Golf Buzz

November 18, 2013 - 2:36pm
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John Holmes
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Peter Uihlein
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Peter Uihlein began 2013 on the second-tier Challenge Tour and ended it in the top 15 on the Race to Dubai.

Peter Uihlein has been named the winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, European Tour officials have announced. Uihlein, 24, won the Madeira Islands Open and finished 14th in The Race to Dubai.

Uihlein – the son of Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, the parent company of Titleist and FootJoy – is the first American player to win rookie of the year honors, and follows in the footsteps of such standouts as Nick Faldo (1977), Sandy Lyle (1978), José María Olazábal (1986), Colin Montgomerie (1988), Sergio Garcia (1999), Ian Poulter (2000), Martin Kaymer (2007) and Matteo Manassero (2010).

''It's an honor to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award,'' said Uihlein, who was the world's top-ranked amateur in 2010. ''I wasn't expecting it, but it's been a great year and I'm very pleased. I think I'm the first non-European to win it, so that's a great honor. Any time you're the first of anything, it's neat.''

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: European Tour unveils 48-event 2013-14 schedule

Having turned professional in December 2011 after a glittering amateur career at Oklahoma State in which he won the 2010 U.S. Amateur, Uihlein secured a 2013 European Challenge Tour card and received several invitations into European Tour events. He earned top-10 finishes in the Tshwane Open and the Spanish Open early in the year.

His season-changing victory came in May, when he earned full European Tour playing rights. He then tied for 10th in both the BMW International Open and Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, and finished second at the ISPS Handa Wales Open. He came within a whisker of recording the first 59 in European Tour history at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship before losing to David Howell in a sudden-death playoff. 

''We heartily congratulate Peter on an outstanding season, during which he has thrilled golf fans and challenged for several titles. He is a worthy winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year,'' said European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady. ''Peter enjoyed a wonderful career as an amateur and it is so pleasing to see him fulfilling his potential at the game's highest level. We wish him every success for the future.''

The European Tour contributed to this report.

November 18, 2013 - 9:50am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Henrik Stenson
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With Sunday's win in the DP World Tour Championship Dubai, Henrik Stenson became the first golfer to win both the PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs and the European Tour's Race to Dubai in the same season.

Typically, we lead with PGA Tour news to start off the weekend recap, but in this case, we're forced to make a special exception, seeing as Henrik Stenson accomplished something that's never before been done.

The 37-year-old Swede romped to an impressive six-shot victory in the DP World Tour Championship Dubai on Sunday, becoming the first golfer to win both the PGA Tour's FedExCup Playoffs and the European Tour's Race to Dubai in the same season.

READ: Jason Day loses eight relatives in Typhoon Haiyan

As if that wasn't special enough, Stenson finished it all off in style too, with a tap-in eagle on the 72nd hole at Jumeirah Golf Estates, thanks to an incredible second shot into the par-5 closing hole for an 8-under 64. That score was two shots better than Ian Poulter -- the runner up -- who had the next-best score on Sunday.

"To achieve the double-double if you liken winning the DP World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai on top of winning the PGA Tour Championship to capture the FedExCup takes some beating, I guess," Stenson said.

"I am just very, very pleased with the way I played," he sadded. "I knew it was going to be a tough week as I knew the guys like Justin (Rose) and Ian (Poulter) would come charging at me and try to catch me."

There's little rest for the European Tour. While the 2013 season ended on Sunday, the 2014 season begins Nov. 21 with the South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni.

And now, on to more golf...

AUSTRALASIAN TOUR: The victory parade -- incredibly -- marches on for 2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott. The 33-year-old made it two wins in two weeks in his homeland of Australia, capturing the Talisker Masters on Sunday, winning by two shots over Matt Kuchar at Royal Melbourne.

GOLF BUZZ: PGA Champion Jason Dufner honored at halftime of Georgia-Auburn game

It was a successful title defense for Scott, who also won the tournament in 2012. Two weeks ago, Scott won the Australian PGA Championship.

Scott, the No. 2-ranked player in the world and the first Aussie to win the Masters, is hoping to join countryman Robert Allenby (2005) to pull off Australia's Triple Crown with a win at the Emirates Australian Open, beginning Nov. 28.

For now though, Scott's focus will again be on Royal Melbourne this week, where he teams up with Jason Day in the World Cup of Golf.

PGA TOUR: Thanks to a 6-under 65 in Sunday's final round at El Camaleon in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, Harris English picked off his second career PGA Tour win with a four-stroke triumph over Brian Stuard in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

English's last win came in June at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.

MORE: Final OHL Classic leaderboard | Final recap | English's winning clubs

English told reporters he was much more comfortable on Sunday in Mexico than he was in the final round in Memphis.

"I guess I found something in my swing -- a little swing key that helping me out," English said. "I hit the ball really well all week. It got a little windy the first two days and I struggled a bit with my driver, but I found it down the stretch."

The 2014 PGA Tour season resumes on Jan. 3 with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.

LPGA TOUR: Lexi Thompson is a winner on the LPGA Tour for the third time in her career and the second time in her last four starts.

On Sunday, the 18-year-old Thompson held on for a one-shot victory over Stacy Lewis in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

The LPGA wraps up its season with the CME Group Titleholders, beginning Nov. 21.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.


November 17, 2013 - 6:39pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Jason Day
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Jason Day's grandmother, an uncle and six cousins perished in Typhoon Haiyan, his mother has revealed.

For most of us in the United States, Typhoon Haiyan didn't affect us personally. But to the people of the South Pacific region, it was like a combination of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy – with a lot more damage and many more deaths.

