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Posts tagged with Golf

Another strong day for Gary Woodland and Chris Thompson at Byron Nelson Championship

The Kansas golf program is headed for a weekend of a rare level of exposure, thanks to Gary Woodland and Chris Thompson playing so well in the first two rounds of the Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas golf course in Irving, Texas.

Gary Woodland, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and ranked 19th on this season’s money list, finished his Friday morning round at 3-under par 67, giving him a two-day total of 5-under, which as of early afternoon put him one stroke off the lead shared by five players.

Woodland, 29, carded four birdies and one bogey.

Thompson, playing in a PGA Tour event for the first time at the age of 37, shot 1-under 69 for the second day in a row, putting him at 2-under, which will be good enough for him to make the cut. For most of the day, the projected cut line has shifted between 1-over and even.

Thompson played a bogey-free front side and birdied No. 3, a par 4, by dropping a 24-foot putt. His back nine included a pair of bogeys (Nos. 1) and 16) and a pair of birdies (Nos. 11 and 16). His back-side birdie putts were 16 and 10 feet in length.

Making the cut guarantees Thompson a paycheck, but the key numbers for him won’t be the ones on the check as much as on the leader board. In order to automatically qualify for the next PGA Tour event, Thompson must finish in the top 10.

At the time of his finish, with most players still on the course, Thompson was tied for 22nd.

I can't handle the stress of watching the results on the computer, so I'm hopping in a car and driving to Dallas to catch the final two rounds live.

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Former KU golfer Chris Thompson qualifies PGA Tour event for first time

Former Kansas University golfer Chris Thompson recently had a chance to chip in for a 59 at Lawrence Country Club. His shot barely missed and two putts later he settled for tying his course record of 61.

A 59 would have been quite a thrill, but he accomplished something far more meaningful Tuesday when he qualified for a PGA tour event for the first time.

Thompson completed his round of 69 and birdied the third playoff hole at The Lakes at Castle Hills to become one of four “Monday qualifiers” for the Byron Nelson Championship to be played Thursday through Sunday at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. Play was suspended at 2:50 p.m. Monday because of bad weather and resumed Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Will Strickler of Dallas led the four qualifiers with a four-under 68 on the 7,356-yard, par-72 course. Thompson and three others shot a 69 and had a playoff for the final three spots. Thompson was the second of three golfers to earn a spot. He did so by carding a birdie on the third playoff hole, after consecutive pars.

Eighty-five golfers made it to the Monday qualifier to compete for the four spots. Thompson is one of two KU alumni and Lawrence Country Club members in the Byron Nelson field. Gary Woodland ranks 19th on the PGA Tour money list with $1,821,386 in earnings this season.

A two-time All-American (1998, 1999) at KU, Thompson has earned a living playing in mini-tour events and in 2007 qualified for the Nationwide Tour, the next step below the PGA Tour and now known as the Web.com Tour. He shot an opening-round 60 in one event but didn’t make enough money to stay on the tour the following season.

“Dog-gone it, that’s great,” Thompson’s college coach, Ross Randall, said early Monday afternoon when he learned the qualifying news. “He’s been so close the last four or five years, just a heartbreak away, just a lipped-out putt from qualifying.”

Known for his accuracy off the tee and reliable short game, Thompson, 37, has been receiving instruction the past few years from Greg LaBelle of the Butch Harmon School of Golf in Las Vegas.

“I hope he plays well,” Randall said. “Actually, I just hope he plays like he can play and the rest will take care of itself.”

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Former KU golfer Chris Thompson qualifies PGA Tour event for first time

Former Kansas University golfer Chris Thompson recently had a chance to chip in for a 59 at Lawrence Country Club. His shot barely missed and two putts later he settled for tying his course record of 61.

A 59 would have been quite a thrill, but he accomplished something far more meaningful Tuesday when he qualified for a PGA tour event for the first time.

