Johnson early leader at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 5, 2010, 6:57 am
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES – Dustin Johnson was determined to get off to a good start in the Northern Trust Open, so for the first time, he decided against trying to drive the 10th green at Riviera and instead laid up with a 4-iron.

He made par, which never hurts. And then he took off.

Johnson birdied three of his next four holes, one of them with a 65-foot putt, and he kept bogeys off his card during a cool, gentle morning for a 7-under 64 to build a one-shot lead Thursday over Andres Romero and Kevin Stadler.

“Had good vibes going all day, and just hit the ball really good all day long,” Johnson said.

Romero had good vibes going for most of the day. The dynamic Argentine had eight birdies to offset a double bogey on the ninth hole when he didn’t listen to his caddie. Romero finished with four straight birdies for a 65. Stadler had the best score among late starters, opening with a 30 on the back nine. He played the final eight holes in 1 over.

Brandt Snedeker, coming off a runner-up finish last week at Torrey Pines, and Ricky Barnes were at 66. Steve Stricker had a 67 despite a three-putt bogey at No. 3, missing his par putt from 2 feet when he couldn’t get the sound of a nearby jackhammer out of his head.

David Duval and Ernie Els were in the large group at 68.

Phil Mickelson thought he might be among the leaders. Going for an unprecedented third straight victory at Riviera, he was 3 under midway through his round. He finished with three bogeys over his last four holes – the exception was a 6-foot birdie putt he missed – and wound up with a 1-over 72.

“I had it right there with five or six holes to go, and I let it go,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson took the Ping Eye2 wedge with square grooves out of his bag this week, although one wish was fulfilled when two players continued using it – Hunter Mahan and Fred Couples, who had a 69.

The wedge is approved for play under a legal settlement from two decades ago.

Couples was inspired by the fuss from last week, generated mainly by Scott McCarron saying it was “cheating” for players like Mickelson to use it. He also was impressed that Mickelson, given his stature as the top player in golf while Tiger Woods is away, was willing to take any criticism by using the club.

“I said, ‘I think that’s strong, and I’m going to use one next week,”’ Couples said. “He said, ‘Man, I think that’s great.’ I get out here and he’s not using it.”

Couples said the Ping wedge is the best one he has, although he suggested he would look at others as he played more tournaments.

Mahan said he never considered anything wrong with a club that was approved under the rules.

Mickelson’s reason for using the wedge was to call attention to the USGA’s process of changing rules, which he has referred to as “ridiculous.” Mahan’s reason was different.

“It spins a little bit more,” he said.

Even so, it didn’t help on the 10th hole, when Mahan went bunker-to-bunker and made double bogey. Heading down the 11th fairway, John Wood, his caddie who found the old Ping wedge, said with a laugh, “If we had V-grooves, we would have had to hit four times instead of three.”

The par-4 10th hole is among the most famous in golf, and one of the best tests among short par 4s anywhere in the world. It measured 303 yards for the opening round, with an emphasis on angles more than how far the ball is struck.

Johnson is ample long, but this time hit 4-iron to about 85 yards, a safe wedge to some 18 feet and two putts for par.

“I didn’t make birdie, but it was an easy 4,” he said. “And I wanted it to be easy.”

He made the rest of his round look that way. He was on or around the greens on two of the par 5s, received a gift with the monster putt on No. 12, and the only time he came close to a bogey was at the par-3 fourth, when he went long and chipped to 8 feet.

Romero, coming off such a poor year that he’s not eligible for any of the majors, also had an easy time except for the ninth. From a fairway bunker, his caddie wanted him to hit 7-iron short of the green and get up-and-down for par.

“I’m so stubborn, I stayed with the 6-iron,” Romero said. “And it buried in the bunker.”

He took double bogey, then followed with his burst of birdies at the end. Romero tied for third at Riviera a year ago.

DIVOTS: The field for the Northern Trust Open is 132 players, down from 144 players last year, because of a 30-minute loss of daylight. The tournament is being held two weeks earlier than last year. The Phoenix Open, which moved from early February to the end of February this year, will have its field increased from 132 players to 144 players. The field sizes return to normal when those tournaments resume their regular spots on the schedule. … One week after his runner-up finish at Torrey Pines, Michael Sim bogeyed his last four holes and opened with a 77. … Despite the shorter field, three players failed to finish. That included Rickie Fowler, who was 1 under playing the ninth hole.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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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.