Earley Leads in Illinois

By Futures Tour MediaJune 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
Futures TourDECATUR, Ill. -- The Clash once sold a bunch of records with a mantra rock-song chorus, 'Should I stay or should I go?' And more than once in the last few years, veteran player Liz Earley has heard that refrain ringing in her head.
She heard it when she putted poorly at LPGA Qualifying School last fall, failing to regain her non-exempt LPGA status. She has heard it many times when her putter has performed like an ill-fitting hammer. But in today's second round of the Michelob ULTRA Futures Charity Golf Classic, the 34-year-old native of St. Catharines, Ontario rolled in 27 putts, including a 15-footer on the last hole for the outright lead. The veteran fired a five-under-par score of 67 to lead the event by a single shot at 135 (-9).
'I've been back and forth about whether I wanted to quit this year,' said Earley in a quiet moment following her round that brought tears to her eyes. 'I decided to stick with it, grind it out and see what happens.'
One of the longest hitters on the Futures Golf Tour, Earley's calling card has been her booming drives. She pounded several today around the 290-yard mark. She hit a lot of pitching wedges into greens on the par-72, 6,454-yard Hickory Point Golf Course. And she connected on six birdies and one bogey for the day, raining in two putts from 20 feet.
'Putting has held me back my whole career and I feel that I've done everything I can do,' said the Canadian. 'But I also feel like I belong on the LPGA Tour. I'm out here [on the Futures Tour] because I love playing. I figured there would be a point in my career where I don't want to play anymore, but I don't feel that yet. A tournament like this makes you excited just to have the opportunity to play professional golf.'
When Earley putted out on the 18th green today, several younger Canadians were watching. And they have watched the veteran for years, hoping to follow in her footsteps to the LPGA Tour, where she was a member for five years. Earley has offered advice at times and has listened to her young compatriots at other times. But most of all, she has set a standard for tenacity.
'Sometimes, they'll ask me how much I made and I'll tell them that it doesn't matter whether you make 100 bucks or a thousand bucks -- just go play,' said Earley. 'I'm out here to play. I'm not interested in driving to the next tournament Sunday morning.'
And play she did. The second-round leader board produced more ties than an IBM board meeting, but Earley managed to hold on to a share of the lead for the entire day. She grabbed sole possession of the lead when she rolled in a birdie putt on the par-five 11th hole, but gave it back on the 12th when she hooked her tee shot, punched out and didn't get up and down for par. Two holes later on the par-five 14th, she pitched to four feet and drained another birdie to regain a share of the lead. When her last birdie putt dropped at 18, Earley was singing a different song.
But the Tour's longest-running tournament wouldn't be complete without some drama. Breathing down the veteran's collar was rookie Malinda Johnson of Eau Claire, Wis., who fired her own second-round 67 to move into second place at eight-under 136. Johnson's professional career began in Indiana four weeks ago after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. She finished second there in her pro debut.
Three players tied at seven-under-par 137 -- each firing rounds of three-under 69 -- were top-ranked Jimin Kang of Seoul, Korea, Kalen Anderson of Minnetonka, Minn., and 19-year-old rookie Aram Cho of Seoul.
Johnson's former college teammate at Wisconsin, rookie Katie Connelly, fired a career-low round of 65 one day before her 23rd birthday to move into a share of fourth place. The native of Beloit, Wis., is tied at six-under 138, with Kris Tamulis of Naples, Fla., and Yvonne Cox of Charleston, W.Va.
Earley will have her work cut out for her in Sunday's final round. But no doubt, she'd lean on her driver, count on her putter and know that there's no time like the present. The only place Earley hopes to go right now is to the top. And it's a place where she hopes to stay.
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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."