Finchem Handle Hecklers Differently
Finchem conceded Wednesday that neither Davis Love III nor tour officials handled the situation properly when Love was harangued by a spectator during the final round of the Match Play Championship.
The commissioner and golfer spoke at length about the way Love confronted the gallery and demanded the heckler be taken away.
Finchem said players are supposed to respond to distracting situations by telling scorers, who forward the information to officials and then security personnel, if necessary. He said he didn't have a 'big problem' with Love taking matters into his own hands, but only because tour officials failed to deal with the situation from the outset.
'Davis makes it quite clear that if he had to do this over again, he would have gone to somebody,' Finchem said a day before the opening round of the Ford Championship at Doral. 'If he had it to do over again, he wouldn't do it again. And I appreciate his attitude on that.'
Love had a 1-up lead over Tiger Woods halfway through the 36-hole final at La Costa on Sunday when a man started needling him. Love didn't win another hole after that. Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, rallied to win 3 and 2.
The man let out a 'Whoop!' when Love missed a par putt on the 20th hole that squared the match. The fan started yelling, 'No Love!' as Love stepped to his ball on the fifth tee. Love sought out the spectator, saying he wouldn't continue to play until the fan was found.
A man wearing a Tiger Woods logo cap was identified as the heckler and tossed out.
Love defended his actions Tuesday, saying hecklers should be tossed from the course. 'The people who disagree with that, they don't understand the game,' he said.
Love is not playing at Doral this week. But Finchem believes the highly publicized episode will help the PGA Tour be better prepared for anyone intentionally trying to distract golfers during the first tournament on the Florida Swing and in the future.
'This situation is going to bring focus for all our people in the family, volunteers, marshals, our staff -- how we need to take up that execution,' Finchem said. 'It's also going to bring to the attention of the players this issue, 'What do I do if I'm in that situation? What's the best way to get this situation handled?''
Finchem said educating fans might be more crucial to fixing the problem, which he said happens just about every week but doesn't normally get as much attention as it did at the Match Play Championship.
'This isn't hockey. We can't play the game if certain things go on,' he said. 'We want you out here, we want you close by, but we demand your respect.'
Woods, who is playing at the Dubai Desert Classic this week, echoed Finchem's remarks Wednesday.
'Things like that happen in our sport and there's no need,' Woods said. 'It's great when you have tournaments like Augusta that police themselves, where people watching take care of fans not behaving properly. But it's happening more and more. We're bringing new fans in -- usually soccer, American football or basketball fans.
'They are used to a raucous atmosphere, but golf is not like that.'
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.