Garcia leads Nelson with 63; Spieth one shot back

By Associated PressMay 20, 2016, 3:29 am

IRVING, Texas - Jordan Spieth covered his mouth in disbelief on the 16th green when his long eagle putt stopped short of falling in for a share of the lead. His group then rushed to complete the final two holes before dark.

Spieth finished with consecutive pars for a 6-under 64 on Thursday and was within a stroke of the lead when the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson was suspended because of darkness.

The world's No. 2-ranked player and Dallas native, whose first PGA Tour event was the Nelson as a 16-year-old amateur six years ago, is playing only his second tournament since squandering a five-stroke lead on the back nine at the Masters. He missed the cut last week at The Players Championship, but had only one three-putt to start at rain-softened TPC Four Seasons.

''This week felt a bit different than the past couple years as a professional. I don't know what it is,'' Spieth said. ''I came out and maybe kind of the bad weather has kind of softened the crowds and hasn't felt the same. ... Everything has been a bit more calm this week and it's been a lot easier to just stay in a normal rhythm.''

Sergio Garcia, Danny Lee and Johnson Wagner shared the lead at 7-under 63. Garcia played in the morning, and Lee and Wagner, like Spieth, were just able to complete the round that started 2 1/2 hours late after early morning rain.

Dustin Johnson and Freddie Jacobson matched Speith with 64s.


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Tom Hoge, one of 30 players who have to finish their first rounds Friday morning, was 6 under through 14 holes. His only bogey was after he missed the green and then two-putted from 10 feet at the par-3 fifth, the last hole he completed. His final shot Thursday was an approach at the par-4 sixth, onto the green and 41 feet from the cup.

Garcia finished his round with eight consecutive one-putts. Wagner and Lee, the 25-year-old South Korean who lives in Irving and is playing on his home course, also were bogey-free.

There was a loud cheer at No. 1 when Spieth teed off, and another when he holed a shot from the intermediate rough for a birdie after missing the first green.

Spieth was 3 under through 10 holes before four consecutive holes without a par. He made a short birdie at 11 and a 20-footer at No. 12 before his only three-putt, from 50 feet at the par-3 13th. He quickly got back that stroke with a 13-foot birdie putt at No. 14.

Then at the par-5 16th, Spieth's 40-foot eagle chance was rolling toward the middle of the cup when it stopped just short.

The 64 matched Spieth's best round at the Nelson, where his best finish is still a tie for 16th in his debut as a teenager. He tied for 30th last year when he played after winning the Masters.

After his short appearance at The Players, Spieth talked about needing to do a better job being positive and having more fun. This was a good start at the Nelson.

''It's just kind of something that everyone goes through. You got to learn to deal with it your own way and everyone gets frustrated when you play golf. You can't be perfect in this game,'' he said. ''It's just little bits and pieces here where I can maybe stay a little more neutral and yeah, when you're playing well, when you're 4, 5-under par, it's a lot easier to be happy.''

Garcia had a quick answer for what he changed midway through the opening round when all of his putts started going into the hole, including a 60-foot eagle putt on the par-5 seventh after a 25-foot birdie putt the previous hole.

''Nothing,'' said Garcia, the 2004 Nelson champion. ''The hole got in the way. Simple as that.''

Garcia finished a stroke off his Nelson-best 62 he shot as a 19-year-old in 1999 in his first round at Lord Byron's tournament on the way to a third-place finish. He is back for the first time in five years.

He had only one birdie and needed 18 putts on his first 10 holes, including a 21-foot par-saver after his tee shot into the greenside bunker at the par-3 17th.

''Nice par putt on 17 to stay 1 under and then kind of caught fire on the other nine,'' Garcia said.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."