Golf Buzz

June 15, 2015 - 11:00am
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Joost Luiten
Joost Luiten/YouTube
Joost Luiten describes Chambers Bay for folks in his native Netherlands.

There won't be any shortage of descriptions of the Chambers Bay course -- host of the 2015 U.S. Open -- this week.

But Joost Luiten's course preview might be unique, since he did this in his native Dutch:




Even without knowing the language, it's pretty simple to catch the gist of Luiten's commentary. He's pointing out the possibility of unique sidehill teeing grounds, the severe undulation of the greens, how the course near Tacoma plays much more like a typical links layout, and he may even have mentioned jet lag.

In any case, it's cool to know players from 26 countries -- including the Netherlands -- will be competing this week. And they're wiling to share their experiences with the folks back home, even if "home" is on another continent.

June 14, 2015 - 5:29pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Lexi Thompson
USA Today Sports Images
Lexi Thompson tied for low round of the week honors at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on Sunday with a stunning round of 7-under 66.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Lexi Thompson got red-hot in the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

The 20-year-old was so hot in fact, that whispers of something in the very low 60s at par-73 Westchester Country Club began to circulate after Thompson played the first 13 holes in 8 under with eight birdies and had two par 5s left to play.

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship leaderboard | Hyo Joo Kim's ace on No. 14

As it would turn out, Thompson made a bogey at the par-3 16th hole and parred the two par 5s coming in, settling for a best-round-of-the-week tying score of 7-under 66. She had a stretch of six birdies in seven holes beginning on No. 7.

"Overall, I had a consistent day," Thompson said. "I hit some good iron shots out there and dropped a few putts on top of it. So it was a fun round. My caddie, Benji, and I, we just had fun in between shots and was very relaxed."

The final day rally had Thompson alone in third place at the time her final round ended.

"It was an amazing week," Thompson said. "It was a whole different atmosphere than the last few years. It definitely felt like a major championship, not only the fans, the venue here at Westchester Country Club. The course is in great shape for us. But PGA of America, KPMG and Zurich did an amazing job for the tournament." 

June 14, 2015 - 4:37pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Hyo Joo Kim
USA Today Sports Images
Hyo Joo Kim of Korea had a hole-in-one on Sunday at Westchester Country Club's 145-yard, par-3 14th hole in the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Korea's Hyo Joo Kim provided the shot of the tournament at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship on Sunday.

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship leaderboard | 2016 WPGA headed to Sahalee

Check out Kim's ace at the 145-yard, par-3 14th hole:


The ace put Kim at 8-under for the tournament at the time of this post and in a tie for eighth.

As amazing as a hole-in-one is, I still think putt by Jodi Ewart Shadoff in Friday's second round is in the argument for shot of the tournament: 


June 14, 2015 - 4:23pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
There's no one better with the fans on the PGA Tour than Phil Mickelson.

When it comes to the fans, there's no one better on the PGA Tour than Phil Mickelson.

Lefty made one kid's day at the FedEx St. Jude Classic on Sunday. After sweeping in a long birdie putt for a final-round 5-under 65, Mickelson walked over to a little girl on the side of the 18th green.

RELATED: FedEx St. Jude Classic leaderboard | 101 Great gifts for dad

Based on what you can hear from the conversation, specifically Mickelson saying, "You know we're all pulling for you," it might be safe to assume the child has some business at the St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Here's Mickelson's putt followed by the touching exchange: 


June 14, 2015 - 12:59pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Suzy Whaley
Montana Pritchard/PGA of America
A special week got a whole lot more special for PGA Secretary Suzy Whaley over the weekend. She played in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship as a marker and brought her daughter along to caddie on Sunday.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- PGA Secretary Suzy Whaley didn't come to Westchester Country Club for the KPMG Women's PGA Championship expecting to play this week.

But, plans change.

On Saturday, after an odd number of players made the 36-hole cut, there was a need for a "marker" -- a person who plays alongside the player with the morning's first tee time to help with pace of play.

Whaley -- who competed in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship from 2003-2005 -- got the call for both Saturday and Sunday morning.

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship leaderboard | Park primed for three-peat

"It's been such an incredible week for us," said Whaley, the PGA's first woman secretary. "KPMG kicked it off with the Women's Leadership Summit, which I attended with my daughter. It was so inspiring. I took pages and pages of notes. That really got us going in an incredible direction and really a celebratory atmosphere for the empowerment of women on course and in the boardroom.

"Then, to get a call this week asking, 'can you be a marker?' -- you don't think the week can get much better," she said. "Here we are on a championship golf course, women being showcased on network television, the PGA of America being involved of which I'm a member, the LPGA being involved of which I'm a member of the LPGA T&CP -- for me, the fact that we're highlighting the best athletes as a part of our association and our strategic mission to get more women to play the game and then to be invited to play inside the ropes again? I've got to be honest, I don't know how you top that. It was just a fantastic week."

Well, it was topped for Whaley on Sunday morning. Her daughter, Jen, tagged along as her caddie.

"Maybe the only way to top it would have been to actually be in the field with my daughter on the bag," she said. "But, I'll take playing as a marker with her on the bag. With Jen on the bag today -- for a mom, that's a moment in time where you want to take about a thousand pictures."

Whaley said Sunday's round took roughly three hours. She played well, but felt there's still work to do on her game -- no golfer, no matter the ability, is ever 100 percent pleased with where their game is at.

"It was such a special three hours and something that was just so special to share," Whaley said. "I had the opportunity to share the Leadership Summit with her and then she got to walk inside the ropes with me at a major championship. She's also a competitive golfer. The one-on-one time, how proud you are of your kids, sometimes you're lucky enough to share an experience with them that they might otherwise never have. To be able to do that for her today and give that to her -- and what she gave to me, more than vice versa -- was something I'll never forget.

The cherry on top of this whole experience for Whaley -- aside from having Jen on the bag -- was that since she lives in the Hartford area, this was somewhat of a home game. A small group of family, friends and even students, came out to watch her play.

Whaley got a kick out of her younger students, who said, "Gosh, Coach Suzy, I didn't even realize you played!"

"They know me as Coach Suzy and they don't see me as a Tour player," she said. "Or a secretary of an Association. I'm just Coach Suzy. It was neat to share that with them."

The theme of the entire week here in Westchester was to not only elevate a tournament, but to set the tone for the empowerment of women on and off the golf course.

Whaley has been an inspiration to many already. Along with being the PGA's first female officer, Whaley also qualified to play in the 2003 Greater Hartford Open on the PGA Tour.

"I didn't do it by myself," she said. "I had mentors and role models that I aspired to be like. If I can do that for somebody coming behind me, I feel like that's our job. Our job is to pull somebody along. I heard a great quote the other day, 'We have two arms. We have one arm to pull ourselves up and our other arm is to take another woman with us and pull them along too.' That's part of who I am and what I believe all of us need to do to grow the game, invite women to come play the game, to not fear ability. Let us help you. Let us manage the course for you. Let us get you out here. We're going to give you the tools to do it. I feel that way about my role. I have people surrounding me at the PGA of America that are helping me get better. I don't plan on doing it by myself. I love that support system, so I hope that some day, somebody will walk up to me and say, 'You know, I'm the secretary of the PGA of America because you did it first and I knew I could do it now too.' If that's the case, then fantastic."

June 13, 2015 - 6:44pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Inbee Park
USA Today Sports Images
A win on Sunday would be the third straight for Inbee Park in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Annika Sorenstam is the only player to accomplish that feat.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Inbee Park has a chance to put her name alongside some of the all-time greats in women's golf on Sunday.

Park, currently the No. 2-ranked player in the world, will start the final round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club with a two-shot lead over Sei Young Kim after firing a tournament-best, 7-under 66 on Saturday to move to 14-under 205.

The 26-year-old Park, who already has two wins this season, was flawless in the third round. She shot a 33 on the front and matched it on the back nine.

RELATED: KPMG Women's PGA Championship leaderboard | 2016 WPGA headed to Sahalee

Park was also the beneficiary of a late stumble by Kim.

Kim three-putted on the par-5 18th hole for a costly bogey after nearly reaching the green in two shots.

"I thought it was a tie," Park said. "But I just had an interview with NBC and they said two-shot lead and I was surprised, because it was a reachable par 5 on the last hole and I thought she would probably definitely make a birdie or a par. Yeah, it was a surprise, but it always helps having an extra couple shots going into tomorrow, so I'm happy."

A win on Sunday would be Park's sixth major overall and third consecutive KPMG Women's PGA Championship triumph. Annika Sorenstam is the only player in tournament history to win three in a row.

A victory would also put Park alongside Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam, Patty Sheehan, Nancy Lopez, Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright as the only players to win this tournament at least three times. Wright is the only player to win it four times.

"I don't know how to describe in words how I'm going to feel tomorrow if I ended up winning," said Park, who won three majors in a row in 2013. "But definitely it will feel very good. Obviously I've done something three times before; I won three majors in a row before. I'm just trying to give myself the confidence that I can do it, do another three-time tomorrow. The way I've been playing, I've really been happy with ball-striking, and today was the best putting day yet. So I mean, it definitely gives me a lot of motivation and confidence going into tomorrow."