Tiger set for early charge with Koepka, Molinari at PGA

first_imgTiger Woods, coming off a Masters victory that snapped an 11-year major win drought, begins his quest for a 16th major title Thursday at the 101st PGA Championship.The 43-year-old American superstar’s electrifying triumph last month at Augusta National has made him the focus of attention at formidable Bethpage Black, the same course where Woods won the 2002 US Open.“I feel great. I’m excited to get out there,” Woods said. “This is going to be a long week the way the golf course is set up and potentially could play. This could be a hell of a championship.”A victory would match Woods with Sam Snead for the all-time US PGA win record at 82 and move him two shy of the all-time major win record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus — as well as put Woods halfway to a calendar Grand Slam for the first time since 2002.Sixth-ranked Woods starts off the 10th tee alongside defending champion and two-time US Open winner Brooks Koepka and reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari of Italy.“I’m just looking forward to playing with him. It’ll be interesting,” Koepka said of Woods. “We really haven’t been paired together too much, especially over the last couple years.”Koepka held off Woods to win last year’s PGA at Bellerive while Molinari denied Woods last year to win the Claret Jug at Carnoustie.“When I started I wasn’t even dreaming of playing against Tiger,” Molinari said. “I feel lucky enough to have played with him many times now in many important moments.”Finding the fairways will be crucial over the 7,549-yard, par-70 layout as sloping greens firm up from rain.“In order to win this one, driving is going to be at the forefront,” Woods said. “You’ve got to hit it not only straight but you’ve got to hit it far.”Woods, nagged for years by back pain before 2017 spinal fusion surgery, has not played competitively since the Masters, making this only the sixth time in his career he has played back-to-back majors.He skipped a planned nine-hole practice round Wednesday for rest, having done a five-hour in-depth tour of the course last week and played nine holes early Monday.“There’s definitely going to be a component to stamina as the week goes on,” Woods said. “Four days over a tough championship that is mentally and physically taxing takes its toll.“I need to give myself the best chance to win the events I play in… Sometimes that can be taking a little bit more breaks here and there, making sure I’m able to give it my best.”Woods could become world number one for the first time since March 2013 by winning. He would need top-ranked Dustin Johnson to finish worse than solo 11th and neither Koepka or world number two Justin Rose of England to finishing second alone.England’s Rose, third-ranked Koepka and fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy could all overtake Johnson with a victory.Taking a fifth Wanamaker Trophy would match Woods for the career PGA record with Nicklaus and Walter Hagen.Woods could become the first golfer since Nicklaus in 1975 to win the Masters and PGA Championship in the same year, although this marks the first time since 1949 the PGA will be played in May, moving from August in a revamp of the global golf schedule.No one has won the first two majors of a year since Jordan Spieth in 2015. Woods won the 2002 Masters and took the 2002 US Open at Bethpage.For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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Maharaj back as Proteas depth-building goes into overdrive

first_imgMark Boucher and the rest of the national selection panel’s plan to improve depth at the Proteas has now gone into overdrive.That became very apparent on Wednesday following the announcement of the ODI squad for the three-match series against Australia, which starts on Saturday in Paarl.While it’s no real surprise that Faf du Plessis has again been omitted with the World T20 later this year taking preference, it’s notable that even more recent stalwarts such as Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius have been rested.“We are excited to see what will come from the selections we have made ahead of this latest series against Australia. It is again another young squad that sees the absence of some senior players in Faf, Rassie and Dwaine, while we balance the workloads of individuals ahead of an extremely busy year,” said independent selector Linda Zondi.“At the same time, it is a good opportunity to give younger and less experienced players an opportunity to show us what they’ve got to offer when the spotlight is fully on them. We have every confidence in their capabilities and potential.”Boucher is very much on the same page.“If we feel that we need to rest players, we will, as we have done in the recent past. Faf has been fantastic for us in white ball cricket and remains very much in our ODI plans and we will manage his workload for the near future diligently. I would like to strengthen our depth pool right now and see what players we have out there. I feel that this is the time and opportunity to do so,” the Proteas head coach said.There is though a deserved call-up for Keshav Maharaj, who’s been on quite a mission to shed the perception that he should be pigeonholed as as a Test spinner.He’s been outstanding in the domestic One-day Cup to date, topping the wicket-taking charts with 13 victims in just six matches.“We are pleased to call him up. He’s done really well with the white ball over an extended period of time. His experience, the extra spin option he provides us as well as the added contributions he makes with the bat and with fielding will be welcomed additions to the team,” said Zondi.Proteas ODI squad: Quinton de Kock (c), Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Verreynne.For more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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Who’s saying what as Wimbledon suffers first peacetime cancellation

