Golf

Monday, May 20, 2019
Seminole star almost blows 7-stroke lead . . .

    For a brief moment on the back nine Sunday, it looked as though the impossible might happen: Brooks Koepka losing his huge lead on the Bethpage Black and blowing the PGA Championship to Dustin Johnson. But as quickly as that scenario appeared, it disappeared just as quickly.

    Koepka's seemingly insurmountable seven-stroke lead had been cut down to one after Johnson birdied the 15th hole and Brooks unbelievably bogeyed 11 through 14. But Dustin couldn't keep it going, with bogeys on 16 and 17 crushing his chances. When Brooks came to 18, all he needed was a bogey to win, but he managed a spectacular par to close it out two in front and 8 under for the 72 holes.

    The former FSU star has now won four of the last eight majors over two years - two PGAs and two U. S. Opens -  an incredible performance, as he put a further stranglehold on the No. 1 player in the world title. 

    The Black course lived up to pre-tournament expectations, with only six players shooting under par, and one other at even par

    Gator Billy Horschel wound up tied for 23rd at 4 over par, while Seminole Daniel Berger, who was in the top five after 36 holes, staggered to the finish line and tied for 71st at 12 over, same score as posted by Phil Mickelson.

    The Tour moves to Fort Worth, Texas, this week for the Charles Schwab Championship. Ted Potter returns after the birth of his second child to try to turn it around in the $7.3 million event at the Colonial Country Club. Ted has dropped to 143rd on the money list with $431,051 in the bank in the wrap-around season, and he has missed the cut in eight of his last 10 events. He was under par (-2) in just one of those tournaments, the Zurich Classic, and he still missed the cut in that one despite shooting 65 on Thursday.

    Ted tied for 42nd at Colonial last year at 4-under-par 276, which included a 63 in round 3. 

    Also in the field are FSU's Berger and Gators Horschel, Matt Every and Brian Gay.   

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Koepka opens big lead; Berger's tied for 4th . . .

    Halfway through the 2019 PGA Championship, it's apparent the Seminoles have landed on the Bethpage Black course at Bethpage State Park. Brooks Koepka is garnering all the accolades heading into the weekend after rounds of 63-65-128, 12 under par, but Daniel Berger is holding up his end of the FSU hype with rounds of 70-66-136. He's 4 under par and only one stroke out of second place. Could an unforgettable 1-2 Seminole finish be on the menu for Sunday afternoon?

    Of course, it's never a good idea to crown a king when there are still 36 holes to play, despite how solid Koepka's game is and a 7-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth (69-66-135) and Adam Scott (71-64-135). But, if Koepka slips to 72 today, and one or more of the others shoot two or three under, it could all turn around in a hurry.

    Tiger Woods bowed out after rounds of 72-73-145, 5 over; the cut line is 4 over. Tiger was well inside the line after a front-nine par 35, but bogeys at 10, 11, 12 and 14, offset by just one birdie at 13, killed his chances. He needed one birdie over the last four holes to ensure he would continue playing on the weekend, but he parred all four. 

    Phil Mickelson hung on with rounds of 69-71-140, even par, and is tied for 26th. Gator Billy Horschel's 70-72-142 made the cut by two strokes; he's tied for 47th.     

 

Friday, May 17, 2019
First-round Scores are high in PGA Championship . . .

    Brooks Koepka went out early Thursday morning and posted a course-record 7-under 63 over the tough Bethpage Black course in Farmingdale, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that if the former Seminole  shoots even par for the next 54 holes he could hang on and win the PGA Championship at that number.

    Danny Lee shot 64 and is one back and Tommy Fleetwood shot a 3-under 67 and is four strokes behind heading into round 2, and there are six more at 2 under. But it proved to be a difficult day for most of the field, and the early projected cut was at 2 over after 18 holes. 

    Koepka's round was magical; he made four birdies on the front nine and three on the back, and didn't make a bogey. He began with a birdie on 10 and ended the nine with a birdie on 18. Then he birdied No. 1 and closed it out with a birdie on nine. 

    The other Seminole in the field, Daniel Berger, was at even-par 70, along with Gator Billy Horschel. The second Gator, Brian Gay, soared to an 81 and withdrew. 

    Tiger had to deal with some double bogeys and wound up at 2 over, tied for 51st, while Phil Mickelson rebounded from a 2-over start to finish at 1 under, along with Jason Day. Rory McIlroy struggled to a 2-over 72.

