Cink opens with 64 at Farmers; Woods 8 back

By Doug FergusonJanuary 24, 2014, 12:48 am

SAN DIEGO – The best score belonged to Stewart Cink. The best round belonged to Pat Perez. Tiger Woods didn't come close to claiming either Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open, where the seven-time champion failed to break par in the opening round for first time in his career.

Cink ran off three straight birdies late in his round on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines for an 8-under 64. That gave him a one-shot lead over Gary Woodland, who also was on the North, which is more than 600 yards shorter.

Perez was on the South Course, host of the 2008 U.S. Open and with greens so firm this year that it felt like a major. Perez had a 67, the best score on the South by two shots, and even more astounding is that he played bogey-free.


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The South played nearly four shots harder than the North.

Woods, making his 2014 debut, failed to birdie any of the par 5s and had to settle for a 72.

''Even par is not too bad, but I didn't play the par 5s worth a darn today,'' Woods said. ''Obviously, that's (tantamount) to try to get any kind of scoring on the South Course. You've got to take care of the par 5s because there's not a lot of holes you can make birdie here. Subsequently, I didn't finish under par.''

Even at eight shots behind, he wasn't worried about a chance to win at Torrey for the ninth time – including a U.S. Open. The courses are so different that it's difficult to gauge where anyone stands until everyone has had a crack at both courses. The weekend rounds are on the South.

''I'm going to have to go out there and get it a little bit tomorrow to not be so far behind come Saturday or Sunday,'' Woods said.

Cink did what he was supposed to do. The rough is up on the North, too, so it was important to get the ball in play. He did that, allowing him to take on some pins.

''You want to really take advantage of the North Course because it will yield to you a little bit, and the South Course will not,'' Cink said. ''I did a great job of going out there, just playing shot-by-shot, not really getting too caught up in, 'I have to birdie these holes.' As a consequence, I actually made a few birdies and it felt great.''

Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, felt awful.

He was coping with a back that locked up on him, unusual for Mickelson because he doesn't have a history of back pain. It got so bad at one point that Mickelson thought about withdrawing from his hometown event, especially after his 4-iron on the par-5 18th at the North Course nearly went out-of-bounds. Mickelson used his short game to make birdie, and then made another birdie on the next hole and he scratched out a 69.

''Never thought about not starting, but around the turn I thought about maybe taking this week off and seeing if I could get a little bit better,'' he said. ''I kind of fought through the back nine and gave myself a chance.''

He described it as a muscular problem and was hopeful treatment would help. Mickelson swung easy on the North. Players have to swing for the fences on the 7,698-yard South Course, where the average score Thursday 74.45.

Not many would have predicted a 67 on the South, though Woods wasn't surprised when he heard who did it.

''Why? He grew up here,'' Woods said. ''This was his home course. He's playing it more times than any tour pro certainly.''

Perez has such a history at Torrey that his father, Tony, continues to announce the players on the first tee at the South Course. And here's even better history – Perez won a Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines, by beating some Orange County kid named Tiger Woods.

''Best day of my life,'' Perez said. ''I've known him forever. He's always been great to me. He gives me advice here and there, but to beat him that year was fantastic. ... I've got to hold onto that, so that's about all that I got over him. But it hurts him. I'll you tell, it hurts him.''

Perez was joking. He is full of bluster and always fun, a favorite among the players.

That's what made Thursday so enjoyable. The weather was close to perfect, with hang gliders filling the sky left of the fourth fairway on the South. Perez had no bogeys on his card, and he can't remember if that ever happened since the South was stretched out to prepare for the U.S. Open.

It was only one round, but it was a great for Perez – and for Cink, who hasn't won since his British Open title at Turnberry in 2009. The test for Cink is Friday on the South, especially considering that only three players broke 70 on the South – Perez, Charley Hoffman (another San Diego native) and rookie Kevin Tway, whose father (former PGA champion Bob Tway) won this event in 1986.

DIVOTS: Jordan Spieth, who missed the cut at Torrey Pines last year as a 19-year-old making his pro debut, played with Woods and Jimmy Walker and shot 71. ... Fifty of the 62 rounds under par were on the North Course. ... The worst score on the North Course was a 77 by Brandt Snedeker and Derek Ernst.

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Watch: Tiger's Saturday birdies at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 24, 2018, 8:07 pm

Tiger Woods looks in complete control of his iron play at PGA National.

Four back to start the day, Woods parred his first seven holes before pouring in his first Saturday birdie with via this flagged iron from 139 at the par-4 eighth:

Woods' hit three more quality approaches at 9, 10 and 11 but couldn't get a putt to drop.

