Wagner leads rain-suspended Safeway Open by 1

By Doug FergusonOctober 16, 2016, 1:15 am

NAPA, Calif. - Johnson Wagner avoided all the drama, and the bogeys, and came in from the rain holding a one-shot lead in the Safeway Open.

Wagner chipped in for birdie on No. 8 to start his climb from a three-shot deficit. He also rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 12. His best work before the third round was stopped by wet conditions, however, were the par saves.

''I was hanging on, hitting little quack hooks to the green but just somehow getting it up and down and making par putts, and really just trying to survive and make as many pars as I could.''

He was at 15 under par and facing a short iron into the par-5 16th when a sponge roller couldn't keep water off the front of the green, from where Scott Piercy was trying to play.

Piercy, who had been in the lead since his opening 62 that set the course record at Silverado, was at 14 under. Also at 14 under was Patton Kizzire, who was facing a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th green.

The dark clouds drooping over the foothills in Napa Valley were the first signs of the peculiar day.

Paul Casey, who was two shots behind when play was halted, was making up ground on Piercy on the front nine until his tee shot clipped a tree, ricocheted somewhere and was never found. Fans indicated that it shot across the fairway and went out of bounds into some trees, but that wasn't his golf ball. Either way, the lost ball cost him two shots.


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Piercy, who started the third round with a three-shot lead, hit a tee shot that was stymied by a tree, and when he walked up to play his third shot, another tree trunk blocked his path. He played back to the fairway and hit a superb pitch-and-run to 2 feet to limit the damage to a bogey.

The real pain was later.

Piercy missed a 6-foot birdie putt that was downhill with a wicked right-to-left break. He took a step toward the hole on the ninth for his birdie putt only to stop in his tracks when it spun around and out of the cup. He missed a 4-foot birdie putt on No. 10. And then on the par-3 11th, he watched his tee shot hit the base of the pin and carom off the green.

Through all his travails, he still was only one shot behind.

''I had a ball fly in the hole, I had a couple balls lip out,'' Piercy said. ''Just maybe a little off today as far as the scoring. But I gave myself lots of chances , and even though I didn't score well, I'm one back. I'm in a good spot.''

The third round was to resume Sunday morning, and starting times for the final round already had been moved up because of more rain forecast for the afternoon.

Martin Laird was 12 under through 16 holes. The best 54-hole scores posted belonged to Michael Kim (65) and Brendan Steele (67), who were at 11-under 205. Phil Mickelson hit a wild tee shot in the rain and made bogey on the par-5 closing hole for a third straight 69. He was six behind.

No person was more responsible for the PGA Tour's season-opening event having a decent chance to finish than JT Poston. In his first PGA Tour event, he holed an 8-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 69 that moved the cut line to 3-under 141.

That meant 70 players made the cut. His birdie knocked out 16 players.

Piercy finished the second round Saturday morning with a 67 for a three-shot lead over Casey and Wagner.

Casey had another lost ball late in the second round, but this turned out much better. He was about 30 seconds away from abandoning the search when a spectator held up a ball with the Nike swoosh and a blue pen dot and said, ''Is this it?'' The spectator had found it in the hazard, so while Casey still had a one-shot penalty, he was able to drop away from the grandstands and save par for a 68.

Casey birdied the par-3 second hole in the third round from 6 feet, and he was on the verge of getting within one shot of Piercy with a 4-foot birdie putt on the next hole until he missed it. Two holes later, the lost ball led to double bogey.

Wagner, meanwhile, plodded along. He was short of the green on No. 8 when he chipped in for birdie, and his chip from short of the ninth green lipped out. He pulled within one shot of the lead with a short birdie on the 10th, and caught Piercy with a 30-foot birdie on the 12th.

Piercy fell out of the lead with a bogey from just off the 14th green.

Kizzire started the third round six shots behind and made up ground quickly with five birdies on the front nine, only one of them longer than 12 feet. He finally dropped back in the rain, three-putted the 14th when his birdie attempt rolled some 6 feet by.

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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.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:







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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."