Phoenix Open field chasing Levin after three rounds

By Associated PressFebruary 5, 2012, 2:23 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Spencer Levin passed on Phoenix Open title sponsor Waste Management’s green-out, wearing a simple black-and-white outfit.

He didn’t exactly soften his carbon footprint, either, leaving a trail of cigarette smoke and butts in his wake as he increased his big lead at TPC Scottsdale.

“You mean guys in the crowd?” he asked when questioned about fans giving him grief for smoking on the course. “Oh, yeah, (they get on me) every time, but I enjoy it (smoking),” Levin said. “They were asking to bum them from me, too.”

He has lit up the Stadium Course so far, too, stringing together rounds of 65, 63 and 68 to open a six-stroke lead in pursuit of a breakthrough PGA Tour victory.

He wasn’t quite as sharp with his belly putter as he was the first two days but remained firmly in control in front of the largest crowd in tournament history, a noisy gathering of 173,210 in perfect conditions.

“It was fun for sure, but I was trying to focus, too,” Levin said about the huge crowd and party atmosphere. “You don’t get that too often, all those people cheering.”

Levin, five strokes ahead after the completion of the second round Saturday morning, had four birdies and a bogey in the third round to reach 17 under. The bogey on the par-5 15th was his first since the opening hole of the tournament.

“I felt like I played solid,” Levin said. “I felt like I was in control of my ball most of the day, and yeah, I’m pleased. I’ve never had a big lead like that starting the day, and I thought I played well. Overall, I’m pleased about it.”

Webb Simpson was 11 under after a 68. At No. 6 in the world, he’s the highest-ranked player in the field.

“I feel good, but my swing is just not really getting in sync,” Simpson said. “I’m missing the ball left and right. I want to polish that up. But I made a bunch of good swings down the stretch that gave me a lot of confidence.”

The 27-year-old Levin, remembered for a hole-in-one and 13th-place tie in the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock while still in school at New Mexico, is trying to win for the first time on the PGA Tour. He came close last year, losing a playoff to Johnson Wagner in the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Last week at Torrey Pines, Levin had a share of the first-round lead after a 62 but followed with rounds of 76, 73 and 72 to tie for 43rd.

“Hopefully, I can just stay calm, try my best and keep having fun,” Levin said. “I’m going to try my best. That’s all I’m going to do, and we’ll see what happens.”

Bubba Watson was seven strokes behind Levin after a 67.

“He’s playing so good, you don’t expect him to come back in the field,” Watson said. “You’re going to have to go chase him down.”

Tour rookie John Huh shot a 69 to join Watson at 10 under.

Kyle Stanley was eight strokes back after a 69 as he tries to rebound from a devastating loss. On Sunday at Torrey Pines, he made a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole of regulation and lost to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.

Jason Dufner, second last year after a playoff loss to Mark Wilson, shot a 68 to join Stanley, Chris Stroud (66), Greg Chalmers (67) and Ben Crane at 9 under.

Fan favorite Phil Mickelson was 8 under after a 67. The former Arizona State star won the tournament in 1996 and 2005.

“I’d like to be further up, but given where I was 27 holes ago, I’m in a really good spot,” Mickelson said. “I’m starting to play some good golf, and I’m starting to get a little bit of momentum.”

While Levin wasn’t in on the green-out, many players had fun with it. Crane and Rickie Fowler were two of the greenest, sporting the color nearly head to toe. Mickelson wore a dark green shirt.

“I think it’s cool what Waste Management is doing, creating awareness for the environment as well as supporting the PGA Tour event,” Mickelson said. “We’re appreciative for all they’ve done.”

Levin got off to a good start with birdies on the third and fourth holes. He got up and down from the back fringe on the par-5 third and made a 16-foot putt on par-3 fourth. He followed with eight straight pars, most tap-in putts after birdie misses, before two-putting for birdie on the par-5 13th to reach 17 under.

He bogeyed the par-5 15th after hooking his drive and having the ball bounce into the water.

“Kind of tugged that a little bit left,” Levin said. “It wasn’t that bad a shot, but if you hit anything in the left side of that fairway, it’s probably going to go in the water. I didn’t hit it where I wanted to.”

Levin saved par on the amphitheater par-3 16th after leaving his first attempt five feet short, holing a tricky sidehill putt. He then birdied the short, par-4 17th, blasting out of the right greenside bunker to three feet. On Friday, he eagled the hole when he holed out from the same bunker.He’s playing with a big lead for the first time on the PGA Tour.

“I tried not to think about it,” Levin said. “I was just trying to focus on my game and my ball, and it worked out good today. I tried as hard as I could just to do what I did the first two days, and that’s what I’m going to do tomorrow, too.”

DIVOTS: The previous attendance record of 170,802 was set in the third round in 2008. The event has drawn 459,815 fans, starting with practice Monday. There were 77,053 fans Thursday and 116,299 Friday. The tournament record for a week is 538,356, also set in 2008. … Defending champion Wilson, coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Humana Challenge, was even par after a 74. … The start of play was delayed 15 minutes because of frost after hour delays the first two days. Last year, frost and frozen greens delayed play nine hours during the week, forcing a Monday finish.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

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Woods out and about in 2017

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm