Mar 03

Greg Norman: ‘Certain players…would rather be a sheep’

Greg Norman thinks some modern PGA Tour pros are a little too happy to get fat on top-20 finishes instead of chasing down wins.

“Certain players are happy just going through the motions," Norman said to the Wall St. Journal. "They don’t want to be the leader, they would rather be a sheep. They enjoy grazing the field and getting fat and sassy."

Perhaps Norman, who turned 60 in February, has a point -- or just a different frame of reference. A total of 96 PGA Tour players earned over $1 million during the 2013-14 season. In 1996, the year Norman led a six-shot lead slip away in the final round of the Masters, just nine players made seven figures. 

However, the Aussie also believes many players have the hunger to live in golf's spotlight, including Jason Day, who said in January that he'd like to get to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“To say he wants to be the best in the world, that’s a big statement to make to yourself, let alone publicly. So he is willing to put it out there," Norman said of his fellow Aussie.

Norman also lauded another fellow countryman, Adam Scott, who makes his 2015 debut this week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship after becoming a father two weeks ago. The Shark thinks the 2013 Masters winner could be due for even bigger things now that he's a dad.

“His life is solidified," Norman said. "He has everything except more tournaments. So let’s go win some more tournaments.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 02

Former Tour player claims Woods suspended by Tour; agent, Tour deny claims

Former PGA Tour player Dan Olsen made a serious accusation on Friday: that Tiger Woods had been suspended by the Tour for a month.

Olsen, who was an exempt player for the 2004 PGA Tour season, made the claim Friday on radio station WVFN to host David DeMarco. The Michigan-based pro claimed his sources were "exempt Tour players," but that Woods was not suspended for taking testosterone.

“I think when it’s all said and done, he’s going to surpass Lance Armstrong in infamy," Olsen said.

Both Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, and the PGA Tour vehemently deny Olsen's claims.

“These claims are absolutely, unequivocally and completely false," Steinberg said in a statement. "They are unsourced, unverified and completely ridiculous. The PGA Tour has confirmed that there is no truth to these claims.”

“Regarding the allegations made by Dan Olsen concerning Tiger Woods, there is no truth whatsoever to his claims and the PGA Tour categorically denies them," said PGA Tour media official Joel Schuchmann in a statement made on behalf of the Tour.

Olsen went on to make other claims, including that Nike Golf had provided Tiger Woods with a golf ball that gave him an advantage over other players and that Olsen would "almost bet hadn't been tested."

"So he's really playing with -- I'm not gonna say a cheater ball, because he has the help of the establishment, really -- but he played a ball that nobody else could play. ...

"So that combined with his enhancement issues, like having a Canadian blood spinning doctor in his phone, you know? I mean, I think people are starting to openly call it what it is, which is gonna be a problem for him."

In a statement, Nike Golf said, "Every ball Tiger has put in competitive play from Nike has been thoroughly tested and approved by the USGA and R&A in accordance with their governing rules."

Olsen also said he believed Woods was faking the back injury the 14-time major winner cited in withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods announced Feb. 11 that he would not play again on the PGA Tour until his game was "tournament ready." 

On Monday, Olsen backed off his claims.

"Everything I said on that radio interview was only my opinion and not based on any firsthand knowledge or facts," Olsen said to ESPN.com. "I want to make a full retraction to everything I said for the entire radio interview, and I apologize to Tiger, Nike, Phil [Mickelson], [commissioner] Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 02

Padraig Harrington wins Honda for first PGA Tour win since 2008

Irish eyes are smiling in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Padraig Harrington is a winner again on the PGA Tour.

Harrington, who was playing this week on a sponsor's invitation, defeated Daniel Berger on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win his first PGA Tour title since the 2008 PGA Championship.

The three-time major winner was tied with Patrick Reed for control of the golf tournament on the 17th tee in regulation after Ian Poulter had put five balls in water hazards in the final round. On the par-4 14th, Poulter's tee shot went right into a water hazard. Then, after a drop, his third shot caromed off a tree into the same hazard. He eventually made triple-bogey 7 to lose the lead.

