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PGA Golf

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  • Every cards 61, claims early lead at Wyndham Championship
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, August 17, 2017

    GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Matt Every shot a 9-under-par 61 to take the early lead in the first round of the Wyndham Championship on Thursday in steamy conditions at Sedgefield Country Club.

    • Every posted a 29 on the front side before finishing with two birdies on the last four holes for the best mark among golfers with morning tee times. The other half of the 156-golfer field began in the afternoon.

      Webb Simpson and Vaughn Taylor as well as Australians Cameron Smith and Tim Wilkinson each posted a 63.

      Every drained a shot from the fairway on the first hole, beginning the round with an eagle.

      Simpson, who began on the back nine, shot 7-under 28 for the first half of his round. He played his final nine holes in even-par, with two birdies and two bogeys.

      Davis Love III, a three-time winner in Greensboro on the PGA Tour, checked in with 64.

      This is the final tournament prior to the FedEx Cup playoffs, so golfers are jockeying for position in the standings or trying to make it into the top 125 to qualify for the playoff field.

  • Five drugs found in Woods' system
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 14, 2017

    Tiger Woods had Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in his system when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in May, according to a toxicology report released Monday.

    • Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving and agreed to enter a diversion program that will allow the 41-year-old golfer to clear his record if he completes the program.

      The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office made the toxicology results public with there being no case for an active criminal investigation.

      According to the report, the drugs in Woods' system were:

      Hydrocodone, the generic form of a painkiller branded as Vicodin.

      Hydromorphone, a strong painkiller commonly known as Dilaudid.

      Alprazolam, a mood and sleep drug commonly known as Xanax. (The report also listed Alpha-Hydroxy Alprazolam, which is what Xanax becomes when it breaks down in the system.)

      Zolpidem, a sleep drug commonly known as Ambien.

      Delta-9 carboxy THC, a muscle relaxant that is also the substance the body metabolizes after marijuana is consumed.

      It was not immediately known if Woods had prescriptions for all of the medications.

      Woods was arrested around 2 a.m. on May 29 when officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes-Benz about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla. The car was awkwardly parked on the side of the road and the driver's side of the vehicle was damaged.

      Woods was unable to tell officers where he was and he stumbled and had balance issues while taking field sobriety test. Woods told officers he was taking the painkiller Vicodin and the anxiety medicine Xanax to deal with pain from April back surgery.

      The diversion program plan would call for Woods to spend one year on probation, pay a $250 fine plus court costs, attend a DUI course, perform 50 hours of community service and attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged or affected.

      As per the DUI charge, Woods would have faced up to six months in jail if convicted but more likely would have received probation.

      Woods has 79 career PGA Tour victories but isn't currently playing after his latest back surgery -- his fourth overall. He won 14 majors, but the last one was in 2008 when he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines by outlasting Rocco Mediate in a memorable 19-hole playoff.

  • Cink named recipient of 2017 Payne Stewart Award
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 14, 2017

    Golfer Stewart Cink has been named the recipient of the 2017 Payne Stewart Award.

    • Cink, who joined the PGA Tour in 1997, was recognized for his philanthropic endeavors, commitment to growing the game, professionalism and the distinguished manner in which he embraces the values of golf, the PGA Tour announced Monday.

      The 44-year-old Stewart, who lives in the Atlanta area and is a graduate of Georgia Tech, will be honored on Sept. 19 at the Payne Stewart Award Ceremony in conjunction with the Tour Championship, the season-ending tournament in Atlanta.

      The Payne Stewart Award is presented annually to a professional golfer who best exemplifies Stewart's steadfast values of character, charity and sportsmanship. Stewart, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour and World Golf Hall of Fame member, died tragically the week of the Tour Championship in 1999.

      "To receive the Payne Stewart Award is one of the greatest honors of my career," Cink said in a statement. "Payne Stewart was a player and person whom I admired greatly, both on and off the course. His character, his infectious spirit and his dedication to growing the game were all traits that I have always aspired to emulate. I am thankful the PGA Tour and (sponsor) Southern Company have found a way through this award to honor and remember Payne's legacy."

      Cink has six PGA Tour wins, including a major in the 2009 British Open playoff victory over a then 59-year-old Tom Watson at Turnberry, Scotland. Cink's wife Lisa has been battling breast cancer, a fight the couple has made public to help inspire others facing the disease.

      "Stewart Cink epitomizes the ideals around which the Payne Stewart Award is built -- character, charity and sportsmanship," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. "It's fitting that we will present the honor to him during the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Not only is Stewart a member there, but he also passionately supports the East Lake Foundation, which has done incredible community work in that area.

      "When his wife Lisa dug in for her fight against breast cancer, Stewart was a pillar of strength and provided an admirable sense of perspective. He had done similarly a few years earlier when he won the Open Championship, even as many were cheering on the sentimental favorite, Tom Watson. Stewart smiled. He understood. In every sense of the words he showed character and sportsmanship."

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 14, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 2-6 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 3-6 p.m. EDT on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Si Woo Kim of South Korea shot 10-under par 60 in the second round and went on to claim his first PGA Tour victory by five strokes over Luke Donald of England. Kim, whose only previous pro victory came in the 2015 Stonebrae Classic on the Web.com Tour, sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the final hole at Sedgefield to cap a 67. He tied the tournament record of 21-under 259 set by Carl Pettersson of Sweden in 2008. Kim, who was 21 at the time, almost earned his second victory on the circuit before losing to Aaron Baddeley of Australia on the fourth playoff hole in the Barbasol Championship last October. However, he proved his victory last year in the Wyndham was no fluke in May when he captured the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass by three shots over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Ian Poulter of England. Kim won't defend his title because of a back injury that also knocked him out of the PGA Championship.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Dick's Sporting Goods Open at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 7-9:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 4-8 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Paul Goydos won for the third straight year since joining the PGA Tour Champions, closing with a bogey-free, 3-under-par 69 to beat Wes Short Jr. by two strokes. Goydos, who didn't miss a cut in 15 PGA Tour Champions events in 2016, took charge in the final round with birdies on the sixth and 10th holes to build a three-stroke lead. He added another birdie on No. 16 to hold off Short, who also carded a 69. Goydos, who won the 1996 Bay Hill Invitational and the 2007 Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour, added the Charles Schwab Cup Championship title to close the 2016 season and won the 3M Championship on Aug. 6 in a playoff over Gene Sauers.

      LPGA TOUR: The 15th Solheim Cup at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa, Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT and 4-7 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on the Golf Channel and 4-6 p.m. EDT on NBC; and Sunday, noon-4 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 4-6 p.m. EDT on NBC.

      2015: The United States rallied from a 10-6 deficit by dominating Europe, 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 in Sunday singles to claim the Solheim Cup from the first time since 2009 with a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. The Americans, led by captain Juli Inkster, were fired up when veteran Suzann Pettersen of Norway said she had not conceded a 16-inch putt to U.S. rookie Alison Lee in the morning four-ball matches, even though the Euros and their caddies were walking to the next tee. The Europeans were awarded the hole en route to a match victory that padded their lead, and the U.S. team was incensed by what it deemed was poor sportsmanship. Paula Creamer, one of Inkster's captain's picks, provided the Americans with the winning point, beating Sandra Gal of Germany. The U.S. leads the Solheim Cup series 9-5.

  • Golf notebook: PGA's move prompts other calendar changes
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 14, 2017

    --The European Tour announced that the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth outside London, the circuit's flagship event, will move from its traditional May date to September in 2019.

    • The move apparently was made in response to the PGA of America and the PGA Tour announcing that the PGA Championship, one of golf's four majors, will move from August to May in the same year.

      "Significant changes to the global golfing calendar have given us the opportunity to move the BMW PGA Championship to a more favorable date from 2019 onwards," Euro Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said in a release.

      "Wentworth Club is an iconic location in the realm of British sport, and the BMW PGA Championship is always hugely popular with the public, as was seen in May when it launched our Rolex Series with 110,000 spectators in attendance over the course of the week.

      "This is a new chapter for the event, but we expect similar interest in the autumn, as was shown historically by the World Match Play Championship when it was played at Wentworth Club at that time of the year."

      No specific date was given for the 2019 BMW PGA Championship, but the move is expected to strengthen the field for the tournament.

      Several of the top European players who also play on the PGA Tour skipped the Wentworth event in recent years because it has been played in the same time frame as the Memorial Tournament and the Players Championship in the United States.

      "I like (the change)," said Justin Rose of England, who lives in Florida most of the year and plays on both major tours. "This will allow me to return and play several events on the European Tour at the end of the year."

      That will be made possible because the FedExCup playoffs are expected move up into August, so as to not completely conflict with football, although the playoffs might bleed into September.

      That would allow the European Tour players to compete in more events in the "Race to Dubai," which runs through November, ending with the World Tour Championship-Dubai.

      --In addition to the move of the PGA Championship to May, the Players Championship -- the so-called "Fifth Major" -- will shift from May to March.

      The Players is held annually at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla., site of PGA Tour headquarters.

      "In weighing the complex evolution of the golf calendar, the PGA of America's key objectives were to promote the best interests of our signature spectator Championship, do what is best for the game and its great players, and find the most advantageous platform to fulfill our mission of serving our nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals and growing the game," PGA of America Chief executive officer Pete Bevacqua said.

