PITTSFORD, N.Y. – This is an awkward week. There’s no getting around that with the final Wegmans LPGA Championship being staged at Monroe Golf Club. For 38 years, the Rochester area has been home to an LPGA event, with Locust Hill Country Club host to every tournament played here until this year’s. In news that hit this golf community hard, the LPGA announced 10 weeks ago that it wasn’t just leaving Locust Hill, it was reconfiguring the LPGA Championship as the new KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. And it was taking it on the road, beginning in 2015. It’s partnering with the PGA of America and ending its long association with Rochester. “It’s definitely bittersweet being here this year, knowing we’re not coming back,” Morgan Pressel said. Pressel has been staying with the Gorslines as her host family ever since she began playing here eight years ago. Crofts and Jane Gorsline have made her feel like family over the years. Lots of players have created strong bonds with host families. “I think we’ll all be emotional come Sunday,” Pressel said. “I love it here. Pittsford is awesome. I have all my favorite spots, my favorite restaurants, my yoga spot, and all those different places I’ve been going to for years. Wegmans has been amazing to us, and it’s really sad that an event that’s been here almost 40 years won’t be here any longer. Hopefully, we can make this the best one and send it out on a good note.” Still, Pressel and her peers understand what an important major championship upgrade they’re going to get with the PGA of America taking over the event. The PGA has been in the business of putting on majors since 1916. The players appreciate what KPMG and the PGA’s investment in them says about their product. For the Rochester community, though, the news left it feeling like a spurned lover. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan knew there would be some bitterness to contend with, and it came quickly with a harsh reaction in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle the day after the news was announced. “It seems surreal,” columnist Leo Roth wrote. “Like we’re pulling a 1-iron from our backs. That nearly 40 years of goodwill, friendships, charity fundraising and history meant nothing to an ambitious commissioner with an inflated view of his tour and a new generation of players who’ve grown up feeling entitled to more.” Ouch. The emotion is understandable from a local perspective, from folks who have poured so much into hosting an event since 1977. Looking at the bigger picture, though, this was a terrific move for the LPGA. Wegmans commitment was uncertain. It’s a regional company, and it’s been operating with a year-to-year agreement with the LPGA. The new PGA deal was a chance to lock in this major’s long-term future. “The PGA told me point blank, ‘We are going to go to our board, and we’re going to say, ‘Let’s not commit to do this unless we are going to commit to it for the next 50-plus years.” That’s how they entered this agreement with us,” Whan said. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be played at Westchester Country Club in its first year. The purse will jump from $2.25 million to $3.5 million. A new network TV deal will be in place. “Sitting on the LPGA board, there’s not a lot wrong with that scenario,” Hall of Famer Karrie Webb said. With Kraft Nabisco not returning as title sponsor of the year’s first major, Whan is looking at building long-term stability for all his majors to give them all a chance for long traditions like the men have built. The women’s majors have been a patchwork of championships over the years. Eight different events have been considered women’s majors since 1972. There was a time in the ‘70s when the women played just two majors. “When I started back in 2010, we had a lot of conversations, between myself and the board, about how we have to find ways so our majors can have 50-year runs,” Whan said. “We can’t be in a situation where we are tied to a major but looking for a new contract every three or four years.” Once a long-term future for the former Kraft Nabisco is secured, Whan likes the way his five-major-championship lineup sets up, with the U.S. Women’s Open, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Evian Championship all on apparently stable foundations. “Some of them might be fresh and new, so they’re still building that tradition, but I think they’re going to be around for a long, long time,” Whan said. “We have a lot of work to do to cement that fifth one in the desert, but we have an opportunity to build tradition that’s been difficult in women’s golf, because we’ve always been