LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The remainder of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour will take place without spectators as the United States battles the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic, tournament officials said.
In a coordinated announcement, the remaining tournaments on the schedule said they would not host fans due to concerns over coronavirus.
All five tournaments held since the PGA Tour returned from its coronavirus shutdown in June have taken place without spectators.
Fans were initially allowed in this week’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio, but that plan was scrapped after a sharp escalation in coronavirus cases.
The announcement means there will be no spectators in the climax of the season, which concludes with the FedEx Cup Playoff series’ Tour Championship, due to be held from 4 to 7 September in Atlanta.
“These decisions are never easy,” Tour Championship executive director Allison Fillmore said in a statement, describing the move as the “best decision for all involved.”
The two other legs of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the 20 to23 August Northern Trust at TPC Boston, and the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields, Illinois, will also be affected.
Fans will also not be in attendance at next week’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota and the World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis from 30 July to 2 August.
The PGA of America had already announced that no spectators will be allowed at the PGA Championship at Harding Park, San Francisco from 6 to 9 August.
Ardina, Guce play at Symetra
I was excited to win my second Symetra Tour tournament last year.
Dottie Ardina, fresh from a joint 42nd place in the Cambia Portland Classic, joins compatriot Clariss Guce in the sixth stop of the Symetra Tour — the annual IOA Golf Classic presented by HomeValue.com starting Friday at the Alaqua Country Club in Longwood, California.
The LPGA Tour takes a one-week break as Ardina and Guce resume their campaign in the second-tier tour.
The IOA Golf Classic stakes $150,000 with the winner taking home $22,500.
Defending champion Marta Sanz Barrio of Spain is not in the field. She finished 13th in the 2019 Volvik Race for the Card with $67,244.
“I was excited to win my second Symetra Tour tournament last year. I have some great memories and have always had a nice and fun week in Longwood,” Sanz Barrio said. “I am very thankful that IOA has continued putting all their efforts into supporting the Road to the LPGA and women’s golf, especially during such uncertain times.”
Before bringing her game to the LPGA, Ardina and Guce campaigned extensively in the Symetra Tour.
Ardina, 26, has 17 career Top 10 finishes with earnings of $190,527.
Guce, on the other hand, has won twice on the tour and finished in the Top 10 11 times for a career earnings of $129,059.
Bianca Pagdanganan, the other Filipina in the LPGA Tour, opted to stay home.
Virus closes 3 Baguio courses
BAGUIO CITY — All three golf clubs in the city have closed their courses indefinitely following new cases of coronavirus cases involving personnel and guests.
The Pineswoods Golf and Country Club stopped its operations after one of its guests who played over the weekend tested positive.
Baguio Country Club (BCC) also advised members of its indefinite closure after one of its caddies was found to have in close contact to a person who tested positive in their barangay.
“We assure everyone that contact tracing and proper health and safety protocols including disinfection and sanitation are already being implemented, as it is always our priority to protect our valued members, guests and employees,” the BCC announced.
Also shuttering its facilities was Camp John Hay which announced it through Viber.
“As a result of random testing conducted in conjunction with the city’s expanded testing efforts two caddies have tested positive. Therefore, Camp John Hay Golf Club will be closed until further notice to conduct contact tracing, continued disinfecting, and other appropriate activities. We exhort everyone to be even more vigilant in their practicing of suggested protocols as well ‘Heal as One’. Stay strong, stay safe,” Camp John Hay announced.
Tiger, Thomas edge Rory, Rose
In a closely-fought match that boiled down to the closest-to-the-pin competition, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas edged European stars Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose during their 18-hole exhibition match at Payne’s Valley in Missouri Tuesday.
The Ryder Cup-style match was held in Woods’ new course design and featured six holes of four-ball, six of alternate shot and seven of singles play.
McIlroy and Rose won the four-ball portion to take a 1-0 lead after six holes, but Woods and Thomas took the next six holes to pull abreast, 1-1.
In singles play, Woods and Rose faced off while McIlroy and Thomas recreated their 2018 Ryder Cup match.
Rose nearly aced the 16 on his way to victory over Woods.
The McIlroy-Thomas match provided the highlight.
McIlroy touched the lip on three of their holes, left a chip 1 inch from falling and birdied the 18th, but still trailed Thomas by a hole going to the par-3 19th.
In his CBS Sports report, Kyle Porter wrote that “at one point, McIlroy joked that he was going to decline to give Thomas the ride home (think plane, not car) to Florida that Thomas was expecting.
Thomas birdied the 19th hole to clinch the match and force the tiebreaker.
The 19th is a cavernous hole surrounded by cliffs and water.
With legends Jack Nicklays and Garry Player watching, the foursome teed off and Thomas won it for their team by sticking his tee shot closest to the pin.
Porter wrote that “Thomas carried the day on television — as he often does — and Tiger’s first public course shined.”
All players had microphone clipped on their clothes so the viewers heard Rose and Woods talk about shafts, McIlroy and Thomas discuss pizza options.
No tournament, no problem for teen prodigy
I know that other players in the world are playing a lot of tournaments, and I have to prepare and get stronger.
Rianne Mikhaela Malixi is spending fewer hours on the golf course due to the coronavirus pandemic, but remains steadfast in her goal to be a world-class golfer someday.
The 13-year-old prodigy, the reigning national stroke play champion, has not played a tournament since placing runner-up to Abby Arevalo in the Philippine Ladies Amateur golf championship last February.
“I miss the pressure of tournament play very much,” said Rianne, who, despite the uncertain future, maintains a strict daily schedule.
“When I’m home for the day, I wake up at 5 or 6 a.m., work out and then school,” she said. “When I’m playing golf, I wake up at 4 a.m. and tee off around 6 or 6:30 a.m.”
Unfortunately, Rianne said she’s not playing as frequent as she did before the pandemic.
“It depends whether my dad has work or not. In a month, my dad has on and off work for 15 days,” she said.
Rianne said if her father does not report for work, they get to play thrice a week. If her father has work, she only gets to play once a week.
In a month, Rianne gets to play only eight rounds, a far cry from her punishing five-times-a-week schedule at the Royal Northwoods Golf and Country Club in San Rafael, Bulacan before the pandemic.
Without tournaments, Rianne said she motivates herself through self-discipline.
“I know that other players in the world are playing a lot of tournaments and I have to prepare and get stronger,” she said.
Standing five-foot-two and weighing 125 pounds, Rianne hits her driver about 250 yards, just about the same distance an average LPGA player does.
She said she has gotten stronger by 10 yards from last year and hopes to improve on it as she grows taller.
“I hope I can reach 5-5 at least. My father stands 5-10,” she said.
Rianne said she’s happy and proud for the exploits of Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan overseas, but admitted to feeling envious.
“It’s natural to feel a little jealous because they’re making a lot of progress abroad. So instead of feeling disappointed, I have to face reality and prepare too for the future,” she said.
Despite less time on the golf course, Rianne said she fights inactivity by doing household chores aside from attending to her school lessons and working out.
“I wash the dishes, mop, sweep, and vacuum the floor,” said Rianne who also sent a photo showing her and sister cleaning their father’s vehicle.
She works out in their mini-gym at home where she hits balls on the driving net and practices putting.
After the chores and workout, Rianne spends six hours attending to home school.
Rianne is also fond of sketching which she does on spare time and lately, has been trying to learn Japanese.
“I have been watching Japanese animation series, and it just irritates me that I don’t know the language and I have to read the subtitles,” Rianne explained why she wanted to learn Japanese.
She said she’s having fun although she’s still a long way to go in understanding the language.
“I still have to master three scripts in Japanese,” she said.
After a busy year wherein she competed in Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, United States, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia, Rianne hasn’t gone out of the country.
She was supposed to take part in the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific championship in Thailand and the ANA Jr. Inspiration amateur tournament in the US, both of which were canceled.
Normandy Sto. Domingo, Rianne’s swing coach, said her prized pupil hits the ball longer and has matured a lot as a golfer.
He said Rianne scores between two-under and even par off the blue tees at Northwoods, although he concedes that she may need to be tested consistently in tournaments.
