Rhoden Leads Barkley Dead Last in Tahoe
The former major league pitcher went birdie-birdie-eagle during one stretch on the way to a 5-under 67 worth 51 points in the modified Stableford scoring system at the 18th annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe.
Ex-NHL great Grant Fuhr was second with 48 points, followed by former quarterbacks Chris Chandler and Mark Rypien with 47 headed into Sunday's final round at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. The scoring system awards six points for eagle, three for birdie, one for par, zero for bogey and minus two for double bogey or worse.
Last week in his third U.S. Senior Open, the 54-year-old Rhoden shot 75-76 to miss the cut by three strokes at the links-style Whistling Straits and its 1,000-plus bunkers on the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.
'That's the hardest course I've ever played, by far,' Rhoden said. 'I've played Oakmont and it's not even close.
'So I think visually, you show up here and it looks 10 times easier after playing there,' he said about the Edgewood layout with its lush, forgiving fairways winding through towering pines.
Rhoden was ineligible to play at Lake Tahoe last year because he qualified for conditional status on the PGA Champions Tour. He won the celebrity event in 1991-93-95-97-99 and 2003.
'Obviously, Rick's probably the best player out here. So he'll be a fun guy to chase,' said Fuhr, who had four birdies and two bogies on Saturday in a round of 71. 'You know Rick is not going to beat himself. That's something he's proved over the years.'
After parring the first hole Saturday, Rhoden played the next three holes 4-under par, hitting a 6 iron 185 yards to within 2 feet of the hole on the 536-yard, par-5 fifth. He also birdied the eighth and then parred every hole on the back.
'I feel a lot better leaving today than I did yesterday, that's for sure,' said Rhoden, who shot a 72 on Friday and started the day four points behind first-round leader Billy Joe Tolliver.
Tolliver, another ex-quarterback, has won the tournament twice. He shot 70 and tallied 28 points Friday, but had only 15 points on a round of 76 Saturday for a two-day total of 41.
Defending champ Jack Wagner had 42 points and Dan Quinn, a four-time celebrity champ, had 36. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, making his tourney debut, shot 68 Saturday for a two-day total of 40 points.
Rypien, playing in the same group with Rhoden, trailed him by 10 points at the turn on Saturday, but had three birdies on the back to finish with a 67 and pull within four points of the leader.
'It's nice to be around the leaderboard again,' said Rypien, who won the inaugural event in 1990. 'I've had 10 birdies in two days and I think that's more than I've had in three years.
'Rick was going to run away with this thing and he was gracious enough to par everything coming home. ... It's not a good sign when he says he's feeling good.'
While Rhoden was getting down to business, many of the competitors signed programs, shirts and hats between holes. Carson Palmer threw a football he, Romo and Jerry Rice had autographed to a man on a boat anchored just off the par 3, 17th. Earlier, Rice threw his hat down in mock disgust when an announcer introduced him not as a future hall of famer but a star of 'Dancing With the Stars.'
Charles Barkley, in last place with minus 63 points, had to take a two-stroke penalty on his first hole when he whiffed a shot in the fairway. His next shot hit a tree and his drive on the next hole hooked into the gallery, narrowly missing the spectators.
Ray Romano, the Emmy Award winning star of the long-running sitcom 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' did manage to hit a young man when his shot went wide of the par-5 16th skipped off a cart path.
'Are you all right?' he asked the victim. 'I'm unemployed now, so there's no money.'
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi
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.
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.”
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
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.''
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?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
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:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
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.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
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.