Mahan Leads Travelers After Round 1

By Associated PressJune 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
Travelers ChampionshipCROMWELL, Conn. -- The scoreboard at Travelers Championship made the U.S. Open seem like a distant memory.
 
A week after only eight sub-par rounds were carded at the U.S. Open, 60 players broke par in the first round.
 
Hunter Mahan, who finished second a year ago, shot an 8-under 62, one shot off the course record, to take the first-round lead. It was his sixth consecutive round in the 60s at the TPC at River Highlands.
 
'It's one of the courses that you look at it and you feel comfortable,' he said. 'There's not really a shot here that I worry about.'
 
Rain suspended play Thursday night and 39 golfers wrapped up their first round Friday morning, including Olin Browne, who won this tournament in 1998. He finished with a 67, then eagled early in his second round to trail the leader by three.
 
'This is what golf should be,' said Chris DiMarco, whose 64 was good for only second place. 'It shouldn't be about plus 20s and plus 25s. I think the fans, if we started doing that every week, I think we would lose our fans. I think they want to see us make birdies.'
 
Mahan shot a 31 on his first nine holes. He parred No. 10, then birdied his next four holes. A rain delay of more than an hour didn't seem to faze him, as he came back out and birdied No. 17.
 
'I hit my driver great, put the ball in play,' he said. 'I hit a lot of good irons and wedges.'
 
That run allowed him to overtake DiMarco, who shot a strong round despite an ailing shoulder.
 
'I hit a ton of good golf shots today,' Mahan said. 'But it's just the first round. We've got a long way to go.'
 
Mahan tied his best round, which came during the third round of the 2003 Valero Texas Open. His previous best this year was a second-round 65 at the Buick Invitational. He's had two top-10 finishes this year but has never won on tour.
 
'If I can build on my score from today, I feel I have a pretty good shot,' he said.
 
The course record is 61, held by four players, including two-time champion Phil Mickelson, who withdrew from this year's tournament because of an ailing left wrist.
 
DiMarco, who hasn't won on the PGA TOUR since 2002, has been playing with arthritis, tendinitis and a bone spur in his left shoulder for about three months. Two recent cortisone shots and a slight adjustment to his swing seemed to ease his pain. The 64 was his best round of the season.
 
'It felt a lot better out there today,' he said. 'Three weeks ago, every shot I hit, whether it was a 70-yard lob wedge or whatever, it would pop.'
 
Five golfers finished at 65, including TOUR rookie Michael Sim of Australia, who shot 29 on his closing nine.
 
'Once you get on a roll, you just make birdies,' Sim said.
 
DiMarco said he tinkered with his putting grip, which seemed to help his short game. He needed just 26 putts.
 
'I made a bunch of good little putts today,' he said. 'When you make those, confidence breeds and you make longer ones.'
 
The best shot Thursday came from Craig Perks of New Zealand, who used a 6 iron to ace the 202-yard par-3 eighth hole. His blind tee shot went over the water and rolled into the cup.
 
Perks, who shot a 74 in the first round, took home a gold Rolex watch for his effort. Defending champion J.J. Henry, from nearby Fairfield, shot a 68.
 
Masters champion Zach Johnson shot a 71 and Vijay Singh a 68. Singh entered the tournament in third place in the race for the Fedex Cup. He has a chance to make up ground on Tiger Woods and Mickelson.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Travelers Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

    Former Web.com 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 Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com 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.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

    Getty Images

    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

    Getty Images

    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x