    Tiger began with a double at No. 10, also doubled 17, and went to the front nine at 3 over. But he made two birdies early on the front, added an eagle 3 on No. 4, and suddenly he was back in it at 1 under. However, he bogeyed 5, 7 and 8 to kill the round. 

    As play began this morning, bogeys and doubles were prevalent, and Lee was among those falling fast. With Koepka not going off until 1:49, his lead could be huge by the time he gets to the first tee.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Tiger's early, Phil late . . .

    Here are the marquee matchups for the first round of the PGA Championship, to be contested at the Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, Long Island. 

8:02 a. m. (10th tee) - Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose. 

8:24 a.m. (10th tee) - Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari, Tiger Woods.

1:16 p.m. (1st tee) - Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth.

1:38 p.m. (1st tee) - Phil Mickelson, Justin Day, Rory McIlroy.

Gators: Horschel, Brian Gay. Seminoles: Koepka, Daniel Berger.


    

Saturday, May 11, 2019
Koepka tied for 4th . . .

    Sung Kang fired a 10-under 61 yesterday to take a four-stroke lead into round 3 of the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic, being played in Dallas. Kang's 65-61-126 put him at 16 under par. Resurgent Gator Matt Every (65-65-130) is tied for second with Tyler Duncan at 12 under par.

    Seminoles: Brooks Koepka is tied for fourth at 11 under, and Daniel Berger is tied for 36th at 4 under. Rookie Hank Lebioda played better on Friday but missed the cut of 2 under with 74-69-143, 1 over. Gator Brian Gay made it right on the cut line. 

 

Friday, May 10, 2019
One-stroke edge over Hoge and Duncan . . .

    Denny McCarthy shot an 8-under-par 63 to take a one-stroke lead in the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas, which is without Ted Potter, and again minus Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and a great many of the other marquee names in the game. When Byron Nelson was still alive, and sitting behind the 18th green, the field was laden with the big guns. 

    Tyler Duncan and Tom Hoge are tied for second, one behind the leader, followed by a logjam tied for fourth at 6 under, including Seminole Brooks Koepka and Gator Matt Every. Seminole Daniel Berger is tied for 13th at 5 under, and Gator Brian Gay is tied for 36th at 3 under. 

    The early cut line is minus 2, and Seminole rookie Hank Lebioda will have to scramble to make it - he's at 3-over-par 74. Tony Romo turned in a 5-over 76 and more and more looks like he should be sticking to football. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Sierra Brooks shoots 69 . . .

    A few weeks ago, Florida's women's golf team was the stroke-play leader at the SEC Championships, then lost in the first round of match play to Ole Miss. The Gators are out to avenge that performance this week at the NCAA Regional in Norman, Oklahoma. 

    In the first round, the Gators shot 4-under-par 284 over the par-72 Jimmie Austin Oklahoma U. Golf Club, which is playing to 6,367 yards. They hold a one-stroke edge over Purdue and North Carolina State, and three strokes over Texas Tech, Texas, Ole Miss and Mississippi St. 

    Michaela Fletcher of Memphis shot the lowest round, a 4-under 68, and she's one stroke better than Gator junior Sierra Brooks. Fletcher bogeyed the first and 18th, but in between made six birdies. 

    The top six teams after 36 holes advance to the NCAA Finals later this month in Fayetteville, Ark.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Homa takes Wells Fargo by 3 . . .

    Max Homa closed with a 67 on Sunday for a 5-under 284 to win the Wells Fargo Championship by three strokes over Joel Dahmen, who shot 70 in the finale. Justin Rose was another stroke back in third. Rory McIlroy was in contention after Saturday's play but blew his chance on the last 18 holes with 73 and tied for eighth. It was Homa's first PGA Tour victory. 

    Ted Potter missed the cut with 74-72, as did Gators Matt Every (75-76) and Steve Scott (75-77). Seminole rookie Hank Lebioda made another cut and tied for 50th at 1 over par, including a Sunday 68. Seminole Daniel Berger tied for 54th at 2 over. 

    Ted will be missing for this week's Byron Nelson in Dallas as he awaits the birth of his second child. 

    Gators entered: Every and Brian Gay. Seminoles: Brooks Koepka, Berger, Lebioda. 

    There will be $7.9 million on the line at the Trinity Forest Gold Club.  

    

Sunday, May 5, 2019
Homa, Dufner, Dahmen at 11 under . . .