first_imgWho’s saying what as Wimbledon is cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus:“This is a decision that we have not taken lightly. It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships.”— All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt“Devastated. There is no GIF for these things that I am feeling.”— Eight-champion Roger Federer“I’m shooked.”— Seven-time champion Serena Williams using the slang equivalent for “I’m shaken”.“Very sad that…Wimbledon has been cancelled this year but with all that is going on in the world right now, everyone’s health is definitely the most important thing! Looking forward to getting back on the grass next year already! Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy”.— Andy Murray, the 2013 and 2016 champion“I know that @Wimbledon will be back next year even stronger and we will appreciate it even more!! But for now, HEALTH IS THE MAIN PRIORITY I LOVE YOU @Wimbledon.”— 2013 champion Marion Bartoli“Last year’s final will forever be one of the happiest days of my life! But we are going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look forward to defending my title.”— Defending women’s champion Simona Halep“So Wimbledon’s gonna come back tmrw with the ‘it’s just a prank bro’ right?”— US player Tennys Sandgren“Please say it’s #AprilFools …all of this.”— US player Shelby Rogers“I’ve always had so many great memories at @Wimbledon. The grass season will definitely be missed but the most important thing right now for us to focus on is that we’re all staying healthy and safe at home.”— 2018 runner-up Kevin Anderson“I fully understand and support the decision of the committee and it is vital we keep our focus on those most impacted by this pandemic. I have been fortunate to go to Wimbledon every year since 1961 and I am certainly going to miss it this year.”— Six-time champion Billie Jean King“Not only is it a special tournament to me, but it’s a tournament that has been part of history for so long that it will leave a big hole in the calendar.“I will miss playing on the beautiful grass and wearing my whites, BUT of course we know it will be back better than ever next year. And maybe we will all appreciate it even more! Stay safe and stay inside.”— 2011 and 2014 champion Petra Kvitova“I’m gonna miss playing in Wimbledon this year. Stay safe everyone, love you guys.”— US teen star Coco Gauff who made the last-16 on her debut in 2019“Wimble-gone.”— British player Liam Broady“I am so sad to get the news today. It is and it will always be the tournament of my life.”— Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic who made the singles semi-finals in 2019 as well as winning the women’s doublesFor more sport your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.last_img read more

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Jets’ Jamal Adams wins fine appeal for hit on Browns’ Baker Mayfield