Thompson completed his round of 69 and birdied the third playoff hole at The Lakes at Castle Hills to become one of four “Monday qualifiers” for the Byron Nelson Championship to be played Thursday through Sunday at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. Play was suspended at 2:50 p.m. Monday because of bad weather and resumed Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Will Strickler of Dallas led the four qualifiers with a four-under 68 on the 7,356-yard, par-72 course. Thompson and three others shot a 69 and had a playoff for the final three spots. Thompson was the second of three golfers to earn a spot. He did so by carding a birdie on the third playoff hole, after consecutive pars.

Eighty-five golfers made it to the Monday qualifier to compete for the four spots. Thompson is one of two KU alumni and Lawrence Country Club members in the Byron Nelson field. Gary Woodland ranks 19th on the PGA Tour money list with $1,821,386 in earnings this season.

A two-time All-American (1998, 1999) at KU, Thompson has earned a living playing in mini-tour events and in 2007 qualified for the Nationwide Tour, the next step below the PGA Tour and now known as the Web.com Tour. He shot an opening-round 60 in one event but didn’t make enough money to stay on the tour the following season.

“Dog-gone it, that’s great,” Thompson’s college coach, Ross Randall, said early Monday afternoon when he learned the qualifying news. “He’s been so close the last four or five years, just a heartbreak away, just a lipped-out putt from qualifying.”

Known for his accuracy off the tee and reliable short game, Thompson, 37, has been receiving instruction the past few years from Greg LaBelle of the Butch Harmon School of Golf in Las Vegas.

“I hope he plays well,” Randall said. “Actually, I just hope he plays like he can play and the rest will take care of itself.”

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Gary Woodland starts strong in Masters

Gary Woodland, Kansas University’s only two-time PGA tour winner, came out of the blocks in impressive fashion Thursday at Augusta National, where he’s playing in his third Masters. Woodland carded 14 pars, three birdies and one bogey for a two-under 70.

At 5 p.m., with 24 of the 97 golfers in the field still on the course, Woodland was tied for fifth with seven other golfers, two strokes behind Bill Haas, the leader in the clubhouse, and one stroke behind defending Masters champion Adam Scott, 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson and 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen.

Woodland played with Ian Poulter, who shot a 76, and 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera, who carded a 78.

Woodland birdied No. 2, a par 5, made bogey on No. 4, a par 3, for a 36 on the front and birdied both par 5 holes on the back side, Nos. 13 and 15.

Talk about avoiding big numbers. Woodland had one 5 and every other hole was a 3 or a 4. He has so much talent all he needs to do to stay near the top of the leader board for four days in any tournament is to remain solid, steady, consistent and he was all that for openers Thursday.

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Gary Woodland’s sudden-death playoff airs at 6:30 p.m.

Tune your television to the Golf Channel at 6:30 p.m. Central time today and you can see the future. Sort of.

Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland and Ryan Moore are scheduled to tee off then, which is 7:30 a.m. Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They tied for the lead at 14-under in the CIMB Classic after multiple rain delays. Darkness caused a delay for the sudden-death playoff.

Woodland missed a 10-foot, right-to-left birde putt on the low side on No. 18, the same hole where the playoff will occur. The 580-yard, par-5 hole makes the playoff particularly interesting. Woodland is one of the few players on tour who could reach the hole in two, provided he slams a long tee shot into the fairway. Moore, noted for his excellent wedge play, does not have that sort of length, so a great deal rides on Woodland’s tee shot.

Woodland finished the 2013 strong. The 2014 season already has started because tournaments at this time of year that didn’t used to count in the PGA tour money standings now count toward the next season.

Woodland switched caddies for the new season and how has veteran Tony Navarro, who used to be on Greg Norman’s bag, looping for him.

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Gary Woodland makes powerful history at Oak Hill

1:30 p.m. Update

Pittsford, N.Y. — Rob Horak, a local club golf professional who served as a marker (non-competing playing partner) to Gary Woodland, received big ovations from friends, family and Rochesterians with a healthy does of civic pride, and had nothing but thumbs-up about the experience.

“He’s a real gentleman,” Horak said of Woodland. “Really a fun guy to play with. And I got to be part of history, so that was great.”

