MacKenzie, Svoboda share McGladrey lead

By Doug FergusonOctober 25, 2014, 9:45 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Will MacKenzie made a hole-in-one that hardly anyone saw and finished with a 45-foot birdie putt that gave him a 5-under 65 on Saturday and a share of the lead with Andrew Svoboda going into the final round of the McGladrey Classic.

Svoboda, playing in the same group with MacKenzie, rallied from a careless double bogey with three birdies over his last six holes for a 66.

The leaders were at 12-under 198, though the final round at Sea Island had all the trappings of a shootout.

Russell Henley, the 36-hole leader, was one shot behind after another solid day except for one shot. He pulled his approach into the water on the par-5 15th hole and made bogey on the easiest hole on the Seaside course. Henley had a 68.


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Stewart Cink, winless since beating Tom Watson in a playoff at Turnberry five years ago, made eight birdies in his round of 63. Defending champion Chris Kirk is progressively getting better with rounds of 68-67-66. They were part of a large group at 201, just three shots behind.

Nine players were within four shots of the lead.

MacKenzie said it was his third ace on the PGA Tour, and one he'll never forget, mainly because of the reaction.

There wasn't one.

MacKenzie didn't even know it was in the hole until he looked around the green and couldn't find his ball. A spectator indicated with his hand that it was in the hole.

''Most anti-climactic hole-in-one I ever had,'' he said.

He hit an 8-iron from 178 yards on the par-3 sixth hole. He could see it was headed for the flag. He could hear it hit the stick. He might have been able to hear four fans clapping, though he can't swear to that. And then he got to the green and was really confused.

''Finally, there was this random guy over there, like one of the four guys clapping earlier,'' he said. ''They were like, 'Yeah, it went in. Didn't you hear us clap?' I was like, 'Thanks, man. You guys are low-key here.' They're used to seeing great shots. They're used to your Matt Kuchars and the guys, studs. I made a hole-in-one. It means nothing other than it was a 1 on the scorecard. It was just the most boring hole-in-one ever.''

But it put him into the last group with a chance to win a PGA Tour event for the first time since MacKenzie won the Viking Classic six years ago.

Four players had at least a share of the lead at one point. Henley fell back with his bogey on the 15th. Fabian Gomez of Argentina was tied for the lead until he stumbled at the finish. He three-putted from 30 feet on the 16th and from 40 feet on the 17th, and then failed to get up-and-down from short of the 18th. He shot 68 and was in the group three shots out of the lead.

Henley and Kirk are playing for the first time since the Tour Championship on Sept. 14. Neither was sure what to expect this week, and even though Henley didn't finish as strong as he would like, he was happy with where he was.

So was Kirk, who had five birdies and an eagle to counter his mistakes.

Kirk holed out with a sand wedge from 115 yards on the eighth hole, only to bogey the next two holes. He finished strong and still had a chance to defend his title.

''I've managed to put three pretty solid rounds together, and hopefully I can give them a little bit of a run tomorrow,'' Kirk said.

MacKenzie also had his moments. He didn't take the lead until a birdie on the 16th hole, only to lose focus on the next hole. He hit 5-iron, which was way too much club for the par-3 17th, and he was lucky to at least have a shot out of the wire grass. He chopped that over the green, got the next shot down to 7 feet and holed that for a bogey.

And to cap it off, he made a long birdie across the 18th green to catch Svoboda, who had to save par with a tough chip from the right side of the green.

''I was a little jumpy,'' MacKenzie said. ''So it was huge to make that bomb.''

DIVOTS: The 54-hole cut was at 1-under 209, and it eliminated 17 players. Among those making it to Sunday was tournament host Davis Love III, who shot 70. ... The only downside to Cink being in the penultimate group Sunday is that he likely will miss his 6:30 p.m. flight out of Jacksonville, Florida, to get to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic next week. Love is presenting the trophy and will miss that flight, too, though he is planning a private jet to New York to make the Malaysia connection. ... Brian Harman, playing in the final group with his Georgia teammate Russell Henley, had a 73 and fell seven shots behind.

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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.''


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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.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


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After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.