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‘Who’s the little kid on the range’: This US 15-year-old golfer is making history – and then some

Most typical 15-year-olds would be worried about their grades or the intricacies of social life as a teenager.

But Miles Russell is no ordinary 15-year-old. He spent his weekend worrying about making the cut at a professional golf event and setting records against seasoned veterans at the LECOM Suncoast Classic.

On Friday, he became youngest player to make a cut on the Korn Ferry Tour – the PGA Tour’s developmental tour – at 15 years, 5 months and 18 days, breaking the previous record set by Gipper Finau at the 2006 Utah Championship.

Just qualifying for the weekend was quite the achievement, but Russell wasn’t done yet.

He carded a one-under 70 in Saturday’s third round at Lakewood National Golf Club’s Commander course before finishing with an excellent final-round, five-under 66 which included seven birdies in a 10-hole stretch.

With that late flurry, the Jacksonville Beach native finished tied-20th at 14-under for the tournament.

In doing so, high school freshman Russell became the youngest player on record (since 1983) to notch a top-25 finish on the PGA Tour or the Korn Ferry Tour.

“It was an awesome week. It was a blast,” Russell said afterwards. “Especially for my first one, you may get a couple weird looks, like: ‘Who’s the little kid on the range?’ But, you know, everybody was so nice and so helpful with everything.

“I just try to kind of go with flow and take it as it comes to me, and I’m trying to just stay cool. I was able to hit some good shots in the right moments.”

With his top-25 finish, Russell qualifies for the Korn Ferry Tour’s Veritex Bank Championship at Texas Rangers Golf Club in Arlington this week.

Before turning 18, players are not eligible for non-member Korn Ferry Tour Points toward Special Temporary Membership. Therefore, he cannot join the tour full-time for another few years but can continue to participate if the results qualify him to do so.

As the youngest player at the tournament by far, there was plenty of pressure on Russell throughout.

But he played with the poise of a player twice his age, seemingly unbothered by the additional attention.

Even when he had a rocky start to his third round – he was four-over on the day after three holes – he was able to recover and finish strongly.

“When I play well, I think I can compete with some of the better pros, but this week I played well and I think it kind of showed it a little bit,” Russell – who is the top-ranked boys prospect by the American Junior Golf Association – said. “But good play is always good, and [it’s] definitely confidence-boosting to finish where we’re going to finish today.”


Scottie Scheffler unstoppable and wins another Masters green jacket

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler spent more time looking at his feet than any of the white leaderboards at Augusta National, all of them showing what everyone was watching — a Masters champion again, the undisputed best player in golf.

He prefers to stay in his own little world, population one.

Nobody is close to him in the game at the moment.

Scheffler is No. 1 in the world by a margin not seen since Tiger Woods in his prime. In nine tournaments this year, he doesn’t have a round over par and has earned over $15 million. And on Sunday, he delivered the greatest piece of evidence when he slipped into that green jacket.

Scheffler pulled ahead with magnificent shots around the turn, poured it on along the back nine as his challengers melted away with mistakes and closed with a 4-under 68 to claim his second Masters in three years with a four-shot victory.

“I had a lot of really talented players trying to chase me down, and I knew pars weren’t going to get it done,” Scheffler said.Unlike two years ago when he won his first major, there were no doubts Sunday morning, no tears, and no wife to reassure him he was built for a moment like this. His wife, Meredith, was home in Dallas expecting their first child at the end of the month.

Scheffler made sure there was no drama, either.

Much like Woods he made the outcome look inevitable with sublime control, the difference being a peach shirt instead of Sunday red, and no fist pumps until it was over.

After sharing hugs with caddie Ted Scott and Collin Morikawa, Scheffler turned to face the crowd with both arms raised. “WOOOOOO!” he yelled, slamming his fist.

Masters newcomer Ludvig Aberg, among four players who had a share of the lead at one point, lost ground with his approach went into the pond left of the 11th hole and he made double bogey. Against a player like Scheffler, those mistakes are not easy to overcome.

Aberg closed with a 69 and was the runner-up, not a bad debut for someone playing in his first major championship.

Morikawa, who had two double bogeys to fall out of the hunt, shot 74 and tied for third with Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Max Homa (73), whose hopes ended on the par-3 12th with a double bogey from the bushes, not Rae’s Creek.

“He is pretty amazing at letting things roll off his back and stepping up to very difficult golf shots and treating them like their own,” Homa said about Scheffler. “He’s obviously a tremendous talent, but I think that is his superpower.”

Woods, meanwhile, closed with a 77 and finished in last place at 16-over 304, the highest 72-hole score of his career. This came two days after he set the Masters record for making his 24th consecutive cut.

