Mediate Leads Furyk Just Two Back

By Associated PressJune 28, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 Buick OpenGRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Rocco Mediate's back is healthy and so is his game.
 
Mediate shot his lowest score on the PGA TOUR in four years, opening the Buick Open on Thursday with an 8-under 64 for a one-stroke lead.
 
'This has been one of the best years of my life coming out of this injury,' he said. 'I'm ecstatic.'
 
Brett Quigley, Woody Austin and Brian Bateman shot 65s and Jim Furyk was among a group of four another stroke back, in a tournament up for grabs without Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in the field for the first time since 2001. The stars have combined to win four of the previous five Buick Opens, reaching 24 under to win the previous two.
 
'It doesn't matter if Tiger or Vijay are here,' Austin said. 'Each of the years they won, they didn't blow the field away. I don't believe either one of them has broken Robert Wrenn's record (26 under). Somebody shoots low every year.'
 
Mediate likes his chances because his right hip joint is not making his back miserable anymore.
 
'I can move again,' he said.
 
Mediate credited Cindi Hilfman, a physical therapist in Los Angeles, for turning his life and career around since they connected in February.
 
'Since I had back surgery in '94, it's been on and off again,' he said. 'The last three years I was dead.'
 
Simply breathing was painful for him and walking was impossible at times.
 
The five-time PGA TOUR winner had only one top-10 finish last year, ending the season a career-low 206th on the money list. Mediate was ranked 176 and 114 the previous two years after finishing between 22nd and 37 from 1999-2003.
 
'My game didn't go away because my ability went away,' he said. 'It's because my body went bye-bye.'
 
Mediate wasn't the only one to dominate one of the easiest courses on the TOUR. The day after a downpour, Warwick Hills was even more vulnerable especially with temperatures in the low 70s and only moderate wind.
 
He missed just two greens in regulation -- despite hitting just nine of 14 fairways -- and made 27 putts in a bogey-free day.
 
It was his best effort since opening 2003 at the Mercedes Championship with a final-round 63.
 
Mediate started strong at the Buick Open after closing the Memorial with a 65 to help him finish tied for 15th in his previous tournament. He was second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and tied for ninth in mid-February at the Nissan Open, when a friend introduced him to a new physical therapist.
 
'No one had ever unlocked (my hip) before,' he said. 'She's brilliant -- period.'
 
He has at least shared the lead after the first round in three previous tournaments, and hopes to hold on for the win as he did in the 1991 Doral-Ryder Open. He won the Buick Open in 2000. Austin (1995) and Furyk (2003) are also previous winners.
 
The absence of last year's champion made a noticeable difference in the size of the galleries. Woods isn't defending his title because he is spending time with his wife and their week-old baby.
 
Mediate didn't blame the fans for staying away.
 
'If I had a chance to watch Tiger, I'm watching him. I'm not watching me,' Mediate said.
 
Singh ended his five-year string of appearances at the Buick Open because of an elbow injury.
 
Furyk is the only player other than Woods or Singh to win at Warwick Hills since 2002 and he put himself in contention with his 34th consecutive under-par round at the tournament.
 
'You basically know that you have to keep firing some pretty good numbers here,' Furyk said. 'It would be nice to get an 8 or 9 under.
 
'Historically, someone has gotten to 20 under.'
 
While fans had plenty of elbow room along the ropes, a flock followed John Daly (69) as he shot his first sub-70 round in four months. He was welcomed with a roar at No. 17, a hole known for attracting one of the PGA TOUR's loudest galleries.
 
'I love a rowdy crowd,' Daly said.
 
Daly had a 7 a.m. tee time Thursday, giving him plenty of time to enjoy the rest of his day in a unique setting before beginning the second round at noon Friday.
 
'I'm going to Kid Rock's studio to watch him finish his album,' he said. 'It's been great staying with him this week.'
 
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  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.