The history Horak referenced was written by Woodland on Oak Hill Country Club’s signature hole, No. 13, on Sunday, the final day of the PGA Championship. Woodland became the first player in competition to reach the green in two on the 598-yard par-5 hole.

I can attest first-hand that Horak has played with far less talented athletes than Woodland. Robbie and I were grade-school basketball teammates at Christ the King in Irondequoit, N.Y., like Pittsford, a suburb of Rochester. He was a year behind me in school and light years ahead of me in golf ability. (I also learned from another former grade-school teammate that Robert Streb, PGA touring pro out of Kansas State, is the son of Dave Streb, my former high school freshman basketball teammate. Small world. Cursed by his genes, my son shot a 140 this past week during a vacation round we enjoyed thoroughly.)

Woodland was in last place, 75th, and was the first to tee off. Since that’s an odd number, he was left without a playing partner. He climbed out of last by shooting an even-par 70.

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Pittsford, N.Y. — It has been 45 years since my oldest self-made horrifying golf experience took place and today I return to the scene of the shame. My late, great father, John Keegan, took my brother Jim and me to the 1968 U.S. Open at Oak Hill.

Everything was fine until my father handed me a cardboard-and-glass contraption known as a periscope, so that I could get a better view of Lee Trevino on the green. The gallery grew more quiet than a Turner Gill Kansas football season as Trevino stood over a putt. And then I dropped the periscope and every angry eye in the place turned on me and the crash was so loud Trevino had to step away from the putt and retrain his focus.

Trevino looked into the crowd, smiled, returned to the putt, drained it and went on to win his first major.

My brother reminded me — he remembers things better than I do and I attribute that to me having more interesting moments packed into my 54 years than he does his 55 — that on hole No. 13, he, a stranger and I pointed out Jack Nicklaus’ ball to him and the Golden Bear acknowledged us.

Anyway, it’s the other end of the leader board that brings me back to the finest golf course in my hometown, one I still have not played and therefore haven’t brought to its knees. Gary Woodland, the only golfer in KU history to win two PGA events, earned exempt status through 2015 last weekend with his victory in the Reno-Tahoe Open, the tournament with the funky scoring system, one that rewards risk-takers. Woodland starts today in 75th place, last among those who made the cut. Golfers play in twosomes the final day and since 75 is an odd number, the player in last place has to play alone.

Woodland tees off at 7:25 a.m. Central time. He is 13-over par, three strokes behind 74th-place Phil Mickelson and 22 strokes off the pace set by Jim Furyk. I’m off to the first tee to walk 18 holes with Woodland. Someone has to keep him company, might as well be me. I’ll check back in after he’s done. Woodland has the option of playing with what is called a marker — typically a scratch golfer who is a member of the host golf course — or playing alone. If he’s alone, it will be interesting to see how quickly he plays the round.

Woodland shot 73-70-80 in his first three rounds.

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Gary Woodland fires 70 in opening round of AT&T National

Gary Woodland, who withdrew last week with a sore back after one round, appears to be healthy again. That means I’m not. My blood pressure skyrockets, thanks to stress, with every bogey and again with every sub-par hole, thanks to excitement. Nothing in sports is more nerve-wracking than following a golfer via the Internet.

The color commentary of Thursday’s ride in the opening round of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. went something like this: Woodland carded an eagle on No. 6, a par 5, and birdied par-4 No. 8 and par-3 No. 10 to get to four-under par: “Holy cow! He might win this thing and he’ll get to keep his tour card through 2015.” He carded bogeys on a pair of par-4 holes, Nos. 11 and 14, to fall back to one-under: “Oh no! If he could have just made par on those holes he’d be sitting pretty.” He rebounded with a four on the par-5 16th. “Nice!” And then he finished with bogeys on 17 and 18, both par-4 holes: “I hope it’s not his back acting up. Please don’t let it be his back. Or his wrist again.”

If Woodland stays healthy, he’ll have no problem finishing in the top 125. The tour is so much more interesting with the former KU golfer on it, especially now that he’s living in Lawrence during the summer. His Lawrence golf buddies, by the way, report that his putting stroke looks great. He completed one 18-hole round at Lawrence Country Club with 14 one-putt greens. His 1-under par 70 puts Thursday him in good shape to make the cut with another solid round Friday. Excluding the injury-forced withdrawal, that would make 10 consecutive cuts made for Woodland.