kind of tied to the corporate check. “The majors become majors because of history, not anything else.” The LPGA is losing some history with its move away from Rochester. It was a regular tour event for its first 33 years, becoming a major in 2010. Pat Bradley won the first LPGA event staged here in 1977. Nancy Lopez won three of the first five. Patty Sheehan won four LPGA titles in this city. The winners here are a who’s who of women’s golf. “It’s sad,” Angela Stanford said. “It’s said for the community, and it’s sad for the players.” Knowing the strong emotion that would follow the LPGA’s decision to leave Rochester, Whan flew here three days after the announcement. He stepped in for a player scheduled to be the center piece of the Wegmans LPGA Championship’s Media Day. He took all the hard questions. “There were myths vs. reality flying around,” Whan said. “I was glad I went. I’m not saying it was easy, but I loved the fact that people at Rochester were struggling with the decision because they loved the event. I know we struggled with the decision, but that’s why I believe we’ll be back. I think there’s just a lot of love between Rochester and the LPGA.” With the PGA of America’s relationship with Oak Hill, it’s not a stretch to wonder if this major will make its return to Rochester one year. There’s also the possibility of a Solheim Cup coming to Oak Hill, or a regular event returning here someday.’ “When I started as commissioner, a lot of people told me it’s a shame we won’t be going back to Toledo, and we won’t be going back to Phoenix, and asking why we don’t play in Hawaii anymore,” Whan said. “As I’ve said from the beginning, I know we’re not going to be in Rochester next year, but I personally believe we will be back to Rochester in time. There’s just too much support, too many families, too many volunteers and too much great golf. I don’t know how or where that will be, but if Toledo, Hawaii and Phoenix are any indication, we find our way back to great hotbeds.” Linda Hampton, the tournament coordinator for the local foundation that runs the Wegmans LPGA Championship, said the aim this week is to celebrate the LPGA’s rich history in Rochester. “When we heard the news, it was hard to believe,” said Hampton, who has been helping run the event for 35 years. “Coming to the realization that we are parting, that we had outgrown each other a little bit, that was shocking to people, but they’ve come to understand it. It’s been a love affair, and now we have an opportunity to come together one more time and celebrate and to be proud of what we’ve done.” The local organizing body is going to literally send this event out with a bang. A fireworks show is planned after Sunday’s trophy presentation. At 4 p.m., the gates will open to allow the community to come in for free to watch the championship’s finish. There’s a sweepstakes giveaway planned among the many activities, with iPads, 40-inch TVs and a $5,000 grand prize. Jerry Stahl, co-chairman of the local tournament foundation, is intent on making the most of this farewell. “It’s unfortunate for Rochester that we’re losing this event, but things happen,” Stahl said. “We’ve had 38 wonderful years of interaction with the pros, with the community, and we’re going to miss it. Mike Whan is a terrific commissioner, and he did what he had to do. He had an opportunity to raise the financial level of the event for the players and the LPGA. How can you deny them that? You can’t. Sure, it will be emotional, no question, but we’re going to do our best to have a fabulous event.”
Month: May 2021
NORTON, Mass. – Chris Kirk made three big putts and captured the biggest win of his career Monday in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Whether that was enough for U.S. captain Tom Watson to add him to the Ryder Cup team was the least of his concerns. Kirk won for the second time this season. He went the last 37 holes at the TPC Boston without a bogey. He played the final two rounds with Rory McIlroy and outplayed the No. 1 player in the world. And he closed with a 5-under 66 for a two-shot victory in a FedEx Cup playoff event. Was it enough to convince Watson that he was worthy of a captain’s pick? ”I certainly don’t feel entitled, or feel like I’m a shoe-in to get a pick,” Kirk said. ”I’ve obviously really put myself into consideration, and it’s something that I would love to do. But like I’ve said before, the nine guys that made it are automatic. Those are the guys on the team. The other three? If you get in, it’s a bonus.” Then he looked at the blue trophy next to him and considered what he had just achieved. ”Winning the Deutsche Bank and going