Girls Gone Wild

first_imgPARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – All that was missing were pirate ships burning off shore. Not since Blackbeard and Calico Jack roamed these parts has the Bahamas been witness to a wilder shootout for a substantial treasure. The LPGA staged a free-for-all here on Paradise Island Saturday with some of the world’s best players taking turns holding the lead in the third round. Five players held or shared the lead before Na Yeon Choi finally pulled away at day’s end. “It was really set up for eagles today, and it was exciting,” said Rolex world No. 3 Stacy Lewis, who is among seven players within four shots of Choi going into Sunday’s final round. Choi birdied three of the last four holes Saturday, including the 18th, to equal the low round of the day, a 7-under-par 66. At 15-under 204, she’s a shot ahead of Lizette Salas (66) and three ahead of Paula Creamer (71) and Jessica Korda (72). Lewis (68), Amelia Lewis (66) and Monday qualifier Jenny Suh (71) are four back. Lydia Ko (71) and Michelle Wie (72) are in a pack five back. For Choi, Sunday is a chance to reassert her rank in the game. Choi looked poised to make a run at Rolex world No. 1 last year but never did. She never got into the conversation with No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen and No. 3 Lewis, who pulled away as the game’s “Big Three.” “When I started 2013, I was No. 2 in the world,” Choi said. “I was so much focused on being No. 1, and I forgot what I needed to do on the course and in practice.” Choi ended the year No. 7, but she’s looking ready to win again. She prevailed on a crazy Saturday of shot making and shot shanking. Lewis holed a wedge for eagle from 94 yards at the 13th to grab a share of the lead. Creamer holed a sand wedge from 82 yards at the 11th to make eagle and stay in the hunt. Wie drove the sixth green with a 290-yard rocket and two putted for birdie, but she also missed her share of putts from point-blank range. Nobody’s day was wilder than Creamer’s and Korda’s. Korda, the second-round leader, shanked a wedge sideways and out of bounds at the 13th hole on the way to a double bogey. “I’ve never shanked a shot in a tournament,” Korda said. Korda, however, fought her way back, making birdie at the next hole and then carving a 5-iron from 196 yards to a foot for a closing eagle to stay in the hunt for her second LPGA title. “It’s awesome I’m still in it,” Korda said. Korda’s last shot at the 18th was made even more dramatic by the fact that she followed Creamer’s spectacular shot there. Creamer, who had her share of woe on Saturday, knocked a 5-wood from 209 yards to about 2 ½ feet at the closing hole. Korda stepped up and then hit hers inside Creamer. They both eagled. It means the duo will play together for a fourth consecutive day, this time in the second-to-last pairing, in front of the leaders. “It was a roller-coaster day,” Creamer said. Creamer pulled her tee shot at the 15th left into a hazard and made triple bogey. “Overall, I’m proud of the way I finished,” Creamer said. So was Salas, who has battled the flu for two days. “The fact that I’ve been feeling a little under the weather kind of just makes my mind blank and just helps me focus on targets and just having fun,” said Salas, who is seeking her first LPGA title. “I’d rather be playing than lying in bed and feeling sorry for myself.” Lewis, the highest ranked player in the field, would like nothing better than to send a message to No. 1 Park and No. 2 Pettersen with a win on Sunday. “I definitely think it would [send a message],” Lewis said. “I think just playing well here, I think that would send a message. I don’t know how much golf they’re actually watching right now. They probably aren’t paying attention to it, knowing those two.” Beating a stellar leaderboard like this one will get a lot of people’s attention come Sunday.last_img read more