first_imgJamal Adams really got fined 21k for this hit @TheAdamsEra pic.twitter.com/nD5FUn1NIp— Football Is Life (@FootbaIl_Tweets) September 19, 2019The 23-year-old had five total tackles against Cleveland but said in an interview he was benched late in the game.  Bengals’ Zac Taylor on A.J. Green trade rumors: ‘We are not trading that guy’ 💰 https://t.co/buYiRW2pMI pic.twitter.com/FhlE5AqIPE— Jamal Adams (@TheAdamsEra) October 10, 2019Adams had criticized the league in a profanity-laced Twitter post after he received the sanction, and apparently appeals officer Derrick Brooks agreed and decided to rescind it.”This league is a damn joke!” Adams wrote at the time. “I just got fined $21k for this hit, I signed up to play football not two hand touch. Bull—! I don’t give a damn about these soft rules protecting QBs. Im gonna play MY brand of football everytime I step on the field. SMH.” Related News Jalen Ramsey update: Jaguars star (back) questionable despite owner expecting he’ll face Saints Browns OC calls Antonio Callaway turnover ‘catastrophic’ Turns out Jamal Adams’ rant blasting the NFL was somewhat justified.According to NFL Media, which cited an unidentified source, the Jets safety won his appeal of a $21,056 fine for a late hit on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield last month in their Week 2 matchup.  “I tried to anticipate a play, which I anticipated wrong, and I was benched,” Adams told WFAN. “It happens. I just got to continue to do my job to the best of my ability as well as help lead the guys around me. I don’t really know why or what was the reason. I made the penalty, and they took me out, so I’m not upset. Well, I am upset that I wanted to finish the game, but I obviously didn’t finish the game. It is what it is.”I made a bonehead mistake. One thing about me is that I’m always going to finish the game regardless. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. I’m out there to hunt. That’s just how I am.”The winless Jets (0-4) will look to snap their skid when they host the Cowboys (3-2) at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday.last_img read more

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NFL Week 9: Games, players, teams to watch

first_imgThe Steelers actually have a chance to salvage their season.After losing Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2, Pittsburgh thought its year was over. But after starting 0-3, the Steelers have won three of their last four and have a chance to move back to .500 against the AFC South-leading Colts (5-2). The challenge for the Steelers: The Colts are tough on both sides of the ball and probably are the best team Pittsburgh has faced since the Seahawks in Week 2. And with Frank Reich as its head coach, Indianapolis will be ready to play in a hostile environment at Heinz Field.“Pittsburgh’s a fun place to play at,” Reich said Wednesday. “I mean, it’s a great football environment as well — tough place to play, hostile environment. Good football team, well-coached, physical team, so we’re gonna have to have a great week of practice and play our best game of the year this week.” Related News David Johnson injury update: Cardinals star (back) likely out vs. 49ers, report says Travis Kelce vs. the Vikings secondary — Matt Moore may still be at quarterback for the Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes has been a limited participant in practice this week because of his knee), so Travis Kelce will be huge against a good Vikings defense. For the Chiefs have any hope they will have to move the chains on third down and there may be no better player in football at that than Kelce.One bold predictionMitchell Trubisky will lead the Bears past the Eagles — There has possibly been no player who has taken more criticism this season than Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky — and understandably so. But this week he faces an Eagles secondary that has had its issues. Philadelphia has a great run defense, but Bears coach Matt Nagy has opted not to run the ball already this year. So Trubisky will have a chance to lead Philadelphia to a win and won’t completely let his defense bail out the Bears. It has to happen eventually right? The Colts and Steelers face off at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.In the meantime, here’s your NFL Week 9 countdown:NFL week 9: Games, players, teams to watchThree games to watchTitans (4-4) at Panthers (4-3), 1 p.m. ET Sunday (CBS)— Kyle Allen was just dealt his first loss as a starter for the Panthers while Ryan Tannehill started his QB1 job with the Titans with a win. Both of these defenses have been under-the-radar great this year, so both QBs will have a challenge on their hands.Packers (7-1) at Chargers (3-5), 4:25 p.m. (CBS) — The Chargers had a big issue earlier this year with Steelers fans taking over their stadium in Los Angeles, and they will likely deal with the same situation again. But Philip Rivers is still a great quarterback, and Los Angeles has talent on both sides of the ball. While the Packers might be playing a home game away from home, the Chargers likely won’t fall easily.Patriots (8-0) at Ravens (5-2), 8:20 p.m. (NBC) — The Patriots have faced teams with a combined 14-37 record so far this season. The Ravens are the best all-around team they will have faced. The only issue is Bill Belichick destroys young quarterbacks, and Lamar Jackson is in his second year. Two players to watchDeshaun Watson vs. Jaguars defense — The Jaguars don’t have Jalen Ramsey anymore, but they still have a good defense and a solid pass rush. Watson may be 3-1 in his career against Jacksonville, but he has thrown just two touchdowns to one interception in four games while taking 15 sacks. He may have been great over his last three games, but the Jaguars could have something tough for him in store.last_img read more