to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup, and $1.4 million, that’s plenty for me for one day,” he said with a smile. Watson announces his selections Tuesday evening in New York. Updated FedEx Cup playoff points standing Deutsche Bank Championship full-field scores Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos Ten shots behind after the opening round, Kirk was so disgusted that he skipped his usual practice session. He was flawless the rest of the week, particularly on Monday in another wild Labor Day finish at the TPC Boston. Kirk made three big putts on the back nine – two of them for birdie – but what pleased him the most was his 15-foot putt for par on the 15th hole that kept him in the lead. Billy Horschel had a chance to at least force a playoff – and possibly win – when he stood in the fairway on the par-5 18th hole with a 6-iron in his hand. Horschel chunked the shot so badly that it barely reached the hazard, and he made bogey for a 69. ”The worst swing I’ve made all week,” Horschel said. Horschel tied for second with 54-hole leader Russell Henley (70) and Geoff Ogilvy, who extended his unlikely run through these FedEx Cup playoffs. Ogilvy was the last of the 100 qualifiers for the Deutsche Bank Championship. He went 65-65 on the weekend without a bogey. The top 70 in the FedEx Cup advance to the BMW Championship in Denver later this week. Ogilvy went from No. 100 to No. 24, and now stands a reasonable chance of getting to the Tour Championship for the top 30. Kirk won for the third time in his career, though never against a field this strong, and never with this much riding on it. He was No. 14 in the Ryder Cup standings, five spots away from being an automatic qualifier. This victory could go a long way toward Watson using one of his three selections on the 29-year-old from Georgia. Last week, Hunter Mahan bolstered his Ryder Cup case by winning The Barclays. Kirk was trying not to think about that, saying he already had plans to be at the Georgia-Tennessee game the weekend (Sept. 26-28) of the Ryder Cup. But he would gladly break those plans for a trip to Scotland for golf’s version of the Super Bowl. ”I would absolutely love to do it, but I’m not going to really base how happy I am with how I’m playing, or how my year has gone, on whether I make the team or not,” Kirk said. McIlroy, who started the final round only two shots behind on a course where he won two years ago, fell back with successive bogeys on the front nine, bounced back with a pair of birdies, and then fell out of the mix by missing two short par putts early on the back nine. He closed with a 70 and tied for fifth with John Senden (66). Kirk took the outright lead for the first time with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole. And right when it looked as if he was struggling with his swing, he saved par from a bunker with a 15-foot putt on the 15th. On the next hole, he made a birdie putt from just over 12 feet that gave him a two-shot lead. Kirk, who finished at 15-under 269, failed to make birdie on a par 5 in the final round. He made a weak attempt on his 8-foot birdie try on the 18th. That left it to Horschel, in prime position for at least a birdie. ”When Chris missed his birdie, I thought I was going to hit it on the green. I thought I was going to make the putt and make the eagle and win it outright,” Horschel said. ”But it just wasn’t my day, I guess, to hit that bad of a shot.” A small consolation for Horschel was going from No. 82 in the FedEx Cup to No. 20, all but assuring a spot in the Tour Championship. Six players moved into the top 70, though none was more surprising than Ogilvy. He became the first player in four years to go from No. 100 to the third playoff event.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Roberto Castro shot a 3-under 68 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead in the Web.com Tour Finals’ Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. Castro birdied the par-4 15th and 16th holes and closed with two pars to finish at 7-under 206 on Ohio State’s Scarlet Course. The 30-year-old former Georgia Tech player has played the PGA Tour the last four seasons, but slipped to 188th in the FedEx Cup standings to drop into the series that replaced Q-school. The tournament is the third of four events for the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and non-members who earned enough money to have placed in the top 200 had they been eligible to receive points. The top 25 players on Web.com Tour regular-season money list earned PGA Tour cards. They are competing against each other for Tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for another 25 cards based on series earnings, with Castro entering the week tied for 11th with $30,118. Last year, Eric Axley took the 25th card with $36,312. Harold Varner III, Robert Garrigus and Zack Fisher were tied for second at 5 under. Varner had a 66, Garrigus shot 67, and Fisher 69.