Crunch Time

first_imgGREENSBORO, N.C. – Two-minute drill. Bottom of the ninth. Crunch time. Whichever sports metaphor you prefer, it can be applied to this week’s Wyndham Championship. Players have one final chance to jockey for FedEx Cup playoff position, although many in the field are simply trying to secure playing privileges for next season. Given only 72 holes to improve their season-long standing, some will wilt under the pressure. Others, though, have been under a similar spotlight before and continue to thrive. Heath Slocum knows what this feels like. It was only two years ago that Slocum came to Sedgefield Country Club at No. 128 in the FedEx Cup standings, on the outside looking in. He tied for 31st, which was enough to propel him to No. 124 in points and punch his ticket to the playoffs. He remains the most recent player to crack the top 125 in the final regular-season event. Slocum also knows the value of simply earning a spot at the dance. It was five years ago that he entered the postseason at No. 124, only to hold off the likes of Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker to win The Barclays at Liberty National. The win vaulted him up the standings, and he went on to make the 2009 Tour Championship. This week, Slocum’s hole is a bit deeper. At No. 158 in points, he likely needs a top-three finish to make it to The Barclays, but he’s halfway there after rounds of 65-65 put him atop the leaderboard with Scott Langley in Greensboro. Wyndham Championship: Articles, videos and photos The key for dealing with do-or-die pressure, according to Slocum? Just let go. “That’s been one of my biggest things, sometimes it’s just getting out of my own way, just stop trying to do too much,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to take a step back and just go, ‘Have fun with it. Go play.’” Slocum has done just that through two rounds at Sedgefield, grabbing the pole position heading into the weekend as he looks to win on Tour for the fifth time, and first since the 2010 McGladrey Classic. He missed the cut in each of his last two starts, but the 40-year-old claims to have found a spark during practice last week. “I said, ‘You know what? It’s all here. See if you can’t go play golf and enjoy it,’” he said. “I mean, sometimes you just go and enjoy yourself and you play some of your best golf.” Like Slocum, Andrew Loupe is in familiar territory. Loupe has become a poster child for last-minute comebacks in recent years, a trend that began when he holed a 6-foot putt to make it through the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School in 2012. After a debut season on the Tour in 2013, Loupe needed to hole a putt of similar length at the final regular-season event to qualify for the inaugural Tour Finals. Drained it. Then after missed cuts in each of the first three Finals events, he came to the Tour Championship in dire need of a big result. After four straight rounds in the 60s, he left with a T-6 finish and a PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season. Now he’s at it again, entering the week at No. 145 in the FedEx Cup standings and likely in need of a top-six finish to crack the top 125 and sew up a PGA Tour card for 2015. “I’ve been in this position before. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty similar,” Loupe said. “That’s something I tell myself to remind myself, for security and confidence. You have to believe in yourself, and do your best to stay in the present. I know people say that all the time, but it’s true.” Loupe has had no trouble staying in the present this week, and after rounds of 65 and 68 he sits three shots behind Slocum. The pressure-cooker that causes trouble for so many players is one that Loupe is comfortable with, and as a multi-sport athlete growing up he enjoys competing when the stakes are high. “It’s an enjoyable stress level, I guess,” he said. “There’s nothing better than playing in front of a bunch of people with something on the line. It’s a great feeling.” For Slocum, the goal is still maintaining his full-time status with a high finish this week, but the Tour Finals serve as a suitable back-up plan. Last year, he joined Loupe as one of 25 players to survive the four-event gauntlet and earn cards for this season. His plan, then, is to build momentum – whether his destination beyond this week is New Jersey for the playoffs, or Fort Wayne, Ind., for the Finals – and enjoy the opportunity to be back in the mix over the weekend. “No matter win, lose or draw, I will go have fun the next two days,” he said. “I do miss this feeling of being in contention. So not being in contention for a while, I’m going to savor it.”last_img read more

O’Sullivan reaches U.S. Women’s Amateur quarters

first_imgPORTLAND, Ore. – Hannah O’Sullivan routed two more opponents Thursday to advance to the U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinals at Portland Golf Club. The 17-year-old O’Sullivan, from Chandler, Arizona, beat France’s Justine Dreher, 7 and 6, in the second round, and topped Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, Colorado, 4 and 3, in the third. “I’m feeling really good about my game,” O’Sullivan said. “I’m just trying to be as confident as possible and taking it one shot at a time. It’s been working out pretty well.” On Wednesday in the first round of match play, O’Sullivan beat Haley Mills of Tyler, Texas, 7 and 6. O’Sullivan won the Symetra Tour’s Gateway Classic in February in Mesa, Arizona, at 16 to become the youngest winner in the history of the professional circuit. O’Sullivan will face SMU junior Lindsey McCurdy of Liberty Hill, Texas. McCurdy beat 2014 winner Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas, 4 and 3, and Oregon’s Caroline Inglis of Eugene 1 up. In the other upper-bracket quarterfinal, France’s Mathilda Cappeliez will play Anna Newell of Tampa, Florida. In the third round, Cappeliez beat Elizabeth Wang of San Marino, California, 3 and 2, and Newell topped Bailey Tardy of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, 2 and 1. In the lower bracket, England’s Bronte Law will play Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Florida; and Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, California, will face Mika Liu of Los Angeles. Law beat U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Eun Jeong Seong of South Korea, 4 and 2; Brooks edged Maddie McCrary of Wylie, Texas, in 20 holes; Wu topped Lydia Choi of Los Angeles, 5 and 4; and Liu beat Cindy Ha of Demarest, New Jersey, 4 and 3. Law is a junior at UCLA. “I’ve learned from match-play experience that you have to treat every single opponent equally because someone has their hot day, someone doesn’t,” said Law, No. 2 in the women’s world amateur ranking. “I don’t treat anyone differently out there on the course.”last_img read more

