Notes Duval Opens Under Par

By Associated PressMarch 23, 2006, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- In another sign The Players Championship is not quite a major, only about 200 people were in the bleachers behind the first tee Thursday morning. Still, they were vocal when one of their own was announced, even if David Duval left town a few years ago.
Duval now lives in Denver with his wife and four children, and he recently sold his Ponte Vedra Beach home. But he said the emotion is different at Sawgrass than other PGA TOUR events.

'A little bit. Maybe not as much as I used to,' Duval said.
The golf was vaguely familiar as Duval, who won The Players Championship in 1999 to rise to No. 1 in the world, recovered from some errant tee shots to make three birdies on the back nine in an opening round of 1-under 71.
'I finally scored,' Duval said. 'For the round I played as far as ball-striking, it was one of the worst of the year.'
It looked worse than that at the beginning.
His first tee shot went well left, landing on a cart path and bouncing 25 yards into the woods. He hit over the pines to the fringe and two-putted for par. He hooked the next shot so badly that it hit a tree it went only 200 yards, yet he made par there.
'I was a little tight starting out,' Duval said. 'Fortunately for me, last week and this week I haven't had my back bothering me. It takes me a while to get fully loose, and I think I'm a little bit anxious starting out.'
Duval has made three of six cuts this year as his game slowly improves. He hasn't made the cut at Sawgrass since 2002, but he is off to good start.
Ben Crane wasn't sure what to expect when he teed off Thursday. His back has bothered him so much that he has played only four times this year, and withdrew in one of those tournaments (Buick Invitational) after the first round.
Finishing in good health was a good sign, even if he ended with a ball in the water for a double bogey.
'I haven't played golf for quite a while, being injured for most of the year,' Crane said after a 68. 'I'm just excited to be playing again, and excited to have played well.'
Crane's back problems stems from his swing, and he has been working with Titleist and swing coach Butch Harmon to alter a swing that won't put so much pressure on his back. It has taken him time -- a lot of time over shots -- to make the adjustments, and he's making progress.
Now he needs a steady diet of playing tournaments. The last stroke-play event he completed was the Bob Hope Classic the third week of January.
'I feel like my game is improving,' he said. 'But I don't know exactly where I'm at.'
James Driscoll is one of 15 players who made their first start in The Players Championship on Thursday, which includes an indoctrination to the infamous par-3 17th.
Driscoll came up short, into the water. From the drop area, he spun it down the slope and barely stayed on the green. Then he made a 45-foot putt to escape with only a bogey, on his way to a 71.
Others weren't so fortunate on the most high-charged hole in golf.
Scott McCarron and Bob Estes each hit two balls into the water and made 7s. Ted Purdy thought he was home free when he barely stayed on the green, but then he chipped through the green and into the water.
In all, 15 players hit into the water.
It's safe to say Sergio Garcia was not happy about a 2-under 70.
'To be sincere, I think I played like (dirt),' Garcia said. 'I didn't play very good at all. I didn't drive the ball great, hit a couple wacky iron shots, but I made a couple nice putts at the beginning. I guess I managed to get a half-decent round. Overall, not too bad.'
Garcia wasn't entirely blowing smoke. He hit only nine greens, but took only 24 putts.
Ultimately, a 70 is a 70 no matter what anyone says.
Two-time champion Steve Elkington withdrew Thursday because of a groin injury, and was replaced by Nathan Green. That made it three PGA TOUR rookies at The Players Championship, an unusually higher number because the bulk of the field comes from the top 125 on last year's money list.
J.B. Holmes got in by winning Phoenix, and made his TPC debut with a 71.
Camilo Villegas, 15th on the money list, was the first alternate who got in when Chris DiMarco withdrew. The Colombian lost his tee shot on No. 10 for double bogey and wound up with a 74, making it unlikely he will finish in the top five and earn enough money to get into the Masters.
Green was in the playoff at Torrey Pines won by Tiger Woods. Green opened with a 72.
Shigeki Maruyama withdrew because of a back injury. He opened with a 78. ... Ben Curtis and Craig Barlow were the only players who failed to register a birdie. Curtis shot 73, while Barlow shot 80. ... Ernie Els was 3 under and moving toward the leaders when he went bogey-double bogey on the 14th and 15th holes, shooting even-par 72. ... Greg Owen's, whose three-putt from 3 feet on the 17th hole cost him a victory at Bay Hill, needs to finish in the top 20 this week to have a chance at getting into the top 50 and earning a spot in the Masters. He opened with a 71.
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    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm

    Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

    Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

    Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

    The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.