Furyk leads Transitions Championship by a stroke

By Associated PressMarch 19, 2009, 4:00 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' After a late start to the year, Jim Furyk might be getting up to speed.
Furyk made two long birdie putts and was equally thrilled with a 10-foot par save on his final hole Thursday, which gave him a 6-under 65 in the Transitions Championship. It was the first time he has held the outright lead since his last PGA Tour victory 20 months ago.
Something I can try to build on, Furyk said.
Stephen Ames was one shot behind after a 66 on a Copperhead Course that was demanding as ever, but one he enjoys far more than the Blue Monster last week at Doral that favors the big hitters.
The group at 67 included Kenny Perry, who sandwiched birdies on the tough 16th and 18th holes around his only bogey on the round. The 48-year-old Perry is playing his eighth event of the year and is worn out. Innisbrook is not exactly a working vacation.
Its tough out there. Its U.S. Open conditions, Perry said. Theres no breather holes out there.
Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year-old from Japan making his second PGA Tour start, birdied his opening two holes but never got any lower and settled for a 69, leaving him in much better shape than at Riviera, where he missed the cut.
I was more relaxed compared with my first event, he said. The key was the first hole.
Furyk took a five-week break to start the year. Having to failed to win last season ' only the third time in the last 14 years he gone an entire PGA Tour season without winning ' he decided not to start until Pebble Beach. His scores have improved each week, and Furyk really hit his stride last week at Doral with four rounds in the 60s to finish third.
I was a little nervous about being rusty, he said. It had been a long time since I played. I seemed to get back into the flow quickly.
The bigger problem has been getting back to winning.
His last victory was at the end of July in 2007 at the Canadian Open. Stranger still is that Furyk, who has 13 career victories, has not been atop the leaderboard after any round since then.
He hasnt been played poorly. His putter has been the culprit, the case with so many other players, and the few times he did give himself a chance in the final round, he simply didnt hole enough putts.
The reality is, I didnt win. Thats what everyone emphasizes, and I understand why, he said.
But he worked hard on his aim with the short stick, and is gaining confidence. Furyk didnt need much help when he started his round on the back nine, making all his birdies from short range.
Then came a sweeping, 35-foot birdie putt that dropped for a 31 to open the tournament, and he birdied the next two holes to separate himself from the early starters. The only bogey came on a poor bunker shot on the par-3 eighth, and Furyk was fortunate not to drop another shot at the end.
The Transitions Championship often gets forgotten in the Florida Swing because it falls between a World Golf Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week, but players were reminded again that Innisbrook is a gem.
Along with its natural characteristics ' gentle changes in elevation, winding tree-lined fairways rarely found in these parts ' the greens became more firm as a warm sun baked out the Copperhead Course.
Furyk and Ames were among the early starters. Equally impressive was the play of some guys in the afternoon, starting with Perry.
Its so hard to make birdies on this golf course, Perry said.
Furyk wasnt the only player who might have taken some momentum with him from Miami.
Masters champion Trevor Immelman has struggled mightily since his month break after Abu Dhabi, and he might have been forcing it with his defense of a green jacket approaching. Somewhere between the range and the golf course, he lost confidence in his swing. But he had a 72-69 weekend at Doral, played nicely at the Tavistock Cup, and his 68 in the first round was his lowest score of the year.
It was nice to play like myself again for a change, Immelman said. I started feeling a little bit better the last 10 days or so. It was nice to actually go out there and do it on the golf course.
The large group at 68 included David Toms, coming off a two-week break and starting his three-week bid to get into the Masters. Toms is at No. 66 in the world ranking and needs to get inside the top 50 after Bay Hill next week. That might require a third-place finish, and Toms certainly had few complaints with a bogey-free round.
The longest par putt he faced all day was from 4 feet on his last hole, and getting around Innisbrook without too much stress is rare.
Its a lot like major championships out here, Toms said. Youve got to play your way around, and sometimes you cant go at certain pins. Theres just not a ton of birdies out there.
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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.