If Woodland does not win a tournament this year, he needs to finish in the top 125 on the money list to retain his PGA tour card. He entered the week ranked 122nd with $419,157.56 in earnings.

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Gary Woodland catching fire

Seventy-seven PGA tour players competed in Sunday’s final round of the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic won by Harris English. Only one of the 77 players shot better than a four-under 66.

Gary Woodland, showing strong signs of returning to his 2011 form that landed him 17th on the PGA money list, fired a six-under 64 Sunday to finish in a tie for 18th place. The previous week, Woodland tied for 16th in the Memorial.

One day after Woodland’s scorecard showed an eagle, four birdies, three bogeys and two double-bogeys for a third-round 71, Woodland had nothing but birdies (six) and pars (12) on his card.

On the final two days of the tournament, Woodland played the first six holes of TPC Southwind in Memphis in 9-under par, a remarkable feat.

Woodland earned $93,000 in the Memorial and $64,600 in Memphis. Those checks pushed his season tournament earnings to $419,157.56. (It is not known what he purchased with the 56 cents.)

Woodland has made nine consecutive cuts and appears primed for a big second half of the golf season. Woodland did not qualify for this weekend’s U.S. Open and the rest of the field can breathe a sigh of relief over that because he’s coming on strong.

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Gary Woodland takes wild ride in Round 3 at TPC Southwind in Memphis

I finally have accepted that screaming at my TV isn’t going to make the networks show Gary Woodland more frequently, so I have turned off the TV and turned on my iPhone.

Go to PGAtour.com’s mobile site, find Woodland on the leaderboard, click “play by play” and “expand all” and every shot he hit that day is described. Each shot is posted within minutes, sometimes seconds.

Woodland’s third round Saturday in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis had to be one of the wildest rides any player has had in any tournament this season.

Woodland started the day tied for 61st at 1-over par and finished his round at 1-over, 2-over for the tournament. Yet, it’s how he arrived at his 71 that was so amazing.

According to pgatour.com’s mobile site, here’s what happened:

Woodland made an 18-footer on No. 1 for birdie, a 6-footer for birdie on No. 3, and a 16-foot birdie putt on No. 5. On No. 6, he slammed his drive 319 yards into the right rough and holed out from 136 yards for an eagle, putting him 5-under six holes into the day, and 4-under for the tournament. After a bogey on No. 8, Woodland made a 21-foot birdie putt on No. 9 to get back to 5-under for the day.

After a par on 10, the wheels flew off and he lost six strokes to par on the final eight holes. On No. 11, a 162-yard par-3, Woodland hit his tee shot into the water, dropped and hit the next one into a left rear green-side bunker. He put his sand shot two feet from the hole and made the putt for a double-bogey.

Woodland encountered more trouble on No. 14, a 239-yard par 3. He again carded a double-bogey 5. His tee shot landed in the left rear green-side bunker. Here’s where it gets a little tricky following a golfer on your phone: The play-by-play account said he hit his next shot into the left rear green-side bunker. There are two bunkers behind the green. So did he not get it out of the bunker he was in and hit into the other or stay in the same trap? My best guess is he didn’t get out because the other bunker would better be described as middle than left. That was his final par 3 hole of the day, leaving him five-over par on the course’s four shortest holes. He carded bogey on 17 and 18, both par 4 holes, encountering sand trouble on 17 and water trouble on 18.

Woodland made just eight pars to go with an eagle, four birdies, three bogeys and two double-bogeys to score 30-41 71.

Woodland’s inconsistency is understandable. He didn’t get to practice as often as he wanted to early in the season because of a wrist injury. Despite all the ups and downs, Woodland has managed to make the cut in nine consecutive tournaments, a good sign that he will be on the tour for a long time. Anyone who cards as many under-par holes as Woodland is a threat to contend often, provided he can stay healthy, which will allow him to adhere to his extensive practice routine.

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