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Malaska returns to Utah Open

first_img Related Winners of Open step up to tours E-mail: sor@desnews.com Mike Malaska, who grew up hitting shag bags full of golf balls at Nibley Park Golf Course, has made a name for himself in the golfing profession, although not by winning large checks on the PGA Tour.Malaska has been featured on the cover of Golf Magazine. He’s annually listed as one of the top 50 teachers in America. You can see him giving advice on the Golf Channel. He has worked with Jack Nicklaus off and on for the past two decades and has given golf instruction in Japan and other parts of the world.The Salt Lake native, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife and two daughters, is in town this week to play in the Siegfried and Jensen Utah Open at Alpine Country Club. It’s a special week for Malaska, who says he owes his flourishing golf career to his improbable victory in the Utah Open 30 years ago this summer.”That turned me toward making golf a career,” Malaska said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”Malaska was a relatively unknown Weber State golfer when he stunned everyone by winning the 1974 Utah Open at the Ogden Country Club. He was a tall, skinny kid with long hair and aviator-style glasses when he beat the top golfers from Utah and around the West.He was just 20 years old at the time and probably didn’t realize little-known 20-year-old amateurs aren’t supposed to win big tournaments like the Utah Open. Although he’s finished anywhere from second to fifth place during the three decades since, he’s never been able to duplicate his surprising win in ’74.While Malaska probably couldn’t tell you much about his round yesterday in the Utah Open pro-am, he can give you every detail of his 1974 victory when he beat California pro John Jackson by one shot.”It’s amazing how vivid your memory is,” he said. “I can remember every shot I hit that day, the clubs I used, the yardage I had into the green. It’s like it happened yesterday.”Malaska began the four-day tourney with a 70 and was in contention after a second-round 69. He grabbed the lead with his second straight 69 in the third round, then had to face the pressure of playing with Las Vegas pro Gene Torres and part-time PGA Tour player Jack Rule.It didn’t seem to faze Malaska as he came out and birdied the first two holes to increase his lead. He fell back with bogeys at 4 and 5 but recovered with a birdie at No. 7 and made the turn at 1-under par for the day.Two more bogeys at 10 and 11, set Malaska back, and the experienced pros were breathing down his neck. But Malaska didn’t crack. He remembers coming through with a 6-iron at the 172-yard 16th hole within six feet and then sinking a testy three-footer at No. 17 for par.Then at 18, Malaska recalls “hitting the longest drive of my life” to within 105 yards of the 418-yard hole. His next shot was short of the green and he ended up bogeying the hole, but he still claimed a one-stroke victory over Jackson, who had played in the group in front of him.A couple of years later after his collegiate career ended, Malaska turned pro and became one of the top playing professionals in Utah after a brief stint in Southern California.He had grown up in Salt Lake near Nibley Park Golf Course and didn’t have all the advantages of a country club membership or even a driving range to practice on and had to learn many basics of the game on his own.Malaska remembers how he’d earn golf balls doing odd jobs for Nibley pro Tom Sorensen and would collect those balls in a shag bag. The balls were so precious that when he’d hit the balls on the Nibley fairways in the evenings, “you’d make sure you could find them,” which helped him learn to better control his shots.One summer when he was about 16, Malaska recalls spending hours hitting balls down the sideline of the Granite High football field. He had perhaps 150 yards to work with total, but he learned how to hit the ball straight and on target.”It took me all summer, but I learned how to hit the farthest ball to within 20 feet of that shag bag,” he recalls with a smile.Malaska’s connection with Nicklaus began in 1988 when he played in the PGA Championship. Malaska had been working with a specialist for his neck and back problems and approached Nicklaus in the locker room with a suggestion to see his specialist about his back problems. A friendship grew from there, and by 1992, Malaska was in Japan, working as the director of instruction for Nicklaus’ schools.By the mid-1990s, Malaska was back in the United States, with his own golf instruction company in Arizona. He’s done well on his own but is contemplating an offer to work with Nicklaus again with the opportunity to help run teaching centers in several locations around the world from Spain to Russia to China.Malaska has another decision to make, since he just turned 50 two months ago. He’d like to give the Champions Tour a whirl and will try to make it through the qualifying tournament this fall.”People ask me all the time if I had a choice between playing golf for a living or doing what I do,” he said. “I say I’d play golf.”On the other hand, he loves teaching, particularly the one-on-one teaching opportunities.”I still think private lessons are the most rewarding,” he said.”There are so many aspects of the golf swing, so that when all of a sudden it clicks with someone, that’s what it’s all about.”So if playing on the Champions Tour doesn’t work out, Malaska will keep enjoying what he’s doing. He’ll be happy either way. “It’s made a good living for me and my family,” he said. “It’s a nice way to keep involved with the game and not have to worry about making a three-footer.” Golf instructor ranks among game’s bestlast_img read more