    There's a three-way deadlock atop the leaderboard at the Wells Fargo Championship, and Ted Potter isn't playing on the weekend, again.

    Max Homa, Jason Dufner and Joel Dahmen are all at 11 under par over the Quail Hollow course in Charlotte, with Pat Perez one back and Rory McIlroy within two of the lead heading into today's finale. 

    

Friday, May 3, 2019
But Ted can still make cut . . .

    Ted Potter began with a birdie on the 10th hole at Quail Hollow in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship, but didn't make another for the rest of the round. However, he did make four bogeys, and as a result, finished at 3-over-par 74, eight strokes behind leaders Rory McIlroy and Joel Dahmen. 

    Still, Ted can make it right today since the projected cut line is 1 over par, so a 2-under 69 would get him back in the mix. 

    There are three players at 67 and another nine at 68, so this one is wide open heading into round 2. 

    Gator Matt Every shot 75, as did Gator Steve Scott, who makes it into a PGA event every once in a while. Seminoles: Hank Lebioda - 71, Daniel Berger - 73.  

Monday, April 29, 2019
Gators and Seminoles finished high in New Orleans . . .

    After missing the cut in New Orleans at the rain-plagued Zurich Classic, Ted Potter will await the birth of his second child close enough to Ocala to get home in a hurry, in Charlotte, N. C. Ted is among the entrants in the $7.9 million Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club. 

    Ted and partner Nate Lashley shot 65 in the opening round in New Orleans, but skied to 77 in round 2, that featured the alternate shot format. They were 2 under par, six strokes off the cut line.

    Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer won with a score of 262, 26 under par. Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood finished three strokes behind at 23 under. 

    Players from Florida and Florida State were prominent in the event, with a tie for 22nd the worst finish for any of them. Gator Matt Every and Kyoung-Hoon Lee tied for third at 21 under par, along with Gator Brian Gay and Rory Sabbatini. Seminole rookie Hank Lebioda continued his good play, tieing for fifth with Curtis Luck as his partner. The defending champs, Gator Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, tied for 13th at 18 under, and Seminole Brooks Koepka and his brother Chase tied for 22nd at 16 under. 

    

Friday, April 26, 2019
Gay and Sabbatini hold early lead . . .

    Ted Potter and partner Nate Lashley were both ready to hit their third shots on the par-4 sixth hole when darkness halted play at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans yesterday. Bad weather caused a long delay, leaving half the field on the course. Several teams hadn't even started.

    Gator Brian Gay and partner Rory Sabbatini were among those who were able to get their round in, and their 12-under-par 60 held a one-stroke edge over Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax. Gator Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, the defending champs, were 3 under after 8 when play was suspended. Gator Matt Every and Kyoung-Hoon Lee were 1 under, along with Seminole Hank Lebioda and Curtis Luck. 

    Ted and Lashley parred the first four holes, and Lashley birdied the fifth to get them to 1 under. On No. 6, neither player is on in two, but both are close enough to get it up and down. Ted's shot is just over 22 feet.  

    

Monday, April 22, 2019
C. T. Pan wins at Harbour Town at 12 under . . .

    C. T. Pan captured the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head with a 12-under-par 272, one stroke ahead of Matt Kuchar, while Ted Potter finished well down the list once again. Ted shot 73-69-77-72-291, 7 over par, tied for 67th, and took home another modest check of $14,076. That raised his earnings for the season to $431,051. 

    Ted will head for Louisiana for the $7.3 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which will be played as a team event for the third straight year. His partner will be Nate Lashley.

    Gator Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy won it last year and collected $1,036,000, and they're back to defend the title. Horschel also won in 2013, before it went to the team format. 

    Among the other Gators, Matt Every is teamed with Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Brian Gay with Rory Sabbatini. As for the Seminoles, Brooks Koepka is playing with his brother Chase and rookie Hank Lebioda is partnered with Curtis Luck. 

   

    

Saturday, April 20, 2019
Ted makes 3 birdies in a row to advance . . .

    A late surge of three consecutive birdies when play at the RBC Heritage resumed this morning was enough to get Ted Potter to round 3 after it appeared late Friday he was in line to miss another cut.

   When second-round play was suspended due to darkness, Ted was sitting at 2 over par and needing at least two birdies to reach the cut line of even par. Playing the front nine, and with six holes remaining, Ted birdied 4, 5 and 6 to get it to 1 under, and a bogey on No. 8 didn't make a difference. He wound up with 73-69-142 in an 11-way tie for 60th, and tees off at 12:50 today in a twosome with Webb Simpson. 

