Pristine start at Pebble for Garrigus Johnson

By Associated PressFebruary 13, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' Dustin Johnson walked off Pebble Beach and was about ready to crawl into bed.
 
Dressed in a black rain suit that helped only with the temperatures Thursday, he had just spent 5 hours and 40 minutes playing one round of golf, much of that time spent waiting on the group ahead.
 
He was tired, but it was a good kind of tired.
 
And he was happy.
 
You shoot 65 at Pebble Beach, I dont care how long it takes, Johnson said. Its beautiful out there. You cant have a bad time on that golf course. This golf course, with good weather, is one of the prettiest courses in the world.
 
It was like that all over the Monterey Peninsula for the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am'a few raindrops early, brilliant sunshine most of the day, only a gentle breeze and the kind of scores that typically accompany such pristine conditions.
 
Johnson and Robert Garrigus were atop the leaderboard after arriving at 7-under 65 on different courses and in different ways.
 
Johnson had 151 yards for his second shot of the day, a 9-iron that looked good all the way and even better when it disappeared into the cup to start his tournament with an eagle. Despite his length, he made only one birdie on the par 5s, and even that was peculiar. Johnson drove into the hazard, took a penalty shot, hit his third shot from 240 yards to 4 feet and knocked it in.
 
That was another pretty good one, he said.
 
Over at Spyglass Hill, considered the toughest of the three courses in the rotation, Garrigus zipped through his first nine holes in 2 1/2 hours. And then the celebrity side of Pebble slowed everything down, and he spent nearly four hours on the back nine.
 
Perhaps getting lulled to sleep woke him up.
 
Garrigus was at 3 under for his round when he hammered a 5-iron up the hill from 210 yards through the cool air, then knocked in an eagle putt from 50 feet. He closed out the round with an 8-iron to 6 feet and another 8-iron to 15 feet, making them both for birdie.
 
Hopefully, we keep going, Garrigus said after he finally stopped.
 
One trait they share is the ability to hit the ball a long way, which never hurts at this tournament. The fairways tend to be soft because of inevitable rain and the cold air keeps the ball from traveling as far as it normally would.
 
Garrigus always figured he would be a baseball player, especially when he was throwing 85 mph at age 13. But he threw out his arm, broke his leg, and his grandfather put a golf club in his hand with a simple instruction.
 
(He) told me to swing as hard as I can until Im 18, and dont worry about anything else, Garrigus said. I listened to him. Sure enough, I was hitting it over 300 yards when I was 15 years old.
 
Length and soft conditions led to one bizarre scene on the first fairway at Spyglass, after Phil Mickelson pounded his opening tee shot high and far. The ball landed a few inches away from his pitch mark. Preferred lies'lift, clean and place'are used at Pebble in case it rains over three days, so Lefty was able to place his ball in the fairway.
 
He took great care in placing his ball, so meticulous that it looked as though he were lining up an important putt. His plan was clear when he stepped away. Mickelson was trying to reach the green from 290 yards away, and he wanted to use the edge of the pitch mark to tee his ball up. Alas, he pulled it slightly, but still hit a decent chip and a good putt for birdie.
 
That was a rare highlight. He had to settle for a 72.
 
Vijay Singh, in his first tournament since minor knee surgery after Kapalua, had a 72 at Poppy Hills, while Jim Furyk made his 2009 debut at Spyglass with a 71. Double major winner Padraig Harrington opened with a 74 at Poppy Hills, leading one to suspect the weather was simply too good for the Irishmans tastes.
 
Another score worth noting belonged to Davis Love III, who started strong and settled for a 69. By his amateur partners admission, the pro-am part of this tournament sounded a bit like Hit the ball, drag Tim.
 
That would be PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, playing in this tournament for the first time. Finchem wasnt really that bad, helping his team with three shots (they shot 66).
 
Finchem conceded to being nervous, and if you watched any of my shots, you could tell.
 
It was great fun, he said. As many times as Ive been on the fairway with guys talking to them, when you get to observe that close, it does reacquaint you with how good they are. And you get the feeling of being totally inadequate.
 
Rich Beem and Vaughn Taylor had a 66 at Pebble Beach, while Charley Hoffman joined them with a 66 at Spyglass Hill.
 
Beem hasnt been to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in nine years, but he didnt have much of a choice. He lost his card last year and cant be so picky about where he plays.
 
And if he had his card?
 
Just because I shoot 66 today doesnt make me want to come back every single year, he said. But it certainly has been fun today.
 
That was the case no matter how long it took.
 

Related Links:
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''