Singh Solo Leader at Kapalua

By Associated PressJanuary 5, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Vijay Singh had one bad swing Friday, but it wasn't enough for him to lose the lead in the rain, whipping wind and eventual sunshine at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
Singh pulled his tee shot in the native grasses on the par-5 18th hole, hit a remarkable recovery and escaped with a par, giving him his second straight 4-under 69 and a one-shot lead over Trevor Immelman and Will MacKenzie in the PGA Tour opener.
 
MacKenzie made his lone bogey on the 17th after being put on the clock and rushing a putt, and he had a chance to tie Singh until missing a 10-foot birdie on the final hole, settling for a 70.
 
Will MacKenzie
Little known Will MacKenzie is making a name for himself at the season-opening PGA TOUR event.
Immelman, the rookie of the year in 2006, birdied two of his last three holes for a 68.
 
The elements changed, but the Plantation course at Kapalua remained a stern test.

The start of the second round was delayed 1 hour, 20 minutes because of a light rain that began overnight and didn't stop until an hour after the round began. The trade wind picked up strength to 35 mph gusts as it tried shoo the clouds away. Singh thought it was nearly unplayable as he made the turn in a tie for the lead, but he picked up a few more birdies and reached 8-under 138.
 
'I'd like it to calm down a little bit,' Singh said.
 
But he had few complaints about his position. He has finished a combined four shots behind three-time defending champion Stuart Appleby the last three years, and has not finished out of the top 10 since the winners-only tournament moved here in 1999.
 
Appleby shot 72 and was seven shots behind in his bid to tie a PGA Tour record with his fourth straight win at the same event.
 
Davis Love III (71), Chris Couch (70) and J.B. Holmes (68) were at 5-under 141, with Adam Scott (69) another shot behind.
 
Holmes was surprised to be in contention. He learned 20 minutes before his tee time that he would be playing alone because Arron Oberholser withdrew because of a back injury. Holmes made a sloppy bogey on the opening hole and showed no signs of doing anything grand until a chip from deep grass in the collar of a bunker on the ninth for a tap-in birdie.
 
Starting with a 20-foot putt on the 11th, Holmes ran off four straight birdies. He felt so confident at the end of that stretch that he attacked the 305-yard 14th with driver, even though it was into the wind and surrounded by bunkers. He came up 20 yards short of the green to set up an easy birdie.
 
'I think it sets up great for me,' Holmes said, one of 13 newcomers to Kapalua.
 
MacKenzie is a newcomer in other ways. A free spirit who left golf for a half-dozen years to experience the outdoors while living in the back of his van, he was doing an interview with The Golf Channel when asked if he was staying at the Ritz-Carlton or in his van this week. Along with confirming he was in the Ritz, MacKenzie said which room he was in.
 
When he got back to his room Thursday night, his voice mailbox was full. Before long, he had to turn off his phone.
 
Dude, it was no big deal.
 
'That's what it's all about, the fans,' he said. 'Some of them liked my story.'
 
The story at Kapalua continued to be the weather, with rain that made the 7,411-yard play even longer, and wind that put a premium on controlling the flight of shots and finding the right pace on the putts.
 
Singh was superb.
 
He took the lead for the first time with an approach to 20 feet on the par-5 fifth hole for an eagle, and no one passed him the rest of the round. He rarely came close to making bogey, and picked up birdies on the 14th with a perfect pitch to a foot, and a 15-foot putt on the par-5 15th.
 
But he almost lost it on the 18th.
 
'I was in control of my whole game all through the day, and just tried to let one go on the last hole and got quick,' Singh said. 'I hit a good drive yesterday and made par, and a bad drive today and made par. So it kind of evened out.'
 
He will be in the final group Saturday with Immelman, the South African who captured the Western Open last year. Immelman found if difficult to stay upright in the wind, but had beautiful control of his shots and finished his round with perfect pace on a pitch-and-run to about 4 feet for birdie.
 
Of the five players tied for the lead after the first round, Singh and MacKenzie were the only ones to move in the right direction. Brett Wetterich shot 79, while K.J. Choi took double bogey on No. 15 on his way to a 77. Stephen Ames had the lead after a 20-foot birdie on the opening hole, but never recovered from a double bogey at No. 7 and shot 74, leaving him five shots behind.
 
DIVOTS
Oberholser received $50,000, but it does not count toward the money list. And he earned as many FedExCup points as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, which would be none. ... Rory Sabbatini, who has a reputation for intolerance toward slow play, was on the 12th green when he heard Chris Couch's drive came down the slope and onto the green. Sabbatini glared at the marshal for allowing the group behind to tee off. ... Brett Wetterich was paired with Vijay Singh and was as much as 45 yards past him on the tee shots. The Ryder Cup rookie struggled with everything else, however, and shot 79.

