Perez gets special congratulations after first win

By Associated PressJanuary 26, 2009, 5:00 pm
50th Bob Hope Chrylser ClassicLA QUINTA, Calif. ' Pat Perez's first PGA Tour victory was made even more special by winning with a certain silver-haired gentleman in the crowd at No. 18.
 
I feel privileged to win the tournament that Mr. (Arnold) Palmer won 50 years ago, and now hes back hosting it, Perez said Sunday after he shot a 3-under 69 to win the Bob Hope Classic by three shots.
 
I feel honored that he was there to shake my hand when I got done, and hes such a legend that its just a great feeling on top of everything else.
 
Perez, who had lost leads on windy days in the past, survived a gusty final 18 holes at the Hope to finish the five-day tournament at 33-under 327. He got help from Steve Stricker, who held a three-shot lead going into the final 18 holes only to balloon to a 77 in the finale.
 
John Merrick, beginning his third year on the tour, challenged down the stretch but finished three shots back with a 67 that left him in second place at 30 under.
 
Strickers round included two tee shots into the water and one out of bounds, leading to a triple bogey and a quadruple bogey. He still wound up tied for third at 28 under with Mike Weir, who shot 67. Stephen Ames had the low round on a rare day at the Hope when there werent many, with his 63 vaulting him into a fifth-place tie at 27 under with Bo Van Pelt (67), Web Simpson (69) and Tim Clark (69).
 
Conditions for the first four days were perfect, then the wind came up'and scores went up'for the final round on the Palmer Course at PGA West. Perez felt that worked in his favor.
 
If the weather was perfect, someone could have shot 61 or 61, he said. So I actually didnt mind the wind blowing all the way around. But it was definitely tough.
 
The 32-year-old Perez, in the past considered a bit of a hothead when his game wasnt going well, said hes learned to remain calm and that was a plus during the final round.
 
I just tried to stay pretty even-keeled, he said. I figured if I could just play solid and hit some good shots and kind of stay calm and think about what Im doing out there, I was going to be fine.
 
Explaining the change in attitude, he said, I just got tired of getting upset all the time. Its a lot of energy. I learned how the best guys do it.
 
Mentioning Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, among others, Perez said, All these guys are pretty even-keeled. They dont let things bother them. They put stuff behind them. Before, if I made a double on five, the tournament was over. I look at that as a speed bump now.
 
After hitting into the water and dropping to 29 under on the fifth hole, Perez steadied and still made the turn at an even 35.
 
Perez locked up the victory by knocking his approach shot over the water from 200 yards on No. 18 to 3 feet to set up an eagle. Merrick, winless on the tour, already had finished his round with a par on 18.
 
Perez didnt consider playing it safe.
 
I dont lay up, Perez said. I hit a 6-iron. I mean, how hard is it? Im not going to lay up with a wedge over here and hit a wedge over there. Its a 6-iron. I was going to hit it.
 
He beamed and doffed his cap after the ball rolled onto the green and the fans in the grandstands erupted in cheers. He stopped grinning only briefly, while he was bending over his final putt.
 
Merricks runner-up finish was the highest for the 26-year-old former UCLA star. His round included an extraordinarily lucky bounce on No. 16, when his shot from the fairway seemed headed for a small canal next to the green. The ball hit the concrete lining the waterway, bounced across the water and rolled within 10 feet of the hole. He two-putted for par.
 
Thats probably one of the luckiest breaks Ive ever seen, Merrick said.
 
Perez, who led the first three days before falling three shots off Strickers pace, had said the ideal conditions made the early rounds like playing in a dome.
 
Not so on closing day.
 
Club selection, figuring distance and direction, all became a challenge. The wind would quiet one moment, then gust and swirl the next. Flagsticks on the greens rocked back and forth with the flags flapping, go still, then just as suddenly begin shuddering again.
 
That took its toll on Stricker.
 
We would feel it in our face on one hole, and the same hole it would feel downwind. So it was all over the place and difficult to pick a correct club, Stricker said. It was hard for me to feel comfortable with anything, and it showed for me a couple of times today.
 
Joe Durants tour record for 90 holes, 36-under 324 in the 2001 Hope, seemed in peril as records fell in the early rounds. Then the wind, often a factor in the Hope over the years, finally began blowing on the fifth day.
 
Stricker was 33 under after four rounds, bettering the tours 72-hole record of 31 under set by Ernie Els in his victory at the 2003 Mercedes Championships. Strickers 61-62 on the third and fourth days was a low for consecutive rounds; Mark Calcavecchia set the record by shooting 60-64 in the 2001 Phoenix Open, and Perez tied it with his 61-63 start in the Hope.
 
Perez earned $918,000, Merrick got $550,800, and Stricker and Weir each took home $295,800.
 
Palmer, now 79, won the inaugural Hope in 1960, the first of his five victories in the event.
 
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.