On the 15th hole, Reed's tee shot landed in the water at the par 3 and led to a double bogey.

Alone in the lead on the tee at the par-3 penultimate hole, Harrington's attempted cut shot to the water-guarded end of The Bear Trap landed in the water hazard, leading to a double bogey that cost him the lead to the 21-year-old Berger, who was already in the clubhouse at 6-under 274.

Harrington needed birdie to force a playoff, but wasn't the only player in the final group that could catch Berger, who shot 6-under 64 to come back from nine shots down to start the final round. Poulter made birdie at No. 17, needing an eagle at the par-5 last to get in a potential playoff. Reed was locked out because of a bogey. 

Poulter laid up with his second shot from 290 yards and was unable to sink the wedge shot for an eagle 3, leaving Harrington the only man in between Berger and a Masters berth. The Irishman sank a 15-footer for birdie to force the playoff.

Both players made par on the first playoff hole, replaying the 18th. Harrington took a long time on the tee of the par-3 17th, the second playoff hole, but his second crack at the hole was masterful. His ball landed 3 feet from the hole. With the pressure on, Berger put his tee shot in the water hazard. It took two putts, but Harrrington sealed his win with a par.

Apparently it pays to be No. 297 in the Official World Golf Ranking. A week ago, James Hahn was 297th when he won the Northern Trust Open in a playoff. This week? Harrington was slotted in the same place in golf's pecking order. 

Now Harrington is back in the Masters and in the top 85 in the world ranking.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 01

Poulter’s late miscues open door for wild Monday Honda finish

With one swing, everything changed late on Sunday at The Honda Classic.

Ian Poulter, searching for his first stroke-play PGA Tour win in the United States, was on the tee with an 8-iron at the par-3 fifth hole with a three-shot lead. He did the unthinkable, shanking his ball way right. The ball bounced off a cart path and into a water hazard. After a drop, the Englishman couldn't get up-and-down for bogey. Sensing opportunity, Patrick Reed made birdie from just off the green. 

Suddenly, there was a tie at the top in the waning moments of a long day at PGA National.

On the next hole, Poulter lost the lead when his tee shot at the par-4 snapped left and into a water hazard. Poulter went on to make bogey. However, Reed, who made par at No. 6, didn't stay in charge for long.

Poulter's tee shot to the 199-yard, par-3 seventh to just 3 feet, setting up a bounce-back birdie to end the day at 7 under par. Reed made bogey to fall out of the lead, a shot  However, Poulter has company atop the leaderboard.

Paul Casey, who was part of the playoff last week at the Northern Trust Open, charged hard in the nine holes of the final round he played. He birdied three of the first four holes, then capped off his day by stuffing his approach to the par-4 ninth to 6 feet. The birdie has him tied with Poulter, with his ball sitting off the 10th fairway when play was called due to darkness.

The tournament will be wide open on Monday morning when play resumes at 8 a.m., with nine players sitting within four shots of the lead.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 01

Amy Yang wins Honda LPGA Thailand by two shots

It only took seven days for Amy Yang to get a little redemption.

Yang, who trailed Stacy Lewis by a shot heading into the final round at Siam Country Club, shot a 3-under 69 to win the Honda LPGA Thailand on Sunday by two shots, finishing on 15-under 273. 

“I don’t know what just happened, Yang said after the win. “I still can’t believe I did it today.”

Stacy Lewis, who had a share of the lead after each of the prior three rounds, shot a final round of even-par 72 to fall into a tie for second with Yani Tseng (67) and Mirim Lee (69). Lewis and Yang were tied for the lead on the short par-4 15th hole, but a Lewis double bogey and a Yang birdie set the stage for Yang's win.

Tseng's joint runner-up finish is her best payday since finishing in the same position at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 01

Lydia Ko wins New Zealand Women’s Open for 10th pro victory

Lydia Ko has pulled the ANZ Double.

On the heels of winning the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open a week ago, Ko won her national championship, the Women's New Zealand Open, on Sunday at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch.

