Leaney Leads DiMarco in the Hunt

By Associated PressMarch 9, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 PODS ChampionshipPALM HARBOR, Fla. -- On a golf course where Stephen Leaney said there were no easy holes, he had a simple explanation for how he wound up atop the leaderboard Friday at the PODS Championship.
 
'I've probably holed more putts than anyone,' Leaney said.
 
Staring into a bright sun that toyed with his depth perception, Leaney watched a 40-foot birdie putt on the last hole tumble in for birdie and a 4-under 67, giving him a one-shot lead over Heath Slocum on an Innisbrook course that won't let anyone get too far ahead.
 
Defending champion K.J. Choi and Chris DiMarco were among those another shot behind, but the true measure of this tournament was found further down the leaderboard. Only 37 players remained under par and 27 of them were within four shots of the lead.
 
Brad Faxon was only four shots behind until he struggled down the stretch and made the cut on the number. Even so, he and the others in last place were only eight shots behind.
 
'When you shoot under par on this golf course, you've got to feel pretty good,' said Slocum, who felt great after a 69.
 
Putting is imperative at any tournament, but it has been key for Leaney. He can't remember the last time he made more than a few putts longer than 10 feet, he shouldn't have a problem now. The shortest of his six birdie putts was 12 feet, the 40-footer on the 18th hole gave him the lead and he even picked up what he called a miracle birdie along the way.
 
Leaney had 250 yards for his third shot on the par-5 fifth, hit it into the rough, then chipped in.
 
'This golf course just wears you out,' said the 37-year-old Australian, who was at 6-under 136.
 
Even course officials were concerned when the tournament moved from late October to early March, causing a drastic change in the grass. Instead of the dry, crispy conditions in the fairway and prevalent Bermuda rough, the rye grass used in Florida over the winter to keep a green look to the course has made it play longer and at times softer.
 
Some thought it might be a little easier.
 
'Just look at the board,' DiMarco said after his second straight 69.
 
Vaughn Taylor (68), rookie Doug LaBelle (71), Pat Perez (70), Daniel Chopra (71) and Jonathan Byrd (69) were in the group at 138. Another shot behind was a group that included Billy Andrade, Arron Oberholser and first-round Cliff Kresge, who was nine shots worse with a 74.
 
Vijay Singh, a past champion at the Copperhead course, was poised to join the leaders until dropping two shots down the stretch, winding up at 2-under 140 and very much in the picture.
 
It's the second straight week on the PGA TOUR that players have had to work hard for their scores. The winning score at the Honda Classic was 5-under 275 and led to a four-man playoff. Next week is Bay Hill, which will play as a par 70.
 
Innisbrook has always been a par 71, and it has always been tough.
 
This week is no exception.
 
Leaney said he felt like he was back at Olympia Fields, where he was runner-up to Jim Furyk in the 2003 U.S. Open.
 
'I play my best golf where you really think yourself around a golf course properly, and I think that's why I've played well here the last couple of years,' he said. 'A lot of weeks, it's not like that. It's just bombs away.'
 
DiMarco said he plays several approach shots the way he would at Augusta National, finding small targets on big greens and being extra careful not to wind up on the wrong side of the hole. One of his best shots came on the 13th, about 20 feet above the hole, and DiMarco had to make an 8-footer for par.
 
This is DiMarco's best chance at winning since the British Open last summer at Hoylake, where he was runner-up to Tiger Woods. Despite consecutive playoff losses in majors and a strong performance in the Presidents Cup, DiMarco has gone five years without a victory on the PGA Tour, and it's testing his patience.
 
Some of that he attributes to being in the right spot with the wrong guy -- Woods. They were seven shots clear of the field when Woods beat him in a playoff at the Masters. No one was close to them at Hoylake. And at Firestone a few years ago, he was in the clubhouse with a share of the lead until Woods made a late birdie.
 
'The last three or four chances I had to win, he's been the one to beat me,' DiMarco said.
 
So he must be thrilled that Woods is nowhere around this week.
 
'Yes,' DiMarco said with a smile. 'I am.'
 
But there are too many others to count who could win this tournament, starting with Leaney and going all the way down to Faxon at the bottom of the leaderboard.
 
Divots
John Daly withdrew after nine holes because of his right shoulder, which he injured a week ago when he tried to stop his swing as a fan clicked her camera. 'He was fine the first two holes playing out of the fairway,' Bubba Watson said. 'But it got him when he was in the rough, and he was hitting a lot of shots with one arm.' ... Mark Calcavecchia finished up a 67 to finish at even par and looked slightly disappointed. 'Now I have to go unpack,' he said. Calcavecchia figured he would miss the cut after opening with a 75. 'Told them to have my bags in the parking lot. But I guess this isn't so bad.' ... Tim Herron finished with three birdies on the last four holes to make the cut on the number.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PODS Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: