Hoffman leads wind-swept Texas Open

By Associated PressMarch 27, 2015, 1:27 am

SAN ANTONIO - Charley Hoffman took advantage of calmer afternoon conditions to take the first-round lead in the wind-swept Texas Open, shooting a 5-under 67 on Thursday.

After wind gusts threatening 40 mph pummeled the morning starters, Hoffman faced steady 15 mph wind in the afternoon at TPC San Antonio. He had the lone bogey-free round, birdieing Nos. 2, 3, 9, 11 and 17.

The winner last year in Mexico at the start of the wraparound season, Hoffman has eight top-10 finishes in nine appearances in San Antonio. He was second in 2011 and third in 2013.

''I don't know the answer to (the success here),'' Hoffman said. ''Visually, the course sets up nice for me off the tee. It was just a pretty low-stress round for me.''

Aaron Baddeley was second after a 68. The Australian had a remarkable birdie on the par-4 17th when he snap-hooked his drive deep into thick woods, went back to the tee and holed out from 336 yards.

''That was crazy,'' Baddeley said. ''I hit it, started walking, and the crowd starts going nuts. So, I'm 'Wait. I just made birdie.' It rolls up and goes in.''

Max Homa had a 69, and Phil Mickelson and Ryan Palmer shot 70.

Mickelson, winless since the 2013 British Open, lost the clubhead off his 8-iron when it came flying off while he hit from a fairway bunker on the 12th hole.


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''That was weird,'' Mickelson said. ''But I thought it was playable out there, for the conditions. It's nice, selfishly, to be on the good end of the tee times in the afternoon. It really looked tough for the guys in the morning.''

With gusts reaching 38 mph early in the day, no one with a morning tee time managed to break par. Only Matt Kuchar and Cameron Percy matched it, and conditions might have been worse if not for maintenance crews slithering hoses onto some of the greens to water them down.

The stroke average for the morning wave was 78.61 and the overall average was 75.9.

From the 69 players in the morning, 23 failed to break 80. Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson managed to keep it in the 70s, but they had their struggles with the wind.

Furyk opened his day with a 52-foot birdie putt, but he shot 76. Johnson had a 78, his worst since shooting a first-round 80 before withdrawing last year from the Houston Open.

U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer had two triple bogeys in an 82.

Defending champion Steven Bowditch opened with an 80.

Sam Burns, an 18-year-old high school senior from Sherevport, Louisiana, who earned a spot in the field by winning the Junior PGA Championship last summer, carded an 89 with a quadruple bogey at No. 9.

Hoffman took the lead when he drove near the collar of the 17th green, chipped up and made a 6-footer for birdie.

''I got lucky that when it was blowing hard, my first four holes were downwind,'' Hoffman said. ''I was able to birdie a couple of them. The wind started to die down a little bit at No. 5, and I felt comfortable.''

Graeme McDowell was one of three players from the morning wave who withdrew while shooting high numbers, citing injuries. McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, said his left ankle and foot were bothering him when he pulled out after a 5-over 41 on his first nine. Sang Moon Bae (back) was 6 over through seven, and Colt Knost (thumb) had it at 9 over through eight with a quadruple bogey at No. 3.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon. 

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions.