Back When Pavin Was a Feared Name
The final day, the final hour, the final minute of the playoff all were heart-stopping moments when so many players had a chance to win, looked briefly at the lead and then stumbled. Mark Brooks, Billy Ray Brown, Keith Clearwater, Raymond Floyd and Blaine McCallister each had their chances. Couples could have won it. Pavin did, and one more bit of drama was added to his resume.
Just call me David, laughed Pavin after it was over and he had collected the scalps of Couples, Nick Faldo, and the five guys who finished only a stroke out of the playoff. But for a while, you could call him Wrong Way Corrigan for the way he was headed after the events at No. 15.
It was at 15 that Pavin nearly blew himself out of the tournament. He had been in the lead most of the final round, but suffered a real hiccup at that point with a double bogey when his approach shot wound up in a near-impossible lie. The double sent Pavin reeling down the ladder and opened up the tournament for a fistful of players.
I wasnt upset by it, said Pavin. I know that the second shot ended up in the worst possible place it could. I said, Well give it the best shot I can. Again, I didnt get upset. If Im out there getting upset, then Im not giving it my best effort.
So Pavin regrouped and parred Nos. 16 and 17, and then it was time to play the par-5 closing hole, a 585-yard twister with a green just beyond a pond. By now the lead had passed to Brooks, who was three ahead of Pavin. Couples was one shot ahead of Pavin. Brooks and Couples were playing the 16th while Pavin was in the middle of the fairway on 18, sizing up his third shot.
He pulled his 8-iron and stroked it.
I hit the shot and I was watching it, remembered Pavin. I thought, Now this is really straight. It never left the pin.
I heard a clunk (when the ball hit the flagstick) and held my breath, because some of them have popped out. But it stayed.
The hole-out meant Pavin had eagled 18. And when Brooks bogeyed minutes later, Pavin was tied for the lead. Brooks bogeyed again and was out of competition after another hole.
Pavin led Couples by one, but Couples birdied the 18th, too, and forced a playoff. It was Pavin and Couples to the tee, more like the storied duels this pair had at Riviera in the early 90s.
The two players both parred the first playoff hole, then came to the 18th again. On the green, Couples was 20 feet from the flag while Pavin was 15 feet away.
Pavin eyed Couples effort intently as it rolled up to the cup ' then the effort died on the lip.
I said, I have to hit it a little harder than I think, Pavin recalled. So I hit it a lot harder than I had originally meant to. It was about 1-feet harder than normal, but it was perfect speed.
When it came off the putterhead, I thought I had it. When I hit it, I said, This thing has a great chance.
The ball broke a couple of inches left-to-right and went dead straight into the hole. Pavin had won, his fifth playoff victory in six tries.
Couples had gotten into a position that was not what he really wanted, either A), in going into a playoff, or B), in getting into a putting match with Pavin.
From 120 yards in, hes probably better than me, said Fred. On the putting green, I KNOW hes better than me.
The late Payne Stewart knew better than to mix it up with Pavin. Hes got a lot of heart, Stewart said. He just knows how to win. He gets in situations and he wins.
Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open
The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:
Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)
What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.
Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.
Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.
Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.
Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday.
Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one
Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.
Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia
SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.
Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.
''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.
But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.
In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.
''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.
The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.
''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''
NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.
Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long
Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.
Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.
"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"
The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.
Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.
"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."
Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.
"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.
"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.
"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."