Who won the first-ever Donald Ross Memorial Invitational boys individual title?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Juniors: Philip Knowles captures junior tourney comfortably

Bradenton's Philip Knowles wrapped up an impressive summer slate with a five-shot victory at the Sam Parks Junior Invitational at Belleair Country Club this past weekend.

Knowles fired a 65-68--133 total for the title in the boys 16-18 year old division. It completed a summer schedule that saw some successes, including finishing runner-up in the Florida State Amateur Match Play Championship.

Now the Bradenton Christian junior is turning his attention to the fall high school golf season.

For more on the high school golf landscape for the 2013 season, check out tomorrow's Bradenton Herald.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Monday Recap: FedEx Cup begins with a bang

Adam Scott, who shed the stinging defeat at the 2012 British Open from his memory bank in capturing this year's Masters title, took an important first step toward winning the FedEx Cup this past week.

The Australian fired a bogey-free 66, before watching each challenger misfire on forcing a playoff in capturing The Barclays championship in New Jersey.

Scott's final round produced an 11-under par total, while England's Justin Rose (three-putt on the 18th), Tiger Woods (birdie putt inches short on the 18th) and Gary Woodland (putt just short on the 18th) each missed a chance to force a playoff.

The end result is more important than the $1.44 million first-place prize, if there is such a thing. Yes, there is and that is the race for the FedEx Cup title. Scott's victory earned him valuable points, pushing him to No. 2 on the list. He's 162 points behind Woods following his second win of the year.

Despite not winning more tournaments, Scott has played well when it's counted the most. Besides the major championship he claimed to begin this season, Scott tied for third at the British Open and tied for fifth at the PGA Championship.

The latter came on the heels of the FedEx Cup race, and now he's heading to the site of his inaugural PGA Tour victory. Scott won the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003, and is having a breakthrough season 10 years ago with the chance to add to his win total. Should he accomplish the feat of winning back-to-back, he'll be in prime position to win the FedEx Cup, which has three events remaining in the playoff portion of the schedule that includes this week's tour stop at TPC Boston.

Only the top 100 players in the standings advanced to this week's tournament. The top 70 progress to the BMW Championship, slated for mid-September, before the top 30 qualify for the Tour Championship.

Friday, August 9, 2013

PGA Championship: Woody Austin's error

We've all brought extra clubs to the course at one time or another without regard in a friendly round.

But when you do it in a competitive round, it sure can hurt your score in a heartbeat.

So when Woody Austin began his second round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill on Friday,  nothing was askew. But Austin failed to keep a bulky out of his bag that already was at the maximum of 14 clubs. That's a big no-no when it comes to the United States Golf Association's rulebook.

And thus Austin was assessed a two-shot penalty for each hole that the extra club remained in his bag.

The total damage after it was discovered on the third hole was four shots - the maximum for the rule breach.

Austin shared in the responsibility for the miscue, which wasn't noticed until the third hole due to a rain cover blanketing the clubs to keep them dry from Mother Nature.

Austin posted a 75, which left him at 4-over par for the championship after his opening 1-under par 69.

He missed the cut as a result, and would have made the weekend if not for the four-shot penalty.

It's not the first time the mistake has happened in major championship golf. The last time, and probably the most famous outburst in golf, came from Ian Woosnam in the 2001 British Open.

Here's a clip from the mistake that cost Woosnam some momentum and a chance at the Claret Jug:

Hopefully, Austin's caddy doesn't meet the same fate as Woosnam's did following that fateful final round in '01. (Hint: he was fired).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

PGA Championship: Early first round reflections

Glory's Last Shot, oh wait, that moniker was dropped for this year's PGA Championship at the PGA Tour's request.

So what we have is the final major championship getting underway in Rochester, N.Y., at Oak Hill.

Tiger Woods was the prohibitive favorite entering this week on the heels of the victory he secured last Sunday in Akron, Ohio at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

However, some early reflections from the PGA Championship's first round show Woods didn't get off to the start everyone expected. Instead of putting a strong round together, Woods faltered late and posted a 1-over par 71.

Currently, he's six shots behind two men: Jim Furyk and Masters champ Adam Scott.

And while that's not an inconceivable margin to make up over three rounds, the telling stat is this: there are 40 golfers under par at the present time and a total of 58 players ahead of him on the leaderboard.

That's a large number to get by, but Woods is capable of such a feat. So yours truly isn't counting him out of the running just yet. It just means he'll need to figure things out a bit more when Friday's second round rolls around.

Another thought from Thursday's opening round is how Scott has elevated his game this season. After such a heartbreaking performance at the 2012 British Open, Scott could have packed it in and never competed again on the big stage. Instead, he became the first Australian to ever win the green jacket when he caught some late magic at Augusta National for his first major championship.

He also played well at this year's British Open for awhile, despite not walking way with the Claret Jug (that went to Englishman Justin Rose).

Another musing is two-fold: Phil Mickelson is trying to string together a solid start after a tough beginning, and where on Earth has Paul Casey been hiding?

Casey, who ascended to a career-best No. 3 world ranking in 2009, has plummeted to just inside the top 100 in the world coming into this week's tournament.

Yet the Englishman is tied for fifth in the early going after a superb 3-under par 67 leaves him just two off the lead.

However, Casey hasn't put four strong rounds together in majors this year. At the U.S. Open, he was having a respectable tourney until a 79 dropped him into a tie for 45th place. How about the Masters and British Open? Casey didn't play in either.

But that 67 is a solid start for the former world No. 3.

