Crowded Leaderboard at Futures Tour Event
'It's shaping up to be a good weekend,' said Stephanie George of Myerstown, Pa., who was the first player of the half dozen to card a 67 on the old-fashioned 5,973-yard tract that features narrow tree-lined fairways and tiny greens.
George would later share the lead with three other players from the morning rounds. Playing in the same group was Beth Hermes of Dixon, Ill., and third-week rookie pro Perry Swenson of Charlotte, N.C., who both carded their own 67s to join George for the lead. Rookie Hye Jung Choi of Seoul, Korea added the final 67 of the morning to grab her share of the lead.
Hot and humid conditions ushered in afternoon thunderstorms and play was suspended at 1:51 p.m. By the time play resumed at 3:40 p.m., much of the humidity had lifted and players in the afternoon were greeted by more receptive greens and less oppressive summertime weather.
Veteran professional Kelly Cap, a non-exempt LPGA Tour member of Youngstown, Ohio, was the first of two players in the afternoon to grab a share of the lead. The 32-year-old player hit 14 greens and rolled in 27 putts in a bogey-free round that included five birdies for her best start in six years on the Futures Tour.
'My short game was really good today and if you can stay patient, there are a ton of birdie holes out there,' said Cap, who is still looking for her first professional win. 'The course is very scorable, so you have to make as many birdies as you can.'
Playing in the last group of the day and finishing her round at nearly 8:30 p.m., Jamie Stevenson of Mayfield, Utah, posted the final 67 of the opening round and said she spent the weather delay taking a nap in her car out in the parking lot.
'This was the first time in a long time when I felt relaxed and at ease, and that has always been my difficulty,' said Stevenson, 28, in her fourth Futures Tour season. 'I think I've had to get beaten up out here to learn that this is just a game. It's not everything. And that helped me today.'
Stevenson used her length to play Lost Creek's par-five holes in three-under-par. So did Choi, who carded an eagle-3 on the par-five 13th hole when she hit the green in two shots and drained her 12-foot putt for eagle.
'I'm playing very close to the way I want to play,' said Choi, 20, who not only used her length to trim three shots on the par-fives, but also used a cooperative putter with 28 putts in her round. Choi has finished second twice this season, losing each in a playoff.
'This feels really good, because I've only been out here for three weeks,' said Swenson, 22, who graduated from the University of Texas a month ago. 'At least I know I have the game to compete out here.'
Defending champion Danielle Downey of Spencerport, N.Y., carded a four-under-par 68 to join a four-way tie with Julie Turner of Skaneateles, N.Y., Naree Song of Seoul, Korea, and Jan Dowling of Bradford, Ontario. Seven players, including Nicole Castrale of Palm Desert , Calif. , who has won the last two tournaments on the Futures Tour, are tied at three-under 69.
'I've defended a title once before in junior golf, so I'm not afraid,' said Downey, who carded a bogey-free, four-birdie round. 'I have a lot of great memories here and I know I can play well here on this course. The leaders are going to go low every day and I really think there's a 10 under out there.'
It's safe to say that an entire tournament field is hoping Downey is right in that prediction this weekend.
Saturday's second round of the 54-hole event will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and tenth tees. The leaders will tee off at 2:10 p.m.
Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener
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.''
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?''
The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros
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:
Once we give 'em a lesson, we are faced with:— Trackman Maestro (@TrackmanMaestro) January 16, 2018
A. Will they do what we asked them to do
B. Can they do what we asked them to do
C. Will they put in the practice time
D. The fact that golf is a hard game
We face multiple barriers as golf instructors.
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.
Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field
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.
Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder
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.”
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.