Van Pelt goes on birdie binge in Mexico

By Associated PressFebruary 26, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Mayakoba Golf ClassicPLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico ' Midway through his first round at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, Bo Van Pelt was right where he started ' even par. And he was OK with that considering the wind had turned completely around from his lone practice round, making the course feel entirely new.
He sure figured things out quickly.
Van Pelt birdied seven of his last nine holes Thursday for a 7-under 63 and the first-round lead. He started the run with four straight birdies, then birdied three of the final four holes, including about a 2-foot putt to close the round in style.
I played pretty aggressive, Van Pelt said. No matter what I was hitting, it was going straight.
Chris Riley and Jarrod Lyle opened with 65s. Rookie Scott Piercy, who has three top-25 finishes in four starts this year, was in a group at 66.
Defending champion Brian Gay was tied for 20th at 68. David Toms ' the worlds 65th-ranked player, leaving him one spot from making the Match Play field ' shot a 70.
From the start, Van Pelt was accurate off the tee, which is a must to handle the tight fairways on the Greg Norman-designed course.
His putter was another story.
Although Van Pelt came out early to try getting the speed down on the practice green, he didnt find it until a par-saving putt on No. 18, his ninth hole.
That was pretty much the key, he said. After that, I just started making some.
Van Pelt birdied the par-5 first hole and the par-3 second, then faced a big test ' a 462-yard, par-4 that was the 22nd-toughest hole on the entire PGA Tour last year. He birdied that hole and the next, too.
After a par on No. 5, he bounced back with two more birdies. He parred No. 8, but theres no shame in that; it was 32nd-toughest on tour last year and yielded the fewest birdies over the brief history of this tournament.
On his final hole, Van Pelt smacked a drive right down the middle, only to find that it stopped in a divot.
I was just trying to hit a solid wedge shot ' and it came out just how I wanted, he said. Then came the bonus of watching someone else in his group putt along his same line, making a short putt even easier.
Van Pelt matched the lowest score of his career, although the other was an 8-under round, and grabbed a first-round lead the fourth time in his career. Hes hoping to parlay it into his first PGA Tour victory.
His best finish was a tie for second in Puerto Rico last year. Hes done pretty well this season, having tied for fifth at the Bob Hope Classic and tied for 30th last week at the Northern Trust Open, closing that tournament with a 65.
I feel like Ive been playing a little better than my scores, he said. Last week, I was frustrated because I wasnt making any putts, then finally on Sunday I did. I shot 6-under and didnt have any bogeys.
Van Pelts closing nine of 28 on Thursday was a tournament record for either nine. His 63 was two off the tournament record at the 6,923-yard, par-70 El Camaleon.
Van Pelt was part of the first group with an afternoon tee time, so there was a notion that the stiff wind morning starters complained about mightve calmed down. Apparently not because Lyle was the only other standout from the later groups.
Riley is among the players whove been here every all three years and he said the gusts Thursday were the strongest yet. That apparently suits him because it was his best score yet, too. He got a boost by holing a 130-yard wedge shot for an eagle.
I love to play in the wind because I hit the ball low, said Riley, who has tied for 18th and 22nd at this tournament. A low ball flight is pretty good here. You see the guys whove won here in the past ' Brian Gay and Fred Funk ' theyre pretty straight down the middle, theres no length or anything like that.
J.P. Hayes was among those at 66. He missed the cut at his only other event this year and admits the main reason hes here is because he could get into the field. He certainly looked as if he belonged with four birdies and no bogeys.
Also fitting in nicely in that pack at 66 was Pablo Larrazabal of Spain, last years European tour rookie of the year. He birdied his first two holes and four of the first seven, but was slowed by a pair of bogeys on the back nine. His success would certainly make proud tournament sponsor OHL, which is based in Spain.
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  • 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.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.