Grace rallies for RBC Heritage win

By Associated PressApril 17, 2016, 10:57 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Branden Grace has had his share of big moments. He believes winning the RBC Heritage is his biggest, by far.

The 27-year-old South African had won 10 times overseas, finished in the top five last year in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, and went 5-0 for the International team at the Presidents Cup. On Sunday, he shot a 5-under 66 to overtake Luke Donald for his first title on the PGA Tour.

''This really puts the cherry on top of the cake,'' Grace said. ''And I'm excited for things to start.''

Grace has already fashioned a very accomplished career. He's 14th in the world ranking and three of his seven career wins on the European Tour have come since 2015.

''I can tick this one off the box and head into the next couple of majors trying to win it,'' he said. ''I have one notch, I've done it before and I can do it again.''

Grace trailed leader Luke Donald by three shots when the round began, but wiped out that deficit by the turn with five birdies. Grace took the lead for good with consecutive birdies on 12 and 13.

He overcame a final challenge on the 16th hole, rolling in a 12-foot par putt to maintain a three-shot lead. A hole behind, Donald lipped out a birdie try. He could get no closer.

Grace finished at 9-under 275, two shots ahead of Donald and Russell Knox. Donald shot a 71, and Knox had a 67.


RBC Heritage: Articles, photos and videos


Grace earned $1,062,000 and a PGA Tour exemption through the 2017-18 season, which he said was a weight off his mind and will allow him to comfortably contend without worrying about keeping his tour card.

Grace also became the latest to rally past hard-luck leader Donald at Harbour Town Golf Links. The Englishman has finished second four times and third twice in the past eight events here.

Brandt Snedeker shot a final-round 64 to catch Donald and win in a playoff in 2011. Matt Kuchar shot a 64 in 2014, overtaking Donald for the win with a chip-in from the bunker on the 72nd hole.

Donald said Saturday after taking a one-shot lead he'd need to be aggressive and make birdies. That did not happen. He settled for pars on the opening six holes, while Grace moved in front with four birdies on the same stretch.

Donald got to 8 under with a birdie on the seventh hole, then quickly gave it back on No. 8 when he drove in the water and took bogey.

He caught Grace one final time with a ninth-hole birdie, but could not keep up with the South African.

''I think I've got to put myself three or four behind on Sunday,'' Donald said. ''Leading doesn't seem to be working out for me.''

Although Donald earned $519,200 and moved past five-time RBC Heritage champion Davis Love III for second in tournament winnings here with $3,063,520.

Bryson DeChambeau, the former SMU star who won the NCAA and U.S. Amateur last year, tied for fourth in his first event since turning pro, four shots behind Grace after a 68. Kevin Na was tied with DeChambeau after a 69.

Top-ranked Jason Day rebounded from a season-worst 79 on Saturday with a 68 to tie for 23rd at 1 under. He now gets a week off before returning to play at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, starting on April 28. He said he'll use the time to refresh his mind and improve his fitness, which he said got a bit loose during this last run of tournament golf.

Not that it hurt him on the course. In the past month, Day won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the World Golf Championship's Dell Match Play event. He tied for 10th at the Masters and shared the 36-hole lead at Harbour Town until his third-round blow up.

His finish was his third round in the 70s this week. ''A lot of positive stuff'' at the tournament, Day said. ''I've just got to get back, just rest my mind, rest my body and try and get back in the swing of things.''

Divots: No 9s on this card: Ernie Els closed with a 66, his lowest round since finishing the final round of the 2013 WGC-HSBC Champions event with the same score. ... Jason Bohn closed with a 77 and finished 11 over in his first event back since his heart attack in February. ... Heard on course: When a hawk soared overhead with something in its talons on the 16th fairway, Seung-Yul Noh asked if it was a ball. ''It's a fish,'' playing partner Jerry Kelly replied.

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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.