    Shane Lowry held onto the lead with 65-68-133, 9 under par, one stroke ahead of Trey Mullinax and two ahead of Emiliano Grillo, Dustin Johnson and Seminole Daniel Berger. Two Gators made the cut easily, Billy Horschel with 67-70-137, 5 under par, and Brian Gay with 71-68-139, 3 under. 

Friday, April 19, 2019
Ted is just two strokes over the cut line . . .

    Ted Potter began with a bogey on the first hole at the $6.9 million RBC Heritage yesterday and it never got any better. Ted wound up with three birdies and five bogeys over the par-71 Harbour Town Golf Links for a 73, but at 2 over par he's far from out of contention. The early cut line is even-par 71 so a round in the 60s should get him in for the weekend.

    Shane Lowry posted the lowest score in the opener, a 6-under-par 65. But there are five right behind with 66s, including Seminole Daniel Berger. There's also a bunch at 67 and 68 so it's anybody's ballgame. 

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Ted Potter returns for RBC Heritage . . .

    Tour players love to visit Hilton Head and the field for this week's RBC Heritage is loaded with past winners, beginning with the defending champ, Satoshi Kodaira.

    Also in the field are: five-time winner Davis Love III, whose first victory came in 1987, and most recent in 2003, with three others in between; Jim Furyk (2010, 2015), Matt Kuchar (2014), Stewart Cink (2000), Aaron Baddeley (2006), Graeme McDowell (2013), Brandt Snedeker (2011), Boo Weekley (2007, 2008) and Branden Grace (2016). They will all be shooting for the major prize in the $6.9 million event at Harbour Town Golf Links.

    Ted Potter returns to try to awake from his recent slumber, along with two Gators, Brian Gay and Billy Horschel, and Seminole Daniel Berger.  

Monday, April 15, 2019
He gets 15th Major, 81st Tour victory . . .

    The ovation began as soon as Tiger holed out his final putt and sealed the deal for his 15th victory in a Major. It didn't conclude until he disappeared into the ground floor entrance to the clubhouse en route to signing his scorecard for his 81st PGA Tour victory. It may have been the longest continuous celebration in golf history. And who knows how long it will be before the accolades begin to wane? A day . . . a week . . . a month?

    The sight of Tiger Woods coming full circle and winning The Masters when so many 'experts' were so sure he couldn't, will remain in our hearts and minds for a very long time. As he strode down the fairways of the last four or five holes, after Molinari plunked one in the water and Tiger knew he had Francesco reeled in, the intensity etched in his face was unmistakable. The laughing, the grinning, the body language that had crept into his repertoire in recent months was gone. This was vintage Tiger. The Tiger who had terrified his foes for so many years before his fall from grace, and then his bouts with the problems resulting from a body that had let him down.

    The observations of the TV analysts as Tiger's trio trudged toward the finish, before his final putt for bogey put a cap on a 13-under-par performance, put it all in perspective.

    Jim Nantz: "There's no doubt it will rank as one of the greatest moments the sport has ever seen."

    Ian Baker-Finch, after Tiger stiffed an 8 iron to the 17th green: "It's a special moment for golf . . . for everybody. It's been a long journey."

    Add Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley: "It's been an epic Sunday here at The Masters."

     And Tiger Woods himself: "When I tapped the putt in I don't know what I did. I know I screamed."

    And scream, he did. Many times. Then he hugged everybody in sight - his mother, his kids, several other women, a bunch of guys in green jackets, and just before he reached the clubhouse, a coterie of his fellow competitors. He even made a departure from his previous habit of non-physical interaction with his fans, actually slapping hands with many on his way to the scorer's room.

    Tiger took home - to Jupiter - $2.07 million, and his leading career earnings figure jumped to $118,309,570. In fact, eight of the players who finished in the top 18 yesterday (Tiger, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott), are also in the top 21 on the all-time earnings list. Mickelson, who tied for 18th, is second behind Tiger all-time with $90,467,104. 

    The questions remaining are simple: Will Tiger win twice more and pass Sam Snead's record of 82 victories? Will he close in on - or pass - the 18 Majors won by Jack Nicklaus? Did Sunday's TV ratings break any records? 

   In any event, the sport has reached new heights due to the incredible determination of one player, and it will be intriguing for millions as we fantasize about what comes next.  

