Langer regains Sr. PGA lead as darkness halts play

By Associated PressMay 27, 2017, 1:23 am

STERLING, Va. - Bernhard Langer sat on a bench and ate a sandwich, chatted with his playing partners and signed autographs for fans as he waited out a 41-minute wind delay on the 14th tee at Trump National. When play resumed, he swung two clubs to loosen up and got back to business.

Langer grinded out three pars in the teeth of the wind and, when conditions began to improve, he took advantage, making five straight birdies to regain the lead Friday at the Senior PGA Championship.

Langer was 11 under through 13 holes when play was halted because of darkness, one shot ahead of Vijay Singh, who shot 68 amid wind measured at more than 30 mph. Singh was at 10-under 134 through two rounds. Billy Andrade also shot 68 and was one shot behind Singh. Their scores were eight shots better than the field average.

The wind was so strong that golf balls moved on exposed greens, sand blew out of bunkers and whitecaps formed on the muddy Potomac River.

Playing in his first Senior PGA, the 54-year-old Singh made par putts from outside 10 feet on 15 and 16 and two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th. Through two rounds, the long-hitting Fijian is 7 under on the par 5s, his only par coming when he three-putted the third hole.

''I'm driving the ball really well, which makes a big difference,'' Singh said. ''They're all reachable. So even for medium-length hitters, if you hit the fairways you can get in there with a 3-wood or 5-wood.''

President Donald Trump's course about 25 miles outside Washington is exposed to the wind in part because Trump decided to cut down more than 450 trees to create scenic riverfront holes. The conditions were reminiscent of another Trump course, Turnberry in Scotland, which has hosted multiple British Opens. There were 23 rounds in the 80s and one round of 90.

Playing with Singh, Corey Pavin made a quadruple-bogey 7 on the fourth hole and followed his first-round 69 with an 82 to miss the cut. Fran Quinn shot 80 but will play the weekend on the strength of his first-round 66.

''It was hard keeping your balance and hitting a solid shot,'' Singh said. ''And putting was really difficult. Wind blowing sideways, if you have a downhill putt, it's really hard. ... If you start going south, it's really hard to keep it together.''

Notorious for tinkering with his putting method, Singh went to a new putter and a new grip this spring and teamed with Carlos Franco to win the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, his first victory on the PGA Tour Champions. He then returned to the PGA Tour, where he continues to play a full schedule, and tied for 16th at The Players Championship. He parted ways with his caddie after The Players.

''New caddie this week as well that I'm working really well with,'' Singh said.

Langer, 59, could break Jack Nicklaus' record this week with his ninth senior major. He won No. 8 last week at the Regions Tradition.

Andrade had a chance to match Singh after he hit his second shot to 8 feet on 18, but he missed the eagle putt.

''I actually thought the putt was going to just kind of wiggle right and it was wiggling and then it quit wiggling,'' Andrade said.

Tom Lehman and Scott McCarron were 8 under with holes left to play. Lehman made amends on 18, the second-easiest hole on the course, after a bogey Thursday. His second shot bounced over the back of the green and nestled against a hospitality area. After a free drop, he fluffed his pitch and left it short. Then he chipped in for birdie.

Miguel Angel Jimenez provided plenty of excitement for the galleries following him, John Daly and Rocco Mediate in his round of 71. Playing aggressively despite the tough conditions, he hit 7-wood into the wind to 12 feet for birdie on the par-4 fifth. On the downwind, short par-4 ninth, he drove the green with a fairway wood and made a 40-footer for eagle to take the lead.

The ponytailed Spaniard gave back both shots on the downwind, par-3 10th after his tee shot trickled over the back of the green and down a steep slope. Following Jimenez, Daly made a weak swing and missed short and right.

''I was afraid to hit it,'' said Daly, who shot 74 and was even par.

Jimenez dropped two more shots on the back nine, but he salvaged his round with a 25-footer from off the green for eagle on 18. Jimenez waved his visor in a swinging motion and sheathed his putter like a matador's sword. He was five shots back along with Larry Mize, who followed up his first-round 65 with a 73, and David Toms, who had three holes left to play.

Getty Images

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?''

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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. 

Getty Images

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.