      "Our analysis began in 2013 and included an extensive list of factors, including having to shift the date every four years to accommodate the Olympic Games. In the end, we determined that playing the PGA Championship the week prior to Memorial Day in May, making it the second major championship of the golf calendar, will achieve those three objectives."

      What it means for the PGA Tour schedule is that there still will be a "major" event for five consecutive events -- the Players Championship in March, the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the U.S. Open in June and the Open Championship in July.

      It also seems in indicate that the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, which both are held every other year, will move up to a spot right behind the playoffs, with those dates changing every four years now that golf is back in the Olympic Games, which often are played in August.

      "We are thrilled to announce these two significant changes, which will greatly enhance the professional golf calendar starting in 2019," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "Our thanks to the PGA of America for its partnership in what will allow both organizations to meet our short- and long-term objectives, while delivering incredibly compelling golf to our fans around the world.

      "The calendar for the PGA Tour season is among the most important and challenging aspects of our business, and the changes we're unveiling today give significant flexibility to create a schedule including the FedExCup Playoffs that is in the best interests of players, fans, tournaments, communities and our partners, from start to finish."

      The 100th PGA Championship will be played Aug. 9-12, 2018, at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. The 2019 PGA Championship is scheduled for May 16-19 at Bethpage Black in Farmington, N.Y.

      --Jay B. Forrester, president of Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, sent a letter to club members indicating that there might be changes coming to the course, including the iconic par-5 13th hole.

      The club has been trying to purchase land from neighboring Augusta Country Club that would allow 25 yards to be added to No. 13 in the form of a new back tee.

      Forrester's letter read in part: "Purchase of property at our northwest boundary" was approved by the club's board of governors.

      Augusta National chairman Billy Payne has made no secret that he would like to lengthen the hole so big-hitting right-handers can't bomb their drives over the trees and significantly shorten the hole, leading to wedge shots into the green.

      "We think there are multiple options where we could increase the difficulty of the hole and restore the shot values, only one of which deals with extending the length," Payne said last year. "We are in the middle of those studies, a lot of arithmetic, lot of design issues."

      Payne also would like to build a road behind the 13th tee that could transport emergency, security and work vehicles.

      Augusta National has been buying up land around the club for the last eight years in order to add additional parking space and increase security. The club also would like to build a hotel for players in the Masters, in addition to making course changes.

      Payne also is talking with course architects, including Tom Fazio, about changes to the fifth, eighth and nine holes.

      --Final-round coverage of the Ricoh Women's British Open on NBC two weeks ago posted a 0.86 overnight rating, up 15 percent from last year, making it the highest-rated overnight telecast for women's golf since the 2016 U.S. Women's Open came in at 0.98.

      It also was the highest-rated women's golf telecast on NBC since 2014 U.S. Women's Open (1.67), and it received the highest overnight rating for the tournament since the 2006 Women's British Open on ABC (1.30).

      For the first time in history, Women's British Open is the highest-rated women's golf telecast of the year, despite its morning/early-afternoon telecast window.

      The final five hours of the last round on the Golf Channel and NBC from Kingsbarns Golf Links in Fife, Scotland, where In-Kyung Kim of South Korea claimed the title, had a 0.64 rating, the highest this year.

      That beat the 0.63 compiled by Fox for the final round of the U.S. Open.

      The Golf Channel and NBC will telecast the Solheim Cup this Friday through Sunday from Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.

      --Brandt Snedeker withdrew from the PGA Championship because of a rib injury three days before the start of the final major of the year at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.

      It was the second straight major Snedeker was forced to miss because of the injury. He was at Royal Birkdale for the Open Championship and pulled out after he tried to warm up but knew he couldn't play.

      After an MRI exam, doctors informed Snedeker that acute arthritis in his sternum joint caused the pain. Snedeker had a platelet-rich plasma injection two weeks ago, but the pain returned when he hit balls recently.

      Snedeker was planning to play in the RBC Canadian Open and the Bridgestone Invitational after the Open but also withdrew from those tournaments because of the injury. He hopes to play this week in the Wyndham Championship, which he won in 2007.

      Chris Kirk replaced Snedeker in the 156-man PGA field and shot 80-76--156 to miss the cut by nine strokes.

      --Paula Creamer was left off the United States team for the Solheim Cup when the captain's picks were announced, but she made the team a few days later because Jessica Korda withdrew because of a left forearm injury.

      The 31-year-old Creamer has played in six Solheim Cups, four won by the U.S., and has a 14-8-5 record in the event.

      "I didn't know when Jessica was going to make this announcement, and I just felt Paula, if she had to come in Wednesday night and tee it up Friday that she could handle that," said U.S. captain Juli Inkster, who added that Creamer was the only player she considered.

      "I needed the experience. I needed someone that was not afraid to step in at that point and contribute to the team."

      It seemed Creamer would miss the event when Inkster made Solheim Cup rookies Austin Ernst and Angel Yin her two captain's picks.

      Creamer was one on Inkster's captain's picks two years ago in Germany and went out in the first match on Friday to earn a point. The Americans claimed the victory with a huge rally in Sunday singles, and Creamer beat Sandra Gal of Germany to post the clinching point.

      "Been a bit of a roller coaster, that's for sure," Creamer said. "You know, I played really hard these last couple of weeks, and I've tried to give it a big push as much as I could. ... You never want to hear somebody say you're not picked."

      The U.S. holds a 9-5 lead in the Solheim Cup.

  • Snead's legacy endures at Wyndham Championship
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 14, 2017

    The Wyndham Championship has almost become an afterthought for the top PGA Tour players in recent years, coming on the heels of the PGA Championship and wrapping up the regular season before the start of the FedExCup playoffs.

    • However, what started out as the Greater Greensboro Open in 1938 once was one of the premier stops on the circuit, with Sam Snead winning that first year at Sedgefield Country Club and adding a record seven more titles in the event that will be played for the 78th time this week.

      Snead won the last of his PGA Tour record 82 titles at Sedgefield in 1965, becoming the oldest winner in the history of the circuit at the age of 52 years, 10 months and 8 days.

      "Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open for the eighth time today and every senior golfer smiled," Lincoln A. Werden wrote in the New York Times.

      Snead won by five strokes over a field that included the likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Billy Casper, Tony Lema, Julius Boros, Charlie Sifford, Dow Finsterwald, Dave Marr and Doug Ford.

      It was "Sam Snead Week," in honor of the fact that he was playing in the tournament for the 25th time, and at a banquet before the event, "Slammin' Sammy" said: "I don't expect to win, but the boys had better watch out."

      When it was over and he again was holding the trophy, the question was if he thought anybody could ever equal his eight titles, and Snead quipped: "You know, I don't think these youngsters are ready yet."

      The champions' list in Greensboro, N.C., is an impressive one, including Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Player, Casper, Boros, Ford, Gene Littler, George Archer, Ralph Guldahl, Lloyd Mangrum, Bob Goalby, Seve Ballesteros of Spain, Bob Charles of New Zealand, Tom Weiskopf, Raymond Floyd, Al Geiberger, Craig Stadler, Larry Nelson, Lanny Wadkins, Scott Simpson, Sandy Lyle of Scotland, Steve Elkington of Australia, Hal Sutton, Mark O'Meara and Sergio Garcia of Spain.

      However, nobody has come close to Snead's record of eight.

      Davis Love III, a Carolina boy, came the closest by taking the title three times, most recently in 2015 at age 51 -- for the last of his 21 PGA Tour titles while barely falling short of Snead's age record.

      "It means a lot here at Greensboro," Love said after beat Jason Gore by one stroke. "They've always been good to me for a long, long time. It's thrilling to do it here where I played at (the University of) North Carolina.

      "To have your name thrown out there with Sam Snead at any point is incredible. I did think about that a couple times out there today, that for some reason this tournament has been good to guys in my age group. You know, multiple winners.

      "When you get to a tournament where you feel good and comfortable and having fun and got a lot of fans, it certainly makes it a little bit easier and more fun to play.

      "It's just nice to be mentioned with Sam Snead and to get another win here because this tournament, this state, this town has been so good to me.

      "I can't catch him. ... I don't think I'll chase that record."

      Si Woo Kim of South Korea became the latest winner of the Wyndham last year, beating Luke Donald of England by five strokes for his first PGA Tour victory at the age of 21.

      Kim, who is unable to defend his title because of a back injury, became the second-youngest winner in tournament history behind Ballesteros, who was 20 when he claimed the title at Sedgefield in 1978.

      Kim showed it was no fluke by becoming the youngest player to win the Players Championship earlier this year by three shots over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Ian Poulter of England.

      "I'm very happy being the youngest winner this (season)," said Kim, who shot a Sedgefield course record of 60 in the second round and sank a 14-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to tie the tournament record of 21-under 259 set by Carl Pettersson of Sweden in 2008.

      "I never expected a course record."

      It seems Greensboro is a place to make history, no matter how old you are.

  • Kisner holds early second-round PGA lead
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, August 11, 2017

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kevin Kisner stretched his lead by posting a 4-under-par 67 in Friday's second round at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club.

