Oppenheim, 36-year-old rookie, starts well at Torrey

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 29, 2016, 3:56 pm

SAN DIEGO – Today’s PGA Tour is chock-full of hotshot prospects whose status on the world’s best circuit seems preordained.

Not so for Rob Oppenheim, who at 36 is finally a Tour rookie.

Fittingly, even that part didn’t come easily. 

Last fall, Oppenheim entered the Web.com Tour regular-season finale at No. 24 on the money list. He missed the cut and finished 26th – or one spot away from a card – by less than $1,000.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and Oppenheim was polishing off a closing 67 at the Web.com Tour Championship. He still didn’t think he’d done enough, and by the time he left the scoring trailer he was projected to finish 28th in the Web.com Tour Finals.

Crushed, again, Oppenheim, his wife and young daughter headed back home to Orlando. He was fueling up at a gas station just before I-95 when he received a call from the PGA Tour:

You’re in.

Back at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley course, Lucas Glover made what seemed like a meaningless bogey on the final hole. Except that it meant everything to Oppenheim, who now finished in a six-way tie for 12th, who now had earned the 25th and final card by $101.

“It was unbelievable,” he recalled Thursday. “My phone never got so many text messages in a one-minute period. People must have thought something happened, because we’re crying and hugging in the middle of some random gas station.”

Oppenheim turned around and made the 30-minute drive back to Ponte Vedra Beach, for a ceremony he wasn’t quite sure he would ever attend.

Just a few years ago, Oppenheim had virtually no status on the Web.com and could only get into a few events. That led him to a Hooters Tour event in Ocala, Fla., where he finished somewhere around the top 10, but it still wasn’t enough to cover his expenses for the week.

What are we doing here?, he wondered. He was away from his wife. He was away from his 1-year-old daughter. And he was seemingly miles away from making it to the big leagues, but he said he never wavered, never lined up another gig in case he finally conceded that professional golf wasn’t going to pan out.

“I love the game, love playing,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Last year, his persistence was rewarded on the Web.com Tour. He had only one top-10 in 25 starts, but he made it count, winning the Air Capital Classic to push him toward the top-25 bubble. Eventually, he earned his card, narrowly and with some help, but who cares?

“Looking back,” he said, “it’s one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had. It just shows the fine line for someone else to get me there, and whether I was a better player or not, it doesn’t mean anything.”

At No. 50 on the priority list, Oppenheim knows that playing opportunities will be scarce this season, and that he must capitalize when they arrive. He has made the cut in only half of his four starts so far, pocketing just $25,780, but he didn’t forget how he got here. One of his first orders of business as a Tour member was to thank Glover.

Maybe his opportunity arrived here this week, after opening with a 5-under 67 on Torrey Pines’ North Course, enough to put him just one shot off the lead heading into Day 2 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

“It feels good,” he said, “but I also don’t want to be happy that I’m out here. Sometimes you can just enjoy it too much. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked, to be honest with you.”

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Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 17, 2018, 7:45 pm

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.

Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:

The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.

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Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 4:17 pm

MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.

The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.

England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.

The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.

Full-field scores from the NBO Oman Golf Classic

''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''

Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.

That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.

''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''

The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.

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J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives

By Associated PressFebruary 17, 2018, 3:33 pm

ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.

The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.

Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.

Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.

Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.

Full-field scores from the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open

"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.

"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."

South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.

Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.

"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."

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Cantlay, McDowell, Saunders share lead at Riviera

By Doug FergusonFebruary 17, 2018, 3:51 am

LOS ANGELES - Tiger Woods waited 12 years to get back to Riviera and lasted only two days.

Woods had three straight bogeys early on the back nine Friday and didn't play well enough to make up for his misses. He had a 5-over 76 and missed the cut in the Genesis Open for the first time in nine appearances as a pro.

He was at 6-over 148, one shot worse than his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old at Riviera.

''I missed every tee shot left and I did not putt well, didn't feel very good on the greens,'' Woods said. ''And consequently, never made a run. I knew I had to make a run on that back nine, and I went the other way.''

Patrick Cantlay ran off three straight birdies toward the end of his morning round, starting with a tap-in on the par-3 sixth when he missed a hole-in-one by a fraction of an inch, and shot a 69. He was tied with Graeme McDowell (66), the former U.S. Open champion who is trying to work his way back from a two-year slump.

They were at 7-under 135.

Sam Saunders also was at 7 under, making back-to-back birdies until it was too dark to continue. He had three holes remaining in his second round. Ryan Moore bogeyed his final hole for a 68 and was one shot behind at 136.

Rory McIlroy overcame a few short misses on the front nine for a 69 and was at 2-under 140.

Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos

Cantlay was coming off a three-putt bogey when his tee shot at the par-3 sixth - the hole with a bunker in the middle of the green - landed above the flag and to the right, and then rolled back down the slope just over the right edge of the cup.

''I actually missed a little to the right, but it's a bowl back there so as long as you get the number right, it should be pretty close,'' Cantlay said.

He followed with a short iron into 5 feet for birdie, a 15-foot birdie on the next hole and then a wild drive that led to a bogey on his final hole.

McDowell has gone 59 starts worldwide since his last victory and has fallen out of the top 200 in the world. He had missed four straight cuts dating to late last year, though he felt he was hitting it well in practice. What helped was seeing some good scores.

''All I'm missing is a couple little numbers and a little bit of confidence,'' McDowell said.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 69 and gets to stick around for the weekend. He was at 1-over 143. Bubba Watson, who won in 2014 and 2016, has fallen out of the top 200 in the world after a two-year drought. He shot a 70 and was at 4-under 138, and then headed for the NBA All-Star weekend to play in the celebrity game.