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Utes have one last exhibition tune-up today

first_imgWith less than a week to go before the regular season begins, the Utah basketball team plays its final exhibition game today at noon against Western State College at the Huntsman Center.A week ago, the Utes breezed past Carroll College 86-62 with four different players scoring in double figures.For the second straight game, the Utes will be without starting point guard Tim Drisdom, who re-aggravated a sprained ankle he suffered two weeks ago. The Utes hope he’ll be ready for the season opener Friday against Stony Brook. In the meantime, Marc Jackson will play the point with Richard Chaney joining him in the backcourt.Western State is an NCAA Division II program located in Gunnison, Colo. The Mountaineers opened their exhibition season Thursday with a 69-51 loss to Southern Utah. They return two starters and six lettermen from last year’s team that went 2-25 and placed seventh in the West Division of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.Besides Jackson and Chaney, the Utes are expected to start Andrew Bogut at center and Bryant Markson and Justin Hawkins at forwards. Chris Jackson and Jonas Langvad will see a lot of minutes in the frontcourt, and freshman Jermaine Calvin and JC transfer Casey Iverson will back up the guards. After playing Stony Brook next week, the Utes will play in the Great Alaska Shootout, Nov. 25-27, in Anchorage, Alaska. E-mail: sor@desnews.comlast_img read more

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Utah Utes basketball: Utes don’t mind varying tip-off times for games

