Fernandez Concocts Watson Magic

By George WhiteJune 27, 2003, 4:00 pm
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Thursday it was Tom Watson who had all the luck, making five shots ' either putts or wedges ' of 20 feet or more. It was a case of Watson Magic kicking into overdrive.
 
Friday it was Argentine Vincente Fernandez. Coupling his own brand of Watson Magic with a few lucky bounces and spectacular play, he treated Inverness like it was own personal playpen. When it was over, he had fired a 64 to open up a one-shot lead over Watson at the halfway point of the U.S. Senior Open.
 
Watson had a 66 in the first round, but could do no better than a 1-over 72 Friday. Fernandez opened with 73 Thursday, making what he called mental errors on four holes. But in the second round, he made birdies on the bookends, going birdie-birdie-eagle on his second, third and forth holes, then finishing his round with three straight birdies.
 
I dont think anybody can anticipate shooting 64 on this course, said Fernandez. I just felt that I was striking the ball well. I was confident that I (would) shoot par or under par today, but no ' no 64. That was not even in my dreams.
 
He got a couple of birdies after his drives went into the rough. He holed a putt from 30 feet.
 
But he threw in some remarkable shot-making, too. He made the eagle after a 6-iron from 202 yards wound up just six inches from the hole. He hit a 9-iron to three feet, hit a sand wedge inside of a foot, and two other times hit sand wedges inside 10 feet.
 
Today I didnt (make mental mistakes), he said. In the middle of the round, I made pars that kept me going. And then on the last few holes, I hit good shots and I took advantage of that.
 
Watson and Bruce Lietzke were briefly tied for the lead at 5-under par earlier in the afternoon, but Lietzke knocked the ball into a creek beside the fifth green (his 14th) for a double bogey and bogeyed his last hole ' the ninth. Watson also bogeyed his last ' the 18th ' when he put the ball in a back bunker with a 9-iron and failed to get it up-and-down.
 
Those birdies are like markers in your pocket that you know you are going to have to cash in eventually, said Lietzke, who finished with a 71 to remain at 2-under. Youve got to spend those markers wisely. Everyone is going to make their share of bogeys around here, and double bogeys are very easy to make. Youve got to build up the birdies because you know that somewhere, sooner or later, the bogeys are coming.
 
It happens, said Lietzke, and there is much more drama that is going to occur. There are lots of bogeys that are looming in everyones future, as well as a few birdies.
 
I knew going into a USGA event or Senior PGA that bogeys happen, whether you hit perfect golf shots or beautiful golf shots or your strategy has been exactly the way you wanted it, he said. Bogeys still show up on these kinds of golf courses when the golf courses are set up this way.
 
There is nobody in this field that will go this weekend without making at least five bogeys. Everybody in the field will make at least that much. So I just wanted to get my share of birdies to offset those mistakes.
 
Watson was sailing along with a 6-under total until he made a three-putt bogey at No. 15, and then bogeyed the last.
 
He admitted he was fooled by a course which took half an inch of rain Thursday evening, softening it enough that golfers could sometimes shoot at the pins with a little more impunity than in Round 1.
 
I was thinking, just put the ball in the fairway and see if we can get the ball close enough to the hole to make a few putts today, Watson said. And I did put the ball in the fairway, but I didnt get the ball very close to the hole. That was my problem.
 
But I did play well enough today. I put the ball in play off the tee very well. My play was pretty scratchy, not very good, and left me a lot of long putts, 30 to 40 to 50 feet. You dont want those type of putts on these greens.
 
Its a little like the blind leading the blind where Inverness is concerned, believes Watson. They dont play the course on any of the tour stops. Everyone is kind of feeling his way around the narrow fairways and strange greens.
 
Thats the problem you face playing Inverness, he said. If the greens are soft, you can get the ball to the hole ' you still have a lot of break with the putts. Enter the fact that most of the players here havent played here very much, and this is a brand new golf course. So they dont know the intricacies of the golf course.
 
This is my fourth championship here (in a 31-year career) and I know a little bit more about the golf course than most of the guys who play here, I guess. It does help me, I think, but it didnt help me a couple of holes today.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry