Notes Jake Makes Ace Els Phil Fall

By Associated PressJune 18, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Peter Jacobsen knew his shot was good. Then he worried that it might have rolled over the green, like so many other at Pinehurst No. 2.
Not this one. Jacobsen's 7-iron was pure, and the ball plopped right into the hole after a couple of bounces for a hole in one Saturday in the third round of the U.S. Open, the first ace of the championship. More importantly, it was part of a 1-under 69 that put the 51-year-old member of the Champions Tour in a tie for 11th.
Only leader Retief Goosen matched Jacobsen's score.
'If I said I thought I could win, I'd be lying,' Jacobsen said. 'I thought I could make the cut and play well. I've always been a fairly accurate driver, and always been a fairly good iron player. The U.S. Open is right down my alley.'
He hasn't been in an Open since 1996, when he tied for 23rd at Oakland Hills behind winner Steve Jones, so after a victory in the U.S. Senior Open a year ago, Jacobsen was quick to take advantage of the USGA exemption to play at the course where good friend Payne Stewart won in 1999.
Jacobsen has other fond memories of the Open, including a 67 in the final round in 1984 while paired with Tom Watson.
He also won a fictional Open championship in the movie 'Tin Cup,' taking advantage of an implosion on the final hole by Roy McAvoy, the character portrayed by Kevin Costner.
'That's the one I beat Don Johnson and Kevin Costner. That was easy,' Jacobsen said. 'Those guys are like 8 handicaps.'
This is the first time Jacobsen played on the weekend at a major since the 1997 PGA Championship, where he finished tied for 67th. And he has no illusions about what might happen Sunday.
'This may sound crazy, but just being here this week and playing well on Thursday and Friday and having a chance to play on the weekend is very special in itself,' he said. 'So whatever happens, whatever the USGA wanted to serve up, I was ready to take.'
Ernie Els is badly in need of some time off, and he might be willing to miss two of his favorite golf courses to recharge his batteries.
After twice turning potential birdies into double bogeys and shooting a 72 on Saturday, Els said he would skip the Barclays Classic next week at Westchester so he could go home to England. The only other tournament he had planned to play between now and British Open is the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, and he might miss that, too.
'I probably need a good break, come back with a bit of fire,' Els said.
The Big Easy won twice in a row at Westchester. He also is a two-time winner at Loch Lomond, one of his favorite tracks on the European tour.
'I love the Scottish, but we'll see how it goes,' he said.
Els said if he takes three weeks away from tournament golf, he might play some links to get ready for St. Andrews.
As for his round, he managed to get to 2-under despite hitting the ball in the rough. He was primed to make birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 13th with huge drives down the fairway, but wound up with double bogeys.
Nothing was more frustrating than 378-yard 13th, where his drive landed some 30 yards from the green. His sand wedge rolled back down the slope, then a low pitch shot rolled back to his feet. He got the next one to stay on the green about 10 feet away and two-putted for 6.
'It's just brain-dead stuff,' Els said.
Phil Mickelson nearly got the 18 pars he wanted in the third round, finishing with 16. Unfortunately, one of the others was a triple bogey.
He lost his drive out of bounds on the fourth hole - a reachable par-5 that is the easiest hole this week at Pinehurst - and reloaded on the tee. The rest of the hole wasn't much better and he ended up with an 8.
A birdie at the difficult 16th left him with a 72 and an 8-over total of 218.
'I played great,' Mickelson said. 'I drove it the best I have in a long time, and that one hole, it's just one tough hole. The thing is you just can't make any birdies out here or try to make birdies.'
And when he completed his round just as the leaders teed off, Lefty wasn't quite ready to give up have a chance at winning the tournament.
'I understand realistically that might be the case, but the way I look at it is Johnny Miller shot 63 in the Open at Oakmont, and I'm not going to go into tomorrow's round feeling as though I don't have a shot,' Mickelson said. 'I just feel that I can shoot a low score out there, even though I'll have to make 30-, 40-footers to do it.'
Most amateurs would be happy simply to make the cut at the U.S. Open. Yet even as he did that, Matthew Every still couldn't help but think mostly about what might have been.
The rising senior at the University of Florida shot a 3-over 73 in the third round, staying in front of Ryan Moore in the race for low-amateur honors. Every's total of 221 is two shots better than Moore.
The margin could have been greater if Every had gotten the most out of his game in the second round.
'I felt like I played very well, but I tried my best to miss the cut,' he said. 'The first 10 or 11 holes, I struck the ball really as good as I could hit it, and I think I was 4-over par. That's just what Pinehurst is all about.
'I feel like I've done 75 percent of the job this week, but it's just been 25 percent just missing, not holing enough putts and really not hitting enough fairways.'
Moore, the defending U.S. Amateur champ who turns pro next week at Westchester, shot 75 Saturday to match his score from the first round, yet felt he played much better.
'The difference between the first round and this round is leaps and bounds,' he said. 'Unfortunately, the score is the same. Just a few places that got away from me and that's what cost me.'
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''

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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

    The Champion Course always plays tough, ranking annually among the most challenging on the PGA Tour. With a very dry February, the course is firmer and faster than it typically plays.

    “Today was not easy,” Woods said. “It's going to get more difficult because these greens are not the best . . . Some of these putts are a bit bouncy . . . There's no root structure. You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens, so that shows you there's not a lot of root structure.”

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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.