         


     

 

Sunday, April 14, 2019
He's two strokes behind Francesco Molinari . . .

    The Tiger haters had to cringe when their anti-hero won the Tour Championship last fall. They had been adamant for many, many months concerning two facets of Tiger's resume. One, he would never get his 15th Major, and two, he wouldn't get his 80th career victory.

    The 80th victory talk ended last September in Atlanta: the 15th Major talk could come to an end today. (It's funny how all the negative baloney has disappeared - quietly). With $11.5 million in purse money to be distributed, and $2.07 million to the winner, if Tiger does get to wear another green jacket he'll go over $120 million in career earnings.  

    After 54 holes, Francesco Molinari (70-67-66-203) is 13 under and has a two-stroke lead in The Masters over Tiger (70-68-67-205) and Tony Finau (71-70-64-205). And, due to the threat of severe weather in Augusta late this afternoon, starting times have been moved up by several hours in the hope they can finish before the hail rolls in.

    To further help make it to No. 18 in an attempt to be able to present the green jacket to someone today, they will go off in threesomes instead of the traditional twosomes. That means Molinari and Finau get to compete right next to Tiger, along with a crowd that will number in the tens of thousands and a TV audience that will number in the zillions. All the other threesomes will still enjoy huge crowds - the spectators who are waiting on each hole for the leaders to come through. 

    Also squarely in the hunt for the finale will be Brooks Koepka (66-71-69-206), who has won three recent Majors, was last season's Player of the Year, and who would relish beating the top trio and solidify his position as the No. 1 player in the world. A victory by the one-time Seminole would mean he holds the last three Major titles at the same time.

    That's not to say that someone a little further back can't shoot the lights out and join the mix. Webb Simpson and Ian Poulter are four strokes behind at 9 under, and there's a group of five at 8 under which includes Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson.

    Phil Mickelson, at six under par, was unable to get closer than seven strokes. If he had, it would have made today's round that much sweeter. The lone Gator in the field, Billy Horschel, barely made the cut and has struggled - he's tied for 63rd at 5 over. 

    For CBS, it's a scenario sent from heaven. With coverage beginning at 9 a. m., and the final trio teeing off at 9:20, by noon TV ratings should reach the ionosphere. 

     

Saturday, April 13, 2019
Five tied for lead, Tiger's one back . . .

    The best golfers in the world have ensured that it's going to be a bang-up weekend at Augusta National.

    Five players tied at the top at 7 under, four more tied at 6 under, and two tied at 5 under, and there should be more fireworks on Saturday at The Masters than there will be on July 4. Francesco Molinari, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen all shot 65; Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and unknown Justin Harding all shot 66; Jon Rahm and Ian Poulter shot 67. It's the stuff  that photo finishes are made of.

    Like his opening round, when Tiger failed to can four highly-makeable putts, he missed being on the lead because of two more of less than seven feet. But he's one off the pace as he looks to get Major No.15 and victory No. 81. 

    Phil Mickelson dropped off the pace with a 73 after his excellent 67 Thursday but he's still alaive at 4 under, just three from the leaders. 

    

    

Friday, April 12, 2019
Tiger shoots 70, misses 4 short putts . . .

    Bryson DeChambeau and FSU's Brooks Koepka are tied for the lead at The Masters after an opening day filled with all kinds of intriguing wrinkles. The youngster and the Seminole both shot 6-under-par 66s and hold a one-stroke edge over Phil Mickelson heading into today's play.

   DeChambeau made an eye-opening nine birdies to go along with three bogeys, and included the difficult feat of making birdies on 15 through 18. Koepka, the world's No. 1 player, made six birdies, no bogeys, and his own four-in-a-row streak started on No. 12 and went through No. 15. 

    Mickelson made seven birdies and two bogeys, and Lefty birdied all four par 5s. 

    Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson are tied for fourth at 4 under and there's a group tied for sixth at 3 under.

    Tiger Woods shot 2-under 70, but his bid to be tied with the top two was stalled by four missed putts of from 3 1/2 to seven feet, two of them under four feet. 

    Gator Billy Horschel is tied for 29th at even-par 72, and Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas are both 1 over.  

    Three of the seniors are under the early projected cut line of 4-over 76. They are Bernhard Langer (71), Mike Weir (72) and Sandy Lyle (73). Over the limit are Larry Mize (77), Fred Couples and Jose Maria Olazabal (78), and Ian Woosnam and Vijay Singh (80).