Struggling picks Creamer, Hedwall under microscope

first_imgST. LEON-ROT, Germany – American Paula Creamer and European Caroline Hedwall made reputations thriving in the Solheim Cup, but they know recent struggles raise questions about how they will respond this week to the most intense spotlight in women’s golf. Will Solheim Cup pressure draw out the best in them? Or will it widen cracks in their armor? Creamer is 12-6-5 in five Solheim Cups. She has put up more points in this competition than any other American here this week, but she enters having missed her last four cuts in a row. She enters having slid to No. 48 in the Rolex world rankings, the lowest ranking of her 11-year career. Hedwall won all five matches she played helping the Europeans rout the Americans two years ago in Colorado, becoming the first player in Solheim Cup history to go 5-0. She also was a vital part of the European victory in Ireland four years ago, when she turned around her match to claim an integral half point late in the Euros’ dramatic comeback. She hasn’t done much since Colorado, though. Creamer, 29, knows there are doubts to slay this week, but she says she’s relishing the challenge. “This week is so much fun for me,” Creamer said. “I love having partners. I love match play. It’s that format that brings out the fighter, that grinder that I have inside me. Getting here, wearing these colors, it’s motivating. There’s nothing better than that.” Hedwall, 26, faces similar scrutiny heading into Friday’s start of the matches at St. Leon-Rot Golf Club. “I’m not scared of the nervous feeling,” Hedwall said. “I really enjoy it, and I think that’s the challenge.” American Stacy Lewis, a two-time major championship winner, was asked this week how Solheim Cup pressure differs from anything else in golf. “I think it’s like playing the 18th hole of a major over and over again,” Lewis said. “That’s the kind of pressure you feel on every single shot, on every single hole.” American and European golf fans will be tuning in to see how Solheim Cup stars like Creamer and Hedwall react. “I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Creamer said. “No matter what, I’m not going out and putting extra pressure on myself.” U.S. captain Juli Inkster showed a lot of confidence in Creamer making her one of her two captain’s picks. She showed even more confidence in her on Thursday when she announced she was sending Creamer out in her leadoff match in foursomes for the start of the Solheim Cup. She’s teaming Creamer with Morgan Pressel Friday morning against what may be Europe’s strongest team, Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist. “I have faith in Paula,” Inkster said. “I have all the confidence in the world in her. It was a no-brainer for me.” Foursomes is the toughest and truest team format because it’s alternate shot. There’s more pressure in those matches because a player’s wayward shot can put her partner in bad spots. Creamer and Pressel are best friends. They’ve partnered together in the Solheim Cup twice before and haven’t been beaten (1-0-1), but they’ve never played foursomes together in this event. “I watched Paula practice for three days,” Inkster said. “She’s hitting it great. She’s excited. I wanted to get her out there and get her feet wet, so to speak.” Cristie Kerr has played practice rounds with Creamer all week and likes what she’s seeing. “Paula loves this event,” Kerr said. “She just loves playing for her country. She rises to the occasion, and you’ll see that. I’ve never seen her make so many putts in practice and hit so many hybrids close to the hole. It was pretty amazing. I’m excited to see how she plays.” Creamer has won 10 LPGA titles in her career. She won her last at year’s start in 2014, taking the HSBC Champions in a playoff, but she still slipped to 22nd on the LPGA’s money list at year’s end, the lowest finish of her career. Always one of the game’s best iron players, Creamer’s struggles are evident in her stats. She finished 51st in hitting greens in regulation last year. She led the LPGA in GIR in ’09 and never finished worse than seventh in that category in her first eight years on tour. She’s 69th in GIR this year. “It’s really the first time in her career that she’s gone through a tough stretch,” Kerr said. “I think it’s humbling. Given the opportunity to shine here, I think she’ll do it.” Creamer’s struggles date back to her attempt to find more distance three seasons ago, when she tried to change her swing with her driver, to get more of an upward, sweeping motion. She also struggled through some equipment issues while making swing changes, where her affinity for bending her irons to get more loft affected the bounce on them. “I think Paula will rise to the occasion,” Lewis said. “I think all players, even great players, have bad streaks, good streaks, ups and downs, it happens. I think she’ll rise to the occasion and she’ll be just fine.” Hedwall, 26, faces similar challenges finding form in a Solheim Cup. In the victory at Colorado Golf Club two years ago, European captain Liselotte Neumann called Hedwall one of her “Swedish Vikings.” Hedwall has played nine Solheim Cup matches and been beaten just once. She’s 7-1-1, but she’s also coming into this week having missed the cut in five of her last seven starts worldwide. Riding that Solheim Cup boost late in 2013, Hedwall rose to No. 22 in the world. She has slid to No. 117. “I’m hitting the ball really well, but I just haven’t putted that well,” Hedwall said. “It kind of was the same situation when I came into Solheim in 2013. I didn’t make many putts and all of a sudden it all worked. I’m kind of hoping for some magic this week, too.” European captain Carin Koch believes match play will spark some fire in Hedwall this week. Unlike Inkster, however, Koch left Hedwall out of Friday’s opening session. “Caroline is quite spectacular, usually, when it comes to match play,” Koch said. “And the times I watched her play this year, she was hitting the ball very well. So I’m not too worried. I think she can take care of herself. But it will be exciting to see what she can do this week.” For better or worse, Creamer and Hedwall both promise to be storylines given what they’ve meant to the Solheim Cup.last_img read more