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – A sprint to the finish between a pair of Europeans looms at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. With heavy rains washing out much of Sunday’s action, 27 players will return to El Camaleon on Monday to put a cap on the penultimate event of the wraparound season’s fall slate. In one corner stands Graeme McDowell, an established champion eager to close a disappointing year on a high note. Across from him is Russell Knox, a winner just last week whose whirlwind travel has left him running on fumes, but running hot nonetheless. The pair share the top spot at 19 under, two shots clear of Jason Bohn with less than six holes to go. Both began the day three shots behind leader Derek Fathauer, but they opened their final rounds with six birdies apiece and no bogeys. By virtue of his position on the course, Knox may have a slight edge. McDowell has already played the par-5 13th, one of the easiest holes on the course, and faces a stern test on the par-4 14th. Knox will return to a short pitch shot on No. 13, with a great chance to get up-and-down for birdie and become the first player this week to reach 20 under. Playing for the fifth straight week in his fourth different country, Knox is proof that momentum can travel. “I know maybe when I get home I’ll have a physical breakdown and sleep for days, but I feel fine,” Knox said. “I can certainly play five more holes.” Knox was a relatively unheralded player for the last two years on the PGA Tour, but he broke through last week in China for his first career win at the WGC-HSBC Champions. The confidence he gained from outlasting a strong field has been on display this week, where he is 18 under for his last 48 holes following an opening-round 70. OHL Classic at Mayakoba: Articles, photos and videos “At least I know I can do it. I’m in a great position, obviously,” he said. “I’m the only person up there that won last week, so I can really freewheel it tomorrow. I can’t wait to give it another try.” To capture his second trophy in as many weeks, though, Knox will have to pull clear of McDowell, who is looking for his first piece of hardware in nearly three years. Having finally figured out the opening hole at El Camaleon, where he made par Sunday after playing it in 5 over across the first three days, McDowell now has an opportunity to punch his ticket to the Masters – an invite Knox clinched a week ago. “It’s a bit of a shootout so you’ve just got to keep sort of the pedal down tomorrow morning and try and shoot a score,” McDowell said. “We’ll regroup and get out there tomorrow morning and see how we can finish the day.” With soft conditions yielding low scores, McDowell didn’t make his first birdie of the day until No. 5, but that started a run of three straight that brought him back in the mix. After a delay of more than three hours, he returned to the course and played his final five holes 3 under. “Really just trying to keep it simple on the greens,” he said. “Like I say, been seeing it well and I’ve been knocking some in, and that was a nice way to kind of finish the day with a couple birdies.” Like McDowell, Knox maintained his strong play after the delay. Following a birdie on No. 11 that gave him the lead, Knox rolled in a 5-foot par save on No. 12 to avoid what would have been just his fourth bogey of the week. “I hate making bogeys more than I love making birdies, I think,” he said. “The par putt on 12 was huge for me. Then to hit a nice second shot there on 13, to be in great position, was big. I’m really thrilled how I finished the day.” With Bohn the only player within four shots of the co-leaders, this overtime finale appears ready to be decided between a pair of players moving in opposite directions. For Knox, it’s a chance to quickly validate his breakthrough victory, much like Billy Horschel did during the 2014 FedEx Cup Playoffs, and move further up the world rankings to bolster a potential Ryder Cup bid that was non-existent two weeks ago. For McDowell, it’s an opportunity to earn the redemption he sought by coming to this event, mired in a year-long slump and in search of inspiration. His ball-striking has turned around this week at El Camaleon, and his trademark grin has returned. Whether that’s enough to hold off the hottest player on Tour, though, remains to be seen.
NORTH BERWICK, Scotland – Alex Noren advanced to the Paul Lawrie Match Play final with a 3 and 2 defeat of James Morrison on Saturday. The Swede went 4 up after seven holes at Archerfield before losing Nos. 9 and 10. Noren faces Anthony Wall in Sunday’s final after the Englishman sank a tricky putt to beat countryman Oliver Fisher on the fourth playoff hole. Noren has been favorite following the exits of top-seeded Chris Wood and Matt Fitzpatrick in the Round of 16. He is chasing his second European Tour win in Scotland in the span of a month after winning the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in July. Earlier Saturday, Noren defeated compatriot Johan Carlsson 4 and 2 in the quarterfinals with an eagle on No. 6. ”It was one of those days where everything goes your way,” Noren said after beating Carlsson. Wall finished 2 up against South African Haydn Porteous in the quarterfinals.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Two of the biggest stars in golf. One of the game’s biggest stages. Well-oiled fans who couldn’t have rooted harder. The second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open had everything you could ask for … but it could’ve been even better. The featured group of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler (and Jon Rahm) led huge crowds around TPC Scottsdale on Friday. The players seemed to feed off each other and the gallery as they worked their way up the leaderboard at an event where each of the previous three winners had been three or more shots back entering the weekend. That’s good news for the duo who are three shots (Fowler) and six shots (Spieth) off the lead after leaving plenty of shots out there, especially on the greens. Fowler made four birdies and a bogey in his 3-under 68, but he missed a makeable eagle try at 13 and birdie putts at 14, 15 and 16. “I have played some good golf the last two days,” Fowler said. “But I’m going to have to play better over the next two days if I want a chance of winning.” Spieth matched him with a 68 of his own, going out in a blistering 31, then adding two more birdies on 11 and 13; but he lipped out a birdie try on 12, made a bogey on 14, didn’t cash in birdie putts on 15 and 17 and made an ugly double bogey on 18 when he found the water off the tee. Waste Management Phoenix Open: Articles, photos and videos “I hit some good putts at the end that just missed. Kind of second-guessed a couple of reads,” Spieth said. “I have just been looking for that groove putting, and it’s almost there. Feels like it’s close.” No offense to Rahm, who did get some hometown Arizona State support, but Spieth and Fowler are superstars – likeable superstars – and the fans let them hear it the whole day. This wasn’t the Ryder Cup where fan support was on one side or another, and at times over the top. Everyone wanted to see these guys go low, and Spieth and Fowler did their best to oblige as they chatted their way down one fairway after another. For the most part, the patrons were respectful. One dude offered Spieth a beer. He declined. Some fans were nice enough to concede putts, yelling “good-good!” at the twosome. One guy yelled, “TCU runs the BIG 12, brother!” as Spieth, a Texas Longhorn, walked by. And that was all before they got to the famed 16th, which has gotten rowdier by the day. When the announcer told the stadium crowd to quiet down before Fowler’s tee shot, he turned and pumped his arms, getting everyone on their feet and screaming. “I’m definitely comfortable on this golf course,” Fowler said. “I think out of any Tour event I’ve played the most here … and it’s fun playing in front of loud crowds.” It’s fair to say the spring-break buddies enjoyed their time Friday as they made their stroll around the golf course. If they start dropping a few more putts over the weekend, things could get downright delightful. “The way I feel over the ball, I’m very confident,” Spieth said. “I know as well as anybody that once a couple start going in, they start pouring in.” For everyone in attendance this weekend at TPC Scottsdale, let’s hope that happens.
MEXICO CITY – Lorena Ochoa will be playing in her LPGA tour event in Mexico, but only for an exhibition. Ochoa had said Sunday at the WGC-Mexico Championship that she would be playing the Lorena Ochoa Match Play on May 4-7, and that it would be her first time playing her tournament since 2012. Instead, she will be playing in Hall of Fame exhibitions during the weekend of the tournament. Her brother, Alejandro Ochoa, said she did not want to be specific about her participation when speaking to a small group of reporters at Chapultepec Golf Club because the LPGA tour had not publicized the Hall of Fame matches and his sister did not want to speak ahead of any announcement. The LPGA is expected to reveal details of the exhibition this week. Ochoa said she has been practicing a few days a week and said she would practice every day in advance of her appearance at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play. The 35-year-old Ochoa retired in 2010 when she was No. 1 in the world. She recently had married and wanted to start a family and work on her foundation. She last competed against LPGA competition at the 2012 Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Because she did not have 10 full years on the LPGA, she was not eligible for the LPGA Hall of Fame. Because of a change