Holmes muscles his way up the leaderboard

By Associated PressAugust 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
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2008 US Open 81x90BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' J.B. Holmes always knew he could hit the golf ball a long way.
 
J.B. Holmes
J.B. Holmes waves to the crowd during Round 2. (Getty Images)
He made his high school team in Kentucky when he was in the third grade. He was hitting 300-yard tee shots at age 13, and when he went to the Masters in 1998 as a senior in high school to watch Tiger Woods for the first time, it wasnt the least bit overwhelming.
 
I realized the pros dont hit it any further than I do, Holmes said.
 
His monster length proved to be more than enough for Oakland Hills on Friday.
 
With a black glove on his hand and a scowl on his face, Holmes hammered one tee shot after another'one of them he estimated at about 400 yards'and kept most of them in the short grass, leading to a 2-under 68 for a one-shot lead in the PGA Championship.
 
Holmes was at 1-under 139, the only player to break par over two rounds on a course known as The Monster. It was the first time since 1972'at Oakland Hills, not so coincidentally'that only one player was under par through 36 holes of the PGA Championship.
 
When I hit my driver like I did today, this is an easy sport, Holmes said.
 
It sure didnt feel easy to anyone else.
 
Sergio Garcia four-putted the 17th green late in the second round just as he was trying to catch Holmes, and instead dropped to a 73 and was three shots behind. Phil Mickelson struggled with a few bad drives, a few poor chips and not many putts, making three bogeys over the final five holes for a 73 that left him four shots behind.
 
Colin Montgomerie found nothing easy about Oakland Hills. He had to play his best golf over the closing holes to avoid his worst score as a professional, salvaging an 84 to match his worst score ever in a major.
 
The final major is so hard that Garcia predicted no one would be under par when it was time to hoist the trophy.
 
I dont think its going to be won by 1 under par, Garcia said. I just need to make sure that I stay around where I am and maybe a little closer to par. Thats going to have a chance on Sunday.
 
Ben Curtis, who on Thursday said only one player would like Oakland Hills by the end of the week, got along just fine Friday with a 67, matching Justin Rose with the best score of the tournament and leaving both of them one shot behind at even-par 140.
 
Its the kind of round Ive been looking for to get myself back on the leaderboard and feeling the good vibes, Rose said.
 
They were joined by Charlie Wi, a 36-year-old who has played on just about every tour, but never in a major championship until this week. He made his debut with back-to-back 70s and will play in the final group Saturday with Holmes.
 
Former PGA champion David Toms (69) and Henrik Stenson of Sweden (70) were at 1-over 141. The group at 142 included Garcia, former U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera (72) and Sean OHair, who steadied himself after a double bogey on his opening hole and shot 73.
 
For the second straight day, only six players broke par.
 
When I got here on Tuesday, I called home and I said, This is the hardest golf course Ive ever played, Wi said. If I were to play here every day, I dont know if I would enjoy it. Its a very difficult golf course.
 
Wi might see a different course while playing with Holmes.
 
The 26-year-old from Kentucky put his Paul Bunyan length on display during a morning of blue skies. Its a wonder some of his tee shots didnt leave contrails.
 
He leads the field in driving distance at 338 yards, and that doesnt include a mammoth tee shot on the 501-yard 14th that left him only a wedge to the green, where he made a 25-foot putt for his third straight birdie.
 
Holmes reached the 529-yard second hole with a wedge for a two-putt birdie from 12 feet, and he got home in two on the 593-yard 12th with an 8-iron. A stiff breeze was at his back on that 217-yard shot.
 
He hit driver on all but four holes.
 
Im not that aggressive if Im not hitting my driver good, Holmes said. If Im hitting bad shots with it, you dont hit it as much. You hit it right where youve looked? Whale away.
 
If youre hitting where youre aiming it every time, youre hitting good.
 
There were some comparisons to another young player from the South who hit it a country mile and overwhelmed Crooked Stick in 1991 to win the PGA Championship. But thats about the only resemblance to John Daly.
 
Holmes is not the ninth alternate, rather a two-time winner on the PGA Tour who might have secured a spot on the Ryder Cup team to be held next month at Valhalla in Kentucky, a course he knows better than anyone on tour. He lives clean and plays hard. His swing is compact, the power generated by his lower body.
 
My senior year of high school, I went out and watched Tiger, Holmes said, referring to a trip to the 1998 Masters. A lot of the players, they said hit the ball really long. And they did. I was like, Thats not much farther than me, if at all.
 
But length isnt everything, especially on the wild greens of Oakland Hills. Holmes lost two shots off his lead on the closing holes, with a poor chip on the 15th and a three-putt from across the long green on the par-3 17th.
 
Curtis played his final 15 holes without a bogey and is the only major champion at par or better, even if some still think his victory at Royal St. Georges in 2003 at the British Open was a fluke. He has won twice more on tour since then.
 
I know I can win another one, he said. Its just a matter of taking care of the opportunities that Im given. Theres weeks where you can play your best and not win, and theres weeks where you can kind of stumble your way in and win.
 
The stumbling belonged to Mickelson and Garcia, although the Spaniard chalked it up to one bad hole'or four bad putts'and bristled when it was suggested that the back nine was a struggle.
 
No, it wasnt. It wasnt at all, said Garcia, considered the best player without a major. Unfortunately, things didnt happen for me on the back nine. Its very difficult and this is a major.
 
Mickelson is perplexed by the raking of grass toward the tee, which makes it stand firm and led to some poor chips. But he remained optimistic, and should be. Twenty players were separated by four shots going into the weekend.
 
Theres a lot of golf left out here, and the golf course is very difficult, he said. So I think that it wont be overly difficult if you play well to make up some ground.
 
The cut was at 148, the highest since the gnarly rough of Oak Hill in 2003. Among the victims were Vijay Singh, who was coming off his first World Golf Championship last week; and Woody Austin and Hunter Mahan, who were Nos. 9 and 10 in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings.
 
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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."