Spieth’s recent stretch demands comparison to Woods

first_imgKAPALUA, Hawaii – As one player spoke with a gaggle of reporters following his round on Friday, a celebration erupted from the ninth green just down the hill at Kapalua. “That’s the boy,” the player mused with a healthy dose of awe. “The boy” was Jordan Spieth, the PGA Tour’s 22-year-old wunderkind who continues to surprise despite a resume that already includes two major bottle caps and a half dozen victories. His eagle at the par-5 ninth on Friday vaulted him into a commanding lead at the 2016 lid lifter and he’s really not looked back since. The boy wonder set out on a windswept Saturday at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with four-stroke advantage and picked up three consecutive birdies starting at the fourth before dropping his first shot of 2016, a bogey that was the result of a wicked bounce in a bunker on No. 8. “I started out the day with just kind of an off range session. I wasn’t feeling great,” said Spieth, who closed with a 65 for a 25 under total. “[Nos.] 8 through 11 was a tough stretch for me striking the ball. But we still played those holes 1 over when it could have been worse. We made up for it.” But even when Spieth gives the field a glimmer of hope it’s starting to feel like borrowed time. Following his bogey at No. 8, Spieth also failed to birdie the par-5 ninth and Brooks Koepka picked up two shots with birdies at the 14th and 15th holes to cut the lead to one shot. Spieth’s answer was quick and undeniably clear, a birdie putt at No. 12 from Oahu (actually it was 46 feet) that dropped with a sheepish grin and innocent shrug followed by two more birdies at Nos. 14 and 15. Despite a charging effort from Koepka, who posted with a 10-under 63 in the week’s toughest conditions, Spieth maintained a healthy advantage to fuel his burgeoning aura. Comparisons with Tiger Woods and his dominance have all turned out to be wildly unfounded. There have been Tiger-like performances in recent years (see McIlroy, Rory 2014) and Tiger-ish seasons (Spieth 2015), but sustained preeminence is hard. Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Articles, photos and videos Spieth’s last 10 months, however, demand comparisons to Woods at his best, no matter how unfair they seem. Since winning last year’s Valspar Championship in March he has five Tour victories, including career-defining triumphs at the Masters and U.S. Open. Along the way he added five runner-up finishes and a FedEx Cup title. By any definition, that is Tiger-like. It’s etched into the leaderboard and the faces of his frat brothers every time he converts a crucial putt, like his 9-footer for eagle at the last to close his round on Saturday for a five-stroke advantage. “I know what it feels like to be Jordan Spieth now, I guess, shooting 10 under every round,” Koepka laughed. Spieth’s name atop a leaderboard may not be worth a half a stroke a side like some say it was for Woods once upon a time, but there is no denying that his continued excellence is starting to inch its way into the collective psyche. “I tell you what, you can’t make a lot of mistakes,” said Brandt Snedeker, whose 65 on Saturday was his best card in 14 trips around the Plantation Course but still left him nine shots back. “I played a couple practice rounds with him this week and he just hits so many quality golf shots. And when he doesn’t, his short game is so good he doesn’t make any bogeys.” Whether this is the new normal remains to be seen, and to be historically accurate Woods achieved his status after a decade of stellar play, but three rounds into the new year it’s hard to see any weaknesses or blind spots in Spieth’s game. Spieth plays to his strengths, avoids the big miss and though he might not make every putt he steps to, he certainly holes the ones that matter. He’s won on fescue greens (U.S. Open), bent (Masters) and Bermuda grass (Tour Championship), and seems to play better when the conditions are most demanding. Although he’s far too modest to ever admit it, he seems to sense his building mystique among the rank and file. “When Tiger’s in contention, why is his record so phenomenal? Well, sure, he played the best golf and he was the strongest mentally, but everyone else knew that he could do it and maybe tried to do a bit too much and then they’re out of their own sync,” said Spieth, who has now led or been in second place after all seven rounds he’s played at the Tournament of Champions. “In no way, shape, or form am I comparing where I’m at to what he’s done, but I think that any time someone continues to win or close a deal, it just starts to put it in your head.” With a Houdini short game and a putting stroke that travels, Spieth has emerged as a singular talent. Whether he’s bound for the heights that Woods reached depends on what transpires over the next decade or so, but he’s certainly headed down a familiar road.last_img read more

Cook leads RSM Classic by three at Sea Island

first_imgST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday to increase his lead to three strokes in the RSM Classic. Cook, a shot ahead after a second-round 62, had five birdies and a bogey – his first of the week – to reach 18-under 194 with a round left at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course. ”Putting is key right now,” Cook said. ”Been able to make a lot of clutch putts for the pars to save no bogeys. Hitting the ball pretty much where we’re looking and giving ourselves good opportunities on every hole.” Former University of Georgia player Chris Kirk was second after a 64. ”I’m really comfortable here,” Kirk said. ”I love Sea Island. I lived here for 6 1/2 years, so I played the golf course a lot, SEC Championships and come down here for the RSM Classic. My family and I, we come down here a few other times a year as well.” Brian Gay was another stroke back at 14 under after a 69. ”I love the course,” Gay said. ”We keep getting different wind directions so it’s keeping us on our toes. Supposed to be another completely different wind direction tomorrow, so we’re getting a new course every day.” RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos Full-field scores from the RSM Classic J.J. Spaun had a 62 to get to 13 under. ”I just kind of played stress-free golf out there and kept the golf ball in front of me,” Spaun said. ”I had a lot of looks and scrambled pretty well, even though it was only a handful of times, but pretty overall pleased with how I played today.” Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player earned his PGA Tour card through the Tour. ”I think with an extra year on the Web this past year, I really grew mentally and with my game, just kind of more confidence,” Cook said. ”I was able to put myself in contention on the more this year than I have in the past. I think I’ve just, you know, learned from experiences on the Web to help me grow out here.” He planned to keep it simple Saturday night. ”I’ve got my parents here and my in-laws are both here as well as my wife,” Cook said. ”Go home and just have a good home-cooked meal and just kind of enjoy the time and embrace the moment.” Kirk won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2015 at Colonial. ”It’s nice to be back in contention again,” Kirk said. ”It’s been a little while for me. But I felt great out there today, I felt really comfortable, and so hopefully it will be the same way tomorrow and I’ll keep my foot on the pedal and stay aggressive, try to make some birdies.”last_img read more

