prove that it can lead to brighter days and a permanent status.

There’s a long way to go, Lashley conceded, “but hopefully I can go out there and play like today, play relaxed golf and have some fun.”

The fun was understandable, a bogey-free day with nine birdies and a mere 23 putts at Detroit Golf Club. At 9-under 63 in Round 1, he has a solo lead for the first time in an unheralded PGA TOUR career, he will tell you, that hasn’t always been like the fun he had Thursday. Last year’s rookie season saw him finish 172nd on the FedExCup points list and led to a trip back to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. He is playing this year on a minor medical exemption and has found himself on a weekly basis on the outside looking in.

Last week, Lashley opted to stay home in Arizona, so he wasn’t in position to accept a spot into the Travelers Championship that materialized late. “When you (are an) alternate, it’s not a whole lot of fun, that feeling of only missing an event by one person.”

This week, he arrived in town more confident of a spot and, indeed, he got the word around noon Wednesday that he was in.

Given that Lashley in limited opportunities (14) has gotten to No. 132nd in FedExCup points, a playing chance this week is well-timed as he jockeys to get into the playoffs. So, yes, a career-best score on the TOUR made him smile. He was asked the secret and the 36-year-old laughed. “Just get up, take it one shot at a time,” he said. “Just the same, old thing that everybody says.

“It’s just no easy to do.”

Lashley knows better than most. He was a junior at the University of Arizona in 2004 when his parents and girlfriend flew to Oregon to watch him in an NCAA Regional. They were killed in a plane crash returning to their home in Nebraska. His circuitous route to the TOUR, a road that featured years of minitour golf and a dramatic win on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017 has tested his patience, but Thursday he was a model of consistency – he hit 10 fairways, 13 greens, and posted whopping 4.359 strokes gained: putting.

“I got it under the hole on most holes,” he said, “and had a lot of uphill putts with not a lot of break.”

Lashley was hardly the only one to take advantage of a premier day of scoring chances at this newest of golf courses on the TOUR schedule. For most of the day, the field average for the par-72 layout was under 70 and roughly 75 percent of the 156-player field was in red numbers.

Shockingly, some heralded names were not, most notably Gary Woodland, the recent winner of the U.S. Open. He bogeyed two of his first three holes, struggled most of the day off the tee, and had to finish with a flourish – birdies on four of his last six holes – to shoot 73.

“My timing was off,” conceded Woodland, who suggested he was almost too excited to be back in action since winning at Pebble Beach two weeks ago. “The energy, the fans were amazing. Crowds were huge, which was awesome (but) I was just quick. I hit everything right all day.”

Right, as in the wrong direction. Which was the opposite of Lashley, who did nearly everything right, as in correctly.

Michelle Wie announces she is sitting out the remainder of 2019 season

Four starts, three missed cuts, one T-23 finish, one official withdrawal, $15,377 earned. That’s the stat line for Michelle Wie’s 2019 season on the LPGA Tour, which the 28-year-old announced via social media on Friday has come to a painful end after only six months due to an ongoing injury to her right wrist.

Wie’s statement comes after a frustrating appearance last week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, where she admitted to not being 100 percent healthy before teeing it up at Hazeltine National outside Minneapolis. Her scores showed she clearly wasn’t as she posted rounds of 84-82 and missed the cut by 17 strokes.

When Wie spoke to the media at the KPMG, she talked a lot about how much she wants to be playing, and how even when she plays poorly, it’s better than not being out there at all. But in an emotional moment after Thursday’s first round, Wie told the press, “I’m not entirely sure how much more I have left in me.”

Her injured wrist sidelined her much of the 2018 season as well, but after having surgery in October 2018, she started 2019 optimistic that she would be able to play a full schedule once more.

But after competing in the Honda LPGA Thailand in February, shooting rounds of 68-72-68-72, the pain returned, causing her to WD the next week at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, where she was defending. She rested until April, coming back for the ANA Inspiration, but shot rounds of 74-77. She played in the LPGA’s next start, the LOTTE Championship, and again missed the cut after rounds of 77-77.

It was then that Wie announced she would take a leave from the tour to get healthy, causing her to miss the U.S. Women’s Open in May. Wie won the national championship in 2014 at Pinehurst, the biggest of her five career LPGA titles.

Off the course, Wie has a lot to look forward to in the coming months. Earlier this year she announced that she was engaged to Jonnie West, an executive with the Golden State Warriors and son of NBA legend Jerry West.

Nate Lashley, No. 353 in world, leads morning shootout at Rocket Mortgage Classic

No one expected Nate Lashley, ranked No. 353 in the world, to set the blistering pace at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Lashley shot 9-under-par 63, blitzing the morning field on Thursday in the first round of the inaugural PGA Tour tournament in Detroit. He held a two-stroke lead after birdieing five of his final six holes at Detroit Golf Club.

“Mindset wise, I’m just trying to play relaxed and confident golf out there,” Lashley said. ” Take it one shot at a time, just the same old thing that everybody says, but it’s not easy to do.”

Lashley, 36, carded his lone top-10 FedEx Cup finish at February’s Puerto Rico Open. On Thursday, he was bogey free and solid throughout. He had four birdies on the front nine, then birdied five of his final six holes (the lone miss a par on the par-3 15th) to set the pace for the afternoon pairings.

Of the morning group, Lashley led a field of 33 players who finished 3 under or better.

Charles Howell III and Talor Gooch entered the clubhouse tied for second at 7-under 65, and Jackson’s Brian Stuard, Kevin Kisner and Danny Lee were among the seven players to shoot 66.

“Guys are lighting it up,” said Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champion.

Watson and Rickie Fowler and both finished at 4-under 68. Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland, the U.S. Open champion, went off with the afternoon wave.

Watson was among the early leaders, getting to 5 under through 0 holes, and Fowler made the shot of the day, dunking his approach on the par-5 17th from 122 yards.

Lee was at 8 under before finishing his round with back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9.

It’s likely the course will play tougher into the weekend, as pins get moved back and course potentially firms up.

The National Weather Service’s forecast also calls for a chance of rain of 40% and 50%, respectively, on Friday and Saturday. But the wind could pick up significantly Friday, with morning winds expected to reach as high as 13 mph and gusts as high as 18 mph.

“They can make it as difficult as they want,” said Charles Howell III, who tied for second at 7 under after the morning wave. “But you’ve got to remember this is also new for the rules staff who sets the golf course up. There’s a lot of unknowns.”


Rocket Mortgage Classic, Round 1: Leaderboard, tee times, TV times

The first round of the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic takes place on Thursday from Detroit Golf Club. Here’s how to follow all the action.

Round 1 leaderboard
Round 1 tee times


TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. (featured groups). Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (featured groups), 3-6 p.m. (featured holes). International subscribers (via Thursday-Friday, 11:030 to 22:00 GMT. Saturday-Sunday, 13:00 to 22:00.

RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and


Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie, Patrick Reed
Thursday: 1:05 p.m. ET (No. 1): Friday: 7:35 a.m. ET (No. 10)

Gary Woodland, Keith Mitchell, Brandt Snedeker
Thursday: 12:55 p.m. ET (No. 1); Friday: 7:25 a.m. ET (No. 10)

Rickie Fowler, Charles Howell III, Kevin Kisner
Thursday: 7:35 a.m. ET (No. 10); Friday: 1:05 p.m. ET (No. 1)

Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel
Thursday: 7:25 a.m. ET (No. 10); Friday: 12:55 p.m. ET (No. 1)


Power Rankings

Expert Picks

Detroit Golf Club ready for its close-up

Nine things to know about Detroit Golf Club

Watch: Fowler slam dunks approach shot for eagle

As a paid spokesperson for Rocket Mortgage, Rickie Fowler has been plenty busy leading into the opening round of this week’s event at Detroit Golf Club. He assisted in charitable and philanthropic endeavors, toured downtown Detroit, Michigan, and played in the pro-am with Kid Rock.

But Thursday, it was game time at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and he showed no signs of fatigue.

Beginning on the back nine, Fowler took advantage of the two par 5s. He made his first birdie of the day a the par-5 14th and then holed this approach shot for eagle at the par-5 17th.

Equipment gallery: What the pros are playing at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

DETROIT, Mich. — The PGA TOUR Equipment Report was on site at Detroit Golf Club ahead of the 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic to see what golf clubs and gear the best players in the world are using and testing. PGA TOUR players featured this week include Bubba Watson, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Mike Weir, Jimmy Walker, Dustin Johnson and more. Also, we highlight clubs used by a few celebrities who competed in the pro-am, including local NFL football stars Barry Sanders and Jerome Bettis.

