Clark Leads Rain-Delayed Colonial

By Associated PressMay 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
Crowne Plaza Invitational at ColonialFORT WORTH, Texas -- Tim Clark had the perfect remedy to overcome a stiff neck and an extended day of golf: anti-inflammatory medicine and a steady dose of fairways and greens.
 
Clark had to play the back nine of his opening round Friday, then got only a brief break before a bogey-free 6-under 64 in a second round in which he didn't miss a fairway or a green.
 
'It certainly makes it easier to get around,' said Clark, who at 11 under had a one-stroke lead over Arron Oberholser (66) in the rain-soaked Colonial.
 
'This could be my last week for a while. I'm going to take some time off to heal up. I want to end on a good note.'
 
The South African was among 57 players -- exactly half the 114-player Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial field -- who had to finish their first rounds Friday morning and then go right back out for 18 more holes.
 
The 36-hole cut, projected to be under par for the first time in the 61 years at Colonial, won't be made until the second round is completed Saturday morning. There were 27 players still on the course when play was suspended Friday because of darkness.
 
Ben Curtis (67), Jim Furyk (66) and Nathan Green (66) were in at 9-under 131, with Alex Cejka (65), Kevin Na (69) and first-round leader Anthony Kim (69) at 8 under.
 
Clark's 11-under 129 total was only one shot off the 36-hole tournament record held by Kenny Perry, who opened with rounds of 65 and 63 on way to winning his second Colonial title in 2005.
 
The first-round scoring average of 69.342 was the lowest at the Colonial in the 25 years since the PGA TOUR starting keeping such statistics. There were 63 rounds under par in the first round, and already 52 more in the suspended second round.
 
'The golf course is just not playing itself right now,' said Furyk, who at No. 3 in the world ranking is the only of the top 12 players at Colonial.
 
Instead of firm and fast as usual, rain Thursday and Friday soften things. Balls aren't shooting through the fairways or bounding off sun-baked greens at Hogan's Alley, a traditional tree-lined layout that covers 7,054 yards.
 
'A little bit slower than they normally are,' Curtis said. 'A little bit softer and they're receptive. That is the reason why the scores are the way they are. This place usually is rock hard and firm.'
 
The wet grass did make the heavy rough tougher, which Furyk found at the hard way.
 
On the 611-yard 11th while finishing his first round Friday, Furyk hit his tee shot into the left rough, then pulled a 5-iron that didn't get back in the fairway on the course's longest hole. He then had to hack a shot out of 'an awful lie' and three-putted to finish with a double bogey.
 
But he rebounded with a quick birdie at the 417-yard 12th hole.
 
'I hit a wedge in there close,' Furyk said. 'It took a little sting out of it.'
 
Clark has tried to play through the muscular and joint stiffness in his neck that has bothered him on and off since last summer.
 
This is only his eighth PGA TOUR event this year, and the South African's best finish was 13th at the Masters, where he was tied for the 36-hole lead. He was better than 62nd only one other tournament, withdrew from the Wachovia and had a closing 81 at THE PLAYERS Championship.
 
'That wasn't any fun at all,' Clark said. 'I'm not doing myself any favors, not doing my confidence much good either. ... It's time for me to really get it sorted out'
 
But it will have to wait until at least after this weekend, though he hasn't completely ruled out playing in the Memorial next week.
 
Clark felt good Friday after 11 birdies with only one bogey in his 27 holes, and never noticed the neck. After shooting under 70 only once in his first 20 rounds this season, he finished two sub-70 rounds in one day.
 
'I certainly wasn't expecting it,' said Clark, who has never won on tour. 'The adrenaline was going at the end, and I almost had to calm myself down a bit.'
 
After missing the last two cuts, and six of nine this season, Cejka was 'a little bit scared' coming to the tight Colonial. But his only two bogeys so far came on the last four holes, to go along with a closing birdie.
 
'I just somehow managed to play well 36 holes,' Cejka said. 'Sometimes you don't expect it.'
 
DIVOTS
Defending champion Tim Herron finished with three straight birdies in a round of 68 to get to 5 under. ... Brian Gay made a hole-in-one Friday at the 194-yard eighth hole with a 7-iron during his first round. But he had six bogeys and one birdie in his final 28 holes Friday and will miss the cut at 3 over. ... Brad Faxon withdrew after an opening 78. The only first-round score worse than that was an 86 by Rod Curl, the 1974 Colonial champ who is invited annually as a past winner. ... Shigeki Maruyama withdrew after nine holes in the second round with a leg injury.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''