McNealy’s road to the Tour was hardly glamorous

first_imgOne of the uncomfortable truths of the Korn Ferry Tour is that no one wants to be there. Sure, the quality of play is exceptional – it’s arguably the second-best circuit in the world – but the tour serves primarily as a feeder system for the big leagues. It’s a stepping stone, not the final destination. Everyone is desperate for a promotion, and that’s how Maverick McNealy found himself in his hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska, playing his fourth consecutive week, in the midst of a grueling summer stretch in which he was supposed to go 10 in a row. Because he sat precariously on the top-25 bubble, he played in a weekly pressure cooker that would determine his status for 2020 and beyond. This push to the finish line began with a middling finish in Salt Lake City. It continued with a weather-plagued top-10 in western New York, followed by a missed cut in Colorado, at a course that’s a 10-mile walk at elevation. And now it included an opening-round 76 in Omaha, during which the heat index when he left the course at 8 p.m. was still 109 degrees. McNealy woke up that next morning feeling as though he’d been flattened by a semi. He texted his agent: I can’t go next week. I’m going home. Taking a week off during the heart of the season often can feel like career suicide, but his time away proved therapeutic. “The point where I struggled so hard, I decided that I’m OK being on this tour as long as it takes,” McNealy said by phone recently. “I said that I’ll do whatever I need to do. I’m not in a rush. And when I became OK with where I was, that allowed me to get to the next level.” When he returned to competition the following week at TPC Stonebrae, in the penultimate regular-season event, McNealy made a late eagle to finish third and essentially lock up his PGA Tour card. He’s one of 156 players who will tee it up this week in the season-opening A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier – the first time he’s played there since 2015, when he was the 19-year-old Haskins Award winner for whom golf seemed so easy. A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier: Full-field tee times | Full coverage His remains one of the most unlikely trajectories in golf: hockey player, unheralded Stanford freshman, Player of the Year, top-ranked amateur, minor-league grinder, now PGA Tour member. Only halfway through his college career did it even register that he might be talented enough to try professional golf; he’d always envisioned himself in a corner office, working toward a greater cause, following in his famous father’s footsteps. (Scott McNealy is the former co-founder of Sun Microsystems, a company he sold in 2010 for $7.4 billion.)  When McNealy finally made the jump in 2017, some wondered whether pro golf would be a short-term gig, whether he’d soon grow tired of the week-to-week monotony, whether after a few years he’d instead use his connections and intellect to run a startup. Now 23, McNealy has always faced the perception that he’s a silver spooner, never mind that he and his three brothers were never raised as children of privilege; they crammed into the same bedroom in the family’s 7,280-square-foot Bay Area mansion, their twin beds lined up in a row. The same rules applied for all of the boys: Their parents would cover costs through college, and then three months of free room and board at home after graduation. But then they’re on their own, which is how McNealy ended up in Las Vegas, sharing an apartment in a state with no income tax. Even some of his peers wrongly assumed that the son of a Silicon Valley veteran was living lavishly on the Korn Ferry Tour, flying private and lounging in the Four Seasons. Little did they know that McNealy had double-booked his flight on Southwest and was staying in a Hampton Inn. “They were almost disappointed,” he said. A few years ago, when announcing his pro intentions, McNealy listed the usual reasons – love of the game, the never-ending quest to improve – but also this: That the ball didn’t care who he was, or where he came from. It hinted at the burden of expectation he’d carried the past few years, during his meteoric rise to stardom. “I’ve really struggled with that,” he said. “I felt a lot of pressure to be exceptional the last couple of years, when it was an impossible standard to hold myself to.” That feeling persisted in his first year as a pro. He successfully navigated Q-School to secure his playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour, but he collected just $87,006 across 18 events in 2018 – enough to retain his card but nowhere near his end goal of reaching the Tour. His commitment was being tested. He was weighed down by expectations. He was burned out, teeing it up 12 times in 16 weeks in a failed attempt to secure a Tour card. And his swing was deserting him, leading to a confidence-crushing two-way miss and an embarrassing week of practice that included 24 lost balls. “I really fell in love with golf at rock bottom,” he said. “I told myself, I have to have a strong reason to keep playing golf.” The first reason was personal. In high school he began helping Curriki, a non-profit whose mission is to make high-quality education free and accessible for everyone. Earlier this year McNealy launched “Birdies for Education” and donated $20 for every birdie, a figure matched by his sponsors. Many of his pro-am partners got involved, too. The total amount raised this season: $385,000. “That’s what I love to do,” he said. “I feel like I’m making a difference, using golf as a way to get better at things.” Your browser does not support iframes. But McNealy also understood that the better he played, the bigger platform he’d enjoy. So he changed his routine, trying to peak for Sunday afternoon and not Thursday morning. He sharpened his speed on the greens, his short-game work during practice rounds, his distance control with his wedges. Still, progress was slow, and this summer he made the difficult decision to split with his longtime swing coach, Alex Murray, who over the past decade helped transform McNealy from a hockey player into the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world. McNealy’s girlfriend, LPGA player Danielle Kang, has worked for years with Butch Harmon, and Kang mentioned in passing that Harmon would be happy to look at McNealy’s swing and offer a few suggestions. Harmon identified the problem in just three swings – the tip: wider takeaway, load right, fire left and stand taller with the driver – and sent McNealy home with a printout of what they’d worked on. Over the past few months McNealy improved from 119th in greens in regulation to inside the top 70. “That was a huge key for my end-of-season push,” he said. McNealy’s results don’t jump off the page – 10 of his 16 made cuts were 30th or worse – but he took full advantage of his few events in contention. Nothing was more satisfying than how he closed out his hometown tournament. Knowing he needed a top-3 to clinch his card, McNealy was only one shot clear of a logjam in fifth place as he played the closing stretch at the Ellie Mae Classic. “On 15, I said, ‘This is it – I’ve got to do it here,’” he said. On the long par 5, McNealy hammered a drive, leaving him 292 yards to a back-left flag. He smoked a hot draw with his 2-iron, his ball scampering onto the green, catching a piece of the hole and settling 6 feet away for eagle. “That was the shot of the year for me,” he said. “That was the one that got me to the PGA Tour.”  It became official a week later, when he birdied the final two holes in Portland to make the cut and secure his spot in The 25. When McNealy awoke Saturday morning, his dream of being a PGA Tour member was finally realized, the constant pressure of the past 21 months gone. “It felt like all the emotion had left me,” he said. “I was just an empty bag of bones.” He played without nerves or adrenaline. He slept for 26 hours the first two nights in Columbus. He looked forward to the next chapter, like every other relieved Korn Ferry Tour graduate. Last week McNealy was home in Las Vegas, eating, practicing, recovering, preparing for his first PGA Tour season. He’d climbed his way to the pinnacle of the sport, all on his own. It was exactly where he wanted to be.last_img read more