That became extra-clear on Sunday, when Jason Day's mother revealed that eight of the Australian golfer's relatives, including his grandmother, died in the Philippines during the storm.

Day's mother, Dening, told The Gold Coast Bulletin in Australia that Day's uncle and six cousins also died in the typhoon, which has killed nearly 4,000 people and left more than a thousand missing. 

"I am deeply saddened to confirm that multiple members of my family lost their lives as the victims of Typhoon Haiyan," Day said in a statement released by the PGA Tour. "My family and I are thankful for all who have reached out with their prayers and concern. 

GOODWILL GESTURE: Liang donates half of Manila winnings to typhoon relief

"We feel devastated for all who have been affected by this horrific tragedy. While I understand the media's interest in this matter and hope that any coverage can spread awareness to assist with the relief efforts that continue in the Philippines, I hope that all will respect my family's privacy during this difficult time. I will have no further public comments at this time. Please pray for all who have suffered loss. Thank you." 

Day is teaming with Adam Scott to represent Australia in the World Cup of Golf, starting Thursday at Royal Melbourne. 

Day's mother, who migrated from the Philippines to Australia 30 years ago, told the newspaper "my daughter has been updating him, but I don't want to bother him because he has commitments." 

She said many of her family members lived in the area around Tacloban, the capital of hardest-hit Leyte province.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

November 17, 2013 - 3:37pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Wen-chong Liang
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Wen-chong Liang won the inaugural Manila Masters in a playoff Sunday, then donated half his earnings to help victims from Typhoon Haiyan.

Wen-chong Liang won the inaugural Manila Masters in a playoff Sunday, then donated half his earnings to help victims from Typhoon Haiyan. 

Liang, 35, earned $135,000, and said he was giving half of it away to relief efforts. 

"Before coming over to the Philippines, I was really affected by what I saw of the damage and victims suffering from the aftermath of the typhoon on television," he told the Asian Tour's website. "I've decided to donate 50 percent of my winnings to do my part and support the relief efforts." 

Asian Tour officials thought about postponing or cancelling the event in the wake of the storm, which devastated a swath of the Philippines south of the Manila area. They decided to go through with the tournament at the Southwoods Golf and Country Club after consulting with local golf associations, authorities and relief agencies. 

Chief Executive Mike Kerr said the tour felt the best way it could help was by staging the competition and supporting aid and relief programs. Several players participated just to try to raise money and otherwise help the relief effort.

Liang is best known as a pioneer of Chinese golf, and is the first player from China to have made it into the top 100 in the world ranking. Among his other breakthroughs: He was the first Chinese player to win the Asian Tour of Merit (2007); the first to play in the PGA Championship (2007); the first to play in the Masters (2008); and the first to make the cut in a major (2008 British Open). In addition, he set the course record at Whistling Straits with a third-round 64 in the 2010 PGA Championship, when he went on to tie for eighth place.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Jason Dufner at the Georgia-Auburn game
Courtesy of Auburn University
Jason Dufner, with wife Amanda, received several awards at halftime of the Georgia-Auburn game. One of them was the naming of a street 'Jason Dufner Drive.'

Saturdays in November are focused on college football for many of us, but golf was front and center in Southeastern Conference country today.

Jason Dufner was honored at halftime of the Georgia-Auburn game for his PGA Championship victory. Dufner, of course, is an Auburn graduate and War Eagle megafan. He and wife Amanda still live in the Auburn area – where they are building a new house accented by oak trees from Oak Hill, the site of his Wanamaker win – and he can often be spotted at Auburn athletic events.

For the run-up to today's game, Dufner was a special guest on ''This Week in SEC Football, '' where he talked about Coach Gus Malzahn, the upcoming Iron Bowl game with Alabama, and plenty more.

In case you missed it, Dufner has visited the Auburn football team a couple of times this year. He even gave a pregame speech before the Texas A&M game, which obviously had the desired effect as the Tigers upset the Aggies that day.

Here's the video of Dufner's appearance on ''This Week in SEC Football:''



November 15, 2013 - 2:04pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
Golf Channel
Phil Mickelson talks with Morning Drive co-hosts Gary Williams and Charlie Rymer.

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson joined co-hosts Gary Williams and Charlie Rymer on Golf Channel's Morning Drive Friday.

Mickelson covered many topics during his appearance, including his win at the Open Championship in July, which he called, "the greatest feeling to accomplish winning this Open Championship, because I would go there each year, but I would only play a couple of weeks each year to try to really perfect links golf and the shots that are needed. Having that trophy there with Bones and going through a 20-year process to try to achieve that, it was the greatest, most fulfilling moment of my career, because I was never positive that I would win this tournament."

You can watch Mickelson talk about the Open here:

Mickelson also talked about returning to Pinehurst No. 2, site of the 2014 U.S. Open. Mickelson famously finished second to the late Payne Stewart when the U.S. Open was held at Pinehurst in 1999 -- one of Mickelson's record six runner-up finishes in the national championship.

The U.S. Open is also the lone major that still eludes Mickelson.

"1999 is a tournament I will always remember, and I will actually cherish, too, because a lot of great things came from that event, even though it was a heartbreaking loss," Mickelson said on Morning Drive. "It just turned out the way it was supposed to, and hopefully I will be able to go back there next year and take some of that emotion and apply it to my game and play well and capture my first U.S. Open."

Here's Mickelson on Golf Channel, talking about heading back to Pinehurst and his U.S. Open preparations:

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair