KendallHensby Share Hope Lead

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Bob Hope Chrysler ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. -- Skip Kendall has completely overcome his slice - the one when he almost lopped off the top of a finger.
Kendall, who accidentally slashed a sizable chunk out of his left index finger last year, shot a 9-under 63 Wednesday to share the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic lead.
Australian Mark Hensby also had an opening 63 in the five-day, 90-hole tournament.
Kenny Perry, the 1995 Hope champion, was a shot off the lead with a 64. Jay Haas, 1988 champion and runner-up to Mike Weir last year, was tied at 65 with Justin Leonard and Jerry Kelly.
Phil Mickelson, the champion two years ago, shot a 68 in his season debut. Weir had a 70.
The 39-year-old Kendall, winless in 293 career starts, is able to hold clubs normally again after having to switch to a reverse overlap grip while his gashed finger healed.
He cut it slicing a bagel 'with a very sharp knife' last May, missed a month on the tour and had to alter his grip until late in the year.
'I couldn't put any pressure on it,' he said. 'It's completely healed, and I'm back to my regular grip, as I was at the end of last year. It wasn't too bad. If I had cut it completely off, which could easily have happened, then I would have been real worried.
'It cut almost all the way to the bone. I just picked it up and they sewed it back.'
He grinned and added, 'I got a bunch of bagel slicers out of it.'
Kendall's short game was clicking for the first round of the Hope. He sank several long putts, including 25-footers for birdies on the fourth and fifth holes.
He went to 5 under with an eagle on the 562-yard, par-5 No. 6 at PGA West. His a 3-wood rolled onto the some 30 feet below the hole, then he made the long putt.
Four courses are used for the Hope, with the first four days a pro-am and the field trimmed to the 70 low-scoring pros - and ties - for Sunday's final round.
Kendall played the Palmer Course at PGA West, where the last round also will be held. Hensby and Perry both played the first round at Indian Wells Country Club.
Kendall, who played his first tour event in 1987, finished 70th on the money list last year with $1.2 million despite the finger problem. He had just two top-10 finishes, a tie for fourth in the Buick Classic and a tie for eighth in the Ford Championship at Doral.
He's finished second three times in his career, losing twice in playoffs.
'I'm not going to get hung up on winning,' said Kendall, who missed the cut in the Sony Open last week. 'I feel like I have enough game to win. I think it's going to happen in due time.'
Hensby, a 32-year-old from Melbourne, is playing in his 35th tour event. His highest finish was a tie for ninth in the 2001 Tucson Open, and he tied for 31st last week in Hawaii.
Leonard enjoyed his first round of the Hope in more ways than one.
'I played with Michael Chang and Michael Bolton,' he said. 'I got to pick Michael Chang's brain all day about tennis. I probably wore the guy out.'
DIVOTS:@ The Hope winner has finished 30 under or lower each of the past three years, but just five times since the tournament began in 1960. Weir was 30 under last year. Joe Durant set the PGA Tour's 90-hole record in 2001 with a 36-under 324 total. ... Johnny Miller is the only player to win the Hope in consecutive years, taking the titles in 1975 and 1976. Arnold Palmer won five times, including the first tournament in 1960. His last Hope victory was in 1973.
Related Links:
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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.