The 27-year-old Scheffler is the fourth-youngest player to have two green jackets. He now has three victories against the strongest fields — Bay Hill, The Players Championship and the Masters — in his last four starts. The other was a runner-up finish in Houston.

Scheffler finished at 11-under 277 and earned $3.6 million from the $20 million purse.

Source: APnews

Masters 2024: Tiger Woods plays round at Augusta National, per reports

We know the Masters is nearly upon us when there are reports of a Tiger Woods sighting at Augusta National Golf Club.

In news first tweeted by TWLegion and expanded upon by Sports Illustrated’s Bob Harig, Woods apparently was at Augusta for a casual round, with Harig reporting that the five-time Masters champ played with AGNC Chairman Fred Ridley and Woods’ good buddy Justin Thomas.

The less-than-casual angle to it is that this probably provides a good indication that Woods is feeling healthy enough to compete in the 88th Masters when it begins on April 11. Woods, 48, competed for the only time this year in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in mid-February, but he had to withdraw during the second round due to the flu.Last year, the Masters was one of only two events Woods played in the PGA Tour season, and he withdrew at Augusta after two rounds because of the pain in his ankle, which was surgical fused soon after that. In 2022, Woods made the cut and finished 47th.

Woods’ defense of his 2019 Masters title was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic until November 2020, and he tied for 38th in that one.

Source: Golfdigest

Malnati with big break and great shot wins Valspar and earns trip to Masters

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Some of the shots that left Peter Malnati frustrated on the back nine were the ones that worked out so well for him Sunday in the Valspar Championship.

A putt he thought he left short dropped for birdie on the 12th hole. A shot into the 16th in mangled rough was close enough to a sprinkler that he was entitled to a free drop that put him on the fringe and made par easier.

But there was no doubting the winner.

Locked in a battle with hard-luck Cameron Young, Malnati drilled a 5-iron into the wind to 6 feet on the par-3 17th for birdie to break out of a tie, and he closed with a par for a 4-under 67 to win by two and earn his first trip to the Masters.

“I remember telling my caddie I needed to make a 2,” Malnati said. “That was really fun in that moment to just step up, not overthink it, just a full 5-iron at the TV tower, go. And to watch that ball fly was a really cool feeling.”

Malnati tapped in that yellow golf ball for par on the final hole for only his second PGA Tour victory. Young, made it easier on him by taking bogey on the final hole for a 68. Young now has seven runner-up finishes without a win.

On a wild day of rallies and meltdowns, it came down to Malnati and Young playing a group apart as they headed into the tough finishing stretch at Innisbrook known as the “Snake Pit.”

Malnati’s approach on the 16th went long and left into gnarly rough some 50 feet from the pin, leaving him a tough chip to try to save par and stay tied. But his foot was on a sprinkler head, which entitled him to a free drop. With the extra club length, he was able to drop it on the fringe and use putter, which he sent down to short range for par.

On the par-3 17th into wind, Malnati hit his most important shot of the day for birdie. Up ahead, Young hit his drive well left and did well to hammer a gap wedge over the trees and onto the green, 50 feet away. He lagged it about 10 feet short and missed the par putt.

Malnati found a fairway bunker on the 18th, but hit that on the green for a simple two-putt to finish at 12-under 272, his first victory since the Sanderson Farms Championship in 2015.

More than the $1,512,000 from winning, Malnati goes to the Masters for the first time and gets a two-year exemption. He also is assured of getting into the remaining four $20 million signature events without any help.

Malnati is one of six player-directors on the PGA Tour board, and he was singled out for criticism when he received a sponsor exemption — along with two other board members — to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“I told myself to do my best on every shot,” Malnati said as he fought back tears. “I was so nervous coming down the stretch. I can’t describe it. It’s so cool.”

It was gut-wrenching for Young, one of the top young talents and power players in golf who can’t seem to get across the line. He shot 31 on the back nine at St. Andrews in the 2022 British Open, only to finish one shot behind Cameron Smith, who shot 30. Young also was in the hunt until the 16th hole of the 2022 PGA Championship.“It was just a bad time for a pull,” Young said of his tee shot on the 18th.

Mackenzie Hughes of Canada (70) and PGA Tour rookie Chandler Phillips (69) tied for third. They were among five players who had at least a share of the lead in the final round at Innisbrook.

Hughes had the lead on the back nine with a 45-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole. He was tied and in the middle of the 12th fairway when it began to fall apart. His approach went over the green and into the back slope of the bunker, leaving him no shot to a back pin. He fell two shots behind when Malnati made a 15-foot birdie.

