Two weeks after turning 50 Lehman leads Transitions

By Associated PressMarch 21, 2009, 4:00 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. ' Two weeks after turning 50, former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman looked like his old self Saturday in the Transitions Championship with a 3-under 68 for his first 54-hole lead in more than four years.
Lehman ran off four straight birdies and shot 31 on the back nine at Innisbrook to grab a one-shot lead over Retief Goosen. Lehman will try to become only the seventh player in his 50s to win on the PGA Tour.
Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open champion, kept his composure on firm, crusty greens usually only seen in June. The greens were brown in spots and hard all over, reminding him of Shinnecock Hills in 2004 when he won his second major.
Tom Lehman
Tom Lehman used a back-nine surge Saturday to take the 54-hole lead. (Getty Images)
Lehman, who was at 8-under 205, missed five months last year with tendinitis and missed the cut in his first four starts this year before a tie for 49th against a weak field in Mexico last month.
I really enjoyed myself today, Lehman said. The front nine was a comedy of errors. On the back nine, things got going.
The highlight of his birdie streak came at the par-3 13th, a tee shot over the water and onto a putting surface that is so hard the ball kicks up dry soil when it lands. The ball stopped inside a foot away for the easiest birdie he had all day.
The last time Lehman was atop the leaderboard after 54 holes was in the fog-delayed Buick Invitational in 2005, when he finished in a tie for second behind Tiger Woods.
Winning the Transitions Championship might be just as difficult ' partly because of the tough Copperhead Course, and partly because of the cast of challengers who are chasing him.
Masters champion Trevor Immelman is starting to play like one with his return to Augusta National around the corner. He had a 70 and was in the group at 5-under 208 that included Stuart Appleby (71), Jonathan Byrd (71) and Charles Howell III (71), an Augusta native suddenly presented with a chance to win and get into the Masters.
Steve Stricker and Nick Watney, tied for the lead going into the third round, both struggled.
Stricker took bogey on the par-5 fifth hole when he missed a 6-foot putt, and the man regarded among the best in golf with the short stick three-putted twice for bogey on the back nine. He shot 73, ending his streak of 10 straight rounds at par or better.
Watney made a 35-foot birdie putt to escape trouble on the opening hole, and got out of another jam on the fifth when he bounced a chip below the branches of a bush, across the rough and onto the green to within 4 feet for birdie. But he missed it badly, took double bogey on the next hole and tumbled to a 74, leaving him at 3-under 210.
Even so, Watney was among 17 players who were within five shots of the lead. And making up ground on the leaders could be a matter of making pars if the conditions continue to stay dry.
You are going to lose some shots eventually, Immelman said. Its just the nature of this course. Sometimes you dont even have to hit a bad shot and you make a bogey.
Lehman, who has not won in nine years, figures that works in his favor.
The course is not terribly long, but allows hardly any room for error with the irons. This is a place where he can manage his game without worrying about anyone overpowering him.
Its not an easy golf course to go out and shoot 63, which means that for me, just keep on playing my game and be patient, Lehman said.
Lehmans right elbow hurt so bad last year that he couldnt take the club back much farther than his waist. When he recovered, it took him awhile to realize that his swing was completely out of sync. His father, swing coach Jim Flick and friend Dennis Trixler all told him to slow down, and Lehman slowly got back toward his game.
But for the first few months, he couldnt wait to be eligible for the 50-and-over Champions Tour.
My game was in shambles, he said. It was making 50 look all the more appealing, quite frankly.
Not anymore.
I just turned 50. That actually works in my favor, Lehman said. You realize theres a lot more important things in life than a golf tournament ' although this is very important.
Divots: Joe Durant and D.A. Points were the only two players to make the cut of the six players who earned a spot in the field through the opposite-field event in Puerto Rico last week. Durant was at 4-under 209. Only one player in the top 14 on the leaderboard has won on the PGA Tour in the last year ' Masters champion Trevor Immelman. Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year-old from Japan, shot a 75 and was 14 shots out of the lead.
Related Links:
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.