Watson Starts His Mission With 65

By George WhiteJune 26, 2003, 4:00 pm
TOLEDO, Ohio -- You have these days sometimes if you are golfer, Tom Watson was saying. The drives are generally in the fairways. The long putts generally go in. And the score generally is somewhere in the mid-60s.
 
Thursday was one of those days for Watson in the opening round of the U.S. Senior Open. He hit most of the fairways, made most long putts, and coasted in with a 65.
 
I dont know what got into me, Watson admitted afterwards. Today was one of those days that the putter ' everything worked well with the putter. I made a lot of long putts. And when you make a lot of long putts, you keep the ball in play, you only miss two fairways, you ought to shoot a pretty good score here at Inverness.
 
This was a true Open course, with the opinion mixed on the lightning speed of the greens, the narrow fairways and the way the balls roll in the short grass. Bruce Lietzke, for one, was perfectly comfortable with the way Inverness was set up. Lietzke is runner-up to last year's runner-up with a 2-under 69 after the first day of play.
 
Inclement weather suspended first-round play. Only four players finished the day under par. Mike McCullough and J.C. Snead each had 1-under 70.
 
Its a real strategy golf course when you dont just grab a driver and whale away at it, Lietzke said. So you really have to think your way around the golf course and there (are) a lot of opportunities to make mistakes out there ' not only if you dont hit the ball straight, which is typical of a U.S. Open, but now you can really mis-club off the tee several times.
 
I have never seen a pro go 18 holes without hitting a driver and I saw it today (his playing partner, Gil Morgan). He has me thinking that might be the way to go. I might carry a driver out there just to have a casual-water relief club, because thats the longest club in my bag.
 
Watson was the big hitter, of course, but some people will remind that he started the U.S. Open two weeks ago with a 65, then faded steadily as the week went on.
 
I didnt have the tools, he admitted. The tool box was shut. I had a few good runs there, but I didnt hit the ball in the fairway enough.
 
I kept missing fairways, especially in the third round. I think I only hit eight fairways in the third round, so you cant compete in any golf tournament when you hit eight fairways, unless the rough in non-existent.
 
But even Watson, who lost in a playoff last year to Don Pooley, marveled at what he did Thursday. He made seven birdies on what was a very difficult course.. He missed just two fairways. He made one putt of 45 feet. He made two other birdie putts of 35 feet, a couple from 25 feet, and a 15-footer. And he chipped one in for yet another bird.
 
I played well, he said in an understatement. I mean, I hit a lot of good, quality shots. I kept the ball in the fairway I turned a 71 into a 65 with good long putts and chipping ' the Watson roll. I broke a lot of peoples hearts making a lot of putts out there.
 
And Watson watched his playing partners, Fuzzy Zoeller and Jose Maria Canizares, intently when they were on the greens. On several occasions he followed them in the putting order, reading the breaks off of them and then making his.
 
They were important, agreed Watson. I had two or three putts that I had a good read from my playing partner ' either Jose or Fuzzy. And that definitely was an advantage. It goes to show you that if you are hitting inside of your playing partners, you get some benefit from it.
 
As opposed to Lietzke and Morgan, Zoller found that the driver was far preferable to the 3-wood.
 
My 3-wood had a minor virus in it, he joked. Once I accepted the fact that it was not going to cooperate, I put it in the bag and started hitting the driver. That seemed to work pretty well.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the U.S. Senior Open
  • U.S. Senior Open Leaderboard
  • Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    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. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    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.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.

    Getty Images

    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.