New names, new faces, new chapter for U.S. at Solheim Cup

first_imgGLENEAGLES, Scotland – Ladbrokes didn’t change the betting line for this week’s Solheim Cup with Tuesday’s news that yet another American star won’t be teeing it up in the matches. They aren’t listing it as the lambs against the wolves just yet. In fact, in what may be the week’s first upset, the Americans remained the favorites across all the prominent British bookmaking sites. With former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis withdrawing from the U.S. team because of back pain, Ally McDonald is stepping in as an alternate, giving the Americans another rookie in their ranks. That’s six now, meaning half of U.S. captain Juli Inkster’s team has never played in a Solheim Cup. That’s more “rookies” than the Americans have fielded since the inaugural matches in 1990, when everyone was a first-timer. Ladbrokes makes the Americans 8/15 favorites even though they’re playing on the road, in Scotland, the birthplace of golf, where the most star-studded American teams have never won a Solheim Cup. The United States is 0-2 here. “That’s why I’m surprised the Americans are such strong favorites,” said Laura Davies, the winningest European Solheim Cup player ever and a vice captain this week. Nine of Inkster’s 12 players have never played a Solheim Cup overseas. “I just think home soil outweighs most things,” Davies said. “We haven’t won away from home much, but we’ve done most of our winning on European soil, and that has such a huge bearing.” Golf Central Solheim Cup capsules: Meet Team USA BY Randall Mell  — September 10, 2019 at 7:02 AM Here’s a closer look at the U.S. Solheim Cup team that will compete Friday-Sunday at Gleneagles. The Solheim Cup was a “Who’s Who” of American women in golf when it was launched 29 years ago. This week, it’s more like: “Who the hell are these women?” For casual fans who don’t follow the LPGA week to week but like to tune in to see the patriotic nature of the biennial international team event, there are a lot of names they likely won’t know outside Lexi Thompson and Morgan Pressel, who built reputations outside golf’s niche, in history-making feats as teen phenoms. This American team isn’t loaded with a lot of proven winners. It’s the nature of today’s Asian-dominated game. Articles and videos from the 16th Solheim Cup Back in ’92, the American team going to Scotland for the first time combined to win 146 LPGA titles and 21 majors. The Americans that won in Iowa just two years ago combined to win 64 LPGA titles and 11 majors. This year’s Americans? They’ve won 25 LPGA titles and three majors. The Europeans don’t just have the “home-field advantage.” They have a lot more Solheim Cup experience. Golf Central Solheim Cup capsules: Meet Team Europe BY Randall Mell  — September 10, 2019 at 7:25 AM Here’s a closer look at the European Solheim Cup team that will compete Friday-Sunday at Gleneagles. European captain Catriona Matthew’s team has combined to win 59 Solheim Cup matches. The Americans have combined to win 24. “We are probably, definitely … the underdogs,” Inkster said when the American team was being finalized at the CP Women’s Open. “But we’ve got nothing to lose if we can go over there and give it our best shot and see what happens.” Yes, these Americans don’t have the star power other teams have had in the past, but Inkster likes what she sees with all of this youth. She likes what she sees possible. “I really like the makeup of my team,” Inkster said. “They may be unseasoned, but I think they’re seasoned. I think they can handle it.” Thompson, Pressel, Jessica Korda and her sister, Nelly, Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas form the nucleus of this year’s team. Marina Alex, Angel Yin, Megan Khang, Brittany Altomare, Annie Park and McDonald are still working to make their names, and this week’s a perfect stage for them to do that. “It’s a whole new team,” Inkster told European media last week. “I only have a couple who have played more than one Solheim Cup. So, I have a question mark on how they are going to respond to playing in Scotland, in front of those crowds. There’s a lot up in the air. The weather is such a huge factor in everything. It depends on how they handle it. “I think they have courage to do that. I love the spirit of my team. They’re quiet, but they are confident, and we’ll just have to see how it plays out. We could get creamed or we could make a match of it.” One thing seems certain: If the Americans follow their captain’s lead, they won’t be playing scared. Inkster isn’t worrying about her rookies this week, and she isn’t looking to protect them by making sure they’re paired with veterans. “They’ve got to grow up sometime,” Inkster said. “Everybody’s a rookie once. I just happen to have six of them. So, we’re just going to throw them out there.” Inkster won 31 LPGA titles and seven majors with that fearless attitude. Really, she says over and over, it’s golf. So, have fun with it. “We’re all excited to see how they do out there, because it’s a crapshoot,” Inkster said. “They could play great, or they could not play great. But it’s a team event, and we’re really excited to have them on our team and watch them play.”last_img read more

