Langer Bryant on top in Senior opener

By Associated PressJanuary 23, 2009, 5:00 pm
Champions TourKAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii ' Playing in the final group and facing a leaderboard jammed with low scores, Bernhard Langer drew inspiration by watching another shootout across the Pacific at the Bob Hope Classic.
 
I saw them (on TV) shooting the lights out there, so Im thinking, Hey, we used to do that, Langer said.
 
Langer had seven birdies on the back nine on his way to an 8-under 64 and a share of the lead with Brad Bryant on Friday in the Champions Tours season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
 
Langer, the tours player and rookie of the year, was 1 over through six holes, then birdied nine of his last 12 holes in the first round.
 
I just got into the groove, he said.
 
After hitting out of the greenside bunker and sinking a 12-foot putt to save par on the par-4 sixth, Langer turned to his caddie and said, Weve got to stop the bleeding.
 
At that point on, they all went in, Langer said.
 
All seven of his birdie putts on the back nine were all within 10 feet. His round couldve been even better, but he missed a 15-footer for eagle on No. 7 and a 14-foot birdie try on No. 9.
 
The two-time Masters champion is coming off a three-win season when he was the lone player to break $2 million in earnings.
 
Both Langer and Bryant each had a bogey and nine birdies in their rounds.
 
You better be rolling your rock this week, Bryant said. We had a nice calm day. The greens are perfect. Its going to be a birdiefest if stays this way.
 
Hale Irwin, who turns 64 in June and is the second oldest player in the winners-only field, opened with a 65 to match Jeff Sluman and Jay Haas.
 
R.W. Eaks, who carded a rare double eagle, was at 66, along with Tom Kite. They were a stroke ahead of Jerry Pate and Andy Bean.
 
Bryant is coming off his first winless season in three season, but broke the $1 million mark for the third straight season with seven top-10 finishes.
 
He also led after the first day in 2007 with an opening 63. He finished tied for fifth in that event.
 
After birdieing four of six holes to make the turn at 32, Bryant birdied three of four holes to start the back side. He took the outright lead by holing a curling 21-foot left-to-right putt on the par-4 16th.
 
Langer, playing in the last group with Haas, hit a wedge from 110 yards to set up an 8-foot birdie on 18 to tie Bryant.
 
Irwin is trying to become the oldest winner in the tours 30-year history. Mike Fetchick won the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors Invitational on his 63rd birthday.
 
With his son Steve carrying his bag, Irwin putted just 24 times in his round. He wants put a disappointing year behind him where he failed to finish in the top-10 for the first time in his illustrious career.
 
And theres no better place than Hawaii, where Irwin has won nine official events, including the PGA Tours 1981 Hawaiian Open and twice at Hualalai, where he is making his 14th straight appearance. The 45-time Champions Tour winner won here in 2007 and 1997.
 
Irwin got it going by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 1 and chipped in from the fringe, about 25 feet away, on the par-3 17th.
 
Sluman, who missed the cut by a stroke last week on Oahu at the PGA Tours Sony Open, got off a torrid start with five birdies in the first seven holes.
 
Conditions were ideal at the scenic layout, which features forgiving fairways and immaculate greens. With only a gentle wind, the players attacked the pins.
 
Only three players shot over par at Hualalai, the tours easiest layout in the last six years with an average score below 70.
 
There is no strategy here, Bryant said. You go out and you try to birdie one so youre not one down. You try to birdie two, so youre not two down. Its the same thing every day.
 
Eaks turned in the shot of the day with a double eagle on the 551-yard seventh. After blasting a drive and catching a solid roll on the downhill fairway, Eaks holed his second shot using a 5-wood from 246 yards.
 
The albatross moved him to 5 under through seven holes. There were only two double eagles last year, compared to eight aces.
 
The 73-year-old Gary Player eagled the par-5 seventh and beat his age by three strokes. It was the fourth time in this event that the South African star has beaten his age.
 
The defenseless Hualalai was a welcome start to the season for everyone except Pete Oakley, who shot himself out of the tournament after just two holes by carding a disastrous 9 on the par-4 second where he got in trouble in the dried lava. Last year, he finished a shot out of last place.
 
Oakley was having such a difficult time on the hole, Irwin and Player played through.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard
  • Full Coverage
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''