Suttons Problems Behind Him and Hes Ready to Roll

By George WhiteMarch 2, 2001, 5:00 pm
Hal Sutton always looks like someone who just dropped over from the set of Gunsmoke. He sort of swaggers into the room and sets down into the chair slow and easy. Words are at an economy with him, though he isn't non-sociable. He has that deep, deep voice, and the slight Southern twang resonates throughout the length and breadth of the four walls.
'Nice to see you guys in the press room. This is my first visit in here this year,' he said to a hearty round of laughter from the assembled hacks. Hal was obviously in a good mood after shooting his second straight 66 at Doral Friday. And he obviously was in a good mood to be back on the East Coast after the PGA Tour had started the first couple of months out West.
Sutton had back and ankle problems toward the end of 2000, maladies guaranteed to greatly hamper your effectiveness. He had won the TPC in a torrid shootout with Tiger Woods and added the Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic mid-year. Then he suffered his physical ailments and was quiet the second half of the year. Ditto the West Coast this year.
'Let's have three cheers for some heat,' he said after traipsing around in Doral's 85-degree temperatures. 'We have been in the cold. It is nice too sweat a little bit.'
As expected, Sutton and the players from the east have a decided preference for Bermuda greens and the eastern courses. Putting was a huge problem for Sutton out west. At Doral there were no worries, mate. He sank `em like he was putting at 10-feet holes, making a couple of 20-footers Friday and a pair in the 12-15 foot range.
'The West Coast is tough,' said Sutton, the admiration apparent for the first eight winners.
'You play a lot of courses, multiple courses, you are not putting on the same set of greens every day. The greens are all different, and some are like putting through a gravel pit.
'If you get off to a poor start, not making anything, trying to make some putts, some times you feel like talking to yourself out there.'
Stewart Cink echoes the feeling. A resident of Atlanta, Ga., a graduate of Georgia Tech, he is as East Coast as the Boston Red Sox. 'I'm a huge fan of Bermuda,' said Cink. 'I grew up mostly on Bermuda. I never realized they could get it this good a shape until I first came to Doral. It is awesome to see roll out here.'
Of course, your preference undoubtedly is shaped by your region of the country. 'I am sure the guys of the West Coast would argue the other way,' said Cink, recognizing regional preferences.
But Sutton doesn't like the West Coast grasses. And he doesn't leave any doubt about that.
'I hate putting seaside poa annua greens,' he said. 'There is an awful lot of that on the West Coast.'
Sutton gave more than a passing thought to the injuries that handicapped him toward the end of last year. He's in his 40s now, mindful that the body doesn't rebound from injuries the same way it does in the 20s. To put it mildly, it was a tremendous relief to shoot numbers like he has posted at Doral.
'I was concerned,' he says, his face darkening for a moment at the thought of Hal Sutton reduced to also-ran. 'Every time I turned around, it was something different happening.
'I got that tendonitis in my left ankle. I think that caused a lot of the other problems. In hindsight, I would have been better off if I took five or six months off right after I detected that tendonitis and let it heal. But I didn't.'
Of course not. You wouldn't think that Matt Dillon would let a little ole' ankle injury stop him. Or James Arness, for that matter. Hal Sutton wasn't going to, either, come hell or high wedges.
[Read Hal Sutton's Bio Here]
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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:40 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.

• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream:; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).