Meanwhile, Mickelson's bid for a second straight major title began in horrendous fashion as Lefty bogeyed and double-bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, en route to a 2-over par 37 on the front nine.

Mickelson, though, has birdied three of four holes and is currently playing a par-5 on the back nine.

United States Women's Amateur: Doris Chen into quarters

IMG Academy alum Doris Chen is going to find a familiar opponent awaiting her when Friday's quarterfinal takes place at The Country Club of Charleston at the 113th United States Women's Amateur Championship.

Chen faces Lauren Diaz-Yi, of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Diaz-Yi knocked Chen off in the final of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links earlier this summer by a 10-and-9 score that is a record margin for victory in that event's 37 year history.

Now Chen has a chance to redeem herself from a repeat blasting as she defeated two players in Thursday's action in Charleston, S.C.

The University of Southern California rising junior bested Hawaii native Kacie Komoto 3-and-2 in Thursday morning's second round, before knocking off Australia's Minjee Lee 2-and-1 in the Round of 16.

Chen and Diaz-Yi's rematch from earlier this summer is the first quarterfinal conducted on Friday, and is slated for a 1:45 p.m. start.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

United States Women's Amateur: Doris Chen advances to second round

Former IMG Academy star Doris Chen, who made the final of the United States Women's Public Links earlier this summer, earned a first-round 2-up victory at the U.S. Women's Amateur on Wednesday.

Playing at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., Chen was handed the No. 40 seed after two rounds of stroke play where she was a combined 2-over par.

The University of Southern California junior dusted off Silverdale, Wash., native Erynne Lee in a match that went the full 18 holes.

And that early close match could help Chen as she progresses in the tournament, because she'll have more familiarity with tight, high-pressure situations as well as seeing all 18 holes an extra time.

For now, she'll eye a trip to the second round Thursday morning. A victory there pushes her into the afternoon's third round.

The quarterfinals are set for Friday, with the semifinals scheduled Saturday and the 36-hole final slated for Sunday.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amateur: Philip Knowles goes deep at Florida State Amateur Match Play Championship

Bradenton's Philip Knowles came close to capturing the 23rd Florida State Amateur Match Play Championship that concluded Sunday at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville.

Knowles won five straight matches to earn a spot in Sunday afternoon's final against Juno Beach resident Kevin Jorden.

A champion couldn't be determined in regulation, so the match went into a sudden-death playoff. After both players halved the 19th and 20th holes with pars, Jorden claimed the title on the 21st hole with an 18-foot birdie.

That birdie followed Knowles up-and-down par from the greenside bunker.

Knowles fired a 69 in the seeding round to grab one of the top seeds in the match play portion. From there, he knocked off three opponents with a 4-and-3 victory, one opponent by a 3-and-1 margin and another by a 3-and-2 mark.

The Bradenton Christian rising junior is primed for a big prep season on the heels of the state match play performance and other top state tournaments on both the junior and amateur circuits.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Monday Recap: Tiger's rout and Paula Creamer fades at Women's British

Tiger Woods. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Services.

Tiger Woods earned an easy victory this past weekend, leaving all the drama to rest on Sunday after a scorching 61 in Friday's second round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

That bodes well for Woods ahead of the PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y. this week.

Woods is searching for that major title to resurrect his chase of Jack Nicklaus hallowed mark of 18 major championships.

Woods has claimed 14 major championships, and Oak Hill is a prime place for him to win his first one since the 2008 United States Open based off last week's performance.

Phil Mickelson is another favorite after he broke the British Open jinx to become one of a select few to have won three different major titles (that dastardly U.S. Open still eludes Lefty).

And Woods should find solace in Mickelson's form leading into this year's Open. Prior to the July major, Mickelson won the Scottish Open in a playoff to show he was capable of winning across the pond.

While the style of the game isn't the question (Mickelson had a horrid history with links courses) for Woods, the issue is on El Tigre's finishing in major championships.

That will remain a question mark until proven otherwise, which didn't require much proof last weekend after such a torrid round that flirted with the magical 59 mark. But Woods is in a good spot entering the final major of 2013 on the heels of such an impressive victory.

Paula Creamer. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Services.

Meanwhile, IMG Academy alum Paula Creamer faded in the RICOH Women's British Open after a 76 in the final round left her tied for 11th place.

Creamer was four shots behind eventual winner Stacy Lewis as the fourth round began Sunday, but bogeys on three of her first four holes doomed her to just missing a top 10 finish.

Creamer has just one major title under her belt, the 2010 U.S. Women's Open. In past seasons, she'd have to wait until next year to fight for another major. But the Evian Masters was added as a fifth major beginning this year, so Creamer still has a chance before the season concludes to get her second major title.

The Evian Masters is scheduled for mid-September in France.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Women's British Open: Paula Creamer starts strong

Paula Creamer at the 2012 Kingsmill Championship. Photo courtesy of McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

 The RICOH Women's British Open is underway at the home of golf, Saint Andrews.

And that means golfers with connections to Manatee County are testing their skill in a major championship.

Here's how things stand after Thursday's first round for the locals:

Paula Creamer is leading the charge for area contenders after a 4-under par 68 leaves her tied for 10th place. The IMG Academy alum is two shots off the pace set by co-leaders Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth.

While Creamer played well on the first day, Bradenton native Jessica Korda (72) and Jodi Ewart Shadoff (76) have more work to do. Korda is tied for 74th and Ewart Shadoff, an English native that lives in the area, is tied for 132nd.

The second round continues from Fife, Scotland on the Old Course on Friday.