    • He was the leader by four shots when golfers with morning tee times finished. Another wave of golfers teed off later on a steamy day.

      However, play was suspended at 4:43 p.m. ET because of dangerous weather looming. Tournament officials hope play can resume after a storm passes.

      Kisner, who shared the top spot entering the day with a first-round 67, sits at 8-under through two rounds.

      Japan's Hideki Matsuyama made a big move in the afternoon, moving to 6-under for the tournament through 14 holes when the competition was halted.

      Kisner continued what had been a late surge Thursday by posting birdies on two of the first three holes in the second round, which he began on the backside. Then on No. 7, he posted an eagle for the only hole he didn't post a par on that side.

      Rickie Fowler stayed in contention with a 70, moving to 3-under for the tournament.

      D.A. Points appeared to be Kisner's biggest threat until double-bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 pushed him to 1-under for the tournament. Points ended up with 73 in the round.

      First-round co-leader Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark had an afternoon tee time Friday.

      Phil Mickelson, who followed Thursday's 79 with a 74, is lined up to miss the cut in the PGA Championship for the first time in 22 years. Mickelson didn't have a birdie until his 31st hole of the tournament.

  • Woods to enter diversion program for first-time DUI offenders
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, August 9, 2017

    Tiger Woods will plead guilty to reckless driving and enter a diversion program in October, a Florida prosecutor said Wednesday.

    • The 41-year-old golfer's attorney, Douglas Duncan, also entered a not guilty plea for Woods on a charge of driving under the influence at the hearing at Palm Beach County courthouse. That charge would be dropped if Woods meets the terms of the diversion program for first-time DUI offenders.

      "He is not being treated any different than anyone else," prosecutor Adrienne Ellis said.

      Woods was arrested around 2 a.m. on May 29 when officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes-Benz about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla. The car was awkwardly parked on the side of the road and the driver's side of the vehicle was damaged.

      Woods was unable to tell officers where he was and he stumbled and had balance issues while taking the field sobriety test. Woods told officers he was taking the painkiller Vicodin and the anxiety medicine Xanax to deal with pain from April back surgery.

      Woods didn't attend Wednesday's hearing. Duncan declined comment as he left the premises.

      The diversion program plan would call for Woods to spend one year on probation, pay a $250 fine plus court costs, attend a DUI course, perform 50 hours of community service and attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers detail how their lives were damaged or affected.

      As per the DUI charge, Woods would have faced up to six months in jail if convicted but more likely would have received probation.

      Woods has 79 career PGA Tour victories but isn't currently playing due to his latest back surgery -- his fourth overall. He won 14 majors but the last one was way back in 2008 when he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines by outlasting Rocco Mediate in a memorable 19-hole playoff.

  • PGA Championship moving to May in 2019
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 7, 2017

    The PGA Championship, traditionally held in August, will be moved to May starting in 2019, multiple media outlets reported Monday.

    • Golf Digest reported the PGA will announce the decision on Tuesday.

      The PGA Championship, one of four majors, will be held at Bethpage Black on New York's Long Island in 2019. It reportedly will be moved to May for the first time in 70 years.

      That would place the PGA Championship after the Masters and before the U.S. Open.

      Golf Digest reported it is part of an expected schedule shift that will include moving the Players Championship from May to March.

      "I know why it's happening. I get it. I certainly applaud the PGA of America in helping the PGA Tour out," Zach Johnson said, according to Golf Digest. "It does help us. I think it makes our schedule much more seamless. I think it will be better all around. Now, as far as where they are going to go in the future with that earlier date, that's the part that I don't really know how that is going to work. Oak Hill coming up (in 2023) ... can you play in the northern part of the country in May? You can, but you probably shouldn't. You've got to get lucky (on the weather)."

      Charley Hoffman, a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board, told Golf Digest, "They laid it out in front of us. First for TV negotiations, you want a Players Championship in a prime spot and maybe a better time of year for course conditioning, and then the reality is we want golf done before football. Football runs TV in that time of year. Only time will tell. Everyone was against the FedEx Cup at the start, and it's turned into a great thing for the tour. And I think it will be a great thing for the PGA."

      Phil Mickelson said moving the PGA Championship to May could strengthen fan interest.

      "I think it will be a really good thing for the PGA, because it would be earlier on in the rotation when there is maybe more excitement for the majors," he told Golf Digest. "We get to August, and that excitement kind of dwindles a little. It's at a time of year where golf seems to linger on, so maybe there will be more energy behind the PGA earlier in the year."

  • Spieth tees it up at PGA for first crack at career slam
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 7, 2017

    Jordan Spieth celebrated his 24th birthday during his week off after winning the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

    • Spieth can give himself the best present of all this week by becoming the sixth player to complete the modern career Grand Slam with a win in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.

      He would become the youngest to complete the career Slam and the first to finish it off in the PGA, but he is trying not to focus on that.

      "I'm looking it like it's just another major and there are only four of them every year that we try to peak for, and that's enough to make it important," said Spieth, who claimed his first two major titles, the Masters and U.S. Open, back-to-back in 2015.

      "I'm healthy and playing well, so I feel like I have a chance. If I (complete the career Slam) this year, fantastic, but if I don't, I might have 30 more chances to do it. I believe I will do it at some point, and it would be nice to happen now."

      The five players who pulled off the career Grand Slam were Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player of South Africa and Tiger Woods.

      "To be in that company, no doubt, is absolutely incredible," Spieth told reporters Sunday about his excitement at the opportunity. "What those guys have done has transcended the sport. And in no way, shape or form do I think I'm anywhere near that, whatsoever. So it's a good start, but there is a long way to go."

      Winning all four majors is so difficult that the likes of Arnold Palmer, Walter Hagen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Tommy Armour of Scotland and Raymond Floyd were not able to claim the elusive final leg of the Slam.

      Interestingly, three players will have a chance to finish it off in the next three majors: Spieth this week, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in the Masters next April and Phil Mickelson in the U.S. Open next June.

      McIlroy has claimed four major titles, including the PGA twice, but hasn't won a Grand Slam event since the 2014 PGA at Valhalla. He is 0-for-3 while trying to wrap up the career Slam by winning the Masters.

      "I think Jordan has a great chance to do it this week, and it would be huge for golf," said McIlroy, who has tied for ninth, tied for third and tied for seventh in the past three Masters. "Tiger did it at 24, too, and that's historic in itself.

      "If Jordan is able to do it, it would be great for the sport as I said, and I texted him after he won the Open and told him that."

      Mickelson has claimed 48 titles in his pro career and is a five-time major winner, but he is winless everywhere since he claimed a third leg of the Grand Slam by winning the Open Championship in 2014 at Muirfield. That was the one everyone felt would be the most difficult for him to win.

      Lefty has finished second eight times in the U.S. Open, the only major he has failed to win, but hasn't come close in his three attempts to complete the career Slam, tying for 28th, tying for 64th and missing the cut.

      This year, he skipped the tournament at Erin Hills because his daughter Amanda's high school graduation game on the same day as the first round. At the age of 47, his clock definitely is ticking.

      "You look at Jack Nicklaus, he went through a stretch where he didn't win a major in three years," McIlroy said after tying for fourth at Royal Birkdale. "I'm not comparing myself to Jack. It's hard to win them. It's very hard. It's the reason especially in this generation, excluding Tiger, no one's got above five. So it's tough to win them.

      "I feel like three years (without winning a major) has been too long. But at the same time I'm not going to rush it, I'm not going to be impatient. I'm going to play my game. And hopefully my chance arrives at some point and I'm able to take it."

      McIlroy won four majors by the time he was 25 and probably felt a bit like Spieth does now, but the subsequent three years have taught him otherwise.

      Bobby Jones won the original Grand Slam in 1930, capturing the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur in the same season.

      After winning his first two majors in 2015, Spieth tied for fourth in the Open Championship and finished second in the PGA to complete a brilliant season in the Grand Slam events.

      It would be nice if he could win the PGA this week, before he learns that it's not all that easy, even for the great ones.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 7, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 1-7 p.m. EDT on TNT; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT on TNT and 2-7 p.m. EDT on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Jimmy Walker captured his first major title, sinking a 3-foot par putt on the last hole to cap a 3-under-par 67 and hold off defending champion Jason Day of Australia by one stroke on the Lower Course at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J. Walker sank an 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to take a three-stroke lead, but Day reached the green on the par-5 closing hole in two with a powerful 2-iron shot and sank a 15-foot eagle putt to also finish off a 67. Walker joined Danny Willett of England (Masters), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open) and Henrik Stenson of Sweden (Open Championship) as first-time major winners in 2016 by two-putting from 35 feet. It was his sixth PGA Tour victory, all since reaching the age of 35 in 2014, but he has not won this season while battling lyme disease and mononucleosis.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Dick's Sporting Goods Open at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y., Aug. 18-20.

      TV: Friday, 7-9:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 4-8 p.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel each day.