“Of course, it is different when you play tournaments where you learn to deal with pressure,” he said.
Rianne was also supposed to make her fifth appearance in the IMG Junior World in San Diego, California where her best finish was runner-up to Chutimon Rujinaran of Thailand in the 11 to 12 age bracket last year.
She broke into national prominence that same year when she won the division in the FCG International 2019 in San Diego.
Now a member of the national pool, Rianne gets to play with her teammates at Luisita Golf Club in Tarlac.
But training has not been consistent because of the pandemic.
“I have played around 10 times in Luisita,” she said.
To make her practice rounds worthwhile, Rianne said she sets goals for herself.
“I challenge myself for improvement,” said Rianne who is used to playing alone.
“I wish the tournaments would resume as long as we follow safety protocols,” she said.
Among her golf heroes are Tiger Woods, Collin Morikawa, Daniella Kang and Saso, her teammate with the Pradera Verde golf team that dominated the PAL Ladies Interclub in Davao two years ago.
Rianne said she still remembers the advice she got from Saso who now has won two titles in the Japan LPGA.
“There was a situation that I had been hooking my shot a lot. She just told me to adjust and aim right of the target,” she said.
Adjustment. That’s what Rianne has been doing to survive the pandemic.
3 Baguio golf courses announce temporary closure
BAGUIO CITY — Golfers will need to wait a little longer before teeing off in Baguio City.
Three golf courses have announced temporary closure after some of their personnel and a guest tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The Pinewoods Golf and Country Club closed its courses after one of its guests who played over the weekend tested positive.
Baguio Country Club (BCC), meanwhile, advised its members of the course’s indefinite closure.
The BCC management announced that one of the club’s caddies made close contact to a person who recently tested positive for COVID-19 in their barangay.
“We assure everyone that contact tracing and proper health and safety protocols including disinfection and sanitation are already being implemented, as it is always our priority to protect our valued members, guests and employees,” the BCC announcement stated.
Camp John Hay shared that two of its caddies tested positive for COVID-19.
“Camp John Hay Golf Club will be closed until further notice to conduct contact tracing, continued disinfecting, and other appropriate activities,” Camp John Hay announced to its members through Viber.
DeChambeau muscles to victory
NEW YORK (AFP) — Bryson DeChambeau captured his first major golf title, firing a three-under par 67 to win the 120th US Open and humble a relentless Winged Foot layout.
The 27-year-old American, known for his scientific approach to golf and a bulked-up driving dominance, eagled the par-5 ninth from just inside 40 feet and rolled to a six-stroke victory over 21-year-old countryman Matthew Wolff.
DeChambeau hit only 23 fairways for the week but finished 72 holes on six-under par 274 thanks to Sunday’s only sub-par round at the formidable Mamaroneck, New York, layout.
DeChambeau became the first player since 1955 to win with the only sub-par score in the final round, and just the fourth ever to do it, completing a dominating performance.
Typical deep US Open rough could not stop DeChambeau, whose exercise and protein shakes delivered powerful drives while his calculations and precise readings produced solid shotmaking on a layout that crushed rivals.
South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, was a distant third on 282, one stroke ahead of American Harris English after both fired 73 Sunday.
American Xander Schauffele, still seeking his first major title, shot 74 and settled for fifth on 284, his fourth top 6 finish in four US Open starts.
Wolff led last-duo partner DeChambeau by two strokes when the day began but failed to become the youngest US Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 and youngest major winner since Tiger Woods at the 1997 Masters.
Wolff, coming off a share of fourth last month in his major debut at the PGA Championship, could not duplicate the feat of 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet in 2013 by winning in his US Open debut.
DeChambeau, who spent a three-month coronavirus pandemic layoff building his physique, uses same-length clubs and a chart book for judging putts, bringing some slow-play complaints but also six prior PGA Tour victories.
Ninth-ranked DeChambeau won in July at Detroit and shared fourth at last month’s PGA, his best major finish until Sunday.
The coronavirus pandemic postponed the US Open from June and led to a spectator ban, although some fans cheered from beyond boundary fences.
Spending more than an hour on the practice tee Saturday night after all other players had departed, DeChambeau put in work on his drives that paid off Sunday.
DeChambeau and Wolff exchanged impressive eagle putts at the 556-yard par-5 ninth, the easiest hole on a course that averaged 75 Sunday.
DeChambeau drove into the fairway, pitched just inside 40 feet and curled in his eagle putt to reach 5-under. Moments later, Wolff knocked in a 10-footer to stay one shot back.
Wolff stumbled with a bogey at the par-3 10th, missing a par putt from just inside 10 feet, two adrift and the only challenger within five shots.
When DeChambeau rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th to stand 6-under and three ahead — also 3-under on the day’s only sub-par round — the scientist appeared to have finally found a major-winning formula.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson shot 70 to share sixth with US compatriot Will Zalatoris on 285, never managing a sub-par round.
“Tough golf course,” Johnson said. “I gave myself enough chances, but I just didn’t putt well enough.”
Third-ranked American Justin Thomas finished on 286 to share eighth in a pack with fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner who closed with a 75.
“It was really difficult. Wind was up again,” McIlroy said.
“Looks like everyone found it pretty tough out there. Just a tough day.”
Life-changing triumph for Higgo
Garrick Higgo secured a life-changing first European Tour victory at the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos, thanks to a stunning bogey-free seven under par final round of 65.
The left-handed South African, whose final bogey of the week occurred on the tenth hole of his second round, finished on 19 under par, one stroke clear of Spain’s Pep Angles who finished second on 18 under par.
Higgo’s countryman George Coetzee continued his excellent form and followed his Portugal Masters victory with a tied for third place at Royal Óbidos on 15 under par, alongside England’s Andrew Wilson, with Sweden’s Jens Dantorp and Spain’s Carlos Pigem finishing tied fifth on 14 under.
The 21-year-old dropped just three shots during the tournament — a double bogey on his sixth hole of the week and that bogey on the tenth during his second round — and had played only a handful of third round holes when Saturday’s play was suspended due to darkness.
He returned to the course on Sunday morning and carded a six under par round of 66 to end round three just one shot off the lead, which was held by Portugal’s Vitor Lopes.
Lopes could not continue his low-scoring performance of the first three rounds and dropped off the pace during round four, but Higgo picked up where he left off.
Five front nine birdies, including a chip-in on the sixth hole, saw him make the turn in 31 before further gains on the 11th and the 18th saw him finish on 19 under par.
It was a nervous wait for the Stellenbosch native with Angles playing in the group behind, but when the Spaniard was unable to convert the 35-foot eagle putt he needed for a play-off, victory was secured.
Higgo, who’s victory comes in just his seventh Tour start, admitted that the feeling had not yet sunk in following his win.
“It feels awesome,” he said.
“I thought it was going to be a little bit easier over the last three holes but he (Pep Angles) made it a bit tough. That birdie on the last was really, really nice.
Will Bryson win change golf? Rivals divided
NEW YORK (AFP) — Whether Bryson DeChambeau’s US Open victory will revolutionize golf or just give a few people a new edge, it had other players talking after Sunday’s final round at Winged Foot.
Ignoring fears of deep rough in favor of pure distance, DeChambeau fired a three-under par 67 to win his first major title by six strokes, jumping from ninth to fifth in world rankings.
“Revolutionize? Maybe he’s just exposing our game,” American Xander Schauffele said. “If he keeps hitting it further and further, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to win many more US Opens.”
DeChambeau’s scientific approach, now including a bulked-up body bolstered by protein shakes and exercise over a three-month coronavirus layoff, has proven a winning formula: drive long, wedge from the rough, sink your putts.
“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a US Open champion does,” said four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, who shared eighth after a closing 75 left him 12 adrift.
“He has found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know, but it’s just not the way I saw this tournament being played.
“It’s kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”
DeChambeau hit only 23 fairways for the week but also became the first player since 1955 to win with the only sub-par score in the last round. He humbled a course that crushed foes.
