Notes Sabbatini Sets Pace Toms Solid

By Associated PressJune 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
PINEHURST, N.C. -- Rory Sabbatini had no reason to complain about the pace of play Thursday -- at least for the first nine holes.
 
As a part of the first threesome off the first tee, Sabbatini and his group breezed through the front and eventually completed their round in a tidy 4 hours and 45 minutes. Not bad for a U.S. Open.
 
'The pace out there wasn't bad,' he said after a 72.
 
That wasn't the case last week at the Booz Allen Classic, when Sabbatini drew the ire of television commentator Paul Azinger for putting out of turn on 17 to protest the slow play of playing partner Ben Crane. Sabbatini also stormed to the 18th tee before Crane finished.
 
In an attempt to put the incident behind him, Sabbatini issued a statement Monday apologizing for his conduct, although he still heard at least a few fans berate him for it.
 
'Unfortunately, there's still a few critics out there who made comments in the crowd, but they're obviously narrow-minded and haven't bothered to pay attention to what's going on,' he said. 'It's going to happen. Everybody thinks they have their opinion, and they're entitled to it.'
 
In the locker room, the reaction has been mostly positive, and a few players let Sabbatini know they appreciated him for highlighting what is a big problem on tour.
 
'There have been people saying that, but maybe I didn't handle it in the right way,' he said. 'It's something that the players' board and tour will look at and handle in an appropriate manner.'
 
FATHER TOMS:
David Toms got very little out of his game Thursday. Right now, he would take three more days just like it.
 
Considered by many to be one of the favorites at the U.S. Open, Toms didn't hurt his chances with an even-par 70 in the first round at Pinehurst. He missed only one fairway and hit 12 greens in regulation, a difficult task on the turtlebacked greens at No. 2.
 
'It was tough to keep the ball in play, and I did that, but I just didn't make any putts,' Toms said. 'I played really solid golf, and just didn't get a whole lot out of it.'
 
His round might have seemed a little worse than it was, since he played alongside Rocco Mediate, who shot 67.
 
But Toms, who won the Match Play Championship earlier this year for his 11th career victory, has few complaints. He sits fourth on the money list and was playing well coming into this week, and nothing he did Thursday changed that.
 
Maybe he can add an Open title to his 2001 PGA Championship.
 
'I had a good feeling about my game,' he said. 'You know, I can't control the other guys. For me, I feel good about where I am, and I think I can shoot a good score on this golf course. It's just putting myself in a position to do that, and I've got to make some putts to have any chance to win this golf tournament.'
 
Toms has more than golf on his mind. His wife, Sonya, is expecting their second child next week, and the couple has a C-section scheduled Monday. Of course, if the father needs to hang around for an extra day in a playoff, that can always be postponed.
 
'I don't know if I have the final say-so in that, but we're excited about it. It's a good time,' Toms said.
 
JONES IS BACK:
Nine years after his surprising U.S. Open victory at Oakland Hills, Steve Jones was back near the top of the leaderboard, finishing with an up-and-down round of 69.
 
He had only two pars among four birdies and three bogeys on the front, then closed with a more consistent inward nine for his best score in this event since 1997.
 
'That's kind of part of the way I've been playing,' Jones said. 'Jekyll and Hyde, on and off. I never know who's going to show up.'
 
So far in 2005, his best finish is a tie for 36th in the FBR Open, and he is 186th on the money list with just more than $89,000. Jones has made only five cuts in 13 starts this year, and his struggles might be because he's a bit rusty.
 
He missed most of the previous two seasons after elbow surgery, but for one day at least, he had his game back.
 
'First, I was concerned if I was ever going to play again,' Jones said. 'Once it felt like it was getting better, I wasn't sure how long it would last, how much pressure or how much pounding can it take hitting balls. And once I started doing that in January, February, March, then I kind of felt like, 'I'm OK.''
 
SOLID COOK:
John Cook is in the U.S. Open for the first time since 2002. Another round like the one Thursday should keep him around for the weekend.
 
Injuries kept him sidelined almost all of 2003, and he received a major medical extension for last season. But he made the cut in only nine of 19 starts and finished outside the top 125 for the only the third time in his 25-year career.
 
So he took advantage of his one-time exemption as one of the top 50 on the PGA Tour's career money list for 2005. He hasn't quite found his game yet, with a tie for 22nd his best result, yet was very solid in the first round at Pinehurst for a 71.
 
'I haven't played poorly, I just haven't played good enough to do any good,' Cook said. 'I haven't shot many high rounds. I haven't shot many low rounds, and 70 and 71 doesn't cut it out here anymore.'
 
He has been coming to Pinehurst since his college days at Ohio State, and also played in the old Hall of Fame Classic in the early 1980s. In 1999, when the Open came to No. 2 for the first time, he made the cut and tied for 60th.
 
'I loved it from the time I saw it,' Cook said. 'I grew up loving classic courses. It's changed a lot since I first saw it. It's an extreme test, there's no doubt.'
 
DIVOTS:
Chris DiMarco, paired with Tiger Woods and Luke Donald, recovered from an inconsistent first nine after starting on No. 10 with three consecutive birdies on the front. A 2-under 33 closed out a 71 in the first round. ... Fred Couples didn't make his first par until his eighth hole. He started with consecutive bogeys, then had three birdies in a row before making another pair of bogeys. ... Last year, Jay Haas led following the first round at Shinnecock Hills. He likely won't make the cut at Pinehurst after an 82, which included no birdies and a 43 on the back nine.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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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, GolfChannel.com 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 Web.com 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 Web.com 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