      LAST YEAR: Paul Goydos won for the third straight year since joining the PGA Tour Champions, closing with a bogey-free, 3-under-par 69 to beat Wes Short Jr. by two strokes. Goydos, who didn't miss a cut in 15 PGA Tour Champions events in 2016, took charge in the final round with birdies on the sixth and 10th holes to build a three-stroke lead. He added another birdie on No. 16 to hold off Short, who also carded a 69. Goydos, who won the 1996 Bay Hill Invitational and the 2007 Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour, added the Charles Schwab Cup Championship title to close the 2016 season and won the 3M Championship on Sunday in a playoff over Gene Sauers.

      LPGA TOUR: 15th Solheim Cup at Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 18-20.

      TV: Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT and 4-7 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on the Golf Channel and 4-6 p.m. EDT on NBC; and Sunday, noon-4 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 4-6 p.m. EDT on NBC.

      2015: The United States rallied from a 10-6 deficit by dominating Europe, 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 in Sunday singles to claim the Solheim Cup from the first time since 2009 with a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. The Americans, led by captain Juli Inkster, were fired up when veteran Suzann Pettersen of Norway said she had not conceded a 16-inch putt to U.S. rookie Alison Lee in the morning four-ball matches, even though the Euros and their caddies were walking to the next tee. The Europeans were awarded the hole en route to a match victory that padded their lead, and the U.S. team was incensed by what it deemed was poor sportsmanship. Paula Creamer, one of Inkster's captain's picks, provided the Americans with the winning point, beating Sandra Gal of Germany.

  • Golf notebook: Agencies oppose Trump's Aberdeen plans
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, August 7, 2017

    --President Donald Trump's plan to build a second golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland, is facing opposition from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish National Heritage, a conservation agency, according to a report by Mother Jones.

    • Both organizations claim they will object to Trump's plans to build a second course at Trump International Golf Links, which opened in 2012, because the plans do not adequately address guidelines on sewage, environmental protection and groundwater conservation.

      According to Mother Jones, Trump's original development plan was to create a resort with "two world-class golf courses, a luxury hotel with hundreds of rooms and 1,450 homes."

      The investment was estimated at more than $1 billion.

      The financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 slowed the project, and Trump's relationship with the locals cooled as he attempted to buy land from the development's neighbors and engaged in a high-profile lawsuit over the construction of a wind farm, which he lost.

      Mother Jones also reported that Trump attempted to revise his original plans last year, proposing to build 850 homes and 1,900 timeshare units before he began construction on the second golf course, but the local planning board rejected the idea.

      In addition to adhering to the original plan, the local authorities expect Trump to build affordable housing units, a school and fund infrastructure improvement costs.

      --Shey William Feherty, oldest son of Golf Channel personality David Feherty, died from an overdose last on his 29th birthday last week, according to a tweet from his father.

      Shey was the oldest of David Feherty's two sons from his marriage to his first wife, Caroline DeWit. David also has three children with his current wife, Anita.

      "My first born son is gone from me, dying from an overdose on his 29th birthday. Bless his sweet heart, I will fight on," David Feherty wrote on Twitter.

      No further details were released.

      David Feherty, 58, has battled drug and alcohol addiction and has been vocal about his struggles.

      NBC Sports Group, which owns the Golf Channel, released a statement: "Our deepest condolences go out to David Feherty and his family on the passing of his oldest son, Shey. Family means everything to David, and his Golf Channel, NBC Sports and extended television family send their love and support at this difficult time."

      The Restland Funeral Home in Dallas published an obituary that read in part: "His beautiful blue eyes could captivate a room, but they could not stare down the enemy that lurked in the shadows and prevent it from reaching out to grab him in his darkest time. Shey fought hard to win his battles with drug addiction and mental illness, but in the end the monsters won. The worry we felt watching Shey's struggle with his addiction has now been replaced by a feeling of loss so deep, knowing we will never see his smiling face or beautiful eyes again."

      Funeral services were held in Dallas.

      --Rory McIlroy fired longtime caddie J.P. Fitzgerald and had his friend, Harry Diamond, on the bag last week for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The new pairing will team up again this week for the PGA Championship.

      McIlroy and Fitzgerald were together for nine years and all of McIlroy's four major championships, plus his total of 95 weeks as No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, the fourth-highest total behind Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Nick Faldo.

      "This is a big change because J.P. has been a big part of my life for the last decade," McIlroy said. "We've had a lot of great times together, on and off the golf course, and I still consider him one of my best friends.

      "It was a tough decision, and there's never a good time for it. Sometimes to preserve a personal relationship, you have to sacrifice a professional one. We are all good, and I won't rule out the possibility that he could caddie for me in the future."

      After McIlroy made bogeys on five of the first six holes in round one of the Open Championships two weeks ago at Royal Birkdale, Fitzgerald basically chewed out his boss.

      "You're Rory McIlroy, what are you doing?" Fitzgerald scolded.

      McIlroy steadied the ship to shoot 71 went on to finish in a tie for fourth in the third major of the year, and afterward he praised his caddie for the turnaround.

      However, there also were reports that Fitzgerald mis-clubbed McIlroy on the 10th hole in the final round, leading to a double bogey.

      Fitzgerald reportedly received a $1.4 million tip from McIlroy after the Northern Irishman won the Tour Championship to capture the FedExCup last year.

      Diamond has caddied for McIlroy before, in the 2005 Irish Open and in the 2014 Dunhill Links Championship.

      McIlroy hasn't won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship, but he expected is to be a favorite in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., where he twice won the Wells Fargo Championship. He posted a course-record 61 in the third round two years ago and won by seven strokes.

      --Martin Kaymer of Germany withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational the day before it began and also will not play this week in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of a left shoulder injury.

      The two-time major champion has struggled this season, failing to crack the top 30 in his past eight starts. His only top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this year was a tie for fourth at the Honda Classic in February.

      "Some of you might have heard already, but I am fighting a shoulder injury for some weeks now," Kaymer wrote to his fans on Facebook. "After playing (the) Open Championship under medication, I have seen my doctors again this week.

      "I am looking to come back strong at the Made in Denmark in a couple of weeks, followed by the Czech Masters the week after."

      Both of those events are on the European Tour.

      According to Philip Kaymer, his brother, there is inflammation in the tendon of Martin Kaymer's upper biceps, and doctors advised him not to play for at least 10 days while undergoing treatment.

      Kaymer, a former No. 1 player in the world who no longer is a PGA Tour member, won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by beating Bubba Watson in a playoff, and he captured the 2014 U.S. Open by eight strokes at Pinehurst No. 2.

      --Sangmoon Bae, who left the PGA Tour and returned home to fulfill a two-year military commitment in South Korea, is about ready to resume his golf career.

      Bae's manager told Golf Channel that his client will play in the Shinhan Donghae Open, a Korean PGA Tour event, next month.

      The 31-year-old South Korean began his military obligation soon after the 2015 Presidents Cup, and he will wrap up his tour of duty on Aug. 16.

      Bae, who has claimed 16 pro victories, including the 2103 HP Byron Nelson Championship and the 2014 Frys.com Open on the PGA Tour, reached a high of No. 26 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

      In addition, he recorded a 2-1-1 record for the International Team in the 2015 Presidents Cup.

      Bae plans to return to the PGA Tour at the start of the 2017-18 season in October and will have full playing status.

  • Curry aims to make cut in Web.com event
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    Sam Ryder earned a win on golf's Web.com Tour last month. Stephan Jaeger is the defending champion of the tour's Ellie Mae Classic.

    • However, when they tee off in the Ellie Mae Classic on Thursday in Hayward, Calif., all the attention will be on their playing partner: Stephen Curry.

      The Golden State Warriors guard received a sponsor's exemption into the tournament at TPC Stonebrae.

      "Golf has been a passion of mine since I was a kid," Curry told ESPN. "Not in a million years did I think I'd be on this range with these professional golfers, trying to keep up with them. But I got an amazing opportunity this week, so we'll see what happens."

      Curry's threesome will tee off at 11:55 a.m. EDT on Thursday and 5:15 p.m. EDT on Friday.

      Beyond that, Curry hopes to make the cut. The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 2-handicap, plans to retain his amateur golf status while competing in the pro event.

      "I'm staying realistic," Curry told ESPN. "The cut would be -- if I can just give myself a chance, like go into Friday with a realistic chance to make it -- that would be amazing. I want to know what that adrenaline rush is like, because for me, that would be like winning the tourney."

      Curry recently tied for fourth in the American Century Championship at Stateline, Nev., trailing former baseball players Mark Mulder and Derek Lowe and former tennis player Mardy Fish.

      Both of Curry's upcoming playing partners are looking forward to the experience.

      "Anytime you can play with a world-class athlete at the top of his sport, I think it's a good thing," Ryder said. "I'm really excited to play with him. I think it's going to generate a lot of great publicity for our Tour, and I'm looking forward to it."

      Jaeger added, "It's not every day you get to hang out with a two-time NBA MVP. I think it's great for the tournament and for the Web.com Tour to have a superstar playing, and will hopefully help raise a lot of money for the Golden State Warriors Foundation, (the tournament's primary charitable beneficiary)."

      Last year, Jaeger shot a record 12-under-par 58 in the first round of the Ellie Mae Classic, and he cruised to a win with a record total of 30-under 250. He is a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour this year.

  • Trump accepts honorary chairman role for 2017 Presidents Cup
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 31, 2017

    President Donald Trump accepted an invitation to be honorary chairman of the 2017 Presidents Cup this fall, the PGA Tour announced Monday.

    • The Presidents Cup returns to the United States for the 12th staging at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.

      Trump will become the 11th worldwide leader to serve in the position since the biennial event's inception in 1994. Presidents Bill Clinton (2000) and George W. Bush (2005) both held the role while in office, while Barack Obama did so in 2009 and 2013, the last time the tournament was held in the United States.

      "It is a great honor for me to be even a small part of the Presidents Cup," Trump said. "I have watched it since the very first tournament in 1994. It gets better with age. This will be the greatest of them all."

      Steve Stricker will captain the American team in this year's event, while Nick Price will lead the International squad.

      "We're honored to have President Trump join a long list of world leaders who have accepted this role, especially as we embark on our first playing in the New York Metropolitan area," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "We look forward to him being involved in the event in any capacity his schedule allows."

      The Presidents Cup is a team match play competition featuring 24 of the world's top golfers -- 12 from the United States and 12 from around the world, excluding Europe.

  • Firestone attracts big names, produces notable champs
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 31, 2017

    The South Course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, is undoubtedly an all-world layout.

    • The course opened in 1929, but the first big event was not played there until the 1960 PGA Championship, which was won by Jay Hebert after Robert Trent Jones retooled the course.

      The PGA Tour was so impressed that Firestone has been on the schedule since 1962 (except for 2002), starting with the World Series of Golf, which gave way to a World Golf Championships event in 1999.

      Top-ranked Dustin Johnson defends his title this week in what is now the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, which he won by a single stroke over Scott Piercy last year in his first event since claiming his only major title in the U.S. Open.

      "Around this golf course, it's very important to drive it well," said Johnson, who played Firestone in 66-66 on the weekend. "You know, the fairways are narrow, rough is deep. It's like this every year.

      "This golf course plays so tough, it's not like I need to go out and shoot 63. You just try to hit it in the fairway and get it on the green and try to make some putts. I knew if I shot 4 or 5 under I'd have a chance."

      The Bridgestone was played earlier in the summer last year because the schedule was altered because of golf returning to the Olympic Games.

      The tournament is back in its traditional August slot, and for the second consecutive year, a player will come to Firestone for his first event since winning a major title.

      Jordan Spieth claimed a third leg of the career Grand Slam by winning the 146th Open Championship two weeks ago at Royal Birkdale. Next week, he will try to complete the career Slam at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.

      Spieth finished two strokes behind Johnson last year in a tie for third with Jason Day of Australia in the Bridgestone Invitational.

      "(Firestone is) an incredible place, as well-manicured a course as there is in the world, and it has some of the fastest greens we play on all year," Spieth said at Royal Birkdale.

      Johnson, Spieth and Day all are major champions and have been ranked No. 1 in the world in the last few years, but that has always been the story at Firestone.

      Since the WGC event came to the South Course in 1999, the only non-major winners to take the title were Shane Lowry of Ireland in 2015 and Hunter Mahan in 2010.

      The winners have been Johnson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Adam Scott of Australia, Vijay Singh of Fiji, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, Stewart Cink and Keegan Bradley.

      The only time the WGC event was not played at Firestone, Craig Parry of Australia won at Sahalee in 2002.

      "It feels great to come here and win on this golf course because it's one of my favorite courses of the year," McIlroy said after finishing two strokes ahead of Sergio Garcia in 2014 on the South Course.

      "It's my dad's favorite place on tour. He loves it here, and he loves the golf course. It's actually he's just as happy, if not happier, than me right now that I've won here.

      "So it's cool to be able to win it with him here."

      Of course, perhaps nobody loves Firestone more than Woods, who won there a record seven times.

      Tiger won the inaugural WGC event on the South Course in 1999, the first of his three in a row, claimed three more in a row from 2005-07 and took the last in 2013 by a whopping seven strokes.

      "This is a fantastic golf course ... 60 years of PGA Tour golf here," Woods said after the 2013 victory. "The first time I ever saw it was (on TV) when 'The Big Three' (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player) were playing, and they had their challenge matches here. I got a big kick out of watching that because ... Gary hits wood into 7, Arnold hits 1-iron and Jack hits 2-iron into 7.

      "Hell, we're hitting 6-irons and 7-irons now. The ball is so different and the game is so different. But it's the same golf course, (and) it's really neat to see the routing hasn't changed one bit. We've added some length on some of the tees, but it's virtually the same golf course, and it's neat to kind of dip back in time like that."

      From 1962-75, Firestone hosted the World Series of Golf, featuring the winners of the four majors. From 1976-98, the tournament had a 72-hole, full-field format. The impressive winners list at Firestone includes Nicklaus, Player, Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman of Australia, Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain, David Duval, Lanny Wadkins, Craig Stadler, Curtis Strange, Nick Price of Zimbabwe, Tony Lema, Orville Moody, Gene Littler, Charles Coody and Bill Rogers.

      So the Firestone event is not a major, it simply plays like one.

  • Golf notebook: Australia's Lyle fights cancer again
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 31, 2017

    --Jarrod Lyle, the 35-year-old Australian who has played on the PGA Tour and the Web.com Tour, is in Royal Melbourne Hospital for treatment in his third battle with cancer.

    • Golf Australia issued a statement on behalf of the Lyle family saying that Lyle again has acute myeloid leukemia, which he beat in 1998 and in 2012.

      "We've just received confirmation that Jarrod does have a relapse of AML, which is what he's had twice already," Briony Lyle, Jarrod's wife, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

      "Right now, as we're in this room, he's beginning his chemotherapy treatment. We're not sure how long it will be for. The aim of it is to get him into remission."

      Lyle underwent a routine blood test that returned abnormal results, and he was immediately admitted to the hospital and placed under the care of his previous medical specialist.

      "The doctor said today it is a curative intent," Briony Lyle added. "The aim is to provide some sort of a cure. They're still doing quite a few more tests. He will require another transplant and it does sound as if the technology has come a long way in the past five years.

      "He's got a good track record and that's what everyone keeps reminding themselves. He's done it before, why not a third time? That's the goal."

      Lyle was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia when he was 17 and was declared in remission two years later. He had a relapse in 2012, not long after starting the year with a fourth-place finish at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in Los Angeles and after the birth of the Lyles' first child, but again was declared cancer-free after treatment.

      Lyle returned to the United States in 2015 to use his medical exemption in an attempt to win back his PGA Tour card but missed out.

      In 2008, Lyle won the Mexican Open and the Knoxville Open on what is now the Web.com Tour.

      --Danny Willett has struggled since winning the 2016 Masters, and much of the reason is back pain that might force him to undergo surgery.

      Recently, the Englishman missed the cut three times, withdrew from three tournaments because of the back ailment and finished 76th among the 77 players who made the cut in the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

      Willett didn't mince words when asked by The Telegraph how far away he believes his game is.

      "(Bleeping) miles," said the 29-year-old Willett, who missed the cut in his title defense at Augusta National in April. "A long way away. It feels a long way away. Golf shots are a long way away. Mental is a long way away. Scoring is a long way away.

      "It's just frustrating. Every time you feel you are getting somewhere with it, you take another two steps back. Before you know it, you feel you are 10 steps further back than you were a few weeks before.

      "The Masters was 13 months ago. I'm still the same person, but the golf's not in the same place."

      Willett underwent an MRI exam and visited a back specialist the week before the Open, according to the Golf Channel.

      Back surgery might be an option but is not imminent.

      "I'd do anything that helped," said Willett, who has won four times on the European Tour. "I don't think it does need surgery. It's more just getting it in line, and the only thing that irritates it massively is swinging poorly."

      --Phillis Meti of New Zealand, the 2016 Women's World Long Drive champion, broke the women's world long drive record with a poke of 406 yards in the semifinals of the Mile High Showdown in Denver.

      Meti hit her drive 340 yards in the air, and it took a tremendous kick forward, perhaps off a sprinkler head, and bounded past the 400-yard marker.

      "I feel really lucky," said the 30-year-old Meti, who wasn't aware that her ball hit anything on the driving grid. "The other three competitors hit some nice drives earlier, and I had to get mine."

      In the finals of the event televised on the Golf Channel, Troy Mullins of Los Angeles, a graduate of Cornell, won with a drive of 374 yards, while Meti could manage "only" 363.

      Maurice Allen of Orlando, Fla., won the men's Mile High Showdown with a 436-yard drive.

      --NBC Sports Group's coverage of the final round of the 146th Open Championship won by Jordan Spieth was the most-watched telecast of the tournament in eight years.

      The decisive round had a "total audience delivery" of 4.97 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital, as well as a 3.2 U.S. household rating (9:14 a.m.-2:08 p.m. EST), according to Nielsen Fast Nationals.

      That was the highest total viewership since the 2009 Open at Turnberry, with Stewart Cink's victory over 59-year-old Tom Watson in a four-hole aggregate playoff drawing a total of 5.55 million viewers.

      The 4.97 million this year was a 1 percent increase over the 4.94 million who watched Henrik Stenson of Sweden win a battle down the stretch with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon in 2016.

      Both of the last two final rounds had a total of 4.91 million average TV viewers on NBC, but this year's 59,200 streaming average minute audience across NBC Sports' streaming platform represented an increase of 60 percent.

