Toms leads at halfway mark of The Players

By Associated PressMay 13, 2011, 11:12 pm
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – David Toms  has gone five years without winning, and 10 years since his lone major at the PGA Championship. Now he has to fend off a host of players who have won big events a lot more recently.

Toms went 25 holes before making a bogey Friday and countered with enough good shots for a 4-under 68, giving him a one-shot lead over Nick Watney going into what figures to be another wild weekend on the TPC Sawgrass.

Watney won a World Golf Championship two months ago at Doral, punctuated by a birdie on the tough closing hole. Despite missing four birdie putts inside 12 feet on his last seven holes, he got into the final group.

Luke Donald, the World Golf Championship winner at Arizona in February, became the first player since 2004 to make it around Sawgrass without a bogey for the first 36 holes. He birdied the island-green 17th and shot 67 to finish two shots behind.

Also two shots behind:

– U.S. Open champion and Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell, who is back on track after a dismal April.

– Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, riding high after his win last week at Quail Hollow.

– Steve Stricker, who has won two FedEx Cup playoff events and has become a regular among the top 10 in the world.

The favorite?

“Whoever plays the best on the weekend,” Glover said, as good of an answer as anyone can provide.

Toms quite trying to be perfect on a course that looks like it demands no less. It led to nearly perfect play over two days at The Players, and pole position going into the weekend.

Toms doesn’t have a great record at TPC Sawgrass. In 18 previous attempts, he has missed the cut 10 times and only once has finished in the top 10. He just couldn’t figure out the right angle into the greens, and always believed it had to be just right.

“It seemed early in my career around here I was always trying to play the perfect shot,” he said. “I think the last few years, I’ve just learned to try to play my game, my shot … rather than trying to hit the perfect shot on the golf course.”

Watney did his best to catch him.

He started the back nine with back-to-back birdies, then gave himself a chance on every hole. Watney missed four birdie putts inside 12 feet over his last seven holes, settling for 71 after opening with a 64. His emotions showed what this place can do for you.

“I’m not exactly happy,” Watney said, before ending his remarks with, “I’m excited where I am.”

Toms was at 10-under 134, leading a quality list of contenders at the biggest event of golf’s strongest tour.

Looming particularly large was Donald, the Englishman who can go to No. 1 in the world with a victory. He has only been out of the top 10 once since last September. Perhaps even more impressive this week is that Donald hasn’t made a bogey all week.

“I think it’s an accomplishment anywhere,” Donald said. “This is a tough course. There is a lot of danger lurking. It is pretty easy to slip up around this course. So it’s pretty satisfying to go without making a bogey 36 holes.

Four major champions are among the top 10 – one of them is Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, a two-time winner of The Players who was three back going into the weekend. All but Toms among the top six have won tournaments in the last year.

Even with Tiger Woods long departed after withdrawing Thursday, there was no shortage of drama.

A fan offered to be lifted down into the lake off the 18th tee to retrieve Michael Bradley’s driver when it came out of his hands. Mark Wilson called a two-shot penalty on himself for a double-hit – even though video evidence was inconclusive – which caused him to miss the cut. Jonathan Byrd challenged a bad time he received, and had Rory Sabbatini argue on his behalf.

The cut came at even-par 144, and even that featured some tough moments. Ernie Els, inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday, was in front of the par-5 ninth in two, flubbed a chip and missed a 4-foot putt to make bogey and miss the cut by one.

Then there was the scorecard of Phil Mickelson – a 31 on the front to get within two shots of the lead, a 40 on the back to settle for a 71 and linger eight shots out of the lead.

For all the putts he missed, Watney got a pair of good breaks. On the par-5 11th, his ball was headed into deep rough short of the green when he noticed it slightly plugged and covered with mud. It was determined to be in his pitch mark, so he was able to take a drop and wipe the golf ball clean, then chipped up to 4 feet for birdie.

“I would have lot a lot of money had I bet on a ball plugging today,” he said. “It was a great break and I took advantage of it.”

He was in deep rough on the 15th, but the ball landed in a divot, leaving him a clean shot that he could spin. This time, though, he missed a 7-footer. And in a mental blunder, Watney was over his 6-foot birdie putt on the 16th to tie for the lead when he heard the cheer for Bubba Watson making a long birdie on the island-green 17th. He pulled back the putter and missed it badly to the left.

No matter. He’s one shot behind, confident of adding to a World Golf Championship he won earlier this year at Doral.

Watson, meanwhile, shot a 66 to easily make the cut, and Sergio Garcia rallied for a 68 to make it to the weekend.

So did McDowell, which didn’t used to be big news.

His U.S. Open victory last summer at Pebble Beach set up a dream year for McDowell. He won the decisive singles match in the Ryder Cup to lead Europe to another win, then ended the season by coming from four shots behind to beat Tiger Woods in the Chevron World Challenge in a playoff.

Fortunes can change quickly in this game, and so can the confidence. McDowell missed three of his last four cuts on the PGA Tour before The Players, and he was starting to wonder what was going wrong.

“You go through a spell like I’ve just gone through where I just couldn’t piece anything together, you have crazy thoughts. ‘Will I ever win again? Will I ever be in contention again? Am I done? Am I finished?’ It’s just the craziness of this sport,” he said. “You never know what’s around the corner.”

That much still holds true going into the weekend.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.