Ogilvy leads Big Easy just one back in Maui

By Associated PressJanuary 8, 2009, 5:00 pm
PGA TourKAPALUA, Hawaii ' Geoff Ogilvy opened the PGA Tour season Thursday without making bogey on his way to a 6-under 67 and a one-shot lead in the Mercedes-Benz Championship, a score that only surprised him because of the location.
 
In his eight previous rounds on the Plantation course at Kapalua, he had never shot better than 72.
 
But the former U.S. Open champion is coming off a victory in the Australian PGA Championship and a tie for sixth in the Australian Open last month, and he was just as sharp in taking the first-round lead over Ernie Els, Kenny Perry and fast-closing Johnson Wagner.
 
We only finished Australian Open three week ago, Ogilvy said. And three weeks isnt enough to get rusty.
 
Els arrived in Maui having played only once in the last six weeks, and that worked well for him. In his first time to Kapalua in four years, he made only one blunder ' a tee shot into the hazard on the par-5 15th ' to get his season off to a solid start.
 
Wagner, one of a dozen newcomers to the winners-only Mercedes with his victory in the Shell Houston Open, wasnt even in the picture until a birdie-birdie-eagle finish. Perry joined the group at 68 with a birdie on the last hole.
 
Davis Love III, who won the final event of 2008 at Disney, and Ryuji Imada were in the group at 69. Imada ran off seven straight birdies starting at No. 6 ' one short of the PGA Tour record ' but followed that streak with consecutive bogeys.
 
As for all the hype over the youngsters?
 
Anthony Kim wore an Oklahoma hat on the first hole while playing with Florida alum Camilo Villegas before taking it off, and it took awhile for his game to arrive. Kim had a 71, while Villegas had to rally for a 74.
 
It was an idyllic start, as often is the case at Kapalua, with moderate wind, occasional light showers, sunshine, rainbows and plenty of optimism about the new season.
 
I want to have a good season, like everybody, Els said.
 
The Big Easy was off to a phenomenal start with an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole and a 31 on the front nine. He was 6 under through 11 holes, but played the rest of the way at 1 over ' despite playing two par 5s ' and had to settle for a 5-under 68.
 
I would have taken it before I teed off, Els said. But Im a little hot under the collar right now.
 
He hooked his tee shot into the hazard on the 15th, had to take a penalty drop and hit out sideways, and he did well to make bogey. Els had a 4-iron into the green on the par-5 18th, but left it out to the right to avoid trouble on the left, and missed a 10-foot birdie.
 
Ogilvy also finished with a par, but was all smiles.
 
He was rarely in trouble, and the only time he had to get up-and-down was on the par 5s. But with a 3-iron to the 18th green, he pulled it into the hazard, and after a lengthy discussion where to drop, he was faced with a 50-yard pitch, which he hit to 4 feet for par.
 
I havent shot very many good rounds around this course, so maybe thats a surprising thing, said Ogilvy, whose average score was 73.875 in his previous two trips. But the fact that Im playing OK is not surprising.
 
Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway hit the ceremonial tee shot to begin the season, a 350-yard drive that speaks to the elevation, wind and the grain in the grass that makes the Plantation course unlike any other they will play all year.
 
Wagner is among a dozen newcomers to Kapalua, but he arrived last Friday and quickly became acquainted.
 
Ive played Saturday and Sunday, every day Ive been here, and fell in love with the golf course, Wagner said. Its early, but I feel really comfortable out here.
 
He didnt look terribly comfortable on the greens, which can takes years of experience to figure out the slope and grain. But it all came together at the end, with a 10-foot birdie down the slope on the 16th, a 25-foot birdie across the grain on the 17th and his 18-foot eagle on the final hole.
 
It was a great finish, and turned a 71 into 68 real quick, Johnson said.
 
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  • Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

    By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

    He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

    The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

    Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

    Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

    3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

    5/2: Rory McIlroy

    7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

    9/2: Justin Rose

    5/1: Brooks Koepka

    15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

    10/1: Adam Scott

    12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

    15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

    20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

    25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

    30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes

    Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    FALLING

    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.