in the voting process for the World Golf Hall of Fame – it is now done by a committee instead of large panel that included golf writers – Ochoa was selected for induction this year. Ochoa compiled her 27 LPGA tour victories in a six-year span in which she rose to No. 1 in women’s golf. She also won two majors – the 2007 Women’s British Open the first time it was held at St. Andrews, and the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The comment was vintage Johnny Miller, raw enough to cause most television producers to wince. Miller was in the NBC Sports booth at Doral in 2004 when he watched Craig Parry hit another beautiful shot to the green. Miller said what he saw. That was his job. He just didn’t say it like other golf analysts. ”The last time you see that swing is in a pro-am with a guy who’s about a 15-handicap,” Miller said. ”It’s just over the top, cups it at the bottom and hits it unbelievably good. It doesn’t look … if Ben Hogan saw that, he’d puke.” Parry got the last word, of course, holing out a 6-iron from 176 yards in a playoff to win. Except that wasn’t the last word. ”I was in Ponte Vedra going back to the Honda Classic, and my phone is blowing up,” said Tommy Roy, the longtime golf producer at NBC. ”It started percolating down in Australia, and you had radio stations demanding Johnny Miller be fired.” Miller could make golf more fun to hear than to watch. ”He doesn’t have a filter. That’s why he’s so good,” Roy said. ”What he’s thinking comes out. And 99.5 percent of the time, that was a great thing for viewers, and for me. And 0.5 percent of the time, it was a problem for our PR department and for me. ”And it was worth it.” Roy was in Wisconsin on Monday night for his first look at Whistling Straits for the 2020 Ryder Cup. It will be the first Ryder Cup since 1989 that doesn’t have Miller in the booth weighing in on good shots and bad with thoughts that immediately become words. He often entertained. He occasionally irritated. He was rarely dull. Miller is retiring after three decades calling the shots for NBC. His last tournament will be the Phoenix Open, the perfect exit for a Hall of Fame player once known as the ”Desert Fox” for winning six times in Arizona. Miller was so good for so long that it was easy for younger generations to forget about that other career he had. Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019 Best of: Photos of Miller through the years And to think that was nearly his only career in golf. Miller said he wasn’t interested when NBC first approached him, but then his wife stepped in and told him it would be nice to have a steady paycheck. Even then, it took time for him to realize his audience was in the living room, not the locker room. He made his debut at the Bob Hope Classic in 1990 and it didn’t take long for him to leave his mark. Peter Jacobsen faced an awkward lie to the 18th green with water to the left. ”The easiest shot to choke on,” Miller said. People thought about choking. Miller said it because that’s what he was thinking. ”What came into his brain came out of his mouth,” said Mike McCarley, president of golf for NBC Sports. ”He was the first to really talk about the pressure. It’s the most important element of the game, especially in those really big moments. He was doing it at a time when others weren’t.” It wasn’t just the word ”choke.” Phil Mickelson was getting up-and-down from everywhere at the 2010 Ryder Cup when Miller suggested that if Lefty weren’t such a good putter he’d be selling cars in San Diego. Justin Leonard and Hal Sutton were losing a fourballs match at the 1999 Ryder Cup when Miller blurted out, ”My hunch is that Justin needs to go home and watch it on television.” During the 2008 U.S. Open playoff at Torrey Pines that Tiger Woods won in 19 holes over Rocco Mediate, Miller suggested that guys named ”Rocco” don’t get their name on the trophy, and that Mediate looked like ”the guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool.” It wasn’t all bad. Roy, who also has produced NBA Finals and Olympics, said he wants analysts who first-guess, not second-guess. The latter is for talk radio. First-guessing means sharing instincts, and Miller had plenty of them. Woods was playing the final hole at Newport in the 1995 U.S. Amateur when Miller said, ”It wouldn’t surprise me if he knocked this thing a foot from the hole.” And that’s just what Woods did. McCarley remembers how retired NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol used to worry whenever Miller called because he thought it was about retirement. McCarley soon inherited that feeling. ”Every time I’d see Johnny’s number pop up on my cellphone, my heart would skip a beat,” McCarley said. ”Two years ago, he made that call I had been dreading.” McCarley kept him working a slightly reduced schedule, but no longer. Miller is 71 and has been on the road for 50 years. His 24th grandchild was born on Sunday. He wants to teach them fly fishing in Utah, perhaps even a little golf. Miller wasn’t sure he would last a week when he started. He never imagined going nearly 30 years. He leaves behind a style all his own. Most loved it. Some didn’t. But everyone listened, and that might be his legacy in the broadcast booth. Roy said what he has heard from viewers he knows is that 70 percent really like Miller, and 30 percent really don’t. ”But they all have an opinion,” he said.