“He’s sort of trending in the new direction of golf,” Schauffele said. “Everyone talked about hitting fairways. It’s not about hitting fairways. It’s about hitting on the correct side of the hole and hitting it far so you can kind of hit a wedge instead of a 6-iron out of the rough.
“The only way to make a golf course really hard is to firm up the greens and grow the rough. You would rather be the guy in the rough with a lob wedge than with an 8-iron.”
Then there are those who settle for the old-fashioned fairways, like two-time major winner Zach Johnson.
“If he’s not hitting fairways, the short game has been very good and this place is not easy around the greens,” Johnson said.
“Is it the proper way? I don’t know, but it’s a way to play. And it’s not wrong at all. It’s just very different but also very effective.”
With new club and ball technology to stress distance and big muscles to propel them, DeChambeau has “taken advantage of where the game is at the minute,” Mcilroy said.
“Whether that’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is.”
American Harris English, fourth on 283, notes the short-game skill required to maximize the advantage in the strategy.
“It’s incredible what he can do out of the rough,” English said.
“It’s a game that we’ve really never seen before.
“John Daly changed it a little bit during his time, Tiger (Woods) changed it and Bryson is changing it again. It’s really impressive what he’s doing.”
McIlroy, hoping to complete a career Grand Slam at the Masters in November, said DeChambeau’s strategy could pay off at Augusta National.
“I don’t shudder, but if he can do it around here, and I’m thinking of Augusta and thinking of the way you sort of play there, yeah,” McIlroy said.
“The game has moved on a lot in the last 14 years since the US Open has been played here, and you’re seeing what the game has become, what he’s doing out there.”
McIlroy had been skeptical before, thinking what might work at a PGA Tour event wouldn’t pay off at a major, especially a US Open, due to the punitive rough.
Ardina shoots 1-under; Hall tops Portland
Dottie Ardina closed with a one-under par 71 despite a final-hole bogey in the Cambia Portland Classic at the Columbia Edgewater in Portland, Oregon.
Rookie Bianca Pagdanganan, playing with Ardina in the same flight for the first time, dropped three shots in the last two holes for two-over par 74.
Ardina finished the 54-hole event on three-under 213 for joint 42nd while Pagdanganan ended up tied for 64th on even-par 216.
England’s Georgia Hall won the tournament with a par at the second playoff hole, denying South African Ashleigh Buhai a first US LPGA title.
Teeing off in the backnine, Ardina, 26, had three birdies in the first five holes but made consecutive bogeys on 15, 16 and 17 to make the turn at even par.
She birdied 4 and 6 before dropping a shot on the 54th hole to finish the tournament on three-under 213, good for a tie for 42nd.
The 22-year-old Pagdanganan made the turn at one-under par following a lone birdie on 15 and was still one-under through 16 after a birdie on 7. But she bogeyed 8 and gave up two shots on 9.
Buhai caught up with Hall on tournament-best 12-under after firing a 65. Hall wound up with 68.
At the second playoff hole, the par-four first that was the second-toughest on the course on the day, both players found the fairway.
Both saw their approach shots land in the rough behind the green and had to pitch on. Hall made her five-foot par putt to pile the pressure on Buhai, who missed her short-range effort.
England’s Hall, who added a second victory to the British Women’s Open title she claimed in 2018, had a one-stroke lead going into the 72nd hole, but bogeyed the last to fall into the playoff.
Buhai, a three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, had stormed home, making four of her eight birdies in the last five holes in a seven-under-par 65.
That included a birdie at the 72nd hole to cap a seven-under par 65 that saw her in the clubhouse on 12-under 204.
Hall was 13-under heading to 18, thanks to two three-birdie bursts at the fifth, sixth and seventh and the 10th, 11th and 12th.
But she dropped a shot at the 72nd hole and the pair returned to the 18th tee to start the playoff.
Hall found the fairway at the first playoff hole, wthere Buhai was in the rough and put her shot out on the fringe.
Hall two-putted from about 12 feet and Buhai matched her par.
It was an emotional win for Hall, who said she didn’t realize where she stood at the final hole of regulation because the scoreboards that normally dot the course haven’t been put up with no fans in attendance because of the coronavirus pandemic.