Love, Toms, Furyk chasing McGladrey lead

By Doug FergusonOctober 19, 2012, 10:54 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Davis Love III might have found the perfect tonic for any Ryder Cup hangover – playing golf, and playing well on a Sea Island course he knows better than anyone.

In his third straight tournament since his U.S. team lost a big lead on the final day at Medinah, Love hit a 6-iron to 3 feet on the 17th hole that put him in the final group going into the weekend at The McGladrey Classic, where he is becoming more than just a tournament host.

Love was one shot behind Arjun Atwal, who is running out of time to keep his PGA Tour card. Atwal made an adjustment in his putting stroke earlier in the week and watched it pay off in a big way at Sea Island for a 63, his best score of the year.

Atwal, whose two-year exemption from winning in Greensboro, N.C., expires this year, is No. 175 on the money list and has only two tournaments left to finish in the top 125. He opened with three straight birdies and took the outright lead with a wedge into 5 feet on the fifth hole, his 14th of the round.

'I'm in a desperate situation,' Atwal said. 'I got no choice – either win or finish in the top two. So I've just got to grind it out.'

Atwal was at 10-under 130, though this tournament has a distinct Ryder Cup feel going into the final two days.

It starts with Love, the American captain, who moved to Sea Island when he was 14. What helped more than his course knowledge was switching to a belly putter that doesn't quite reach his belly, and not even his shirt 'unless it's untucked.' Brian Bateman, who is much shorter than Love, once used it as a belly putter and Love figures the fact that it's a heavy club and has a different look could only help him.

'I've been messing around with this putter for well over a year, I just haven't had the nerve to put it in play,' Love said. 'But I had two pro-ams this week so I said, `This is the best time – my home greens, two pro-ams on my home course.' So I tried it out and the first day I used it, I made eight birdies. So it worked.'

Love was tied with Jim Furyk, who hasn't played since his bogey-bogey finish in the Ryder Cup and is making his final PGA Tour appearance of the year. Furyk was plodding along at Sea Island, a few birdies on his card, when he rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th, converted a two-putt birdie from 100 feet away just off the green, and made a third straight birdie on the 16th from about 12 feet. He wound up with a 65.

'I felt a little rusty on the way in,' Furyk said. 'I have a lot of confidence in my ball striking right now, but when you don't play a lot, sometimes it's the course management, making the good decisions. And so far that's all kind of coming back to me slowly and I've kind of gained momentum as the last two rounds have gone on.'

David Toms was tied with them until he made bogey on the final hole for a 67, though he was still only two shots out of the lead. Bud Cauley, who shared the first-round lead, wasn't as crisp with his irons and had to settle for a 70. He also was two behind, still in great shape as he pursues his first PGA Tour win. Gavin Coles joined them at 132 after six birdies in a round of 65.

Despite all the familiarity at the top of the leaderboard, the McGladrey Classic remained wide open.

The cut was at 1-under 209, meaning all 88 players were within nine shots of the lead.

There has been very little wind along the South Carolina coast, and while the weather has been mild and dry, enough rain has fallen in the early morning hours that the greens remained soft. Love hit one 7-iron that plugged in its pitch mark.

Such ideal conditions allowed just about everyone to stay in the game.

Chad Campbell, who hit all 18 greens in regulation, was among those at 7-under 133, while Vijay Singh (68) and Jason Day (67) were four shots behind.

Atwal struggled with a bad back early in the year when he opened the season by missing the cut in seven straight tournaments, one of them while playing in the same group with Tiger Woods at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. His chronic left knee is acting up now and he expects to have tests on it at the end of the year.

All he cares about now is getting a card for next year, a position with which he is familiar.

Two years ago, Atwal had to go through Monday qualifying for the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, and then he shot a 61 on his way to his lone PGA Tour victory. He recalls one year on the Nationwide Tour when he won late in the season to finish in the top 25 and earn back his Tour card.

More than injuries, he felt he spent too much time getting technical with his swing after changing coaches, and it took him until June before he stopping thinking and starting playing. He started making cuts, but he didn't make up much ground.

Love doesn't have to worry about his card, as a lifetime member with his 20 wins. The trick for the 48-year-old Love is to finish, which has been a problem this year amid all his Ryder Cup captaincy duties. But this would be a good place for that to change, on his home course and playing before hundreds of fans at a tournament that doesn't attract a big crowd. Love put on a show by making simple birdies on both par 5s and stuffing that 6-iron into tap-in range on the 17th.

Love isn't the least bit surprised. He was eager to get back to golf after the Ryder Cup and found he was throwing away too many shots in Las Vegas and California. Even on Friday, he twice made bogey with a wedge in his hand.

But he's only one shot back going into the weekend, and he has reason to hope that instead of giving out the trophy this year, he can take it.

'I'm hitting the ball real well,' he said. 'I wouldn't say I've gotten everything out of the day. But it's my home course, and I know my way around it. So hopefully, I can keep it going.'


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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.