Notes: Walker stays hot with Round 1 Match Play win

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2014, 1:22 am

MARANA, Ariz. – Jimmy Walker has been at the front of the pack all season on the PGA Tour. He got a jump on the field in the Match Play Championship, too.

The Texan was the first player to reach the second round Wednesday at Dove Mountain, finishing off South Africa's Branden Grace 5 and 4 before the last dozen matches even started.

''You want to get the first one out of the way and move on to the next round,'' Walker said. ''You just want to keep doing that. It's nice to get a win early. ... I've been playing a lot of golf and it will be nice to kind of relax a little bit this afternoon.''

Walker won at Pebble Beach two weeks ago for his third victory in nine starts this season. He also won the season-opening event at CordeValle in October and at Waialae in January. Before this season, he was winless in 187 PGA Tour starts.

''It's just validation for me, a lot of years being out here and working hard,'' Walker said. ''And to see it all kind of pay off, that's what I've been waiting for.''

Walker will face Rickie Fowler in the second round. Fowler beat Ian Poulter 2 and 1, playing directly ahead of Walker in the first match of the day.

''Rickie and I have a lot in common,'' Walker said. ''He's a good dude.''

Walker and Fowler work with instructor Butch Harmon.

''Jimmy Walker is hands down the best player in the world right now,'' Fowler said. ''It's going to be a tough match. I know he's a great ball-striker, he's been making a lot of putts and has a lot of confidence right now.''

Walker is playing his first match-play event since the 2000 U.S. Amateur Public Links – the summer between his junior and senior seasons at Baylor.

''I made it to the quarters,'' Walker said. ''So, did pretty well. And was at U.S. Am, but missed match play by a shot or something. But it's been a while.''

Walker won Nos. 3-5, the last two with birdies, to take a 3-up lead and went 4 up with a par on the par-5 eighth. He lost the par-5 11th, took the par-5 13th with a conceded birdie, and finished off Grace with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th.

''I feel like I'm hitting well,'' Walker said. ''I feel like I'm playing well. So, yeah, I'm feeling confident and excited about the rest of the week.''


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MATCH-PLAY MAESTRO: Defending champion Matt Kuchar beat Austria's Bernd Wiesberger 3 and 2 to improve to 16-3 in the event.

''I feel like my strengths are not giving holes away,'' Kuchar said. ''This is a unique golf course and it's real easy to get on the wrong side of things here, real easy to miss a green and just put it in a place where you can't get it up-and-down.

''So, I feel like I know the course pretty well. And I strategically feel like I can work my way around and not give away too many holes.''

He did give away the par-4 14th when he forgot to move back his coin on the green after moving the marker out of Wiesberger's line.

''I kind of just fell in love with watching his ball roll out and getting the line,'' Kuchar said. ''And then I think the situation took over that here I was with a 16-footer to win the match and felt really good about the line, and I completely forget to move the mark back. ...

''So made the putt, thought that was the end of the match, shook hands. And there were a couple of questions. I think Bernd asked my caddie, Lance (Bennett), had I remembered to move the mark back. And it came to me and I said, 'Son of a gun, I did not move the mark back.'''

Instead, of a 5-and-4 victory, Kuchar needed two more holes to finish off Wiesberger.

Kuchar will face Ryan Moore in the second round. Moore beat Joost Luiten 1 up.


MEDAL COUNT: Fifteen of the 27 U.S. players advanced to the second round, with the Americans going 10-6 against European opponents.

Only 10 of the 25 European players reached the second round.

Five of the six South Africans – Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, George Coetzee and Richard Sterne – and all three Swedes – Henrik Stenson, Peter Hanson and Jonas Blixt – advanced. Justin Rose was the only one of the five English players to win, and Sergio Garcia was the lone Spaniard in the four-player contingent to advance.


WEATHER REPORT: A year after snow covered the cactus-lined course, play opened in partly cloudy conditions with a high around 80 degrees.

On Thursday and Friday, the forecast highs are around 75. It is expected to be a little warmer over the weekend, with forecast highs of 78 on Saturday and 79 on Sunday.

Last year, first-round play was suspended when rain gave way to snow from a storm that dumped close to 2 inches and dropped the temperature to 33 degrees. In 2011, the championship match was delayed by snow.


DIVOTS: Hunter Mahan improved to 16-5 in the event, beating Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano 3 and 2. Mahan won the 2012 title and finished second last year. ... The first-round losers received $48,000. The winner will get $1.53 million from the $9 million purse. Second place is worth $906,000, third $630,000 and fourth $510,000. The quarterfinal losers will get $280,000, the third-round losers $148,000, and the second-round losers $99,000.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."