On the par-3 13th, Hughes came up short and in the water and he was never seriously part of the mix the rest of the way.

Keith Mitchell started the day with a two-shot lead, and he was three behind at the turn. Mitchell had to pitch out of the trees three times on the opening six holes and did not have a hole under par until an eagle on the 14th. By then he was 8 over for his round. He shot 77,

Seamus Power, playing in the final group, shot 76.

Malnati is No. 184 in the world ranking, making him the fifth player to win full PGA Tour events this year. His only other win in the fall of 2015 did not come with an automatic invitation to the Masters. Fall events started getting invitations the next year.

“You wonder if you’re ever going to do it again,” Malnati said. “In the nine years since my last win, it’s getting harder.”

Source: AP

2024 Players Championship leaderboard: Scottie Scheffler becomes first back-to-back winner at TPC Sawgrass

The 50th edition of the Players Championship saw a tournament first as Scottie Scheffler claimed the PGA Tour's flagship event for the second straight season. It was a one-stroke victory for Scheffler, whose 20 under score bested 54-hole leader Xander Schauffele, 36-hole leader Wyndham Clark and Brian Harman. 

The world No. 1 became the first player to successfully defend his Players Championship title, and he needed to come from five back on Sunday to do it. He tied the largest 54-hole deficit overcome en route to winning, and Scheffler's 64 on Sunday tied the lowest final-round score from a Players Championship winner (Davis Love III, Fred Couples, Jack Nicklaus).

Prior to Scheffler's successful defense, the best finish by the defending champion was T5, most recently accomplished by Hal Sutton in 2001.

Scheffler is also the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 to win The Players Championship a week after winning emerging victorious on the PGA Tour, according to Justin Ray. He is also the fourth to win at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass in the same season, joining Tom Kite (1989), Woods (2001, 2013) and Jason Day (2016).

The most predictable man in golf experienced one of the most unpredictable tournaments of his career. Dealing with a neck injury that started ailing him during the second round, Scheffler did well just to enter the final round within arm's reach of Schauffele.

"I was hoping to be in this position," said Scheffler. "Yesterday -- I put up a good fight for four days. That's really all there was. Teddy [Scott] kept me in a good head space out there. We had a great finish yesterday, and then got off to a slow start today, but then the hole-out on 4 kind of propelled us a little bit, and hit a lot of good shots today, did a lot of good things this week."

Making three straight pars out the gate, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year jump started his round with a hole-out from 82 yards on the par-4 4th for an eagle. He added a birdie on his next hole before nice conversions from outside 10 feet on Nos. 8-9 to turn in 5-under 31, pulling even with Schauffele and Clark.

Back-to-back tap-in birdies on Nos. 11-12 saw Scheffler tie Schauffele once again at 19 under. He appeared keen on keeping the birdie train rolling when he threw his tee shot on the par-3 14 to 4 feet, but Scheffler was unable to convert.

Coolly navigating the difficult 14th and 15th, Scheffler added his eighth birdie of the round on the par-5 16th to grab the lead all to himself. He secured par on the 17th and had eyes on one more birdie on the closing hole after finding the fairway.

Scheffler's approach took an odd hop and settled 16 feet away. One last birdie conversion would have all but clinched the trophy, but when his putt slipped by, the door remained open for the chasing pack as he posted 20 under.

Harman made his move with a birdie on No. 15 to get within one, but a wayward drive on No. 16 handcuffed the Champion Golfer of the Year on the easiest hole on the back nine. He arrived at the 18th needing birdie to tie the clubhouse lead, but Harman failed to convert from 17 feet and join Scheffler at 20 under.

Only two men remained with a chance to track down the game's top player. Both Schauffele and Clark made it difficult on themselves with dropped shots on No. 14. Schauffele added another bogey on No. 15 to fall two off Scheffler's pace but quickly rebounded with a birdie on No. 16.

Clark joined Schauffele with a birdie on the 16th and stepped to the 17th one day removed from his chunked wedge shot that found a watery grave. The U.S. Open champion more than made amends when his tee shot settled 4 feet from the traditional Sunday pin location to set up his second straight birdie to get within one of Scheffler.

Schauffele's tee shot settled just outside Clark's ball, but unlike his playing partner, Schauffele was unable to make his birdie putt. The two came to the par-4 finisher both needing birdie to tie Scheffler. Schauffele did not give himself a good look while Clark faced the same 17-footer Harman missed just prior.

Clark's putt came as close as it could come without dropping. Horeshoeing hard around the hole and out, the birdie bid fell by the wayside and gave Scheffler another slice of history at The Players Championship.

Source: CBSSports