first_imgE-mail: sor@desnews.com At least you can say the Utah men’s basketball team doesn’t have those dreadful 10 p.m. starts any more.However, the Utes seem to be playing games just about every other time of the day this season.Wednesday night’s game with San Diego State was at 8 p.m. On Saturday, they’ll play Air Force at 2 p.m. after playing New Mexico at 1:30 p.m. two Saturdays ago. The next Saturday home game against TCU on March 7 will be at 4 p.m. and the game at BYU on Feb. 28 begins at 3 p.m.What the heck ever happened to the standard 7 p.m. starts?Those are few and far between now. In fact, Utah doesn’t have any Saturday night games and just three 7 p.m. games on its home schedule.Of course, we can blame television for much of the problem. Like every Mountain West Conference team, the Utes are at the mercy of the TV schedule with three different networks involved — The mtn., Versus and CBS-College Sports.Part of the reason for no Saturday night home games is the preference of Utah coach Jim Boylen. The Utes’ second-year head coach is accustomed to the afternoon games that are so prevalent in the Midwest, where he is from, and he hates waiting around for night games. Last year the Utes had five noon games at Boylen’s request, but after a lot of complaints from fans, they don’t have any noon starts this year.According to Mountain West Conference associate commissioner Javan Hedlund, the MWC asks each school for its preferred times and tries to accommodate when possible. Because Utah prefers afternoon games on Saturdays, the school wasn’t given any Saturday night games.Every other team in the MWC except Wyoming has at least one Saturday night league home game, and some teams have three or four.The Utes have 10 different starting times this year, anywhere from 1:30 to 8 p.m. You’d think it might drive the players crazy, but they don’t seem to mind.”We actually enjoy it,” said senior forward Shaun Green. “You always have to be ready.”Boylen said all the different times aren’t a big deal, either.”We like to eat four hours before the game and usually shoot around on game days,” he said. “So whenever you get the game plan, you sort of work backward — your meal, your walk-through and your film.”He just hates the 8 p.m. games.After the BYU game last month, he said, “It felt like the game was at midnight. It was like the longest day of my life. My staff kicked me out of the office. There comes a time when the hay’s in the barn as far as your preparation. You’re just waiting to play the game.”UTE NOTES: Despite scoring just three points, Kim Tillie had one of his better games on Wednesday, grabbing eight rebounds, handing out three assists without a turnover and playing solid defense in 19 minutes. He also was involved in a memorable sequence when he played for over a minute with one of his shoes half on. … The Utes continue to struggle at the free-throw line after getting as high as No. 2 in the nation a couple of weeks ago. They had to sink 7-of-8 in the last minute to get to 69.2 percent for the game (18-of-26). Luke Nevill and Carlon Brown each missed both shots on two-shot fouls and Luka Drca, once ranked 16th in the nation, stayed in his slump, nearly shooting an airball on his only attempt. He’s now missed five in a row and made only 3-of-10 over the past three games. … Nevill had one of his poorest games of the season Wednesday, a day after getting more attention that he needed for a traffic citation near the campus. Nevill had more turnovers (4) and fouls (4) than rebounds (3) and went 3-for-7 from the field and 6-for-9 from the line. When asked about Nevill’s performance, Boylen paused for several seconds, before saying, “Luke’s got to play better.” … The Utes are now 29-2 all-time against San Diego State in Salt Lake. last_img read more

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Mike Sorensen: Golf produces plenty of agony, delight and surprise

