Golf: It was a weekend to celebrate in more ways than one around the Horschel home, while Bernhard Langer matched a Jack Nicklaus record and Lexi Thompson stormed Kingsmill.
By Jeff Shain, PSN managing editor
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- Not only did Billy Horschel end a dry spell of 2 ½ years with his victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson, it turned out to be a double-win weekend. On Monday, wife Brittany disclosed she now is one year sober since checking herself in for alcohol rehab last May. An emotional Horschel had told reporters Sunday that “life sometimes gets in the way,” but sidestepped any further details.
- Horschel and Spain’s Jon Rahm headline the list of 27 players who received full exemptions from qualifying for next month’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Automatic berths went to the top 60 in the world rankings as of Monday, with Horschel cracking the list via Sunday’s triumph. A total of 78 players are locked in, with the remaining 78 spots to be determined through qualifying.
- Though Ian Poulter already sent a case of red wine to Brian and Kimberly Gay for uncovering the points error that saved his PGA Tour card, the English pro followed up after his tie for second at The Players. The Gays now have a complementary weekend awaiting them at Orlando’s Waldorf Astoria.
- Arizona State’s Monica Vaughn wins the NCAA women’s individual title, erasing a three-shot deficit with four holes to play at Rich Harvest Farms. Men’s regional winners: LSU, Oklahoma State, USC, UCF, UNLV and a Stanford/Baylor shared title.
PGA TOUR: Dean & DeLuca Invitational
Site: Colonial CC, Fort Worth, Texas
- Defending champion: Jordan Spieth finally earned that elusive first win in his home state, closing birdie/birdie/birdie on Sunday for a second straight 65 and a three-stroke victory over Harris English. It was Spieth’s first win in 19 Texas starts, including a trio of runner-up finishes for the Dallas native in 2015.
- Last week: Billy Horschel outlasted Jason Day to win the AT&T Byron Nelson, prevailing when the Aussie three-putted the first hole of a playoff. The final day turned into a three-man race, with James Hahn in the mix until three late bogeys. He didn’t go down without dramatics, though – nearly holing out from 122 yards away for a last-gasp eagle that would have put him in the playoff..
- Tour talk: Spieth’s return to Colonial comes following back-to-back missed cuts, just the second time that’s happened in his career. A late quadruple bogey sent him packing at TPC Four Seasons. … Si Woo Kim tees it up for the first time since his win at The Players Championship. He’s also something of a local attraction, calling Dallas his adopted hometown. … Ryan Palmer, a Colonial member, again seeks home-course triumph after a trio of top-5 finishes in his past five Colonial starts.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET, Saturday-Sunday 1-2:30 p.m.) and CBS (Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
EUROPEAN TOUR: BMW PGA Championship
Site: Wentworth Club (West), Virginia Water, England
- Defending champion: England’s Chris Wood jump-started his day with a front-side 29, holding off an equally hard-charging Rikard Karlberg to win the European Tour’s flagship event by one. Karlberg sparked his final round with an ace at No.2, but couldn’t quite chase down a faltering Wood down the stretch.
- Last week: Spain’s Alvaro Quiros notched his first win in nearly six years by capturing the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily, stumbling on Sunday’s back nine before beating Zander Lombard in a playoff. Quiros was on limited European Tour status, but regained his full card with the victory.
- Tour talk: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, last year’s Olympic gold and silver medalists, headline a field at Wentworth that also includes a resurgent Ian Poulter. … It’s the first European Tour start for Poulter since February in Dubai, where he tied for 15th. … Wentworth’s West course underwent massive upgrades last summer, as four greens were entirely reshaped and five more were partially rebuilt. The layout also has 29 fewer bunkers than a year ago.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 5 a.m.-1 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 7:30-12:30 p.m.).
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Senior PGA Championship
Site: Trump National GC (Championship), Potomac Falls, Va.
- Defending champion: Rocco Mediate went wire-to-wire in a record-breaking romp, opening with a 62 and holing out a bunker shot at his penultimate hole on the way to a three-shot victory. Mediate’s 62 at Michigan’s Harbor Shores set a tournament record, as was his four-day total of 19-under-par 265.
- Last week: Bernhard Langer tied Jack Nicklaus’ record with his eighth senior major, repeating as Regions Tradition champion on the strength of a closing 8-under-par 64. Langer entered the final day two shots behind Fred Funk, but wound up cruising to a five-shot romp over his nearest pursuers.
- Tour talk: Langer doesn’t have to wait long to take aim passing Nicklaus, hoping his momentum will carry another seven days. The Senior PGA Championship is the only senior major he has yet to win. … Colin Montgomerie seeks a third Senior PGA Championship in four years, having won both the 2014 and ’15 editions. … The winner books a place in the PGA Championship, to be played at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 1-4 p.m.) and NBC (Saturday, 1-4 p.m.; Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
LPGA TOUR: Volvik Championship
Site: Travis Pointe CC, Ann Arbor, Mich.
- Defending champion: Ariya Jutanugarn became the first player in LPGA history to post her first three career wins in consecutive events, pulling away for a five-stroke romp in the event’s inaugural edition. An eagle to close the third round pushed the Thai pro to the front, and she followed with a 5-under-par 67.
- Last week: Lexi Thompson literally parachuted in for her pro-am round at the Kingsmill Championship, then blitzed the field with a five-shot romp over In Gee Chun. Three 65s and a 69 set a Kingsmill record at 20-under 264, vanquishing any leftover demons from last month’s penalty debacle that cost Thompson the ANA Inspiration.
- Tour talk: Jutanugarn and Thompson are joined by world No.2 So Yeon Ryu atop the lineup, as the ANA Inspiration winner closes in on dislodging Lydia Ko atop the world rankings. Ko is sitting this week out. … Through the season’s first 11 events, the LPGA has yet to see its first multiple winner of 2017. … Ha Na Jang, a four-time LPGA winner, announced she is handing in her card and returning to the Korean tour.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 7-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m.).
WEB.COM TOUR: Idle
Next up: Rex Hospital Open, June 1-4, Raleigh, N.C.
- Tour talk: Stephan Jaeger captured the rain-shortened BMW Charity Pro-Am, shooting 19-under par over three days to win by one over a trio of pursuers. It was the German’s second victory on the circuit, joining last year’s Ellie Mae Classic where he opened with a 58. … The tour announced a new event coming next spring to Savannah, Ga., to be played the week before the Masters.