Defending Champion Back on Top

By Associated PressAugust 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)RENO, Nev. --Defending champion Vaughn Taylor birdied six of his last eight holes for an 8-under par 64 and took a one-stroke lead over Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson and Reno's Todd Fischer Thursday in the windy first round of the Reno-Tahoe Open.
 
Vaughan Taylor
Vaughan Taylor is trying to become the first repeat winner in event history.
Guy Boros was another stroke back at 6-under 66, followed by Aaron Baddeley, Jesper Parnevik and Duffy Waldorf at 67 on the 7,472-yard course at Montreux Golf and Country Club.
 
Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton and Craig Barlow shot 68s. Among those at 69 were former British Open champ Ben Curtis, Joe Ogilvie, Jonathan Kaye and Paul Azinger, who splits his time in the broadcast booth. David Duval, another former British Open champ, shot a 10-over 82.
 
The $3 million tournament played on the edge of the Sierra Nevada runs head to head with the World Golf Championship NEC Invitational that began Thursday in Ohio.
 
Taylor claimed his only PGA Tour victory as a rookie at Reno last year when he rolled in an 11-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Scott McCarron, Hunter Mahan and Steve Allan.
 
On Thursday, he dropped a 30-foot birdie putt on the 477-yard 15th and hit to within 3 feet for birdies on the last two holes to come within a shot of tying the course record of 63.
 
``It was good to be back out there,'' Taylor said after carding 10 birdies and two bogeys on the mountain course that forces players to adjust their shots because the ball travels farther at the 5,500-foot elevation.
 
``I had some good feelings, some good memories and I think it rubbed off a little. My caddie does all my yardages and percentages. So that was definitely a big help. I just play,'' he said.
 
Swirling winds that gusted to 30 mph will help determine whether anyone can match the tournament record of 17-under 271, said Taylor, who won last year at 10 under when winds gusted to 45 mph in the final round.
 
``I got a little lucky this morning and played five or six holes before it started blowing,'' he said.
 
Jacobson birdied five of six holes during one stretch, hitting to within 7 feet of the pin on three consecutive holes and draining each putt. Finishing on the front nine, he was 8 under with two holes to play in his debut at Reno but gave a shot back on the 464-yard eighth when his approach landed in a greenside bunker.
 
``You can't ask for much more the first time you are playing a course in competition,'' Jacobson said. ``It felt a lot like coming to Switzerland in Europe, which is one the places I've always enjoyed going -- the fresh air in the morning, the nice scenery.''
 
The 36-year-old Fischer reeled off four consecutive birdies after he hit a ``dumb shot'' into the water trying to reach the 616-yard ninth in two and settled for a bogey when his par putt lipped out.
 
``I walked away there a little angry,'' he said, before making birdie putts on five of the next six holes. He bogeyed the par-3 16th when the wind fooled him and he hit his tee shot too long into the trees. He finished with an 8-foot birdie on No. 18.
 
Like Jacobson, Fischer is seeking his first PGA victory since joining the tour full time in 2003. A winner on the Nationwide Tour in 2002, he's 133rd on the PGA money list with $377,667. His best finish this season was a tie for ninth at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
 
``I've had a pretty rough year,'' Fischer said. ``Golf is one of those games you can hit it good and you score bad, or you hit it bad and you score good sometimes. This year I just haven't found the key or the ingredients to get the two together.''
 
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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''


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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.


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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”


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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.