Five-way tie at Shriners; Bryson one shot back

first_imgLAS VEGAS – Patrick Cantlay has played the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open so well that he wasn’t the least bit concerned when he was stuck in neutral Friday. Four straight birdies later, he was right up at the top again. Cantlay ran off four straight birdies at the midway point of his round and got up-and-down from a bunker on the par-5 ninth to cap off a 6-under 65 and be part of a five-way for the lead going into the weekend in Las Vegas. Martin Laird hit his second shot into 4 feet for eagle on his closing hole at the ninth for a 63. Peter Malnati, runner-up last week in Mississippi, made a 15-footer for eagle from the fringe on No. 9 to close out his 62. They joined Cantlay at 14-under 128, along with Brian Harman (63) and Austin Cook (65). Shriners Hospitals for Children Open: Full-field scores | Full coverage U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who opened with a 62, was one shot behind with a round Cantlay could appreciate. Ground can be made up quickly at the TPC Summerlin. DeChambeau drove the green on the 380-yard seventh for the second straight day, and this time he converted the eagle putt. Still, he was 1 under for his round and out of the top 10 until he made birdie on the 15th hole and then hit a 367-yard drive on the par-5 16th, setting up a wedge to 10 feet for eagle. Just like that, he had a 67 and was right in the mix. “Any time you’re near the lead in a PGA Tour event I’m excited. There is no doubt about it,” DeChambeau said. “I definitely left some shots out there as I made a few great shots, so can’t be too displeased with that, and look forwards to hitting a couple more shots better and making a few putts that I need to that I didn’t middle of the round.” Cantlay won this tournament for his first PGA Tour title in 2017. He was runner-up to DeChambeau the following year, and lost in a playoff to Kevin Na last year. He expects to play well, and that showed early on in his round when he was even par through six holes and losing ground. “You need to make so many birdies, and I’m just used to it out here,” Cantlay said. “It never feels like I’m stressing because it feels like there are so many birdie holes. It actually allows me to be patient.” Golf Central Update: Five-way logjam for lead in Las Vegas He went into a back bunker on No. 11, his second hole of the round, and missed a 10-foot par putt. On the 15th hole, a par 4 that played at only 284 yards Friday, he drove into a right bunker and didn’t reach the green, having to scramble for par on the second-easiest hole at the TPC Summerlin. At that point, he was even for his round. And then he two-putted for birdie on the 16th, and had wedges to 10 feet and 15 feet for birdies, and hit a flip wedge to 4 feet on No. 1. Just like that, he was on his way. Laird poured it on late. He was 2 under on the back nine, and then played the front nine in 30 with four birdies and his short eagle putt on his final hole. “I hit 5-iron and I didn’t think I could get it there,” Laird said. “But to that pine, if you’re 5 yards short of the green it’s a pretty straightforward chip up the green. And as soon as I hit it, I just got it absolutely right and I said to my caddie, `That’s as good as I got. Let’s see if it gets there.’ It landed perfect, skipped up to about 4 feet. It was a nice way to finish.” Sergio Garcia (64) and the resurgent Stewart Cink (63), who began the new season by winning the Safeway Open for his first title since he won The Open at Turnberry in 2009, were among those two shots behind. Garcia is coming off a victory in the Sanderson Farms Championship, his first on the PGA Tour since the 2017 Masters. “Earlier in the year I felt like I was playing as well as I’ve been playing the last week and-a-half, just things weren’t really happening,” Garcia said. “So obviously it’s a combination of playing well, confidence, couple good breaks when you need them at the right time that keeps your round going, and that’s what I did.” Headed the opposite direction was Rickie Fowler, who missed the cut for the fourth time since golf returned in June. Fowler hit two shots in the water on the par-5 16th and made a triple-bogey 8. On the next hole, he hit his tee shot in the water on the par 3 and made double bogey. He shot 74. Francesco Molinari, in his first competition since golf shut down in March, returned with rounds of 70-68. In Las Vegas, on this course, that meant missing the cut. The cut was at 7-under 135. It was the lowest score to par to make the cut on the PGA Tour since 1970 Among the victims were PGA champion Collin Morikawa, who didn’t miss a cut in his first 23 PGA Tour events as a pro. He now has missed three in his last nine starts, though that stretch includes winning a major.last_img

ID’s Top Six — The Origin of Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines

