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:
  • Leaderboard - Transitions Championship
  • Full Coverage - Transitions Championship
  • Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

    An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.



    Original story:

    Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



    Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

    Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

    By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

    Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

    ''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


    Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

    Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

    ''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

    Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

    ''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

    Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.