Emotional letdown at TOUR Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 LogoATLANTA ' Chad Campbell tipped over a small bucket of balls Wednesday and hit 5-irons across the pond on the practice green at East Lake, none quite as true as the one he struck five days ago at Valhalla that earned a crucial point in the Ryder Cup.
 
Campbell, the last player to qualify for the 30-man field at the TOUR Championship, will be the first to tee off Thursday. Hell understand if his game doesnt arrive until sometime later in the week.
 
Its going to take a few days, he said. I think once the tournament gets going, Ill be good to go. But everybody is a little bit worn out. There are some guys here who are fresh. I just dont think you can name any of them who were at the Ryder Cup.
 
Ten Americans who were spraying each other with champagne on Sunday are trying to remind themselves that this, too, is a big week. The TOUR Championship features a $7 million purse, and for many players, their final PGA TOUR event of the year.
 
The only two missing at East Lake from the U.S. team are J.B. Holmes and Boo Weekley. Sergio Garcia is the only Ryder Cup player from Europe who qualified for the TOUR Championship.
 
It is different, said Hunter Mahan, who made his Ryder Cup debut going unbeaten in five matches. Its weird going through that and then having to come to such a big event like this. We get a couple days to kind of fall back to earth and just back to the grind a little bit, so it should be good. It may take a round or two to actually get back into the flow of playing tournament golf again.
 
The Ryder Cup is only one component that has taken the sizzle out of the FedExCup finale.
 
A new points system during the PGA TOUR Playoffs brought the kind of volatility the Tour wanted, but it knocked out several players that otherwise would have had a right to be at East Lake.
 
Padraig Harrington missed the cut in his first two playoff events, and for that he becomes the first PGA TOUR member to win two majors in one year and still not qualify for the TOUR Championship. Also missing is Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy, along with the Weekley, who might be the most popular man in golf these days for his antics and shotmaking during the Ryder Cup.
 
As for the drama over who wins the FedExCup and the $10 million prize?
 
They could have started engraving Vijay Singhs name on the trophy two weeks ago. He won the first two playoff events, and now only has to complete four rounds at East Lake to capture the FedExCup. Riveting stuff.
 
Its nice to know that all you need to do is finish the round, Singh said. Its been kind of strange in a way that your friends and your family and your trainer keep saying, Dont over exercise. Well have to just keep it nice and easy this week. Gets in your head a little bit.
 
Its hard to blame the tour for someone as talented as Singh winning two straight tournament, just as Tiger Woods won two straight events last year to take the drama out of the final week.
 
Honestly, if you look back and think about it, every system could have provided a very exciting finish, Jim Furyk said. You just had a player Tiger Woods goes out and wins twice and finishes second. You had a player that separated himself. This year, even though the system was totally different, it could have provided a really exciting finish. It did not.
 
Furyk at least is motivated by trying to pick up his first victory of the year, a goal that applies to 15 other players in the field, such as Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis, Mahan, Campbell and Trevor Immelman.
 
Even someone like Singh, who won the TOUR Championship in 2002, wants to finish off the season with another win.
 
This is a big event for us, he said. Two years ago, three years ago, this was one of the major events on Tour. Thats the way I still look at it.
 
But his comment was telling.
 
Is the TOUR Championship no longer one of the big events on the PGA TOUR? It sure doesnt seem like one now, with one guy assured of the FedExCup simply by showing up, a field that includes first-timers Kevin Sutherland and Ken Duke, and a bunch of Americans suffering from Ryder Cup hangover.
 
What once was considered golfs version of the All-Star game has all the atmosphere of a corporate outing.
 
And just imagine if the Americans had lost the Ryder Cup.
 
Two years ago, a World Golf Championship was held in London a week after the Ryder Cup. Furyk recalls being angry about losing, and after taking a day off, getting back to work to fix what was wrong.
 
Any time Ive had a close call or lost in a playoff, its usually about a day or two and then I get back to work, he said. After you have a big win on tour, its a little bit of a hangover the next week, and emotionally, its tough to get up and get ready.
 
The Tour brought this problem on itself, and for that, 10 Americans are thankful.
 
Remember, the TOUR Championship was supposed to be the week before the Ryder Cup, but PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem agreed to move it back two weeks so the Americans (and some Europeans) would be fresh for the event that doesnt pay a dime.
 
Finchem said he expects a good week and big crowd, and it helps that Saturdays round will be played early, so as not to conflict with the NBC broadcast of Notre Dame football. Thankfully, Georgia plays Alabama on Saturday night.
 
In the meantime, he said changes to the FedExCup appear imminent.
 
Weve got to have a climactic finish, Finchem said. Its going to build to a finish.
 
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 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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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.