Overton out front early at Turning Stone

By Associated PressOctober 2, 2008, 4:00 pm
Turning Stone Resort ChampionshipVERONA, N.Y. ' The sky cleared just in time for Jeff Overton.
Teeing off on what became a bright late afternoon after a cold, soggy morning, Overton shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Turning Stone Resort Championship, the second stop on the PGA Tours Fall Series.
Overton, who started at the 10th hole, made three birdies on the front side to take a one-shot lead over Michael Allen and Steve Allan.
Tag Ridings, Carlos Franco, and Jason Day were tied for fourth at 69. Another shot back were Briny Baird, Bo Van Pelt, Kent Jones, Mark Hensby, Tommy Gainey, Sterling Scott, Paul Claxton and Troy Matteson, who had a bogey-free round.
Defending Turning Stone champ Steve Flesch, a black knit cap pulled tightly over his ears in brisk conditions that never rose much above 50 degrees, shot a 74.
The inaugural Turning Stone Championship last September was played under near ideal conditions with little wind and temperatures in the 80s. At the start of play Thursday, it was 48 degrees with intermittent rain and a steady 20 mph wind, a day to watch Canada geese fly south, not little white balls soaring where they werent meant to go. Only 27 players broke par.
It can tire you out, and itll get you towards the end of the round, said Ridings, who teed off in early morning. I think it helps more than anything starting the round. You get rid of jitters and you get rid of wayward thoughts because you have to concentrate on that stuff.
When the sun broke through, it made playing more bearable.
My last six holes, it definitely played a little bit easier, said the 25-year-old Overton. The morning was so nasty. The wind was just howling.
Allen, who finished second to Flesch last year, finished his round wearing a golf shirt and was smiling despite having left 100-degree weather at his Arizona home to come to upstate New York.
The conditions made the 7,482-yard Atunyote Golf Club course play much longer and promised to make it difficult to match Fleschs winning total of 18 under in 2007. Its totally different, Allen said. Its playing a lot more difficult.
The adverse conditions didnt prevent some great shots, though. Day holed out from 117 yards for eagle at the par-4 14th hole, Franco chipped in from 20 feet for eagle at the par-5 fifth hole and also drained a 70-foot birdie putt at the par-3 sixth hole, and Van Pelt hit a hybrid from 235 yards to 15 feet and also made eagle at No. 5.
Wow, this is tough talking because I cant believe I shot 3 under, said the 43-year-old Franco, who birdied three of the four par 3s. The days conditions are really, really difficult. Every shot is difficult. Its cold and your hands, you lose the feeling, and the wind, it didnt stop, then it rain and stop and rain and stop. Thats very difficult to focus.
Despite the inclement weather, the greens remained firm, perfectly smooth and lightning quick.
I mean, I was pretty lucky, said Allan, who had five birdies to go with one bogey. One of my birdies I was actually in the trees. I had a go at getting it through the tree, which got it on the green, and then holed a really long, like probably a 70-footer, which was the first birdie of day. That kind of got me going.
Of the leaders, Van Pelt might have been wearing the biggest smile. A former star in college at Oklahoma State, he was well-versed in playing in difficult conditions.
I like it when its windy. The tougher the better, Van Pelt said. We had plenty of days like this in Stillwater. You knew it was going to be bad for everybody, so you just try to have a good attitude.
But it wasnt easy. It was pretty darn cold and nasty this morning. I dont think anybodys got an advantage. I think the best advantage you have is if youve got a good attitude. You get a bad attitude in weather like this, and you might as well just go home.
Home is where Brad Faxon has been for more than a year, and he could have picked a different tournament to start his comeback from surgery on his right knee last December. But Turning Stone is within driving distance of his Rhode Island home, and he was glad he made the trip, even after shooting a 76.
Its hard to stay focused, said Faxon, who still has trouble squatting to line up putts. Im still a little bit timid, dont think Im swinging as hard as I can. But I thought today was OK. Its a good story just getting back and playing 18 holes.
The top 125 players on the money list at the end of the season will retain fully exempt status to play on the PGA Tour in 2009.
That makes this event, the richest in the Fall Series with a $6 million purse, oh-so-meaningful. Day is ranked 129th in money with just under $600,000, three spots ahead of Allen, Overton is 142nd, Ridings 152nd, Franco 163rd, Hensby 164th, Allan 167th, and Jones 185th. First place pays $1.08 million, which would vault the 20-year-old Day near the top 50 and the others inside the top 100.
You get to this point in the season, youve got to play well, Allen said. Your jobs on the line.
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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”