Golf: While Phil Mickelson can get ready for a 22nd consecutive team competition, Hurricane Irma’s wallop has officials of two tours looking at alternative plans for their season finales.
By Jeff Shain, PSN managing editor
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- Phil Mickelson’s streak of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup appearances remains intact. The Hall of Famer was a captain’s pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team that will defend home turf later this month at Liberty National. Mickelson had been outside the top 15 in Presidents Cup points, but a share of sixth at the second FedExCup playoff event boosted his stock. It’ll be Mickelson’s 22nd consecutive start in one of the team showcase events. Charley Hoffman joined Mickelson in rounding out the U.S. team; Emiliano Grillo and Anirban Lahiri were named as International wild cards.
- A pair of season finales could be in jeopardy as golf’s ruling bodies assess damage inflicted in Florida over the weekend by Hurricane Irma. Both the LPGA and Web.com Tour schedules end in the Sunshine State – with the Web.com Tour Championship just three weeks from now outside Jacksonville, which endured record flooding. The LPGA’s CME Group Tour Championship has a bit longer lag time until November, but Naples was among the hardest hit near Irma’s landfall. The U.S. Golf Association, meantime, moved quickly to postpone the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur set for next month in Naples.
- The United States won back the Walker Cup in emphatic style, turning three Saturday singles matches in the final six holes to pave the way for a 19-7 rout over Great Britain & Ireland at Los Angeles Country Club. A trio of U.S. amateurs – Doug Ghim, Collin Morikawa and Maverick McNealy – posted 4-0 records on the weekend, and LACC member Stewart Hagestad notched the clinching point. It was a week of redemption for U.S. captain John “Spider” Miller, whose 2015 squad was thumped by a 16 ½ to 9 ½ count – the worst loss in U.S. history.
- Justin James emerged on top at the Volvik World Long Drive Championship, beating Canada’s Mitch Grassing with a 435-yard blast during the head-to-head final in Oklahoma. Sandra Carlborg captured her fifth women’s long-drive crown.
PGA TOUR: BMW Championship
Site: Conway Farms GC, Lake Forest, Ill.
- Defending champion: Dustin Johnson set a Crooked Stick course record with a second-round 63, then held back Paul Casey’s gallant challenge to notch his third significant victory of 2016. Victory came after his first major win (U.S. Open) and first in a World Golf Championships event (Bridgestone Invitational).
- Last week: No tournament.
- Tour talk: The FedExCup top 30 after Sunday move on to the Tour Championship, with the top five able to win the season title without outside help. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Johnson have three of those spots locked down. … In each of the past two years, four men have played their way into the finale after starting the BMW outside the top 30. … Mickelson will become the all-time leader in FedExCup playoff starts when he tees it up for his 41st postseason event.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. ET; Saturday, 1-3 p.m.; Sunday, noon-2 p.m.) and NBC (Saturday, 3-6 p.m.; Sunday, 2-6 p.m.).
- Etc.: First Look from PGATour.com; BMW Championship primer from Pro Golf Weekly.
LPGA TOUR: Evian Championship
Site: Evian Masters GC, Evian-les-Baines, France
- Defending champion: In Gee Chun went wire-to-wire for her second major title, setting a new major scoring record in a four-shot romp over So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. A closing 69 left Chun at 21-under-par 263, breaking the LPGA’s major scoring record by two strokes. It also was one shot better than the best total at any men’s major in relation to par, a mark shared by Jason Day and Henrik Stenson.
- Last week: Lexi Thompson parlayed six birdies in the final round into victory at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, finally notching her second win of 2017. A 4-under-par 68 was enough to pull away from Lydia Ko, winning for the first time since May. She also has five runner-up finishes.
- Tour talk: Thompson, Chun and world No.1 Ryu top a lineup featuring 92 of the top 100 players on the LPGA money list. Most notable among absentees: Michelle Wie, unable to recover in time from an emergency appendectomy. … Three of the year’s first four majors have been won by Korean pros. A fourth would mark the first time it’s happened in a season. … It’s the final LPGA start for Japan’s Ai Miyazato before retirement. She’s a two-time Evian winner before it became a major.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday, 6:30-11:30 a.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-noon) and NBC (Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m.).
WEB.COM TOUR FINALS: Albertsons Boise Open
Site: Hillcrest CC, Boise, Idaho
- 2016 champion: Michael Thompson earned a return trip to the PGA Tour, using a 64-64 weekend to pull away for a three-stroke triumph over Miguel Angel Carballo. Thompson, who won the Honda Classic in 2013, birdied five of his first seven holes on Sunday’s back nine to create some breathing room.
- Last week: No tournament.
- Tour talk: Former PGA Tour winners Ben Crane and Hunter Mahan head the list for the second Finals event. Crane, making his Finals debut after 16 years of being able to keep his card, grabbed a share of sixth two weeks ago in Columbus. … Boise is one of four Web.com Tour mainstays still around from the circuit’s 1990 debut season. Wichita, Knoxville and Springfield (Mo.) are the others.
- TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 5-8 p.m.).
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS: Pacific Links Bear Mtn. Championship
Site: Bear Mountain Golf Resort, Victoria, British Columbia
- Defending champion: Colin Montgomerie needed three extra holes to fully chase down Scott McCarron, draining a 15-foot birdie for the win. McCarron held a one-shot lead heading to the final hole of regulation, but bogeyed to set up a playoff. It was Montgomerie’s fourth win since joining the Champions circuit.
- Last week: Montgomerie won for the first time since last year’s Bear Mountain triumph, erasing a three-shot deficit to capture the Japan Airlines Championship outside Tokyo. The Scotsman missed nearly three months with torn ankle ligaments, but now has three top-10s in his past five starts.
- Tour talk: Bernhard Langer returns to the circuit after a two-week hiatus, seeking to hold off a red-hot McCarron for the Charles Schwab Cup money lead. Both have four wins in 2017, after McCarron won twice in the past three weeks. … Stephen Ames, winner of The Players Championship in 2006, leads three Canadians in the field along with Rod Spittle and Jim Rutledge.
- TV: None.
EUROPEAN TOUR: KLM Open
Site: The Dutch GC, Spijk, Netherlands
- Defending champion: Joost Luiten won his home Open for the second time, firing a course record 63 on the final day to overtake Bernd Wiesberger by three. Three birdies in the final five holes proved the difference for Luiten, who became the first Dutchman to win twice since the event joined the European Tour.
- Last week: Matthew Fitzpatrick charged from four shots back to win the Omega European Masters, beating Scott Hend on the third playoff hole. Fitzpatrick caught the Aussie with a 6-under-par 64, nearly winning in regulation before a closing bogey. It was Hend’s second straight playoff loss in the event.
- Tour talk: Padraig Harrington and former world No.1 Lee Westwood join Luiten at head of the lineup. For Westwood, it’ll be his 501st European Tour start. … This marks the 98th edition of Holland’s national championship, dating back to 1912. It’s one of just seven stops played every year since the European Tour’s 1972 debut. … A hole-in-one would be the 1,000th in Euro Tour annals.
- TV: Golf Channel (Friday-Saturday, midnight-3 a.m.; Saturday, 3-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2-5 p.m.).