Notes Day to Forget for Stadler Home Advantage

By Associated PressMay 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Senior PGA ChampionshipEDMOND, Okla. -- Craig Stadler nearly matched his worst round ever as a professional, shooting a 13-over-par 84 -- even though he didn't three-putt any green. His worst hole was No. 4, on which he recorded a quadruple-bogey 7.
After that, Stadler said he 'just kind of misjudged the wind (for) a few holes and after that it was, just get it over with. And I didn't get it over with very well. I made a hell of a (bogey) 4 on 17' after hitting his first tee shot into the water.
He said he won't drop out of the tournament despite the poor round.
'I will come out and go through the motions and try to play a good round tomorrow,' he said, 'but it's for absolutely nothing other than trying to shoot a good score after today and convince myself that I'm not a 20 handicap.'
Stadler's worst professional round came in the 1978 Tournament Players Championship, when he shot an 85. He also had an 84 in that tournament in 1977 and 1983.
For members of the so-called 'Oak Tree Gang,' conditions at Oak Tree Golf Club on Saturday for the Senior PGA Championship were perfect: hot and windy.
In other words, it was the Oak Tree they'd warned fellow players about.
'It's Oklahoma,' defending champion Mike Reid said, 'and you're going to get days like this.'
Used to playing in such weather, tournament leader Gil Morgan and the other two Oak Tree members still in the tournament, David Edwards and Doug Tewell, either moved up the leaderboard or held their own. At one point, all three were simultaneously on the 15-player board before Tewell dropped off.
Morgan and Tewell were two of the nine players who shot par or better Saturday. Morgan shot an even-par 71 and enters the final round at 6 under. After a 3-over 74, Edwards is in 10th at 1 over, while Tewell's even-par 71 left him at 4 over and tied for 19th.
With the wind routinely blowing between 18 and 25 mph and gusting up to 35 mph, local course knowledge was a definite asset for the Oak Tree golfers, other players said.
'This golf course is a very tough golf course to judge the wind,' said Tom Watson, one of golf's best wind players. 'There's a little home-course advantage when it blows like this.'
Morgan, Edwards and Tewell 'know the areas you don't want to hit it in,' said Loren Roberts, who's tied for third, three shots behind Morgan. 'Every hole has got several of them.'
Tewell was 3 under for his round through 14 holes before bogeys at No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8.
Fellow players 'were worried about the rough getting up, and I said, 'Don't worry about the rough. The wind will dictate the scores here.' It's just a tough day and you just have to stay extremely patient,' Tewell said. 'It was hard over some of those 4-footers just standing still.'
Loren Roberts, who shot an even-par 71, said one shot saved his round Saturday -- the one that led to his 6-foot eagle putt on the 528-yard par-5 16th.
After his drive left him 205 yards from the hole, he pulled out his 3-iron and aimed at a bunker to the right of the green.
'It didn't really hook, but it kind of hit over in the right edge of the green and just kind of circled all the amphitheater there, all the way around to about 6 feet right behind the hole,' Roberts said.
Three other players -- Jim Ahern, Dave Barr and Eduardo Romero -- also recorded an eagle Saturday on No. 16. Of the 14 eagles thus far in the Senior PGA, all but two have come on the 16th hole.
With a 'howling' wind at his back, Peter Jacobsen hit a 7-iron on the par-3, 197-yard No. 4 toward the middle of the green.
'I guess there's a tree there,' he said. 'I didn't realize it was there until my ball caught the tree, fell down in the bank and it was just on the edge of the water.
'So I took my socks off, put my shoes back on, crawled back in there and just tried to get it on the green, which I did. I hit a pretty good shot. I wasn't motivated to go in that water at all, but you get motivated when you can save a stroke.'
Once on the green, Jacobsen two-putted to end up with a bogey. He finished with a 4-over 75 and is three shots behind Gil Morgan.
Only three golfers shot under-par rounds Saturday. Mike McCullough and Dick Mast finished at 2-under 69, while D.A. Weibring fired a 70.
As a result, McCullough jumped from a tie for 55th after the second round into a tie for 14th at 3 over for the tournament. Mast and Weibring are tied for seventh at 1 under.
R.W. Eaks, who was 1 under through two rounds, withdrew from the tournament Saturday after bogeying his first two holes. He cited back problems as his reason for departure ... For the second time in three days, Tom Watson took a double bogey on No. 4, four-putting the hole Saturday after hitting into water Thursday. He shot a 74 Saturday but still is in ninth, trailing Gil Morgan by six shots.
Related Links:
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  • Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

    "The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    “Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.