The lid finally came off the hole at No. 12 when he holed a key 17-footer for par to keep his scorecard clean.

One hole later, Woods would added a second circle to that card, converting this 14-footer for a birdie-3 that moved him back into red figures at 1 under par for the week.

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O. Fisher, Pepperell share lead at Qatar Masters

By Associated PressFebruary 24, 2018, 5:13 pm

DOHA, Qatar - Oliver Fisher birdied his last four holes in the Qatar Masters third round to share the lead at Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 7-under 65 for an overall 16-under 200. Eddie Pepperell (66) picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to catch his compatriot and the pair enjoy a two-shot lead over American Sean Crocker (67) in third.

David Horsey (65) was the biggest mover of the day with the Englishman improving 31 places for a share of fourth place at 12 under with, among others, Frenchman Gregory Havret and Italian Andrea Pavan.

Fisher, winner of the 2011 Czech Open, made some stunning putts on his way in. After an eight-footer on the par-4 15th, he then drove the green on the short par-4 16th for an easy birdie, before making a 12-footer on the 17th and a 15-footer on the 18th.

Like Pepperell, Fisher also had just one bogey to show on his card, also on the 12th hole.


Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


''I gave myself some chances coming in and thankfully I made them,'' said Fisher, who has dropped to 369th in the world rankings.

''You can quite easily make a few bogeys without doing that much wrong here, so it's important to be patient and keep giving yourself chances.''

Pepperell, ranked 154th in the world after a strong finish to his 2017 season, has been a picture of consistency in the tournament. He was once again rock-solid throughout the day, except one bad hole - the par-4 12th. His approach shot came up short and landed in the rocks, the third ricocheted back off the rocks, and he duffed his fourth shot to stay in the waste area.

But just when a double bogey or worse looked imminent, Pepperell holed his fifth shot for what was a remarkable bogey. And he celebrated that escape with a 40-feet birdie putt on the 13th.

''I maybe lost a little feeling through the turn, but I bounced back nicely and I didn't let it bother me,'' said the 27-year-old Pepperell, who hit his third shot to within four feet on the par-5 18th to join Fisher on top.

The long-hitting Crocker is playing on invites on the European Tour. He made a third eagle in three days - on the par-4 16th for the second successive round.

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 24, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Uihlein fires back at Jack in ongoing distance debate

By Randall MellFebruary 24, 2018, 4:32 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Wally Uihlein challenged Jack Nicklaus’ assault this week on the golf ball.

Uihlein, an industry force as president and CEO of Titleist and FootJoy parent company Acushnet for almost 20 years, retired at year’s start but remains an adviser.

In an interview with ScoreGolf on Friday, Uihlein reacted to Nicklaus’ assertions that the ball is responsible for contributing to a lot of the troubles the game faces today, from slow play and sagging participation to the soaring cost to play.

Uihlein also took the USGA and The R&A to task.

The ball became a topic when Nicklaus met with reporters Tuesday at the Honda Classic and was asked about slow play. Nicklaus said the ball was “the biggest culprit” of that.

“It appears from the press conference that Mr. Nicklaus was blaming slow play on technology and the golf ball in particular,” Uihlein said. “I don’t think anyone in the world believes that the golf ball has contributed to the game’s pace of play issues.”

Nicklaus told reporters that USGA executive director Mike Davis pledged over dinner with him to address the distance the golf ball is flying and the problems Nicklaus believes the distance explosion is creating in the game.

“Mike Davis has not told us that he is close, and he has not asked us for help if and when he gets there,” Uihlein said.

ScoreGolf pointed out that the Vancouver Protocol of 2011 was created after a closed-door meeting among the USGA, The R&A and equipment manufacturers, with the intent to make any proposed changes to equipment rules or testing procedures more transparent and to allow participation in the process.

“There are no golf courses being closed due to the advent of evolving technology,” Uihlein said. “There is no talk from the PGA Tour and its players about technology making their commercial product less attractive. Quite the opposite, the PGA Tour revenues are at record levels. The PGA of America is not asking for a roll back of technology. The game’s everyday player is not advocating a roll back of technology.”

ScoreGolf said Uihlein questioned why the USGA and The R&A choose courses that “supposedly” can no longer challenge the game’s best players as preferred venues for the U.S. Open, The Open and other high-profile events.

“It seems to me at some point in time that the media should be asking about the conflict of interest between the ruling bodies while at the same time conducting major championships on venues that maybe both the athletes and the technology have outgrown,” he said. “Because it is the potential obsolescence of some of these championship venues which is really at the core of this discussion.”