Rocha leads Reno Tahoe; Daly lurks nearby

By Associated PressAugust 4, 2012, 2:53 am

RENO, Nev. – Alexandre Rocha says one of the reasons he has never won on the PGA Tour is that he often gets off to slow starts.

That wasn't a problem Friday when the 34-year-old Brazilian opened birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle on the way to the top of the second-round leaderboard in the Reno-Tahoe Open.

''I was fortunate to get off to the hottest start I think I've ever had in my professional career,'' said Rocha, who finished the day with seven birdies, three bogeys and the eagle.

He had a two-day total of 24 points in the modified Stableford scoring system that rewards aggressive play with eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.

J.J. Henry had his second eagle of the tourney, and John Mallingerhad six birdies Friday to move into a tie for second at 22.

First-round leader Andres Romero of Argentina and Arjun Atwal ofIndia had 21 points, and 2010 Reno-Tahoe winner Matt Bettencourt followed with 20. John Daly was seventh with 19. He birdied six of his last 10 holes.

Rocha has won nine times around the world since 2000, when he was an All-America selection at Mississippi State and recalls once opening a round with 12 consecutive 3s.

''But never as a professional either in Europe or on the PGA Tour have I started with 5 under through four holes,'' he said. ''It always helps to create momentum, which is something I've been missing all year long.''

Starting on the back nine on the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club layout, Rocha made a pair of 10-foot birdie putts and added a third when he hit his approach to 4 feet on the 429-yard, par-4 12th.

After holing an 11-foot eagle putt on the 518-yard 13th, he bogeyed two of the next three holes, but rallied and settled for his final birdie on the 636-yard, par-5 eighth when he missed another eagle attempt from 14 feet.

Mallinger, who has four finishes in the top 25 this year but also is seeking his first PGA Tour win, is among those in the field who had never before played in the Stableford format last used on tour at the 2006 International in Colorado.

''I'm actually having a tough time keeping up with the points,'' Mallinger said. ''I'm just trying to get used to it ... getting the score out of my mind and just playing golf.''

''But I like it,'' he added quickly, noting that he jumped from 38th place to fifth when he eagled his penultimate hole in the opening round. ''It should be an exciting finish.''

Daly, the winner of the 1991 PGA Championship and 1995 British Open, hasn't won on tour since the 2004 Buick Invitational. He had two bogeys and a double bogey but reeled off three straight birdies making the turn and closed with two more - the last a 2-footer after nearly holing out his approach for an eagle on the par-4 ninth.

''For me, this is a great format,'' said Daly, who has made the cut only once in five previous tries at Reno but now has made eight cuts in 10 events this year, his best a tie for 12th last month in the Greenbrier Classic.

''You can get real aggressive. There's a lot of birdie holes out there. The fairways are generous,'' the long-ball hitter said.

Padraig Harrington, who was tied for 23rd in a group with David Duval with 14 points, said he's had trouble with ''a lot of calculations'' on the mountain course where the ball travels farther on the edge of the Sierra Nevada than it does at sea level.

''I've got quite a bit of ground to make up,'' said the Irishman who has three major titles. ''I'm a little frustrated to be honest.''

''You've got to get the yardage, you've got to add on whatever pace you are off the sprinkler, then you've got to add on or take off for downhill. And then you've got to add on for the pin and then you've got carry in over a bunker, say, and then you've got to adjust it by 5 percent in the morning and maybe a little more in the afternoon.''

Mike Weir and Camilo Villegas were among those who failed to make the cut in the field vying for a $3 million purse while the world's best compete at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio.

Henry has three top-10 finishes this year, including a tie for third at the Byron Nelson Championship and is bidding for his second career win on the PGA Tour.

''As much as you'd like to be playing in Akron, this is a fun place to come,'' Henry said. He bogeyed his first two holes Friday said he was able to recover partly due to the scoring system when he rolled in a 25-foot eagle on the 636-yard eighth.

''A birdie and a bogey is better than two pars. And if you can make a couple of eagles, you're going to jump over a lot of guys.''

J.B. Holmes, tied for eighth with Hunter Haas after tallying all but one of his 18 points on Friday, said he tries not to look at the leaderboard.

''You've just got to keep it going knowing that it's not strokes,'' said Holmes, who had nine birdies and a bogey. ''Somebody could be six spots back and make an eagle and all of a sudden they're right there.''

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."