Notes Mud Balls Causing Concern

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2005, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ernie Els warned it could be a sloppy, muddy opening round at The Players Championship.
Turns out, the Big Easy was right.
Several players, including Els, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, had problems with mud clumps sticking to golf balls and altering shot flights Thursday at the TPC's Stadium Course.

Woods mentioned the glop four times during his brief interview after the round.
``I just tried to get by with some mud balls,'' said Woods, who shot a 2-under 70.
Rain hit the Jacksonville area Monday and Tuesday, drenching a course designed to handle the water. Still, the fairways were mushy, meaning second shots were adventures pros aren't accustomed to -- and certainly not at a tournament considered by many the fifth major.
Singh said he had a lot of ``suspect lies.''
``You can hit all the fairways you want in conditions like this,'' he said, ``it doesn't matter (because) there's mud on the ball.''
Singh overcame the problems for a 5-under 67, three shots behind leader Steve Jones.
On Woods' final hole, the ninth, he said he cut a shot he normally wouldn't to offset the mud on the ball's right side. ``It started out cutting and ended up hooking left,'' he said.
Woods made the birdie.
On Tuesday, Els cautioned that muddy balls could bring trouble. He shot a first-round 71.
``If we have mud on the ball, there is no way you can control it, period,'' Els said. ``And on this golf course, which is tough enough already, you hit it in the fairway, you want to have a good lie.''
Not everyone agreed. Fred Funk, who calls Ponte Vedra Beach home, said the conditions were better than he expected. ``It was surprising how dry it was for the amount of rain we had,'' he said.
Els won't sleep easy, though. He feels the worst is ahead.
``When they cut these fairways, I really think we're going to get some mud on the ball then because it's really going to compress as it hits,'' he said after his round.
If Brett Quigley succeeds this week, he'll know who to thank.
``My crazy uncle, for sure,'' said Quigley, referring to Uncle Dana, who's won nine times on the Champions Tour, including this year's MasterCard Championship.
The younger Quigley said his uncle pushed him to get off the range and onto the course during the winter. It must have helped. Quigley shot a 5-under 67 and stood three strokes off the lead at The Players Championship.
Brett typically takes four weeks off after the season and then starts his range work. His uncle challenged him to change this year. Brett listened and says it's paying off in an improved game.
``I probably only practiced two hours in two months,'' Brett said. ``Instead I played every day and hit a bunch of shots and learned how to score again.''
The fans gathered around the first tee recognized the face and the name of David Duval, who grew up in Jacksonville and remains a favorite in these parts. But he was introduced as being from Denver, where he moved last year after getting married.
And the game doesn't look familiar.
Duval won The Players Championship in 1999 to rise to No. 1 in the world, but is mired in a massive slump brought on my injuries and confidence. The only good part about his 76 was playing even par on the back nine, helped by a 20-foot eagle putt on the 16th.
``I'm playing good golf,'' Duval said. ``I've just got to do it out on the golf course.''
John Daly played the first hole twice Thursday.
He hit the ball down the fairway and had a two-putt par on No. 1. Then on the adjacent par-5 second, his tee shot went left into a tree, ricocheted left, bounced off a cart path and landed in the rough on the No. 1, about 20 yards away from his opening drive.
Blocked by trees, he figured his best option was to play down the first fairway. He went too long into the rough, then chip over the trees just short of the hazard on the second fairway, hit onto the green and made bogey.
``Always wanted to play the first hole backward,'' Daly said to himself after hitting the third shot.
Mark Calcavecchia shot 71 and called it a miracle.
His back has been bothering him all week, and a hard swing out of the rough on No. 4 nearly brought him to his knees.
Just his luck, the back specialist for partner Tommy Armour III was following that group and was able to work on Calcavecchia's back as he headed to the fifth tee.
``It's safe to say I played in the most pain I've ever felt,'' Calcavecchia said. ``I don't know if I can tough it out for three more days. I've got 23 hours to recover.''
Hunter Mahan, a college golf star at Oklahoma State two years ago, had a 68 in his first round at the Stadium Course. He had four straight birdies from Nos. 3-6. ... Luke Donald says he doesn't plan to leave Chicago, near his college of Northwestern, anytime soon despite the trouble getting in some rounds during winter. Donald says he's looking to buy a second home in Florida.
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard

    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry