Furyk one off pace at Harbour Town

By Associated PressApril 12, 2012, 11:20 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Chad Campbell used a fast start, and Vaughn Taylor and Colt Knost had strong finishes to share the first-round lead at 4-under 67 in the RBC Heritage on Thursday.

Campbell birdied four of his first seven holes, Knost birdied three of his last five, and Taylor holed out from the fairway for a closing eagle on the par-4 ninth hole at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Jim Furyk, the 2010 winner, was a stroke back along with Harris English, Charlie Wi and Matt Every. Forty-two players, including John Daly in just his second PGA Tour event this year, were at even par or better.

Masters winner Bubba Watson took the week off as did most players ranked in the world's top 20. No. 1 Luke Donald, who has been second, third and second here the past three years, opened with a 75. He has to finish in the top eight or surrender to the top spot to No. 2 Rory McIlroy next week.

Matt Kuchar was tied for the lead at Augusta National with three holes left before finishing two shots out of the playoff between Watson and Louis Oosthuizen, Kuchar hoped to continue his strong play at Harbour Town, but ended in a large group at 1-over 72.

Campbell held a first-round lead for the first time since the 2009 Masters. His game has faded some since then – he recorded just one top 10, at the British Open last year, his fewest since coming out on Tour in 2002 – and has missed five cuts in nine tournaments this year.

''I haven't felt like I've been that far off,'' Campbell said. ''But the results haven't been good at all.''

Campbell got it going quickly at Harbour Town with an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 2 and then consecutive birdies on the fourth and fifth holes. He moved to 4 under two holes later, rolling in a 20-footer for birdie.

Campbell added a final birdie on the 15th.

Campbell said the wind reminded him of his days playing golf in west Texas. ''Other than the trees and the ocean,'' he joked.

Taylor caught Campbell with his stunning shot from 103 yards out on his final hole, the ninth. Taylor, a native of Augusta, Ga., also has struggled and teed off at the RBC Heritage on a sponsor's exemption. He fell back to even par with a double bogey on the 16th hole before heating up on his last nine. He made birdies on the second, fourth and seventh holes before stunning the gallery – and himself – with his on-target sand wedge.

''I hit a smooth one,'' Taylor said. ''Came off right, right at it, and fortunate enough to go in.''

Knost joined the leaders with a late charge of his own, collecting birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th holes. Knost thinks this might be just the thing to jump-start a sluggish year – his lone top 20 was a third place at the Mayakoba Classic in February.

''It's just my kind of course,'' Knost said. ''You have to hit it fairly straight. Distance isn't that big a deal. The greens are real small, just give yourself a lot of chances.''

That's the way Furyk played Harbour Town, too. His problem? Starting in the chilly, windy conditions not usually seen during most Aprils in South Carolina.

He played straight and steady throughout, building on a tie for 11th last week at Augusta National. ''I'm happy to get in with the score I did,'' he said.

Donald had 11 straight rounds under par at Harbour Town before chopping it around Thursday. The Englishman made just one birdie and was well below Friday's projected cut line.

Still, it was hard not to notice the pleased faces of competitors, organizers and fans with the rechristened tournament. It's the first year for title sponsor RBC and presenting sponsor Boeing after the tournament went without a backer in 2011 and was in danger of disappearing.

DIVOTS: Two-time major winner Daly, a former Arkansas player, was saddened and shocked by the dismissal of friend Bobby Petrino as Razorbacks football coach. Daly thinks the team must hire an NFL-type coach ''like a (Jon) Gruden, like a (Bill) Cowher, like a (Barry) Switzer'' to keep moving forward. ... Bo Van Pelt will appear at a Boys and Girls Club on Friday as a thank you to RBC for sponsoring the tournament. ... This the first RBC Heritage without Davis Love III since 1985. Love withdrew this week with a cracked rib. ... 2001 RBC Heritage runner-up Billy Mayfair had a hole-in-one, hitting a 5-iron shot on the 195-yard seventh hole. He shot a 72. ... Sang-Moon Bae withdrew after an opening 83.

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Report: Augusta may lengthen par-4 fifth hole

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 1:18 am

One of the more difficult holes at Augusta National Golf Club could be adding some teeth in time for the 2019 Masters.

A recent report from the Augusta Chronicle details preliminary site plans from the Augusta Planning and Development Department. Chief among the proposed changes is a lengthening of the par-4 fifth hole, which currently measures 455 yards.

According to the report, a new tee could be constructed across Old Berckmans Road that could lengthen the hole by 20-30 yards. The change would alleviate congestion between the tee and the nearby fourth green and includes plans to curve the road – which has been closed to public traffic since 2015 – around the new fifth tee.

At last year’s Masters, former club chairman Billy Payne highlighted the area as a possible site for minor changes.

“We are always looking at certain holes, certain improvements to the golf course,” Payne said. “We have a great opportunity now in that we now own the Old Berckmans Road. It gives us the ability, as it touches certain holes, it gives us some way to expand or redesign – not redesign, but lengthen some of those holes, should we choose to do so, and all of them are under review.”

Should the new tee be built, it would mark the first club-enacted course changes since six holes were lengthened in 2006. According to the preliminary plans, construction would start on approximately May 1, following this year’s tournament, and would conclude by early November.

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Thomas: Raucus crowds becoming 'completely unacceptable'

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 12:53 am

LOS ANGELES – After spending the first two rounds of the Genesis Open caught amid the traveling circus that accompanies tournament host Tiger Woods anytime he tees it up, Justin Thomas relished his third trip around Riviera with fewer bodies – and voices – in the crowd.

