Planet Golf — 09 July 2018 by GW staff and news services
Golf Bag: Davies captures LPGA Seniors

WHEATON, Ill. — Laura Davies went virtually unchallenged in Sunday’s final round of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open, claiming the title by 10 strokes over Juli Inkster.

The 54-year-old Davies shot a 5-under 68 to finish at 16-under 276 at Chicago Golf Club in the USGA’s championship for women 50 and older.

A 7-under 66 Saturday provided Davies with a five-shot lead over Inkster. The World Golf Hall of Famer from England widened her advantage early Sunday when she birdied the par-5 second hole and Inkster made bogey.

Davies’ lead never fell below six shots after that as she added to her extensive trophy collection. She has 85 career victories, still plays on the LPGA Tour and finished tied for second at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup earlier this year.

Inkster shot an even-par 73. England’s Trish Johnson also shot 73 to finish third, 12 shots back. Danielle Ammaccapane was fourth and Yuko Saito finished fifth.

Martha Leach was the top amateur, tying for 10th at 6-over 298.

Romo wins American Century title at Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. — Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo rallied from four points back to win his first American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Romo, who retired after the 2016 NFL season and is now an NFL analyst, had 27 points on the day to beat three-time defending champion Mark Mulder and San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the the leader after the first two rounds.

“It’s a special win,” said Romo, who had finished second three times in seven previous trips to the annual celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “It feels like you’re playing a tournament back home here. The day felt good for a lot of reasons.”

Romo tapped in for par, worth one point, on the 18th hole to finish with 71 points, three ahead of Mulder, the former major league pitcher. He then caught a flight to Berlin, Wis., where he was to compete in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifying tournament on Monday.

The American Century Championship uses a modified Stableford scoring system which rewards points for eagles (six), birdies (three) and pars (one) and deducts points (two) for double bogeys or worse. Bogeys are worth zero points.

Pavelski had a 7-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th that could have tied Romo, but it slid by. He finished with 66 points, tied for third with Ray Allen, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7.

“It feels like nothing went in for me today,” Pavelski said. “But I couldn’t ask for more than to have that putt to tie on the last hole.”

Romo plays as an amateur, so his $125,000 first-place check from the $600,000 purse will go to local charities and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the primary charitable arm of title sponsor American Century Investments.

Rounding out the top five were Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, and former tennis player Mardy Fish. Each had 62 points.

Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who fell out of contention with a mediocre round Saturday, jumped into Lake Tahoe amidst much fanfare after losing a bet to his father, Dell. The elder Curry jumped into the lake last year, so he negotiated a 20-point handicap and won by two points.

Other notable players in the 92-player field included John Smoltz, the MLB hall of Fame pitcher who two weeks ago competed in the U.S. Senior Open and finished 10th here with 53 points; Steph Curry, who finished tied for 11th with retired Marine and wounded war hero Andrew Bachelder (50); actor Jack Wagner (16th, 47 points); Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (tied for 18th, 44 points); actor Ray Romano (tied for 71st, minus-26 points); comedian Larry the Cable Guy (tied for 77th, minus-33 points); and former NBA great Charles Barkley, who finished alone in last with minus-93 points.

The tournament drew 57,097 fans for the week, setting an attendance record for the fourth straight year.

McCarron closes in on back-to-back Senior Players titles

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — One big push down the stretch vaulted Scott McCarron to the top of a crowded leaderboard and put him in position to capture his second straight Constellation Senior Players Championship.

If he does, he’ll join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this PGA Tour Champions major.

McCarron and Bart Bryant shot matching 65s on Saturday to move into a share of the lead with Jeff Maggert.

McCarron birdied two of the final four holes at Exmoor Country Club for a three-round total of 16-under 200. Last year, he rallied to win the event at Caves Valley near Baltimore.

Maggert, who led most of the day, shot 66.

Vijay Singh (66) was one shot back. Three-time champion Langer (67) and Illinois golf coach Mike Small (66) were another stroke behind, and Scott Parel (70) was in a group at 13 under.

McCarron came into the week with seven top-10 finishes this year and a win at the American Family Insurance Championship last month.

“The only way to repeat is you’ve got to put yourself in position going into the final round, which I’ve done,” he said. “(Sunday) will be very exciting. We’ve got a stacked leaderboard, and someone is going to have to go pretty low tomorrow to win this tournament.”