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    Lesson with Woods fetches $210K for Harvey relief

    By Will GrayDecember 13, 2017, 2:51 pm

    A charity event featuring more than two dozen pro golfers raised more than $1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief, thanks in large part to a hefty price paid for a private lesson with Tiger Woods.

    The pro-am fundraiser was organized by Chris Stroud, winner of the Barracuda Championship this summer, and fellow pro and Houston resident Bobby Gates. It was held at Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas, about an hour outside Houston and the first Woods-designed course to open in the U.S.

    The big-ticket item on the auction block was a private, two-person lesson with Woods at Bluejack National that sold for a whopping $210,000.

    Other participants included local residents like Stacy Lewis, Patrick Reed and Steve Elkington as well as local celebrities like NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler, Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.

    Stroud was vocal in his efforts to help Houston rebuild in the immediate aftermath of the storm that ravaged the city in August, and he told the Houston Chronicle that he plans to continue fundraising efforts even after eclipsing the event's $1 million goal.

    "This is the best event I have ever been a part of, and this is just a start," Stroud said. "We have a long way to go for recovery to this city, and we want to keep going with this and raise as much as we can and help as many victims as we can."

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    LPGA schedule features 34 events, record purse

    By Randall MellDecember 13, 2017, 2:02 pm

    The LPGA schedule will once again feature 34 events next year with a record $68.75 million in total purses, the tour announced on Wednesday.

    While three events are gone from the 2018 schedule, three new events have been added, with two of those on the West Coast and one in mainland China.

    The season will again start with the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island (Jan. 25-28) and end with the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., (Nov. 15-18).

    The LPGA played for $65 million in total prize money in 2017.

    An expanded West Coast swing in the front half of the schedule will now include the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in the Los Angeles area April 19-22. The site will be announced at a later date.

    The tour will then make a return to San Francisco’s Lake Merced Golf Club the following week, in a new event sponsored by L&P Cosmetics, a Korean skincare company. Both new West Coast tournaments will be full-field events.

    The tour’s third new event will be played in Shanghai Oct. 18-21 as part of the fall Asian swing. The title sponsor and golf course will be announced at a later date.

    “Perhaps the most important aspect of our schedule is the consistency — continuing to deliver strong playing opportunities both in North America and around the world, while growing overall purse levels every year,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “There is simply no better [women’s] tour opportunity in the world, when it comes to purses, global TV coverage or strength of field. It’s an exciting time in women’s golf, with the best players from every corner of the globe competing against each other in virtually every event.”

    While the Evian Championship will again be played in September next year, the tour confirmed its plans to move its fifth major to the summer in 2019, to be part of a European swing, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

    The Manulife LPGA Classic and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational are not returning to the schedule next year. Also, the McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open will not be played next year as it prepares to move to the front of the 2019 schedule, to be paired with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

    The U.S. Women’s Open will make its new place earlier in the summer, a permanent move in the tour’s scheduling. It will be played May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek Golf Club outside Birmingham, Ala. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (June 28-July 1) will be played at Kemper Lakes Golf Club on the north side of Chicago and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (Aug. 2-5) will be played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

    For the first time since its inception in 2014, the UL International Crown team event is going overseas, with the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, scheduled to host the event Oct. 4-7. The KEB Hana Bank Championship will be played in South Korean the following week.

    Here is the LPGA's schedule for 2018:

    Jan. 25-28: Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic; Paradise Island, Bahamas; Purse: $1.4 million

    Feb. 15-18: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open; Adelaide, Australia; Purse: $1.3 million

    Feb. 21-24: Honda LPGA Thailand; Chonburi, Thailand; Purse: $1.6 million

    March 1-4: HSBC Women's World Championship; Singapore; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 15-18: Bank of Hope Founders Cup; Phoenix, Arizona; Purse: $1.5 million

    March 22-25: Kia Classic; Carlsbad, California; Purse: $1.8 million

    March 29 - April 1: ANA Inspiration; Rancho Mirage, California; Purse: $2.8 million

    April 11-14: LOTTE Championship; Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii; Purse: $2 million

    April 19-22: HUGEL-JTBC Championship; Greater Los Angeles, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    April 26-29: Name to be Announced; San Francisco, California; Purse: $1.5 million

    May 3-6: Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic; The Colony, Texas; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 17-20: Kingsmill Championship; Williamsburg, Virginia; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 24-27: LPGA Volvik Championship; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Purse: $1.3 million

    May 31 - June 3: U.S. Women's Open Championship; Shoal Creek, Alabama; Purse: $5 million

    June 8-10: ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer; Galloway, New Jersey; Purse: $1.75 million