PGA of America becomes NGCOA executive partner

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The National Golf Course Owners Association is pleased to announce a new partnership with the PGA of America that actively supports the PGA’s initiatives and also promotes the success of golf courses and the greater industry. This includes player and customer-development programs, education and curriculum support, and connectivity for PGA Career Services.
As a new Executive Partner, the PGA of America will have increased recognition and active participation in NGCOA programs and services, including the Multi-Course & Resort Operators Retreat 2019 (July 23-24 in Monterey, California); Golf Business Conference 2020 (Jan. 20-22, 2020, co-located with the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida); and in both Golf Business magazine and the Golf Business Podcast throughout the year.
“There has always been a great deal of synergy between the two organizations,” said Jay Karen, NGCOA CEO. “We work together on several projects. For example, the NGCOA is bringing our Golf Business Conference to the PGA Merchandise Show, and we’re assisting with education at the PGA Fashion and Demo Experience in August. It only makes sense to be in lockstep on more opportunities to support golf courses.”
“The PGA of America is dedicated to working with our Allied Associations to make a lasting impact on the future of the game,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. “We are proud to partner with the NGCOA to drive new initiatives that evolve the game, as well as provide educational and employment opportunities for our Members and the golf industry.”

LPGA leaving ANA Inspiration against Augusta Women’s Amateur

CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — The LPGA Tour will have a new tournament in Florida at the start of next year, and likely another one in the late spring. The Asian swing of limited-field events at the start of the year is adding a tournament with a full field and a cut.

And perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle: The ANA Inspiration is staying put. It again will be one week before the Masters and the same weekend as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which stole the spotlight from the LPGA Tour’s first major, not to mention some of the amateurs.

Still to be determined is whether it stays that way.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said last week he was not ready to commit the ANA Inspiration to the weekend before the Masters after 2020.

“I’m very open in admitting it wasn’t as great a media year or television ratings year as we’ve had in the past there,” Whan said.

Moving the ANA Inspiration won’t be easy. To play it in the California desert a week after the Masters would compete with the fabled Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, when hotel rates would likely triple and volunteers would be harder to find.

To go a week earlier would pit the LPGA’s first major against the Dell Match Play, meaning a significant loss in TV time. The Match Play had 26 hours of TV time on Golf Channel, while the Kia Classic on the

LPGA Tour (the same week) had eight hours of Golf Channel coverage.

“We’re better to stay where we are,” Whan said. “ANA has agreed with me, first and foremost let’s make sure we put on a good major for the players and figure out the rest around that.”

Whan doesn’t see it as a total loss. This year, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur turned into a showdown — and a terrific show — between Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi, who now are on the LPGA Tour.

“I still believe if we get it right — the Augusta-ANA combination — we’re going to create a weekend one of these years that’s really going to be a celebration,” he said.

According to Golf Channel, more than 80 hours of live tournament and news coverage was devoted to the ANA Inspiration and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur from April 1 through April 7, the most ever dedicated to women’s golf in a single week.

Kelly wins hometown PGA Tour Champions event

MADISON, Wis. — Jerry Kelly won his hometown PGA Tour Champions event, beating Retief Goosen with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff Sunday in the American Family Insurance Championship.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 at rainy University Ridge to match Goosen and tournament host and fellow Madison player Steve Stricker at 15-under 201.

“The chills were flying up and down,” Kelly said. “It was pretty amazing. My mom saying the sun came out, my dad was there. I haven’t won since my dad passed, so this was the first one and I was talking to him all the time. There were a lot of birdies coming up and chirping right next to me and I was like, `Hey, hey, Dad, how are you?’ It was kind of surreal.”

Goosen also had a 66, and Stricker shot 67.

“The playoff was exciting stuff,” Goosen said. “It was good to be in that sort of fight again. It’s been a while since I’ve been in that kind of position and it’s nice to finally get in that position. Now we can grow on that and I’m looking forward to the U.S. (Senior) Open next week.”

Stricker was eliminated with a bogey on the first extra hole. He missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th in regulation.

“I had some opportunities coming in at 15, 16, 18,” Stricker said. “Pretty cautious with some of the putts. Didn’t hit some of my best putts. Then had the opportunity to win it all right there on 18. Misread it a little bit. I didn’t think it was going to break as much as it did and it just snapped off at the end.”

Kelly won on the par-4 15th after the playoff opened with two trips down the 18th. Kelly has four victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning three times on the PGA Tour.

“It really is truly awesome,” Kelly said. “It’s about friends and family and to be able to do it in front of everybody … this is pretty sweet.”

Duffy Waldorf was a stroke out of the playoff after a 68.

Kevin Sutherland (63) and John Daly (66) followed at 13 under.

Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz tied for 76th in the 78-man field at 12 over with rounds of 76, 78 and 74. Making his third tour start, the former Atlanta Braves star got into the field on a sponsor exemption.