SOUTHPORT, England – Matt Wallace moved into position for his fifth European Tour win in two years by shooting 5-under 67 to take the second-round lead at the British Masters on Friday. The Englishman was 12 under overall and a stroke clear of a trio of players including Niklas Lemke, who made eight straight birdies – one off the professional golf record – in shooting 64. Lemke was tied with Ross Fisher (65) and Thomas Detry (67). Wallace won his first title in Portugal in 2017 before three more in 2018, when he was unfortunate to miss out on a wild card for the Ryder Cup outside Paris. He is determined to continue his rise and has recently started working with fitness expert Dr. Steve McGregor, who counts former world No. 1s Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood among his previous clients. ”If I look at the bigger picture of the next three or four years, it’s very similar to (British Open champion) Francesco (Molinari),” said Wallace, who was playing on the Alps Tour and at No. 1,672 in the rankings this time four years ago. Your browser does not support iframes. Full-field scores from the Betfred British Masters ”Three years ago, he wasn’t where he is now and I want to be doing what he’s doing – Ryder Cups and majors and competing at every single event pretty much.” Wallace has yet to drop a shot this week after starting with a 65. With his streak of birdies from No. 13 to No. 2 after starting at the 10th hole, Lemke came close to equaling the record set by former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia in 2009 and matched by James Nitties at the Vic Open in February. The 371st-ranked Lemke, who had missed the cut in six of his last seven events, had the third-best stroke average in the history of Arizona State University behind Paul Casey and Phil Mickelson but came close to giving up the game after struggling in the professional ranks. ”Three years ago, I decided I was going to give it two years and if I felt I was getting better I would continue,” said Lemke, who graduated from the European Tour qualifying school last year at the 10th attempt. ”I made a two-year plan and committed to it. ”There are still some ups and downs but it feels like it’s going in the right direction.”
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email Ultra-running events require at least eight hours of trail work just to be eligible to enter 100-mile events. It is my experience that a majority of participants far exceed this minimum requirement. We realize it’s a privilege to be in many of the areas we recreate and want to see that our privileges aren’t taken away. If any trash is on the trail, we even pick up trash that was there before the event. Every race, including the Swan Crest 100 has “trail-sweepers” that not only pick up all the trash and take down the course markings, but determine which, if any, parts of the course could use some maintenance. How many other sports require trail work before you can participate? I think the sport is already a step ahead in responsible stewardship. We are conservationists and want to see habitats protected and preserved. Keith Hammer’s statements consist of a lot of “what-ifs” and speculation. To compare running with mountain biking and motorcycle riding is ridiculous. As far as environmental impact, how is running more of a threat to the environment than walking (which we do a lot of)? On my last 100-miler, I averaged 14:29 minute miles Are running shoes more damaging to the trail than hiking boots? Many Hikers use trail running shoes instead of boots anyway. How does the ground know the difference? The race could have 500 participants and no one could tell the difference the day after a race. I know, I put on races and take part in events that are much larger in size than the Swan Crest 100. As far as this setting precedent for mountain bike and motorcycle races to be allowed, how does he draw that conclusion? The Forest Service decides which user groups are granted permits. If I follow Hammer’s rationale, I could conclude that people should no longer hike on these public lands because monster truck drivers will want a race next year. How would Keith Hammer feel if we suggested that he move his weekly group hikes to the local mall, as to avoid potential bear-human contact? I agree that wildlife and environment should be protected and not taken for granted, but Keith using ultra-running community as the target is farfetched and unwarranted. If he chooses to litigate (as he’s been known to do), let him pay for all the attorney fees and court costs. This I-will-sue-you-if-I-can’t-get-my-way mentality should not be supported, unless there is an actual reason. Also, the race is not a commercial endeavor as he suggests, no more than the donations he receives for his hiking club. Please let the Swan Crest 100 go on as planned. Ultra-running is a low-impact sport that is comprised of people who care about wildlife and the environment. We act to improve the environment and leave it better than when we got there. We take only pictures and and leave no trash, only that occasional footprints that fade with the wind. Alvin CrainMount Vernon, Wash.