Choi proving he can win AT&T no matter the venue

By Doug FergusonJuly 1, 2011, 8:06 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – K.J. Choi already has won The Players Championship this year. His name already is on the Liberty Bell trophy from winning the inaugural AT&T National in 2007 when it was played at Congressional.

His position atop the leaderboard after two rounds at Aronimink looked even stronger considering what –more than who – was behind him going into the weekend.

Some of the names might sound familiar. Their recent results aren’t terribly daunting. Four of the eight players within three shots of his lead have never won on the PGA Tour. Two others only won once. None of them have a victory over the past two seasons.

Choi matched the course record at Aronimink – although that includes only six rounds – by making five birdies over his last six holes Friday for a 6-under 64 to build a two-shot lead.

“I don’t really pay attention to any records,” said Choi, who was at 7-under 133. “My style is just playing hole by hole, just trying my best each hole, every shot. So when I heard that I tied the course record, I felt very happy, very pleased about that.”

Choi will be paired in the last group Saturday with Chris Riley, one of the top putters on tour (using a 1970 putter that he took from his grandmother nearly 20 years ago). Riley, who shot a 66, won his only tour event in the Reno-Tahoe Open nine years ago.

Also at 5-under 135 were Charlie Wi (66), who is still looking for his first win, and Bo Van Pelt (66), whose lone victory came in the old U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee in 2009 when it was held opposite the British Open.

And then there’s Justin Leonard.

No one among the top 12 on the leaderboard is more accomplished than Leonard, whose 12 career wins include a British Open and The Players Championship. Lately, however, it has been a major struggle.

“I’m just glad I played a couple of rounds that I can build on,” Leonard said. “It will be nice teeing off late on a Saturday. It’s been awhile. Looking forward to seeing what I can do this weekend.”

Leonard is No. 134 in the FedEx Cup standings, leaving him a little more than a month to even qualify for the playoffs. He has only made the cut in half of his 18 starts this year and has yet to record a top 10. Golf has become so frustrating that he and his caddie parted ways last week after Hartford.

Another big change came at home.

Leonard reached out to putting guru Marius Filmalter, who works out of Dallas, and he’s starting to see results. His main teacher is Randy Smith, and he had Smith join them at Royal Oaks a few weeks ago to make sure everyone was on the same page.

“It’s been good, just trying to get connected again,” Leonard said. “My stroke had gotten a little loose, kind of doing too much with the hands and arms and getting the stroke back in the shoulders. And it feels really good.”

It looks pretty good, too.

For all the pretty swings, and even some of the ugly ones, putting compensates for so much at the highest level. Leonard felt as though he were hitting the ball fine, he just wasn’t able to post a decent score.

But after opening with a 68, he overcame a bogey on his opening hole with a steady round of 67.

That’s the difference between this week and Memorial, and last week at Travelers – being able to make a few putts,” Leonard said. “I don’t feel like I have to hit every green. It creates an ease out there on the golf course that I haven’t played with in awhile, and it’s been very nice.”

The hard part will come on the weekend, as players try to handle Aronimink and catch up to Choi.

The greens are in such pure condition, and so close to the edge of being too firm and fast, that they were watered just enough to keep them ready for two more days of the AT&T National. Leonard and Van Pelt were surprised that in afternoon sunshine, the greens still were holding shots instead of shots bouncing beyond the hole.

But there was a catch.

“I thought it might bake out more,” Van Pelt said. “If you’re in the rough, they roll out on the greens. If you’re in the fairway, they’re holding. And that’s ideal.”

There haven’t been too many complaints, if any, about Aronimink this week. It’s an old classic, and as Van Pelt noted, it’s been around so long because no one has messed it up.

“This is a golf course where you can run up a bunch of bogeys,” Wi said. “You’re not going to lose too many spots if you make par. If you stay patient out here, that’s probably the most important thing.”

Choi had some separation with his big finish, although so many others were very much in the mix. Charles Howell III birdied his last hole (after back-to-back bogeys) for another 68 and was in the group of four players at 4-under 136.

Adam Scott, who shared the lead after the opening round with Hunter Haas, looked as though he might come undone when he took double bogey on the par-3 14th. His tee shot went into an ugly lie in the rough, and his plan was to get it onto the green and let it roll to the cup. He didn’t quite get it on the green, and three-putted from 45 feet – the putt he made for double bogey was just over 4 feet.

He played with Choi and was falling further behind until making two birdies over his final hour to salvage a round of 71, leaving him in the group at 137 that included Fowler (69) and Joe Ogilvie (70).

“Those birdies were really big,” Scott said. “It’s easy to get it stuck in reverse on a course like this. And playing with K.J., the way he was going at the end, it was nice to keep in touch.”

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.