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.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.