Curran co-leads soggy Nelson; Spieth moves up

By Associated PressMay 30, 2015, 12:41 am

IRVING, Texas - Jordan Spieth wasn't sure what par was at his hometown AT&T Byron Nelson and thinks it actually might have helped him through some frustrating early holes.

There's a reason the Masters champion was uncertain - overnight rain turned one of the signature par 4s at the saturated TPC Four Seasons into a pitch-and-putt par 3 at 105 yards for the second round Friday.

Spieth had a birdie 2 along with most players within three shots of second-round leaders Steven Bowditch, Jon Curran and Texan Jimmy Walker. Gary Woodland had a hole-in-one when it was still possible that the easy wedge over a pond would play as a par 4, before tour officials made the switch.

''I was able to fire at more pins, not really worry about anybody else,'' said Spieth, who shot 64 - 5 under because par became 69 to put him at 6 under for the tournament. ''Really actually helped because I didn't know what score I was at when it's a par 4, 4 par, par 3, don't really know what it's at.''

Walker, who won the Texas Open not far from home in San Antonio in March, finished with a par at 18 just before play was halted by darkness. He had a 66 to reach 9 under.


AT&T Byron Nelson Championship: Articles, videos and photos


There were 33 players on the course after the start was delayed three hours.

''I got little kids,'' said Walker, a five-time winner who is second to Spieth in FedEx Cup points. ''We didn't want to have to get up earlier again and go do that.''

Bowditch, the first-round leader, shot 68 with seven birdies and six bogeys. Curran matched the day's low round at 63. All three were at 130 with the two-round par total at 139 instead of 140. Cameron Percy was a shot back after an eagle at the par-5 seventh for a 64.

Defending champion Brendon Todd shot 68 and was 1 over for the tournament with the projected cut at 1-under 138.

The fairway at the normally 406-yard 14th was deemed unplayable in the landing area after 5 inches of rain fell starting about midnight, pushing the total to about 17 inches in less than three weeks at the Four Seasons course. Texas officials have declared May the wettest month in the state's history.

Muddy footprints marked the area where a dip in the fairway funneled down to a rain-swollen canal off to the right. Standing water covered the ground under some trees, about the same spot where Spieth chipped out in Thursday's first round and ended up with a bogey.

The temporary tee box was on the fairway side of a pond that wraps around the left side of the green. Tour officials believe it was the first such alteration since the 2005 WGC-Match Play Championship, when flooding at La Costa in Carlsbad, California, temporarily turned a 467-yard par 4 into a 162-yard par 3.

''It was really tricky,'' said the 21-year-old Spieth, who birdied his final three holes at Nos. 7-9. ''We get up there and it's 105 yards, but it's off a steep upslope and really muddy. I don't think we'll see that, if ever, again, something like that.''

Curran, a 28-year-old rookie looking for his first PGA Tour win, shot 29 starting on the back nine, with the same boost as others on the 300-yard head start at 14. He had bogeys on the first and sixth holes to prevent a serious run at a 59 - with an asterisk of course.

Percy, a fellow Australian with Bowditch, played the 14th while going 5 under through his first 10 holes. He shared fourth with Dallas resident Ryan Palmer (66).

''I quite enjoy it. I love that tee shot,'' said Percy, who turned 41 this month and has never won on the PGA Tour. ''Happy to get out there and drop it at 105 yards. I got up and down, so that was nice.''

Nick Watney had a bogey-free 65 and was in a group at 7 under that included 48-year-old Jerry Kelly, who also shot 29 while starting on the back nine. Yes, he had a 2 on 14.

''I would have counted those as 1-under par 4,'' said Kelly, who had the last of his three tour wins in 2009. ''That's all I got to say.''

There's another strong chance of overnight storms into Saturday, but the forecast improves considerably later in the day and into Sunday. Workers spent about six hours getting the course ready starting around 4 a.m. Friday and might have to do it again.

''They've probably not really enjoyed each night for the last month or two months,'' said Spieth, who finished 16th in his first pro tournament as a 16-year-old amateur at the Nelson five years ago. ''But hats off to them and hopefully they can catch a break now.''

And the players can know what par is.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.