Garcia, Thompson co-lead Honda after Day 1

By Doug FergusonFebruary 26, 2016, 12:08 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Sergio Garcia made an eagle, avoided an alligator and wound up in a share of the lead Thursday in the Honda Classic.

Garcia holed out with an 8-iron from 142 yards into the wind on the second hole for an eagle, and he narrowly missed an eagle putt on the 18th hole at PGA National. The Spaniard shot 5-under 65 and shared the lead with Michael Thompson, the 2013 Honda Classic winner, who also birdied the last hole.

They were one shot ahead of Rickie Fowler and William McGirt.

The biggest excitement for Garcia was on the par-4 sixth hole, where he made his lone bogey.

His tee shot found the water left of the fairway, shallow enough for him to roll up his pants and try to play it out to the fairway. That part was easy. He looked over his shoulder because of an alligator on the island, making sure it wasn't going anywhere soon.

''I was more worried about the alligator that was on the other side of the island than getting out of the water,'' Garcia said. ''The ball, I could see probably half of it, so I knew that I could get it out. Almost made 4, which would have been a great 4. I'm not going to lie, I was happy with a 5.''


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And he was happy with other 60 strokes he took on a typical windy day at PGA National.

Garcia missed the cut last week at Riviera, two days in which he said he did nothing well. Hardly anything went wrong for him in the Honda Classic, and even when it did, he managed to avoid trouble. Garcia had to play a 40-yard hook from the rough left of the 10th fairway to just short of the green for a simple par.

Fowler had the only bogey-free round, which included a chip-in for par on the 10th hole. McGirt was more on the wild side by making seven birdies.

''Anything in the red is good around this place,'' McGirt said. ''At 4 under, I would say it was bordering on great. This place is never easy, even when it's calm. You can't fall asleep on any shot out here.''

For the early starters, it was a rude welcome to the Florida swing - chilly and gusts that approached 30 mph.

Phil Mickelson extended his good play from a runner-up finish at Pebble Beach and shot 69, among 10 players who managed to break par in the morning. The wind eased slightly and the warmth returned briefly in the afternoon, and the crowd had a lot more to cheer.

That included the loudest cheer of the day on the par-3 17th, where Alex Cejka made a hole-in-one.

Rory McIlroy, however, wasn't in a happy place when he finished. Standing outside the scoring area, he smacked his putter on the concrete before going inside to sign for a 72. It wasn't an awful score, but the finish led to his angst.

He hit the face of a bunker on the 14th hole and went into another fairway bunker, put his third in more sand left of the green and made double bogey. After a birdie on the 15th, McIlroy came up short into the bunker on the 16th for a bogey, and he finished his round with a three-putt bogey from 10 feet.

Fowler was playing for the first time since he lost a two-shot lead with two holes to play and Hideki Matsuyama beat him in a playoff at Phoenix Open. Fowler said he spent a week with friends and played plenty last week to get ready for a big stretch. He opened with two birdies in three holes and was in position most of the day.

''I think we got a good break playing in the afternoon today,'' he said. ''I think the wind laid down a little bit for us. I know the guys had a tough time this morning and the course was not easy. Still didn't play easy out there for us. I felt like I swung it really well tee-to-green. Would have been nice to putt a little better, but still a nice, solid round to start off the week.''

Garcia is playing for only the third time this year. He tied for seventh in Qatar and was never close to making the cut at Riviera.

''I didn't come in with a lot of confidence,'' Garcia said. ''For sure, you are wondering a little bit, because usually my long game, it's up there, and even when I'm not playing great, I still can manage to get around it. But last week, I felt out of sorts. I didn't know what was going on.''

He took four days off, played 10 holes Wednesday in the pro-am before the rain arrived and it all felt good again.

''It's only the first round,'' Garcia said. ''We still have three tough rounds to go on a very difficult golf course. But any good round, it's always welcome.''

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.


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“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”


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On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.


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Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”