It’s the first time three players have been tied for the lead entering the final round of a major since the 2011 U.S. Senior Open, when eventual winner Russ Cochran was even with Mark Calcavecchia and David Frost.

McCarron opened with a birdie on the par-5 first hole and finished with eight birdies and one bogey on a rainy afternoon. He came on strong on the back nine, making three straight birdies starting with the par-4 10th. He added two more on the par-5 15th and par-4 17th while also limiting his mistakes.

“I hit the ball very well,” he said. “I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. I went after the hole locations that were on the right side for me where I can hit my cut, and the hole locations on the left side I played a little safe. I did a very good job of managing my game today.”

Maggert — who won both the Regions Tradition and the U.S. Senior Open in 2015 — came in anticipating a “birdie-fest” because of the soggy conditions and got off to a blistering start.

He opened with an eagle after his approach rolled to about 3 feet. With birdies on the par-4 second and fourth holes, he looked like he might build a big lead.

But he made just three birdies the rest of the way before a bogey at 16 dropped him into a tie for the lead.

“I felt like I needed to make six, seven or eight birdies today to keep pace with the leaderboard,” Maggert said. “It kind of turned out that way. Not only was I making a lot of birdies, there was 10 or 12 other guys making birdies, too. We’ve got a jumbled-up leaderboard. I think tomorrow’s conditions are going to be very similar to today, so I’m going to have to keep the gas on and make birdies.”

Bryant played bogey-free and made four of his seven birdies in a five-hole stretch, starting with the par-4 seventh. Winning a major would be quite an accomplishment, given his difficulties in recent years on the course and away from it.

His wife Cathy died of brain cancer in April 2017, and he placed outside the top 10 in all 14 starts that season. This year, he has one top-10 finish in 10 events.

That much is likely to change, barring a collapse on Sunday. Bryant credits changing putters from a Bobby Grace to an Odyssey 2-Ball for helping his confidence.

He made the switch before the final round of the American Family Insurance Championship. Bryant bought the Odyssey at a Dick’s Sporting Goods and then shot 66 the next day.

“I really haven’t made a ton of putts out there,” Bryant said. “I haven’t made the long ones, but I haven’t missed the ones I’m supposed to make, and that’s been the big difference.”

Henderson keeps lead at Marathon

SYLVANIA, Ohio — Brooke Henderson didn’t have her best stuff at the Marathon Classic, but she did enough to stay on top of the leaderboard.

The 20-year-old Canadian made three bogeys in Saturday’s third round after not dropping a shot a day earlier. A bogey on the par-3 14th dropped her into a three-way tie for the lead, but Henderson responded with a birdie on the par-5 17th to move back ahead by one stroke. She shot a 2-under 69 for a three-day total of 11-under 202 at Highland Meadows.

“I made some birdies, but I made some bogeys. I didn’t hit it how I normally hit it, so I kind of grinded it out as best I could, and that’s good. That’s a good sign when you can still shoot under par and not hit it very well,” Henderson said. “Just going into tomorrow trying to get back to the way I normally strike it, and hopefully make a lot of birdies.”

Henderson has six LPGA Tour wins, including one earlier this season. This is the fifth time in her career she has held the 54-hole lead. She went on to win on three of the four prior occasions.

Angela Stanford and Brittany Lincicome were one stroke behind. Stanford vaulted into contention with a 6-under 65, which tied for the low round of the day.

Seeking her first win since 2012, Stanford has shot back-to-back 65s after an opening-round 73. She credited a hot putter for her surge.

“I think that’s kind of what’s kept me in it,” Stanford said. “I’m seeing the lines pretty well. I didn’t have the speed the first day. I didn’t have it at all. I kind of figured it out the last two days.”

Lincicome had a 4-under 67, including birdies on two of the final three holes. In 10 previous Marathon Classics, her best finish was a tie for seventh in 2008.

“This golf course is sneaky tight,” said the big-hitting Lincicome, who is also seeking her second victory of the season. “I don’t get to hit very many drivers, but even the 3-woods and the hybrids off the tee, you have to keep it in play, and there are a few holes out there that I just pray I get through with a par, and we try to birdie the others.”

Jacqui Concolino was two strokes back, while 11 players were three back, including defending champion I.K. Kim and NCAA champion Jennifer Kupcho. The Wake Forest player is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption.

Caroline Hedwall, who was tied with Henderson after the second round, didn’t make a birdie until the final hole and shot 74.

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