"This is even better than I would ever have imagined," said Ko. "It's just great to have won the two Opens back to back."

Ko, who shot a second-round 61, shot a final round of 1-under 71 for a 14-under 202 total and a four-shot winner over 18-year-old Aussie amateur Hannah Green in the 54-hole event. The win is Ko's 10th in a professional event and her second NZ Open title, with the first coming in 2013 as an amateur.

The teen became the youngest No. 1 player in the history of golf in January with a joint runner-up finish at the LPGA's season-opening Coates Golf Championship. In the three starts since taking over the top spot, Ko has won twice.

A reminder: She's just 17.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 01

Staring down a Monday finish at The Honda Classic

Read this like you would a car commercial: The Honda Classic, extended! For one. More. Day!

The Honda Classic resumes its third round on Sunday at 10 a.m. after play was called on Saturday following a two-hour weather delay. When play was called just before 3 p.m. on Saturday, PGA Tour officials expected to restart play at 7 a.m. However, over 5 inches of rain fell on PGA National on Saturday, knocking down scoreboards and signage, creating air bubbles on greens and damaging bunkers. Grounds crews needed more time to prepare the golf course.

“There’s no way we can hit a 7 a.m. (start),” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice-president of rules and competition, according to Golfweek.

A total of 71 players made the 36-hole cut, with the second round completed on Saturday morning. That forced a split-tee start for Round 3 in groups of three. However, just four tee times got started on the first and 10th holes before play was halted for the day.

All that means there's no way The Honda Classic will finish on Sunday. 

A Monday finish always leads to eye-rolling from everyone involved, but this isn't the first time The Honda Classic will extend beyond Sunday. In 2007, the first year the event was held at PGA National, Mark Wilson went on to win the tournament on Monday. 

However, the Monday after Honda isn't your typical travel day. For a good number of players in the field, Monday is the legendary pro-member tournament at Seminole Golf Club, 20 minutes toward the Atlantic from PGA National. In 2014, the pro-member had six of the world's top 10 in the field.

Don't be surprised, then, for a rash of players withdrawing from the tournament after Round 3 is finished.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 28

Stacy Lewis hanging on to 1-shot lead at Honda LPGA Thailand

After her Friday 64 to take the lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Stacy Lewis talked about the need to not look back and keep moving forward at Siam Country Club.

Lewis did not move forward on Saturday, shooting a 1-over 73 in Round 3 that left her with a one-shot lead heading into the final round. The 30-year-old is at 13-under 203 and just ahead of Amy Yang, who carded 71.

"It was a bit all over the place today," Lewis said. "Hit some good shots, hit some shots too far."

The world No. 3 struggled early in her third round, making three consecutive front-nine bogeys to lose the lead. It took an eagle at the drivable par-4 15th to regain the lead from Yang. A bogey at the par-5 last hole was a disappointing way to finish the round. However, Lewis said it's an all-too-common conclusion to her rounds at this venue.

"This 18th hole just frustrates me,"  she said. "Over the years it's gotten my number more times than it's been good."

Sandra Gal is another shot back in third, with Mirim Lee and Jenny Shin tied for fourth at 10 under par.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 28

Lydia Ko threatened 59, shot 61 at New Zealand Women’s Open

Lydia Ko doesn't have her driver's license, so she can't drive 55. But she almost broke 60 on Saturday at the New Zealand Women's Open.

The 17-year-old world No. 1 shot a course-record, 11-under 61 at Clearwater Golf Club to grab the lead early on Day 2 of her national championship. The 61 tops the prior mark of 63, shot by last year's winner Mi Hyang Lee en route to the win.

Ko actually bogeyed her first hole of the day, then got started with an eagle at the par-5 second. In a 10-hole stretch from the fourth hole to the 13th, Ko made nine birdies. A birdie at the last locked up a two-day total of 13-under 131.

The New Zealand native is already a winner in 2015, taking last weekend's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open on the LPGA Tour. She is playing in her national championship this week instead of at the LPGA's stop, the Honda LPGA Thailand. No matter the results of both events, Ko will remain No. 1 in the world.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.