Brian Gay leads Verizon Heritage by a stroke

By Associated PressApril 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
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2007 Verizon HeritageHILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. ' Brian Gays run of five straight birdies lifted him past a revived Todd Hamilton after two rounds of the Verizon Heritage on Friday.
 
Gay made six birdies on the front nine, including five in a row from the fourth through ninth holes to help him to a 66 and, at 9-under par, a one-stroke lead over former British Open champion Hamilton.
 
First-round leader Alex Cejka followed his 64 with an even-par 71 and was tied at 7-under with two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen.
 
Janzens round of 70 featured an ace on the 17th hole.
 
Gay has steadily improved over his 11 full PGA Tour seasons. His best came last year with his first career victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and a personal high of more than $2.2 million in earnings.
 
That front nine was awesome, Gay said.
 
Gays streak began when he rolled in an 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 4th hole, then picked up steam with a 25-foot putt a hole later. His approach from a fairway bunker landed inside 5 feet for a third straight birdie.
 
After a birdie putt inside 10 feet on the seventh, Gay closed the stretch with another sizeable putt of 20 feet to get reach 10 under.
 
Gay had a chance from 15 feet away on the ninth hole to keep things going, but settled for par.
 
He was well shy of the PGA Tour mark of eight straight birdies, accomplished many times. Last year, champion Boo Weekley and Jay Williamson each had streaks of five consecutive birdies at Harbour Town.
 
Gay made his only bogey on the 10th hole, then parred in to hold on to the lead.
 
Hes had his struggles here, missing the cut six times in his nine previous trips. And Gay felt as challenged Friday with the swirling winds, despite his charge.
 
Heck, I was as surprised as anybody about his birdie run, he said.
 
Gay led a strong, if not stellar field, as many of the worlds best players took the week off to recuperate after the Masters.
 
Green jacket winner Angel Cabrera took a break as did Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. In all, just six of the top 20 ranked golfers teed it up here.
 
Hamilton, who tied for 15th at Augusta, may have found his major championship at the right time.
 
His five-year PGA Tour exemption from that 2004 win ends after this season. And Hamilton had done little in the years first three months ' seven missed cuts in nine events ' to guarantee him a spot beyond December.
 
Getting off to a slow start, I think thats when I started thinking, Man, you better start doing something and not waste your opportunity. Youve got one year of a free pass left, you better start getting after it.
 
Hamilton went after it hard last week to earn his biggest prize ($131,250) since 2004. The bounce back continued at Sea Pines Resort. He posted two sub-70 rounds in a tournament for the first time all season.
 
Hamilton got going with three birdies over four holes of his starting nine. He put a pitching wedge about 3 feet away on the 13th for the first birdie, knocked in a 12-footer on the par-3 14th and then added an 8-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole.
 
Hamilton closed with a birdie for the second straight day, rolling in a 10-foot putt on the ninth.
 
Theres no mystery about Hamiltons improved play. He said he has worked hard on his iron, wedge and bunker play, some things I havent been doing well over the last four years.
 
Janzen, whose last tour win was that 1998 U.S. Open win over the late Payne Stewart, continued his own try at shoring up his shaky playing status. Janzens finished outside the top 125 the past four years and missed the cut in four of his seven events this year.
 
The highlight was the hole in one on the breezy 17th that moved him to a shot off the lead. Janzens 8-iron tee shot took three hops, rolled against the pin and dropped in.
 
It was just drawing a little bit, bounced right towards the hole and when somebody said, Go in, I was just waiting for the reaction up on the green, Janzen said.
 
Two-time defending champ Weekley nearly shot himself out of the tournament early on. He made three bogeys and a double bogey when he four-putted the simple par-4 9th from 14 feet away.
 
However, Weekley rebounded with three birdies coming in to finish 1-under, eight shots back.
 
You never know what can happen on the weekend, he said.
 
DIVOTS
Missing the cut were Steve Flesch and Jim Furyk, the two highest Masters finishers competing at Harbour Town. Flesch tied for sixth at Augusta, but was 5-over here. Furyk, who tied for 12th last week, was 3-over. Along with Janzen, Tommy Armour III also aced a hole in the second round. He hit an 8-iron 162 yards into the cup on the 7th. Jerry Kelly withdrew with illness after carding a 10 on the par-5 15th hole.
 

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  • Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

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    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

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    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

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    Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

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    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

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    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.