Toasts of the West Coast

By Brian HewittFebruary 25, 2008, 5:00 pm
So what did we learn from the West Coast swing that Sunday concluded near Tucson where, ho-hum, Tiger Woods captured the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship?
 
For starters, we re-learned something we already knew. No, not that Woods is the best player on the planet. We re-learned that the West Coast swing is a misnomer.
 
Only three of the nine PGA TOUR events played in the U.S. so far this year are actually located on the West Coast. They are the Buick Invitational, the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open. The latter, by the way, played at Riviera Country Club, does not actually offer ocean views of the Pacific from the fairways.
 
Of the other six, the Mercedes-Benz Championship and the Sony Open are on the Pacific but not the West Coast. They take place in Hawaii.
 
The Bob Hope Chrysler Classic is staged in the Palm Springs area; the FBR Open lives in Phoenix; the Match Play is down the road in Tucson and the Mayakoba Open is hosted in Mexico.
 
Maybe officials could change the name to the Pacific Rim Swing With A Couple Of Desert Venues Thrown In. But that still wouldnt cover Mexico.
 
Anyway, back to the premise of this column:
 
We learned at Mercedes that Steve Strickers surprising ascent in the world rankings was not a fluke. The TOURs Comeback Player of the Years two years running dueled Daniel Chopra down the stretch at Kapalua only to lose in a playoff. By the time the guys got to Tucson for the Match Play, Stricker had shot all the way up to No. 3 in the world. And who did Stricker beat in the first round there? Daniel Chopra.
 
At the Sony Open we learned how good K.J. Choi really has become. He saws everything left to right off the tee. But he rarely misses a fairway he needs to hit. We should have known, when Choi won Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods official events last year, that his was a game on the come.
 
At the Hope we learned how difficult it is to play on the lead. A much-improved Justin Leonard began the final round four shots clear of D.J. Trahan. His swing didnt hold up under the gun and Trahan lapped him on Sunday. Same went for Vijay Singh at Pebble Beach. Early Sunday the tournament looked to be his. Then he started missing greens and eventual winner Steve Lowery started stringing birdies.
 
Dont worry about Leonard, though. Already this year he has four top-10s and is beginning to look like a lock for Paul Azingers Ryder Cup team in September.
 
At the FBR we learned again that long-hitting J.B. Holmes likes the TPC Scottsdale. Holmes posted his second win there by birdieing the difficult 18th to force a playoff with Phil Mickelson. On the first extra hole, which also took place on No. 18, Holmes birdied it again for the win.
 
Mickelson, who had made an 11 on the 14th hole at Pebble Beach on Saturday to ingloriously miss the cut, was undaunted. We re-learned that when he showed up at Riviera and emerged victorious there for the first time in his career. Dont look now but Woods, still oh-for-Riviera, might be jealous.
 
And, oops, speaking of Woods: We almost forgot his tour de force, multi-stroke win at Torrey Pines in the Buick Invitational. He has now won four straight times there and will be even more of an overwhelming favorite (than he already was) when the worlds best players return to Torrey Pines South course for the U.S. Open in June.
 
Finally, not to forget Brian Gay. The 36-year-old journeyman, who also happens to be one of the best putters in the game, got the monkey off his back in his 293rd PGA TOUR start with his victory at Mayakoba. Dont be surprised if you see him in the TOUR Championship at the end of the year.
 
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  • Full Coverage - WGC-Accenture Match Play
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."