Woods Takes Early Lead at Dunlop Phoenix

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
MIYAZAKI, Japan -- Tiger Woods overcame soggy conditions to fire a 5-under 65 for a three-stroke lead Thursday after the first round of the Dunlop Phoenix.
 
Playing in a steady downpour at the Phoenix Country Club, Woods opened with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole and added four more to take the lead in the $1.89 million tournament, the richest on the Japanese tour.
 
'I don't remember leading after the first round of any tournament this year,' said Woods, who teed off from the 10th. 'Obviously, this is a very positive start.'
 
Kaname Yokoo of Japan was second. Compatriot Hideto Tanihara, South Korean Kim Jong-duk and Australian Craig Parry carded 69s.
 
Woods, who lost his No. 1 ranking to Vijay Singh this year, is looking for his first win in Japan.
 
He finished eighth in this tournament two years ago. His other appearances in Japan include a 15th-place finish at the Casio World Open in 1998 and a second-place outcome at the 2001 World Cup, when he paired with fellow American David Duval.
 
On the par-4 14th, Woods hit a 7-iron left of the green on his second shot, then chipped in from 50 feet for his second birdie of the day.
 
'I was just trying to get the ball close,' Woods said. 'I was looking to get out of there with a par and was lucky to make birdie.'
 
Woods, who also had birdies on Nos. 16, 2 and 8, said he wasn't thrown off by the bad weather.
 
'I grew up in Southern California, but on the few days there was bad weather, I would always go out and practice,' he said. 'That allowed me to play well in bad conditions.'
 
Going back to the 13th hole of the 2002 Dunlop Phoenix, Woods is now bogey-free in 23 holes on this course.
 
'Anytime you can play this course without a bogey it's a good day, especially in these conditions,' Woods said. 'The greens weren't consistent. In low spots the putts were slow, in high spots they were fast so it was tough.'
 
British Open champion Todd Hamilton of the United States struggled with the wet conditions and finished with a 73 that included five bogeys.
 
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn of Denmark shot a 75.
 
Bjorn will be looking to tie the record of three Dunlop Phoenix titles held by Japan's Jumbo Ozaki, but sits 10 strokes off the pace.
 
Bjorn beat Spain's Sergio Garcia to win this event in 1999, and defeated Garcia again last year by coming from behind on the final day.
 
Woods feels confident heading into the next three rounds.
 
'Obviously, it still early,' he said. 'You've got to be patient but that's one of the attributes I feel I have, one of the things that's allowed me to win as many tournaments as I have.'
 
The last time Woods won a stroke-play tournament was the Western Open in July of 2003.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Field Scores - Dunlop Phoenix Tournament
  • Tiger Critical of Ryder Cup Captain Selection
     
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.