first_img Related SALT LAKE CITY — Sports can produce a variety of feelings and emotions. That’s certainly the case in golf. After spending seven straight days covering the Utah State Amateur and Utah Championship as well as seeing some weekend golf on TV, here are a few feelings I experienced this past week.AgonyThat’s how it was watching Daniel Summerhays early in the final round of the John Deere Classic Sunday afternoon. For the first time in his PGA Tour career, Summerhays had a legitimate chance to win a tournament in the final round. He was still in the lead when the CBS coverage began at 1 Sunday afternoon, which is when his meltdown began.The 29-year-old from Farmington, who had made three bogeys all week, suddenly turned into your average Saturday afternoon hacker, making four straight bogeys. There was a 112-yard wedge shot that flew the green, a tee shot on a par 3 way left of the green, followed by a drive into a bunker and another shot over the green into more rough. It was painful to watch, although Summerhays later recovered to get in contention before more agony at No. 18 when he hit in a bunker and bogeyed and lost by one shot.AstonishmentIn his semifinal match Friday, eventual State Amateur champion Cole Ogden hit one of those shots you have to see to believe. He had 300 yards from the tee across a creek with a 1-up lead over Jake Holt. Ogden could have chosen to lay up and no one would have blamed him, but he went for it. His ball landed just short of the green and rolled up, just missing the hole, for a near double-eagle ace and ended up just 2 feet away.DisgustMost golfers on the course act fairly civil, but many don’t. They moan and groan and curse and throw clubs and display little in the way of sportsmanship. I saw just a couple of holes of one match at the State Am, but it was enough to form a negative opinion of a certain 20-something golfer. He was playing an opponent more than twice his age, and he was acting like a baby. He used a certain expletive over and over — loud enough for everyone, including his mother, to hear. Then after losing the match, the young man walked off with a weak handshake and no words of congratulations to his opponent.DelightThat’s how it is watching Summerhays on the golf course. He’s always been positive, but lately he’s made a concerted effort to shrug off bad shots and enjoy himself out on the course. He smiles often, gives high-fives to kids, and actually looks people in the eye as he walks up the fairways. Golfers can’t all do that, but it’s nice to see an athlete look like he’s really enjoying himself instead of looking like he’s receiving a root canal.ReliefThat’s how I felt about not being at the Buy.com Utah Championship Saturday afternoon at Willow Creek Country Club in Sandy when play was delayed for a few hours because of lightning, eventually postponing play for the day. I enjoy covering the PGA Tour event, but I was covering the State Amateur up at Soldier Hollow where the weather was perfect. The worst thing about covering golf is a weather delay, and I avoided that for two days at Willow Creek.SurpriseI was standing on the ninth hole on the final day of the Men’s State Amateur waiting for Ogden and Evans to hit into the hole. Evans was in the rough with a blind shot to the hole, which meant he couldn’t see the green and we couldn’t see him. I was talking to someone several feet to the left of the green with people in front of us and some behind.Suddenly I felt a stinging feeling on my left leg and saw a ball rolling across the cart path and several people running toward me asking, “Are you OK?’’ It took a minute to register, but I realized that I had been hit by Evans’ approach shot. I was fine — got a signed flag out of it from the gracious Evans and was very grateful the ball didn’t land a couple of feet higher. Alker wins Utah Championship in 1-hole playofflast_img read more

