Familar Faces Atop Nissan Leaderboard

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2004, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Mike Weir's victory last year at Riviera was no fluke.
Neither was John Daly's victory last week.
Weir, who had never made the cut in the Nissan Open until he won in a playoff last year, birdied five of his last seven holes Friday for a 7-under 64 that gave him a share of the lead with Shigeki Maruyama.
They were at 12-under 130, which tied the 36-hole record at Riviera first set in 1992 by Davis Love III.
Scott McCarron (65) and Briny Baird (62) were another shot back.
Daly also tied a record -- most trips to the media center in one week.
Daly played even better than he did last week at Torrey Pines, where he won his first PGA Tour event in nine years. Keeping a large crowd in suspense with every shot and every putt, he had a chance to tie Weir for the lead until making a bogey on his final hole for a 64 that left him two shots behind.
It continued an amazing resurgence for Daly, the two-time major winner who has a history of winning big tournaments and then only making news off the golf course.
The cheers that followed him resounded across Riviera as Daly kept stuffing iron shots close to the pins.
'I was even impressed with myself on some of those irons,' Daly said. 'This was one of the best ball-striking rounds I've had in a long time.'
Weir now has played his last five rounds in the 60s at Riviera.
'I seem to have figured this course out,' Weir said.
Tiger Woods got his act together, too, driving the ball better than he has in a while. Woods started the second round below the cut line, but removed any drama about making his 117th consecutive cut with two birdies on his final three holes for a 5-under 66.
Still, Woods was just as far behind the lead as when he started.
'I might even lose ground,' Woods said when he finished. 'Just seeing 20-odd guys at 4 under or better for the day ... I didn't think the golf course was playing that easy, but evidently it is.'
While some of the names atop the leaderboard are familiar, the scoring wasn't.
Riviera is one of the toughest tracks on tour because of its small greens with deceptive breaks. Weir and Charles Howell III finished at 9-under 275 last year, and the tournament's 72-hole scoring record hasn't been touched in 18 years, a rarity in this era.
But greens have been soft since rain earlier in the week, and overcast skies Friday even made the toughest pins accessible from the fairway.
Baird had a 62, one stroke away from tying the course record and matching his best score on the PGA Tour.
McCarron had a 65, putting him in a great shape after two days to atone for two years ago. He was poised to win, leading by three shots with seven holes to play, when he missed 6-foot putts on the final three holes and lost by one shot to Len Mattiace.
It was shaping up to be a fascinating weekend.
Weir has a chance to become the first repeat winner at Riviera since Ben Hogan won three times in 1947-48, one of those coming in the U.S. Open.
The Canadian is a huge Hogan fan, having read his books and studied his swing.
Everyone, it seems is a Daly fan.
Despite the endless list of troubles Daly has faced -- most of it his own doing -- everyone can relate to a guy who is not afraid to talk about his problems or his fears.
He had a couple of more revelations Friday.
He has lost 47 pounds since the start of the year. 'I just went nuts at Christmas, ate everything in sight,' he said.
He still hates flying commercial. 'You pay for gas and hope you get there,' he said.
He drives his customized motor home around the country, with three 42-inch plasma TVs.
Golfweek magazine reported that Daly is paying $20,000 a month to two ex-wives for alimony and child support.
Daly was a laugh-a-minute during his 20-minute interview, the third time in the last four tournament days that he has sat down with the media.
He wasn't at all surprised by all the constant attention on his life.
'Golf can get a little boring,' he said. 'I'm a perfect target. I just want to do good. It's life. You learn. It's just taking me longer than most people.'
He's doing just fine right now.
Divots: Vijay Singh had a 1-under 70 and appeared safe to make the cut on the number. Singh missed the cut last week at Torrey Pines, ending his streak of 12 consecutive top 10s on the PGA Tour. He left without comment. ... David Toms, playing for the first time since wrist surgery, had another 71 and was at even-par 142. ... Woods hit his drive in the right rough on No. 11, and as he walked down the fairway, fans applauded him for a great shot. They were looking at a ball that was about 350 yards in the middle of the fairway -- struck from the adjacent practice range. 'That's not my ball,' Woods finally told them.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Nissan Open

  • Full Coverage - Nissan Open

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    Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

    By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

    Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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    Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

    By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

    Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

    As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

    Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

    This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

    The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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    Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

    PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

    She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

    “I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

    Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

    “Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

    She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

    “I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

    Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

    She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

    “They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

    Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

    While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

    “Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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    Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

    By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

    PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

    In fact, she named her “Mona.”

    For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

    While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

    And that has her excited about this year.

    Well, that and having a healthy back again.

    Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

    “I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

    Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

    “Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

    Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

    She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

    Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.