      TV-only viewership on Sunday peaked with 7.33 million average viewers from 1:15-1:30 p.m., when Spieth clinched the Claret Jug with his winning putt.

      Across all four days, The Open totaled 100.8 million live minutes of streaming, a record for an NBC Sports' golf event, up by a whopping 96 percent over 2016.

      NBC's final-round telecast was the most-watched NBC golf telecast since Tiger Woods' win in the final round of the 2015 Players Championship (5.07 million).

      --The Gary Player Invitational, played on the Edinburgh Course at Wentworth outside London after the Open Championship, raised more than $165,000 for various charities helping children and the homeless.

      The tournament series, founded by Gary Player's Black Knight International and Berenberg, a private investment bank, has raised more than $63 million for charitable organizations.

      The 81-year-old Player, who won 165 times in his career, including nine majors, played alongside the likes of golf greats Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Sir Bob Charles, plus several celebrities from other fields.

      "I continue to be blown away by the generosity and support of the players and the sponsors, and am thrilled by the funds we have been able to raise this year," Player said.

      "I ... can testify to the significant difference the money raised during this event makes and the positive impact it continues to have on so many young lives."

      Padraig Harrington of Ireland lead his team, which featured Ladies European Tour star Alexandra Peters of England, to victory for the second straight year.

      Black Knight International also stages tournaments in the United States, Abu Dhabi, Japan, China and Player's homeland of South Africa.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 31, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 1:30-6:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 2-6 p.m. EDT on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Dustin Johnson claimed his third victory in the World Golf Championships, playing the weekend in 66-66 to win by one stroke over Scott Piercy. Johnson, playing for the first time since winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont, was three strokes behind before he sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole. He added an 8-footer for another birdie on the next hole before taking the lead for good with a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 17. Johnson, who has risen to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, won the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play titles earlier this season, and his total of five victories in the World Golf Championships ranks second behind Tiger Woods' incredible total of 18. Johnson has won three of the past four WGC events.

      PGA Tour: Barracuda Championship at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nev., Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 6:30-9 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 7-10 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Greg Chalmers of Australia earned his first victory on the PGA Tour at the age of 42, becoming the 12th left-hander to win on the circuit, sinking a 9-foot eagle putt on the final hole. Chalmers, who took a one-point lead to the last hole, finished with 43 points under the Modified Stableford Scoring System, beating out Gary Woodland, who totaled 37 points after three-putting for a bogey on the 18th hole. The Aussie, who has won five times on the PGA Tour of Australsaia, claimed his first PGA Tour title after 18 years and 386 starts.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn., Friday through Sunday.

      TV: Friday, 9-11 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 4-7 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel.

      LAST YEAR: Joe Durant sank a 10-foot eagle putt on the first playoff hole to beat Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, who lost despite making a birdie. Durant, who won for the second straight year on the PGA Tour Champions after claiming four victories on the PGA Tour, made a birdie on the final hole of regulation to close out a 9-under-par 63. Jimenez, who has won four times in the senior circuit including once this season, shot 63 in the third round and birdied the last four holes of regulation while shooting 67 to earn his spot in the playoff.

      LPGA TOUR: Ricoh Women's British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links in Fife, Scotland, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 6 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday, 7-11 a.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. EDT on NBC; and Sunday, 7:30-11:30 a.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 11:30-2:30 p.m. EDT on NBC.

      LAST YEAR: Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand captured her first major title, shooting even-par 72 to beat 2014 champion Mo Martin and Mirim Lee of South Korea by three strokes at Woburn Golf Club near Milton Keynes, England. The 20-year-old Jutanugarn became the first Thai golfer, male or female, to win a major golf championship. By making two birdies in the first five holes of the final round, Jutanugarn stretched her lead to five strokes, but it was down to one over Lee after Jutanugarn made a bogey on the ninth hole and a double-bogey 6 on the 14th. However, Jutanugarn righted the ship by finishing with four pars and a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.

  • Webb leads Kerr by 1 at Ladies Scottish Open
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, July 27, 2017

    LPGA Tour veteran Karrie Webb fired a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to grab a one-shot lead after the first round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

    • The 42-year-old Australian, who has 56 wins on the Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour combined, was 6 under on the back nine to overtake Cristie Kerr, who had been the leader in the clubhouse much of the day after firing a 6-under 66.

      "When we were warming up and our first few holes, obviously it was really cold and really windy," Webb said. "I looked at the scoreboard and saw that Cristie Kerr shot 6 under, and I was like, what course did she play today?

      "Then I sort of really hung in there through the front nine and made a nice birdie on nine to turn at 1 under, and then just really started swinging at it well and hitting it quite close and had some good birdie chances and made the most of them."

      Webb is trying to turn around a difficult season. She is 106th on the LPGA money list.

      "Yeah, it's been a bit of an unusual year for me," Webb said. "I haven't enjoyed how I've played much at all but I really did feel at the U.S. Open, I turned a corner a little bit. Probably just more mentally than anything. Just trusting the work that I've done and you know, just backing myself a little bit more."

      Kerr made four birdies on the back nine and is three strokes ahead of five players who are tied for third. Those shooting 3-under 69s included Stacy Lewis, Lina Boqvist of Sweden, Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand and South Koreans Sei Young Kim and Inbee Park.

      Kerr did not have a bogey in her round, which took place in worse conditions than what Webb faced.

      "It's never easy here," Kerr said. "You can never take anything for granted. You've just got to try to do as well as you can do on each shot and that was my goal. It was still tough to stand over the shots that you needed to execute, and it's never easy here. So, I'm very pleased with the score."

      Kerr said she likes links golf, and said she benefits from the difficult conditions.

      "It's actually some of my favorite golf," she said. "I told my caddie that on the back nine, that it seems like the tougher the conditions, the more I like it for some reason. I like to be challenged mentally, and you know, these kind of conditions force you to focus on the shot at hand and not get ahead of yourself, and I did that really well today."

      Tied for eighth at 2 under are Annabel Dimmock of England, Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden, Ally McDonald, Caroline Masson of Germany, Suzann Pettersen of Norway and Shanshan Feng of China.

      Defending Ladies Scottish Open champion Isabelle Boineau shot an opening round 76.

  • Golf notebook: O'Meara misses cut in final Open Championship
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    --Mark O'Meara felt honored when the R&A asked him to hit the first shot of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England, where he won the tournament in 1998.

    • Then the 60-year-old from Mission Viejo, Calif., and Long Beach State was reminded of how humbling golf can be when he hit the shot out of bounds and had to re-tee on his way to a triple-bogey 8 on the first hole, later signing for an 11-over-par 81.

      "My name is on my golf bag, I've won the Open Championship, I'm in the Hall of Fame ... and when you hit one straight right off the first tee out of bounds, it's the equivalent of standing on the first tee on Ballybunion and hitting the graveyard," said O'Meara, who won his only other major earlier in 1998 at the Masters. "My day was toast after that first tee shot.

      "But, look, at one point I felt like I was going to shoot 90 out there and I came away with an 81. It's not like I haven't shot 81 in my life. But I don't care if you're 30, 40, 50, 60, whatever age you are, you really play a lot for your pride. And I'm not very proud of what I accomplished out there today. I should have played better. I expect better."

      The honor turned out to be not such an easy assignment because it was 6:30 a.m., it was raining and there was a strong wind blowing from left to right that carried O'Meara's ball out of bounds.

      Of course, it was of no consolation that a few of the younger players also hit their first shots in the same place.

      O'Meara shot 81-70--151 and missed the cut by six strokes.

      "I felt the warmth of the crowd (in round two), obviously, coming up the 18th hole," said O'Meara, playing in the Open for the 31st and last time. "I'm not Tom Watson. I'm not Jack Nicklaus. I'm not Arnold Palmer. I'm just a guy who in '98 was lucky to win the championship and hoist the Claret Jug and be proclaimed Champion Golf of the Year.

      "I just wanted to play respectably. I didn't really have a set score. Obviously, I knew that after four or five holes (in round one) that the cut was going to be kind of out of the equation. But to hang in there and battle in there and make some good pars and then a few birdies, you know, I hit some better shots (in round two), I really did.

      "So did I hit it great? No. But if I had hit it really good, I would be playing on the weekend."

      O'Meara, who first played in the Open in 1981 at Royal St. George's, gets another chance this week against guys his own age in the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Bridgend, Wales.

      --James Hahn flew 5,000 miles from his home in California to the United Kingdom in hopes of landing a spot in the Open Championship, even though he had no guarantees.

      Hahn's trip was made worthwhile when Brandt Snedeker withdrew from the third major of the season because a rib injury, and Hahn was in the field in Southport, England, as the first alternate.

      Immediately taking to Twitter, the 35-year-old Hahn posted a selfie of himself with a big smile and the caption, "The moment you find out you're playing in the Open Championship! Let's go!"

      Hahn, from Alameda, Calif., and the University of California, earned PGA Tour victories in the 2015 Northern Trust Open and the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship, winning both in playoffs.

      Hahn opened with a 2-under-par 68 before struggling to a 76 in the stormy weather of the second round, but he still made the cut by two strokes and finished in a tie for 74th.

      As for Snedeker, he wrote on Twitter, "Unfortunately I have been forced to withdraw this week. I had a rib issue pop up last week, and it didn't respond to treatment as I had hoped. The Open Championship is one of my favorite tournaments, and (Royal) Birkdale is such a great test.

      "I am gutted I won't be able to compete and look forward to getting healthy as quick as possible. I will reevaluate with my doctors when I get back to Nashville and hopefully some rest will do the trick.

      "Thanks for all the support and wish all the players a great Open!!"

      Snedeker, 36, has nine top-10 finishes in the majors, including a tie for third at the 2012 Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He tied for ninth at the U.S. Open last month.

      --LPGA Tour players reacted to an email outlining new dress code regulations for players, some expressing bewilderment.

      The code forbids racerback tank tops without a collar, short skirts, plunging necklines, leggings as pants, and joggers. Some defended the crackdown, while others were puzzled.

      "The only point I agree with is that there should not be low-cut tops, but I've never really seen that be an issue," Sandra Gal of Germany said. "I think racerbacks look great on women, and I think short skirts have been around forever, especially in tennis, and I don't think it's hurt that sport at all, considering they play for the same prize money as the men.

      "Our main objective is clear, to play good golf. But part of being a woman, and especially a female athlete, is looking attractive and sporty and fit, and that's what women's tennis does so well. Why shouldn't we? I've talked to a few other players and, like me, they don't agree with it, either."

      Some said the strict no-nos for golfers' apparel doesn't mesh with pro golf's stated mission to modernize the game and appeal to millennials.

      Michelle Wie and others on the LPGA Tour compete in trendy, athletic-looking clothing, appealing to younger fans who might see golf as old-fashioned and stuffy.

      But again, there was a mixed reaction among LPGA Tour players.

      "I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but this is our place of business and I think players should look professional," Christina Kim said. "Do you really need ventilation for your side-boob? It's not going to make your score better. ...

      "There were a couple events earlier this year where we didn't have our strongest fields and some players came from other tours or developmental tours and they're not necessarily under contract with clothing companies, and so there was some non-traditional outfits."

      Added Jane Park: "Most of us keep things pretty conservative, so this only really applies to a few people. Honestly, I don't see why everyone is making such a big deal about it."

      LPGA Tour sources said the policy amendments were suggested by players and have been a topic of discussion for some time.

      --The LPGA Tour announced that the purse for the 2017 Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the season, was raised $300,000 to $3.65 million. The increase brings the 2017 LPGA season purse to a record $67.65 million.

      The Evian Championship will be played Sept. 14-17 at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France.

      Last year, In Gee Chun of South Korea set a scoring record for majors, male or female, at 21-under 263 en route to a four-stroke victory and later was selected as winner of the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award.

      "When the 2017 season began, the Evian Championship had already agreed to increase the purse by $100,000, but recently they decided to take it up an additional $300,000," LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan said.

      "While the overall Evian experience consistently sets the standard for unique and special on Tour, it's great to see Evian continue to be a leader in growing the economic opportunity for the best female golfers in the world."

      The $67.65 million at stake in 2017 is up $4.65 million from 2016, and 16 LPGA Tour events this season have purses of $2 million or more, double the amount from six years ago.

      --Sergio Garcia almost knocked himself out of the Open Championship.

      The Masters champion, frustrated after a chip shot came up short of the green at the par-3 fourth hole in round two, took another swing with his wedge and hit the nearby gorse bush that had restricted his swing.

      Garcia immediately grabbed his right shoulder in pain.

      After receiving on-course treatment from a therapist and taking "a good amount of pills to make it feel better," he finished his round and underwent more treatment afterward.

      "Obviously I'm not happy about it because I almost screwed up my British Open," said Garcia, who claimed his first major title at Augusta National in April. "It wasn't very smart. To be totally honest, I thought I was done.

      "Fortunately for me, I didn't (have to withdraw). But obviously it's not what you want to do. But sometimes you're out there and you're trying your hardest, and when you can't do it, it gets a little frustrating. We've all had those moments."

      Actually, Garcia started feeling better almost immediately.

      After making a bogey on the fourth hole, Garcia hit his tee shot through the fifth green but sank his 40-foot eagle putt from off the green en route to a 1-under-par 69 after opening with a 75.

      Garcia eventually finished in a tie for 37th.

      --Defending champion Henrik Stenson was playing the first round of the Open Championship in Southport, England, when the home he was renting was burglarized.

      Stenson's personalized Boss clothing was stolen along with cash, credit cards and electrical items, according to Merseyside Police.

      "It is obviously very special for me to be playing here in front of the fantastic Birkdale crowds as the defending Open champion, so I am going to try not to let this spoil the week in any way," Stenson said in a statement. "I am extremely grateful that my family were not in the house at the time."

      Police said they believe Stenson's rental home was targeted because he was on the golf course at the time of the robbery.

      The Claret Jug, the most famous trophy in golf, was not at the home because Stenson already had returned it to the R&A.

      "We are determined to identify those responsible and as with every burglary victim, we are carrying out a thorough investigation, offering reassurance and crime prevention advice," Detective Inspector Simon Vaughan said.

      "The Hugo Boss clothing taken is very personal to the victim and can be identified by a distinctive NETJETS sponsorship logo, so if anyone is offered such clothing, please contact us immediately."

      Added Stenson: "They were clearly targeting me, because they were there when I was out playing, and they figured out that the house was empty when I was away, and they stole all my (Boss) gear.

      "If you see people Bossed up in this way, feel free to ask what they were doing between 12 and 4 (on July 20)."

      Stenson tied for 11th in his title defense.

      --Doug Ghim emulated another Texas Longhorn by winning at Chambers Bay.

      Ghim two-putted for a birdie on the final hole to claim a one-stroke victory over Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Calif., in the 51st Pacific Coast Amateur on University Park, Wash., where former Longhorn Jordan Spieth captured the 2015 U.S. Open.

      "To do it at a public course ... Chambers Bay is just incredible," said Ghim, who grew up playing the public course near his childhood home in Arlington Heights, Ill. "I came from very humble beginnings. I didn't have a country club or anything like that growing up. To see what I have achieved is amazing.

      "This win is going to give me a lot of confidence moving forward. It feels great. I wasn't even sure if I was going to be playing this week, but I got a nudge from my coach."

      Champ, who plays at Texas A&M, sank a 12-foot eagle putt on the final hole in the group ahead of Ghim to tie for the lead, but Ghim wrapped up the victory with a 2-foot putt after hitting his first putt from 40 feet.

      Ghim, a senior at Texas, carded a winning score of 70-67-69-69--275, 9 under par, while Champ, who won the Trans-Mississippi Amateur a week earlier, finished at 69-65-73-69--276.

      Defending champion Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, was third at 69-70-67-71--277, while Andrej Bevins of Elk Grove, Calif., totaled 72-70-70-66--278 to tie for fourth with Denzel Ieremia of New Zealand, who came in at 66-72-69-71--278.

      Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Ill., shot 72-67-70-71--280 to tie for sixth with John Oda of Honolulu, who finished at 67-71-69-73--280, and Hayden Springer of Trophy Club, Texas, who wound up at 74-66-65-75--280.

      Braden Thornberry of Olive Branch, Miss., recorded a score of 71-67-74-69--281 and tied for ninth with Aaron Whalen of Ephrata, Wash., who wound up at 70-70-69-72--281.

      Next year, the Pacific Coast Amateur will be played at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

  • Canadians eager to end nation's Canadian Open drought
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    The RBC Canadian Open is one of the pillars of the PGA Tour schedule, having first been played in 1904 and continuing every year since, except 1943 and 1944 during World War II.

    • The latest edition comes this week on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, and the Canadian faithful will turn out in droves again hoping to see a homegrown champion.

      Pat Fletcher was the last Canadian winner of the tournament in 1954, but he actually was born in England. Karl Keffer is the only Canadian-born champion, winning in 1909 and 1914. English-born Canadian brothers Charlie Murray (1906) and Albert Murray (1908 and 1913) also captured the title.

      "There is that added feel and pressure, no question," said Mike Weir, who became Canada's only major champion when he captured the 2003 Masters. "It can be a good thing, though, to get the crowd behind you. Get some momentum going, and you can feed off the crowd."

      Weir, 47, came close in the 2004 Canadian Open, when he held a three-stroke lead with eight holes remaining but wound up losing in a playoff to Vijay Singh of Fiji.

      Last year, then-21-year-old Canadian amateur Jared du Toit thrilled the fans when he was one stroke behind leader Brandt Snedeker after three rounds. Du Toit eventually finished in a tie for ninth.

      "This will be an exciting year for Canadian golf fans for sure," tournament director Brent McLaughlin said. "We've come close in recent years with David Hearn finishing third in 2015 and du Toit's terrific run last year. This may be the year the drought finally comes to an end."

      Hearn, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, heads the Canadian contingent this week along with Adam Hadwin, who won the Valspar Championship in March; Weir, Du Toit, Graham DeLaet, Mackenzie Hughes and Brad Fritsch.

      It would be a career moment for any of them to lift the trophy and raise the Maple Leaf flag on Sunday.

      "I truly believe that if I play good golf, I can be in the hunt, and that's kind of just the main thing," DeLaet said. "You never know if you're going to win or not, but I'd love to put four good rounds of golf together because I've never done that at the Canadian Open."

      Even though it comes a week after the Open Championship in England, meaning players must rush back from the United Kingdom, the Canadian Open field also will include top-ranked Dustin Johnson, Open Championship runner-up Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter of England, Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Ernie Els of South Africa, Jim Furyk, Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes, Danny Lee of New Zealand, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Kyle Stanley, Hunter Mahan, Stewart Cink, Keegan Bradley, Gary Woodland, Chad Campbell, Harris English, Retief Goosen of South Africa and defending champion Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela.

      "Our field is (strong) and we're thrilled to welcome some of the best players in the world, a good mix of top international talent and a solid list of Canadians," McLaughlin said.

      The winner will join a list of champions that is the envy of many a tournament.

      Those who have lifted the trophy include Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Lee Trevino, Singh, Greg Norman of Australia, Curtis Strange, Tom Weiskopf, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Nick Price of Zimbabwe, John Cook, Mark O'Meara, Bobby Nichols, David Frost of South Africa, Bob Charles of New Zealand, Bobby Locke of South Africa, Hal Sutton, Bob Tway, Gay Brewer, Doug Sanders, George Bayer, Art Wall Jr., Doug Ford, Kel Nagle of Australia, Jug McSpaden, Tommy Armour, Bruce Lietzke, Peter Oosterhuis of England, Craig Wood, Leo Diegel, Walter Hagen, "Lighthorse" Harry Cooper, Lawson Little, Macdonald Smith of Scotland, Jason Day of Australia, Mark Calcavecchia, Scott Verplank, Billy Andrade, Tim Clark of South Africa and Snedeker.

      In 1971, Trevino became the first golfer to win the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the Canadian Open in the same season, and Woods matched the feat in 2000.

      Noticeably missing from that list of champions is Nicklaus, who finished second in the Canadian Open an incredible seven times.

      "Well, that's about what my memory is, second in the Canadian Open way too many times," Nicklaus said. "I always enjoyed the Canadian Open and always seemed to play pretty well there and never seemed to quite ... I was always the bridesmaid and never quite the bride on that one.

      "(His wife) Barbara said, 'I'm going to keep sending you back until you do it right,' and I never quite did it right."

      We know the Golden Bear won't win this week, but maybe it will be a Canadian.

  • Golf glance
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, July 24, 2017

    COMING UP

    • PGA TOUR: RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 3-6 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EDT on CBS.

      LAST YEAR: Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela birdied the last three holes at Glen Abbey to claim his second PGA Tour victory by one stroke over Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm of Spain and Martin Laird of Scotland. Vegas sank a 7-foot putt on the 16th hole, a 9-footer on the 17th and a tap-in on the final hole. He began the day five strokes out of the lead held by Brandt Snedeker. Vegas got into the thick of things early with birdies on his first five holes en route to an 8-under-par 64 that gave him his first victory since the 2011 Bob Hope Classic. Johnson eagled the 16th and birdied the 18th for a 69, while Rahm, in his fourth pro start, and Laird both shot 67. Snedeker, who won the 2013 Canadian Open, shot 71 to finish two shots back in a tie for fifth.

      PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: The Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Bridgend, Wales, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 7-9:30 a.m. EDT and 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m.-noon EDT on the Golf Channel and noon-2 p.m. EDT on NBC.

      LAST YEAR: Paul Broadhurst of England, who has won 11 times in his pro career, came from four strokes back in the final round to capture his first major title by two strokes over Scott McCarron at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Broadhurst, who was in danger of missing the cut when he opened with a 3-over-par 75, played the last three rounds in 66-68-68. McCarron got close with three birdies early on the back nine in the final round before two late bogeys left him with a 69. Broadhurst joined Mark James and Roger Chapman as the only Englishmen to win a PGA Tour Champions major title.

      LPGA TOUR: Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire, Scotland, Thursday through Sunday.

      TV: Thursday and Friday, 9:30-11:30 a.m. EDT; Saturday and Sunday, 3-6 p.m. EDT; on the Golf Channel all four days.

      LAST YEAR: Inaugural event.

  • Grace shoots first 62 in major championship history
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, July 22, 2017

    South African Branden Grace carded a 62 at Royal Birkdale on Saturday during the third round of the Open Championship, marking the first time that score has been posted during a major championship.

    • Grace's score totaled 8 under par on the par-70 course in Southport, England. He had eight birdies and no bogeys on his card and rocketed up the leaderboard from 45th into a tie for second at 4 under.

      Grace, 29, finished his round before second-round leader Jordan Spieth of the United States had even teed off.

      "It was a special day, to be quite honest," Grace said after the round. "I had no idea that was the lowest. I was so in the zone and playing the round so well. I was just trying to play the round without a bogey and make another birdie at the last. Sometimes it helps not knowing these things.

      "When you get on a run like that, you stop thinking about golf. It's one of the best ball-striking rounds of my career."

      The third round was being contested in benign conditions and bright sunshine, a complete reversal from the cold wind and driving rain the golfers faced just a day before when the average score was more than 75 and eight scores in the 80s were carded.

      Thirty-one players had shot 63s at a major championship before Saturday, including American Justin Thomas in the third round of this year's U.S. Open. Thomas' 9-under 63 on the par 72 Erin Hills in Wisconsin is still the lowest score in relation to par in major championship.

  • Stenson's house burglarized during Open Championship
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, July 21, 2017

    Defending champion Henrik Stenson's rental house was burglarized as he played his first round of the Open Championship on Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

    • The 41-year-old Swede said valuable personal items and all of his clothing were taken, but the Claret Jug awarded to the winner of The Open had already been returned to the R&A on Monday.

      "When I finished my round I was informed the house where I am staying had been burgled," Stenson said in a statement Thursday. "It is very special for me to be playing in front of the fantastic Birkdale crowds as the defending Open champion so I am going to try not to let this spoil the week in any way.

      "I am extremely grateful my family were not in the house at the time. As many of you know, the Claret Jug was returned to the R&A on Monday but unfortunately, along with some valuable personal items, they have taken all of my clothing for the week."

      A spokesman for the R&A said: "We are very sorry to hear about the burglary and have offered any assistance we can provide to Henrik and his family."

      Stenson teed off at 9:47 a.m. local time on Thursday and finished at 1-under 69. He was a late starter as Friday's second round got under way.

      "I am not going to let this spoil the week in any way," Stenson told reporters.

  • McIlroy 'ecstatic' after second-round 68
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, July 21, 2017

    Rory McIlroy remains in contention for his fifth major title, a feat he considered improbable after flailing through most of the first round of the Open Championship on Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

    • McIlroy saved his round over the final four holes Thursday and rebounded at 2-under-par 68 on Friday to comfortably stand without striking distance entering the weekend.

      "To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that," said McIlroy, who finished up Friday as leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka opened on a rain-soaked, windy course playing as a diametric opposite of the dry course in calm conditions Thursday.

      On the sixth tee Thursday, McIlroy said caddie J.P. Fitzgerald saw doubt creeping in for the typically confident McIlroy.

      At the time, McIlroy glanced up and mumbled one word: "Whatever."

      But the razzing worked and looks like a rousing success 30 holes later.

      "It definitely helped, it kept me positive," McIlroy said. "He does it quite often. It's just whether it penetrates my head is a different thing. ... And he knows what to say out there and what not to say. And he definitely said the right thing (Thursday) when I needed it."

      McIlroy was 5 over after nine holes but rallied on the back nine of the opening round to finish with a respectable 71.

      He was even better Friday as sweater and umbrella weather returned to The Open Championship, carding birdies on three of his first six holes.

      "I got off to a good start, which I think is really important today," McIlroy said. "The back nine is playing really, really difficult."

      The 2014 Open champion walked off the course Friday with a score of 139 through two days, his best round in a major since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. McIlroy won that tournament.

      "There was a lot of quality out there and I was happy to see that. Just have to try to keep that going for the next two days," McIlroy said.

  • Weather batters players in second round of Open Championship
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, July 21, 2017

    High winds and difficult playing conditions battered the best golfers in the world on Friday as scores ballooned during the morning wave at the 146th Open Championship being contested at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England.

    • No one made a charge up the leaderboard in the early wave as most of the golfers were focused on just surviving the round.

      Overnight leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka were set to tee off in the mid-afternoon wave and still sat atop the leaderboard at 5 under par when their rounds began. First-round co-leader Matt Kuchar shot a 1-over-par 71 on Friday, and was a stroke behind Spieth and Koepka after his round.

      There were only four under-par rounds from those in the morning wave, including a remarkable 66 by American Zach Johnson (the 2015 Open Championship winner) that garnered him a two-day total 141.

      Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (the 2014 Open Champion) shot a 68 in the morning for a two-round total of 139 while American Jamie Lovemark and Sergio Garcia of Spain, the current Masters champion, carded 69s, and are at 140 and 142, respectively.

      Constant 25-mph winds impacted the players as they battled the demanding golf course but the expected heavy rain stayed away, at least for the early part of the day. The forecast still called for an 80 percent chance of rain through the late afternoon hours and into the evening.