first_img Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Recommended Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Second, on kinesin: Casey LuskinAssociate Director, Center for Science and CultureCasey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.Follow CaseyProfileWebsite Share Life Sciences ID’s Top Six — The Origin of Irreducibly Complex Molecular MachinesCasey LuskinNovember 10, 2017, 1:47 AM Editor’s note: In the past we’ve offered the top 10 problems with Darwinian evolution (see here for a fuller elaboration), and the top five problems with origin-of-life theories. But somehow we neglected to offer a parallel listing of the top evidence supporting intelligent design. Many different sources pointing to design in nature could be adduced, but we decided to distill it all down to six major lines of evidence. Sure, five or ten would have been more conventional, but when did ID advocates start playing to expectations?So here they are, their order simply reflecting that in which they must logically have occurred within our universe. Material is adapted from the textbook Discovering Intelligent Design, which is an excellent resource for introducing the evidence for ID, along with Stephen Meyer’s books Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt.4. The Origin of Irreducibly Complex Molecular MachinesMolecular machines are another compelling line of evidence for intelligent design, as there is no known cause, other than intelligent design, that can produce machine-like structures with multiple interacting parts. In a well-known 1998 article in the journal Cell, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Bruce Alberts explained the astounding nature of molecular machines:[T]he entire cell can be viewed as a factory that contains an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines.… Why do we call the large protein assemblies that underlie cell function protein machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts.There are numerous molecular machines known to biology (this article describes 40 of them). Here’s a description of two well-known molecular machines from Discovering Intelligent Design:Ribosome: The ribosome is a multi-part machine responsible for translating the genetic instructions during the assembly of proteins. According to Craig Venter, a widely respected biologist, the ribosome is “an incredibly beautiful complex entity” which requires a minimum of 53 proteins. Bacterial cells may contain up to 100,000 ribosomes, and human cells may contain millions. Biologist Ada Yonath, who won the Nobel Prize for her work on ribosomes, observes that they are “ingeniously designed for their functions.”ATP Synthase: ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the primary energy-carrying molecule in all cells. In many organisms, it is generated by a protein-based molecular machine called ATP synthase. This machine is composed of two spinning rotary motors connected by an axle. As it rotates, bumps on the axle push open other protein subunits, providing the mechanical energy needed to generate ATP. In the words of cell biologist David Goodsell, “ATP synthase is one of the wonders of the molecular world.”But could molecular machines evolve by Darwinian mechanisms? Discovering Intelligent Design explains why this is highly improbable due to the irreducibly complex nature of many molecular machines:Many cellular features, such as molecular machines, require multiple interactive parts to function. Behe has further studied the ability of Darwinism to explain these multipart structures.In his book Darwin’s Black Box, Behe coined the term irreducible complexity to describe a system that fails Darwin’s test of evolution:“What type of biological system could not be formed by ‘numerous successive slight modifications’? Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. By irreducibly complex I mean a single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”As suggested earlier, Darwinism requires that structures remain functional along each small step of their evolution. However, irreducibly complex structures cannot evolve in a step-by-step fashion because they do not function until all of their parts are present and working. Multiple parts requiring numerous mutations would be necessary to get any function at all — an event that is extremely unlikely to occur by chance.One famous example of an irreducibly complex molecular machine is the bacterial flagellum. The flagellum is a micro-molecular propeller assembly driven by a rotary engine that propels bacteria toward food or a hospitable living environment. There are various types of flagella, but all function like a rotary engine made by humans, as found in some car and boat motors.Flagella contain many parts that are familiar to human engineers, including a rotor, a stator, a drive shaft, a u-joint, and a propeller. As one molecular biologist wrote in the journal Cell, “[m]ore so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human.”Genetic knockout experiments by microbiologist Scott Minnich show that the flagellum fails to assemble or function properly if any one of its approximately 35 genes is removed. In this all-or-nothing game, mutations cannot produce the complexity needed to evolve a functional flagellum one step at a time, and the odds are too daunting for it to assemble in one great leap.What about the objection that molecular machines can evolve through co-option of pre-existing parts and components? Again, Discovering Intelligent Design explains why this proposition fails — and why molecular machines point to design:Irreducibly complex structures point to design because they contain high levels of specified complexity — i.e., they have unlikely arrangements of parts, all of which are necessary to achieve a specific function.ID critics counter that such structures can be built by co-opting parts from one job in the cell to another.Co-option: To take and use for another purpose. In evolutionary biology, it is a highly speculative mechanism where blind and unguided processes cause biological parts to be borrowed and used for another purpose.Of course we could find many more pieces of evidence supporting ID, but sometimes shorter is more readable, and five makes for a nice concise blog post that we hope you can pass around and share with friends.But there are multiple problems co-option can’t solve.First, not all parts are available elsewhere. Many are unique. In fact, most flagellar parts are found only in flagella.Second, machine parts are not necessarily easy to interchange. Grocery carts and motorcycles both have wheels, but one could not be borrowed from the other without significant modification. At the molecular level, where small changes can prevent two proteins from interacting, this problem is severe.Third, complex structures almost always require a specific order of assembly. When building a house, a foundation must be laid before walls can be added, windows can’t be installed until there are walls, and a roof can’t be added until the frame complete. As another example, one could shake a box of computer parts for thousands of years, but a functional computer would never form.Thus, merely having the necessary parts available is not enough to build a complex system because specific assembly instructions must be followed. Cells use complex assembly instructions in DNA to direct how parts will interact and combine to form molecular machines. Proponents of co-option never explain how those instructions arise.To attempt to explain irreducible complexity, ID critics often promote wildly speculative stories about co-option. But ID theorists William Dembski and Jonathan Witt observe that in our actual experience, there is only one known cause that can modify and co-opt machine parts into new systems:“What is the one thing in our experience that co-opts irreducibly complex machines and uses their parts to build a new and more intricate machine? Intelligent agents.”Two videos, produced by Discovery Institute, explain the complexity and design of some well-known molecular machines, with memorable animations. First, on ATP synthase: A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to Allcenter_img Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Congratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour Image at top: Kinesin at work in the cell, from “Kinesin: The Workhorse of the Cell,” via Discovery Institute. “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Intelligent Design TagsAda YonathATP synthasebiologyBruce Albertscell’sco-optionCraig VenterDarwin’s Black BoxDavid GoodsellDiscovering Intelligent DesignevolutionID’s Top Sixintelligent designIrreducible ComplexityJonathan WittkinesinMichael Behemolecular machinesNational Academy of SciencesribosomesWilliam Dembski,Trendinglast_img read more