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Defending champion Jon Wright guts his way to pair of State Amateur match play victories

first_img Golf: Prouty, Staten share lead after day 1 of Utah Championship Related I knew it was going to hurt every shot. I just wanted to keep it in play and not make any bogeys. Lucky for me, my putter came alive and I made some putts. – Jon WrightMIDWAY — In all the thousands of rounds of golf he’s played, Jon Wright had never experienced anything like this.On the sixth hole of his first match Thursday, the defending State Amateur champion felt a sharp pain in his lower back that extended down through his legs. It was so bad, he couldn’t get in position to swing a golf club and had to take a 15-minute break — allowed under the rules — as he lay on the ground trying to work it out.Somehow, the 42-year-old Wright was able to continue, walking around gingerly the rest of the day, looking more like a man twice his age, and adjusting his swing accordingly. Eight hours later, he was explaining how he managed to win two more matches and make it to Friday’s State Am quarterfinals.“I knew it was going to hurt every shot,’’ he said. “I just wanted to keep it in play and not make any bogeys. Lucky for me, my putter came alive and I made some putts.’’Wright is one of eight survivors from the original 288-man field, including four former champions, who will play two matches Friday at Soldier Hollow Golf Course for the right to play in Saturday’s 36-hole final. Wright will play 2008 State Am champ Dan Horner at 7:30 a.m. Following that match, 2010 champion Joe Parkinson will face off against 2011 champ Jeff Evans.The other side of the bracket features this year’s medalist, BYU junior Cole Ogden, against 54-year-old Jeff Powars, while former Dixie State player Conner Jones takes on Southern Utah golfer Jake Holt.Wright won last year’s State Am at the Salt Lake Country Club, where he is a member and was the first to admit he had a big home-course advantage. This year he is proving he can win on the mountainous Soldier Hollow layout, even with an injury.He was on the sixth hole of his morning match against Preston Richards when he hit a nice low draw off the tee and felt a pain he’d never felt before. When he got to his ball for his next shot, he couldn’t get in position to swing the club.“I either fell forward or had to stand up straight,’’ he said.After his allotted 15 minutes of trying to stretch or “pop it back in,” Wright was told he had to continue. He tweaked his swing a bit and played through the pain and ended up grinding his way to a 3 and 2 victory.At lunch, his back tightened up again and he was “back to square one” for his afternoon match against 27-year-old Nathan Nyman. But Wright took advantage of his opponent’s mistakes and made enough putts for another 3 and 2 victory.Friday, he’ll play Horner, who blitzed BYU golfer Jordan Hammer in a third-round match Thursday afternoon. Horner won six of the first eight holes, four of them with birdies, then closed out the match with birdies at 11 and 12 to win 8 and 6.Horner won the State Am at Soldier Hollow in 2008, but didn’t make it to match play at the 2011 State Am at Soldier Hollow. Then last year at the Salt Lake Country Club he lost his first-round match.Parkinson, who won the State Am three years ago as an 18-year-old just before leaving on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, defeated former champion Todd Barker, the 59-year-old superintendent at Fore Lakes Golf Course, 2 and 1 in the morning and came back to beat John Owen 5 and 4 in the afternoon.Evans, who won at Soldier Hollow two years ago, beat Clark Jones 2 and 1 and Joey Olsen 3 and 1.Ogden defeated Jonathan Oettli 2 and 1 and 16-year-old Kai Ruiz 4 and 3.Holt, a native of Tooele, beat last year’s finalist, Christian Jensen, and 17-year-old Kelton Hirsch.Jones, who cruised past JT Timmons in the morning, needed 20 holes to beat 17-year-old Charlie Duensing in the final match of the day.Powars, who works as a junior high assistant principal in Davis County, was thrilled to still be playing after beating USU golfer Tanner Higham on the 19th hole Thursday after defeating Brett Sampson in the morning.“I can’t stop smiling,’’ said Powars, who made the semifinals in 2006. “It’s way beyond my expectations. I’m playing with house money. I’m just having fun.’’The big challenge for Powars and Wright is that all quarterfinalists must walk the rest of the tournament rather than use carts, something that could hurt the older golfers.“For a course like this, it doesn’t make any sense,’’ said Wright. “We’re recreational golfers and I don’t have time to get in tip-top shape and work on my game and be all cardio-ed up. I’m winded walking up the stairs to my office.’’“You’re changing the rules in the middle of the game. Just have everybody walk or let everyone take a cart,’’ said Powars. “I’m chasing kids around all day at the junior high, so I should be fine. I’m not worried about it.’’Utah Men’s State Amateur resultsat Soldier Hollow Golf CourseSecond RoundJon Wright def. Preston Richards 3 and 2Nathan Nyman def. Mike Jorgensen 5 and 4Jordan Hammer def. Sammy Cole 3 and 2Dan Horner def. Ryan Brimley 4 and 3Joe Parkinson def. Todd Barker 3 and 2John Owen def. Jordan Rodgers 19 holesJoey Olson def. Eric Rustand 19 holesJeff Evans def. Clark Jones 2 and 1Cole Ogden def. Jonathan Oettli 2 and 1Kai Ruiz def. Jacob Wagstaff 3 and 2Tanner Higham def. Kirk Siddens 5 and 4Jeff Powars def. Brett Sampson 4 and 3Jacob Holt def. Christian Jensen 4 and 3Kelton Hirsch def. Stratton Schulz 20 holesConner Jones def. JT Timmons 6 and 5Charlie Duensing def. Seokwon Jeon 4 and 2Third RoundWright def. Nyman 3 and 2Horner def. Hammer 8 and 6Parkinson def. Owen 5 and 4Evans def. Olson 3 and 1Ogden def. Ruiz 5 and 4Powars def. Higham, 19 holesHolt def. Hirsch 2 upJones def. Duensing, 20 holesFriday’s matches7:30 a.m. — Jon Wright vs. Dan Horner7:45 a.m. — Joe Parkinson vs. Jeff Evans8 a.m. — Cole Ogden vs. Jeff Powars8:15 a.m. — Jacob Holt vs. Conner Joneslast_img read more

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