Monty, Langer set to clash at hot U.S. Senior Open

By Associated PressJune 24, 2015, 11:59 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The biggest challenge facing the field at the U.S. Senior Open is to beat the heat and two timeless wonders who continue to find their way to the top of the leaderboard at major championships.

Sweating out each could prove equally problematic.

With a triple-digit temperature forecast Thursday and Friday in California's capital city, the toughest test on the Champions Tour has some added sizzle.

Bust out the sunscreen and sunglasses. Load up on water and soak up the shade. Between the competition and the conditions, this U.S. Senior Open should be a scorcher.

''We old guys like heat. We don't like cold. We like it hot. Keeps our bones and everything loose,'' quipped 65-year-old Tom Watson, an eight-time major champion on the PGA Tour. ''You get it below 80 degrees, and we start putting our cashmeres on.''

Navigating through the 72-hole grind of the national championship for seniors is always difficult. Doing it in 100-plus degree heat against a pair of past champions consistently wearing down opponents is another matter.

Besides the thermometer, all eyes will be on defending champion Colin Montgomerie and 2010 U.S. Senior Open winner Bernhard Langer at Del Paso Country Club, a green oasis in rain-deprived Northern California (the club says its water is drawn from an old, private well).

Montgomerie and Langer have combined to win six of the previous seven senior major championships. They're the leading money-getters on tour and the favorites to finish on top again.

''They seem to just continue to play the same all the time. They both are in contention on a weekly basis,'' said 50-year-old Lee Janzen, one of the youngest players on the Champions Tour.

The 52-year-old Montgomerie, who finished in a tie for 64th at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay on Sunday, captured his second consecutive Senior PGA Championship this year. The Scot beat Gene Sauers in a three-hole aggregate playoff to win last year's U.S. Senior Open in scorching heat at Oak Tree in Oklahoma.

The 57-year-old Langer won his second straight Senior Players Championship this year. The German has won five senior majors, tied for fifth most. Jack Nicklaus is the record-holder with eight.

Langer and Montgomerie, friends and former Ryder Cup partners, are grouped with amateur Patrick Tallen in the first two rounds. They're scheduled to tee off in the afternoon Thursday, when the forecast high is 104 degrees.

''I'm not a big fan of heat,'' said Langer, a two-time Masters champion who lives in hot and humid South Florida now. ''I'd rather put a sweater on and play in the 60s and 70s.''

While Montgomerie has won three senior majors the past two years, Langer has been the barometer on the Champions Tour since joining in 2007.

His six-stroke victory at the Senior Players Championship two weeks ago at Belmont Country Club was his 24th win on the Champions Tour. He has been the money leader six of the last seven years and is second on the money list this season behind Montgomerie, who has played one more tournament.

''It will be fun. It is fun playing with him. You know exactly where you are, where you stand the first two days,'' Montgomerie said.

The challengers for Langer and Montgomerie are vast and varied.

There are 28 past USGA champions, 27 amateurs and 84 sectional qualifiers among the field of 156. That includes three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin and players such as Miguel Angel Jimenez and Kenny Perry who have contended in majors on the PGA Tour in recent years. It does not include Fred Couples; the 1992 Masters champion withdrew because of a back injury.

The nearly 7,000-yard, par-70 course has some uneven lies but is about as straightforward as California courses come. The trick is to stay out of the long, lush rough and control the speed on the fast fairways and fickle greens - all of which will be tougher as the temperature rises and the competition heats up.

''Just stay in the shade as much as possible because it will be quite a while out there,'' Montgomerie said. ''The course is playing difficult. It could take up to five hours to play, unfortunately, and that's a long time to have the concentration out there that one needs to win this type of championship.''

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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?''

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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.

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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. 

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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.