    June 14-17: Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Purse: $2 million

    June 22-24: Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G; Rogers, Arkansas; Purse: $2 million

    June 28 - July 1: KPMG Women's PGA Championship; Kildeer, Illinois; Purse: $3.65 million

    July 5-8: Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic; Oneida, Wisconsin; Purse: $2 million

    July 12-15: Marathon Classic presented by Owens-Corning and O-I; Sylvania, Ohio; Purse: $1.6 million

    July 26-29: Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open; East Lothian, Scotland; Purse: $1.5 million

    Aug. 2-5: Ricoh Women's British Open; Lancashire, England; Purse: $3.25 million

    Aug. 16-19: Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim; Indianapolis, Indiana; Purse: $2 million

    Aug. 23-26: CP Women's Open; Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada; Purse: $2.25 million

    Aug. 30 - Sept. 2: Cambia Portland Classic; Portland, Oregon; Purse: $1.3 million

    Sept. 13-16: The Evian Championship; Evian-les-Bains, France; Purse: $3.85 million

    Sept. 27-30: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Purse: $1.8 million

    Oct. 4-7: UL International Crown; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $1.6 million

    Oct. 11-14: LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship; Incheon, Korea; Purse: $2 million

    Oct. 18-21: Name to be Announced; Shanghai, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Oct. 25-28: Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship; New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei; Purse: $2.2 million

    Nov. 2-4: TOTO Japan Classic; Shiga, Japan; Purse: $1.5 million

    Nov. 7-10: Blue Bay LPGA; Hainan Island, China; Purse: $2.1 million

    Nov. 15-18: CME Group Tour Championship; Naples, Florida; Purse: $2.5 million

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 4, Jordan Spieth

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Dismissed because he’s supposedly too short off the tee, or not accurate enough with his irons, or just a streaky putter, Jordan Spieth is almost never the answer to the question of which top player, when he’s at his best, would win in a head-to-head match.

    And yet here he is, at the age of 24, with 11 career wins and three majors, on a pace that compares favorably with the giants of the game. He might not possess the firepower of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but since he burst onto the PGA Tour in 2013 he has all that matters – a better résumé.

    Spieth took the next step in his development this year by becoming the Tour’s best iron player – and its most mentally tough.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    Just a great putter? Oh, puhleeze: He won three times despite putting statistics (42nd) that were his worst since his rookie year. Instead, he led the Tour in strokes gained-approach the green and this summer showed the discipline, golf IQ and bounce-back ability that makes him such a unique talent. 

    Even with his putter misbehaving, Spieth closed out the Travelers Championship by holing a bunker shot in the playoff, then, in perhaps an even bigger surprise, perfectly executed the player-caddie celebration, chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller. A few weeks later, sublime iron play carried him into the lead at Royal Birkdale, his first in a major since his epic collapse at the 2016 Masters.

    Once again his trusty putter betrayed him, and by the time he arrived on the 13th tee, he was tied with Matt Kuchar. What happened next was the stuff of legend – a lengthy ruling, gutsy up-and-down, stuffed tee shot and go-get-that putt – that lifted Spieth to his third major title.

    Though he couldn’t complete the career Grand Slam at the PGA, he’ll likely have, oh, another two decades to join golf’s most exclusive club.

    In the barroom debate of best vs. best, you can take the guys with the flair, with the booming tee shots and the sky-high irons. Spieth will just take the trophies.

    THE MAJORS

    Masters Tournament: Return to the 12th; faltering on Sunday (T-11)

    Spieth pars 12, but makes quad on 15

    Spieth takes another gut punch, but still standing

    Article: Spieth splashes to worst Masters finish

    **********

    U.S. Open: 1 over usually good ... not at Erin Hills (T-35)

    **********

    The Open: Unforgettable finish leads to major win No. 3 (1st)

    Spieth survives confusing ordeal on 13

    Photos: Spieth's incredible journey on 13

    Take it, it's yours: Spieth gets claret jug

    Chamblee: Spieth doesn't have 'it' - 'he has it all'

    Article: Spieth silences his doubters - even himself

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    PGA Championship: Career Grand Slam bid comes up well short (T-28)

    Article: Spieth accepts that Grand Slam is off the table


    TWO REGULAR TOUR WINS

    AT&T Pebble Beach

    Article: Spieth rising from 'valley' after Pebble Beach win

    Travelers Championship

    Spieith wins dramatic Travelers in playoff

    Watch: Spieth holes bunker shot, goes nuts


    FUN OUTSIDE OF TOUR LIFE


    PHOTO GALLERIES

    Photos: Jordan Spieth and Annie Verret

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    Photos: Jordan Spieth through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 13, 2017, 12:30 pm