Notes DiMarco Easy Target

By Associated PressNovember 5, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Tour Championship by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Chris DiMarco wasn't in the best of moods after hitting a ball in the water at No. 17, leading to a double bogey.
 
Then he heard something that made him feel even worse.
 
Chris DiMarco'Go Dogs!' someone in the gallery shouted.
 
DiMarco was a good-natured target at the Tour Championship on Friday, which he knew he would be. A proud alumnus of the University of Florida, he has the school's logo on his bag and uses Gators head covers.
 
Last weekend, Florida lost to Georgia for the first time since 1997 and only the second time in 15 years. The pro-Bulldog crowd at East Lake Golf Club made sure DiMarco was aware of the outcome.
 
'Oh yeah, I heard a few 'Go Dogs' out there,' he said after shooting a 71 that left him 3 over at the midway point of the season-ending tournament. 'But it's all in good fun. I'm fine with it. Even when we were winning, they still needled me. At least they had something to hold over me this time.'
 
DiMarco did mumble '2-13' a few times when heckled by Georgia fans, which he described as 'the only thing I've got left.'
 
Well, there's one other way he could get back at the Bulldog Nation.
 
'Hopefully, Kentucky will pull it out tomorrow and I'll be able to break out my 'Go Cats' hat for the final round,' DiMarco said, rooting for the Wildcats to upset Georgia (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) on Saturday.
 
DiMarco had hoped that Steve Spurrier would return to coach the Gators after Ron Zook was fired. In fact, Spurrier was playing at DiMarco's pro-am in central Florida when the school announced Zook was out at the end of the season.
 
'We talked to [Spurrier] about the job. We tried to get him to come back,' DiMarco said. 'He seemed excited about it then.'
 
But Spurrier announced Thursday that he wasn't interested in returning to the Gators, which has DiMarco pushing a new candidate.
 
'Bob Stoops,' he blurted out at fellow Tour pro Todd Hamilton, as they both worked the autograph line following their rounds.
 
Hamilton went to college at Oklahoma, where Stoops is the coach. He has been mentioned as a candidate to replace Zook, having served as defensive coordinator under Spurrier.
 
Hamilton didn't seem too worried about Stoops going back to Florida.
 
'I read in the paper today that he's not interested,' Hamilton said.
 
DiMarco didn't let up. 'You can just say you heard it here first, Todd.'
 
Out of Place
Stephen Ames may live in Canada, but he's not a big fan of chilly weather.
 
Ames wanted to play as late as possible Saturday in the Tour Championship -- especially when he noticed that the tee times had been moved up two hours from what they were the first two rounds.
 
The motivating tactic paid off. Ames shot a 4-under 66 Friday, leaving him in second place two strokes behind Jay Haas.
 
They'll play together in the third round, in the last twosome of the day.
 
'My first goal was to get the last tee time so it would be a little warmer when I teed off,' Ames said. 'Seriously.'
 
Ames is a native of Trinidad, a balmy island near South America. But he's now a Canadian citizen living in Calgary, where the winters are frigid.
 
'Yeah, but I don't play golf in it,' he said. 'There's a difference.'
 
Ames qualified for his first Tour Championship by ranking ninth on the money list with more than $3 million in earnings. He won for the first time on the PGA Tour at the Western Open and finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
 
Ames wasn't surprised to be playing so well at East Lake, having worked hard to change his mental approach.
 
'Believing that I was good enough to be there, in this position that I am now,' he said. 'That was the hardest thing.'
 
As for improvements in his swing, he points to a European Tour event in which he was paired with Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam -- 'the two purest ball strikers in Europe at the time.'
 
'That was a turning point for me to look for a coach that was capable of teaching me that,' Ames recalled.
 
It showed Friday. He began a run of three straight birdies at No. 3, hitting a wedge to 20 feet and sinking the putt.
 
Defending Champ Withdraws
It was one year ago that Chad Campbell earned his breakthrough win at the Tour Championship.
 
He won't be repeating.
 
Campbell withdrew after the second round because of a family illness. PGA Tour officials had no other details.
 
Campbell was already far out of contention, in a tie for 25th 13 strokes behind Haas.
 
Shot of the Day
Phil Mickelson struggled to a 72 despite hitting the best shot of the day at the very first hole.
 
After a perfect drive into the middle of the fairway, Lefty holed out a 9-iron from 136 yards for an eagle.
 
That sent the East Lake crowd into a frenzy, but Mickelson couldn't take keep it going. He barely cleared the water at par-3 No. 2 and took bogey.
 
Mickelson was 3 over after two rounds, 10 strokes behind Haas.
 
Rankin Injured
Television analyst Judy Rankin didn't take part in Friday's coverage after taking a spill near the East Lake clubhouse.
 
She banged her knees and skinned her face, prompting network officials to give her the day off. She's expected to return for Saturday's coverage by ABC.
 
ESPN, which is owned by the same company as ABC, televised the first two rounds.
 
Divots
This probably wasn't the sort of image the PGA Tour wants to project: A plane flew above East Lake during the second round pulling a sign that touted free admission to a prominent Atlanta strip club to anyone with a golf ticket. ... As Darren Clarke walked off 18, he asked the kid carrying the scoring sign if he played golf. 'Yes sir,' the youngster replied. 'You can have this,' Clarke said, pulling a club from his bag. The kid took the club with a stunned smile.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - The Tour Championship
  • Full Coverage - The Tour Championship
     
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  • Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

    Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.