Sluman in Relax Mode at Home Near Medinah

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Jeff Sluman recalled his first visit to Tiger Woods' house six years ago.
 
It was dark outside, and Sluman couldn't see the address on the house. So he peered through a window and told his wife, `We're at the right spot.' When she asked how he knew, Sluman mentioned the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA trophies he saw on a table.
 
'I don't think there are many others in this neighborhood with that,' he told her.
 
Sluman's house is stocked more with wine than major trophies, but it's not completely bare. He does have the 1988 PGA Championship he won at Oak Tree.
 
Another PGA Championship starts Thursday at Medinah, about 20 miles from Sluman's home in Hinsdale. He's in a comfortable spot. So is Woods, which could be bad news for the rest of the field.

After losing his father to cancer and missing the cut at the U.S. Open, Woods won the British Open at Hoylake. Now, he's back at the site of one of his most important major victories. After going 10 majors without winning, he nearly blew a five-stroke lead before hanging on to win the '99 PGA Championship by one over Sergio Garcia.
 
Although he gets to sleep in his own bed, Sluman hasn't played particularly well near home -- either in the Chicago area or his native Rochester, N.Y.
 
He shot 6 over and tied for 54th at Medinah in 1999, and missed the cut in the 1989 U.S. Open and the 2003 PGA Championship, both at Oak Hill.
 
'I've been out here long enough to know that the harder you try and the more you want something, usually that's the worst you play,' Sluman said Monday. 'And you want to play well in front of your home folks, so I just need to probably relax a little bit more and just enjoy the moment.'
 
Eighteen years ago, he captured the PGA by firing a final-round 65 to finish three strokes ahead of Paul Azinger.
 
Sluman remembers lifting the Wanamaker trophy and being stunned by the weight: 'They hand it to you, and you're like, `Whoa, hey.''
 
This year's tournament will be played on the longest course in major championship history at 7,561 yards. And Sluman isn't known for his long game.
 
Woods offered a reminder Monday morning that the shortest distances -- those found on the reshaped greens of Medinah -- usually go a long way toward determining the winner.
 
'This is the longest ever?' Stephen Ames asked with an incredulous look. 'Geez, I must be hitting it miles.'
 
Maybe it felt short to Ames because he played only 13 holes Monday, so he saw only 5,471 yards of Medinah. Then again, the longest club he had into a par 4 during his brief journey was a 6-iron on the 471-yard 12th hole.
 
'And that was slightly into the wind,' Ames said.
 
Not everyone feels that way.
 
Arron Oberholser, who has average length off the tee, played the back nine and it was about all he could handle.
 
'It felt like 4,000 yards,' Oberholser said.
 
He was close -- the back nine measures only 3,822 yards.
 
'I wonder if they're trying to do that?' he continued, alluding to the PGA Championship having the longest major championship course three times since 1999. 'If they are trying, they have accomplished it quite magnificently.'
 
Sluman was asked if he has ever played a course he thought was too long.
 
'Every week,' he replied.
 
Once the laughter subsided, including his own, Sluman said the course's length didn't intimidate him.
 
'The highest winning scores for the majority of the courses we play on tour seem to be the shortest golf courses,' he said. 'So it's not necessarily length that makes the golf course difficult.'
 
Usually, Sluman plays the week before a major. Not this time.
 
Although he has lived in the area 14 years, Sluman rarely ventures beyond Hinsdale Golf Club. He played Medinah three or four times last year and has taken some swings at Cog Hill, but rarely tees off at the top courses in the region.
 
'I play so much on tour when I'm home, I want to spend it with my family,' he said.
 
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.