Thomas was part of this week’s marquee early-round grouping, playing the first 36 holes alongside Woods and Rory McIlroy. McIlroy suggested that the chaos of a Woods gallery costs the 42-year-old half a shot per round, and it’s a sentiment that Thomas supported after climbing into the top 10 with a third-round 67.

“Yeah, it was pretty wild this first couple days. It was all right for a little bit today, but there at the end it got a little out of hand,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s a part of it now, unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t. I wish people didn’t think it was so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots and play.”


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Thomas enters the final round four shots behind Bubba Watson as he looks to win for the second time this season. While the crowds at Riviera are a fraction of the size encountered two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, Thomas recalled a couple of unfortunate incidents from that event when fans spoke up and snapped mid-swing pictures while he played the first two rounds alongside Jordan Spieth.

“I don’t know - I guess they just think it’s funny,” Thomas said. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently and I could just be overreacting. But when people are now starting to time it wrong and get in people’s swings, is just completely unacceptable really.

“We’re out here playing for a lot of money, a lot of points, and a lot of things can happen. And you would just hate to have, hate to see in the future something happen down the line because of something like that.”

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Durant leads Stricker, MAJ into Chubb Classic Sunday

By Associated PressFebruary 18, 2018, 12:50 am

NAPLES, Fla. - Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to match Steve Stricker's Saturday finish and take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Chubb Classic.

Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles' Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.

''You're going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but it was actually a par I made on my first hole,'' Durant said. ''I pulled my tee shot left, went into a bush and had to take an unplayable, had to drop back and hit an 8-iron about 15 feet and made par and it was kind of like, 'OK, well, maybe the putter is going to work today.'''

Stricker had nine birdies in a bogey-free round.

''I look forward to playing with Steve,'' Durant said. ''He's a class act, one of my buddies out here, and obviously he is playing well and he had a great round today. It will be a shootout tomorrow, no question, but it will be fun.''

The 53-year-old Durant has two PGA Tour Champions victories after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

The 50-year-old Stricker is making his first start of the year on the 50-and-over tour after playing six tournaments last year - a runner-up finish in his debut and three third-places ties but not a victory.

''That's why I'm here, to try to win the golf tournament,'' the 12-time PGA Tour winner said.

He played the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, tying for 31st in the Phoenix Open and tying for 26th at Pebble Beach.

''You can be a little more patient on the big tour because pars sometimes are good scores,'' Stricker said. ''Out here you need to make some birdies and when you see guys running away, that's when you lose your patience, at least I did yesterday.''

Playing alongside John Daly, Stricker birdied three of the last four on the front nine and birdied the last two for a back-nine 31.

''Yesterday, I wasn't very patient and I let a couple slip away that I should have had,'' Stricker said. ''On the par 5s on my second nine yesterday, I walked away from a couple pars, and that was frustrating. So I kind of let that get to me. Today, I was a lot more patient, and I felt it on the greens. When you're patient on the greens, you tend to roll the ball a little bit better, and I rolled a lot of nice putts.''

First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was two strokes back. He birdied three of the last four in a 68 after opening with a 64.

''Tomorrow is going to be a fight,'' Jimenez said. ''It's going to be nice. As long as you are around the lead, one shot behind, one shot ahead. A lot of golf to come. Just play golf, let everything come.''

Lee Janzen (67) was 11 under, and Kevin Sutherland (68) and Scott McCarron (68) were another stroke back. Daly was 8 under after his second 68. Three-time champion Bernhard Langer had a 70 to get to 5 under.

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Watson takes one-shot lead at Riviera

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 11:49 pm

It's an even-numbered year, so we shouldn't be surprised that Bubba Watson is leading at Riviera. Here's how things shake out going into the final round of the Genesis Open:

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-10), Patrick Cantlay (-9), Cameron Smith (-8), Kevin Na (-8), Tony Finau (-8), Graeme McDowell (-8)

What it means: Watson won the Tour's Los Angeles stop in 2014 and 2016, first shooting 64-64 on the weekend to come from eight shots back and beat Dustin Johnson by two strokes, then edging Jason Kokrak and Adam Scott by a stroke two years later. On Saturday, after a Friday night spent playing in a celebrity basketball game that was part of NBA All-Star Weekend (and getting a shot swatted into the stands by 6-foot-8 Tracy McGrady), he eagled the par-5 first hole, hitting a 200-yard approach to 18 inches, and kept his foot on the gas the rest of the way, adding five birdies against one bogey.

Round of the day: Dustin Johnson moved up 45 spots with a 64. Like Watson, he eagled the first hole, then added four birdies to make the turn in 29. His back nine was an exercise in treading water, with eight pars and a birdie, at the par-5 11th.


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Best of the rest: Watson's 65 was matched by Cameron Smith, who moved up 12 spots to T-3 by making an eagle and four birdies.

Biggest disappointment: At 49, two-time former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was just four shots off the lead after 36 holes, but a Saturday 75 dropped him to a tie for 51st. Goosen's round was a matter of slow bleeding, with three bogeys and a birdie on both sides.

Shot of the day: Derek Fathauer eagled the par-4 third hole, holing his approach shot from 120 yards.

Quote of the day: "You've got to know that this golf course is going to make you mess up." - Bubba Watson

Biggest storyline going into Sunday: Although Watson has won twice at Riviera, he hasn't won anywhere since his 2016 victory in L.A. His 2016-17 season finish of 75th in the FedExCup standings was the worst of his career. His closest pursuer, Cantlay, is just one stroke back after closing with a 54-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.