Goosen takes first-round lead at Firestone

By Associated PressJuly 31, 2008, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio ' Retief Goosen, a late arrival and an early starter, took advantage of a Firestone South Course that played long and short on his way to a 4-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead Thursday in the Bridgestone Invitational.
One year after Tiger Woods was the only player to break par, Goosen and 32 other players in the 80-man field met only minor resistance on a balmy afternoon at this World Golf Championship.
Vijay Singh and former Masters champion Zach Johnson were among those at 67, while Steve Stricker was headed for the outright lead until running into trouble off the tee late in his round, losing three shots in two holes and joining another large group at 68.
Retief Goosen
Retief Goosen is the man to catch after Rd. 1 of the WGC-Bridgestone. (Getty Images)
The length came from rain earlier in the week that softened Firestone and made it play every bit of its 7,400 yards. Tim Clark, a medium hitter who was at 67, hit his hybrid so often he was amazed it had any grooves left.
And the short? That would be the rough.
It was so deep last year that players often had trouble just getting it back to the fairway, and there were shots that squirted sideways leading to several big numbers. But the rough is only about 2 inches this year, at least giving players a chance.
Last year, the rough here was almost out of control. This year, the rough is very average and its part of an experiment theyre doing. Theyre trying to see if the rough height has any effect on scoring.
Based on Thursdays scoring, theres no need to send the data to MIT.
Goosen, who arrived Wednesday at the tournament in time for rain to wash out his scheduled practice round, was in the second group out and didnt find any trouble until he missed the par-3 15th green to the left and made his only bogey. It was another step in the right direction for the two-time U.S. Open champion, who has not had a top 10 on U.S. soil since he tied for second in the World Golf Championship at Doral in March.
The course is playing tough, Goosen said through a European Tour official after declining to speak to reporters. Im not saying its playing easy, but the rough is not nearly as thick as it was last year.
Phil Mickelson, cryptic in his criticism of the high rough at the Memorial two months ago, finished with a birdie on the 18th after scrambling out of the trees and shot 68. He said Firestone has become one of his favorite courses this year.
You fall in love with a golf course when you have a setup thats as wonderful as this, Mickelson said. The greens are fast, the pin placements are great, the rough is challenging but fair and it lets you hit some recovery shots. This year, Firestone is one of my favorite golf courses that we have on tour.
It allowed for one amazing recovery for Mickelson. He was left of the trees on the 18th, 169 yards away, contemplating whether to hit a 9-iron, wedge or a lob wedge over the trees. He settled on a 4-iron under the trees to 15 feet for an unlikely birdie.
It was risky, but it paid off, Mickelson said.
British Open champion Padraig Harrington was in the group at 69 that included Sergio Garcia.
Not everyone took advantage, the most noteworthy being Kenny Perry.
The hottest player on the PGA TOUR ' at least those still playing not recovering from knee surgery ' Perry came to this WGC event having won three times in his last six starts. But he struggled to hit fairways and make putts, and he wound up with a 74.
Masters champion Trevor Immelman opened with a 75, while Woody Austin didnt help his Ryder Cup cause with a 71. Austin is ninth in the U.S. standings with two tournaments left to earn one of eight automatic spots.
Goosen hasnt won since the Qatar Masters in January 2007, which moved him up to No. 6 in the world. He has fallen to No. 39 as he struggles to put together his swing, and he headed home to Florida from the Canadian Open to work with his coach.
He showed signs at the U.S. Open when he had two sub-70 rounds and tied for 14th, and at the British Open, where he was in contention going into the weekend. But he has never fared well at Firestone, recording only one top 10 in six appearances.
It helps not having to deal with Woods, a six-time winner on this track.
The guy thats won here every year is not here, and all the losers are still here, Goosen said. Its nice.
Woods absence was obvious in other ways.
The course was virtually empty, with most of the traffic following Mickelson and Ernie Els (69). Stricker hit a 5-iron over the bunker on No. 4 to 6 feet for birdie that put him at 5 under, and all of 17 fans followed him to the next hole. Some of the concession stands had no visitors, about like a Montreal Expos game before they moved to Washington.
Woods, who finished at 8-under 272 for an eight-shot victory, might not have recognized the place. Some felt the Bridgestone Invitational last year was even tougher than the PGA Championship the following week at Southern Hills.
That might not be the case this year, although it was still a stern test.
Its just a good course, Stricker said. Its got length, its got rough, its got tough greens. So you need to be on your game.
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    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

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    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

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    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

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    Man of the people

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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.