Z. Johnson shakes off terrible start for 67 at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 27, 2014, 8:18 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Zach Johnson walked into the scoring room at PGA National, examined his card and wondered how, exactly, he was signing for a 3-under 67.

After all, five hours earlier, he had begun his opening round of the Honda Classic with a quadruple-bogey 8.

The details are gory: After a good drive on the par-4 11th, he was stuck between a 6- and 7-iron and opted for more club. He “pured” the shot, he said, but also eased into it, blocking his approach into the pond.

He walked about 10 yards ahead and decided to “jump” on the 7-iron. Splash.

So he stepped back two paces, grabbed the 6-iron, and put his sixth shot on the left fringe. Two putts later, he walked off the green at 4 over.

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“The day could have gone the other way quickly,” he said afterward, “but I felt good about my game coming in.”

And for good reason. Johnson is playing the best golf of his career, rising to No. 7 in the world on the strength of three victories in his last nine starts. So, fittingly, he shook off the big number and rolled in seven birdies – four of which were inside 6 feet – on his way to a 67.

After the morning wave, he was just two shots off the lead.

After the round, Johnson’s two playing competitors, Tiger Woods and Keegan Bradley, were effusive in their praise. So, apparently, were the caddies, particularly Bradley’s looper, Steven “Pepsi” Hale.

“Evidently he was pretty impressed,” Johnson said, smiling.

Said Woods: “Not surprising knowing how tough this guy is. ... He definitely had a comeback player of the day award. I imagine if you flip it around and start off that way and finish that way, yeah, he would be pretty pissed.

“So he would much rather have it this way and fight back and earn it and get it this way. You have a certain feeling going into the next day than if he would have flipped it around.”

Of course, this gritty effort was no shock to Woods. He recently saw Johnson’s comeback heroics up close.

One of the forgotten aspects of Johnson’s dramatic victory last December at the World Challenge was the fact that he was four down with eight holes to play against the No. 1 player in the world on a track that he has won on five times.

Since then, Johnson hears about it when he’s walking down the fairway or practicing at home or scrolling through his Twitter mentions. Yes, he denied Woods yet another victory, but he’s particularly proud of the way he played down the stretch, closed the gap and pulled out a win.

“Those are the kinds of thoughts that I’m trying to keep,” he said.

Thursday’s comeback at the Honda reminded the 38-year-old grinder of his Q-School experience years ago, when he took an 8 (without a penalty stroke) on his opening hole at Hombre Golf Club. It was second stage, the make-or-break juncture for many pro hopefuls, and he responded by making just two bogeys the rest of the way and finishing second, by one.

“I like being patient, perseverant,” he said.

This turnaround was even more impressive when considering his lack of history here at PGA National. Curiously, it is just his second career start (2008) at a track that places a premium on driving accuracy while rewarding strong iron play and sublime putting – in other words, Johnson’s bread and butter.

“I don’t know why I haven’t come back, pretty foolish,” he said. “I think if my game is sharp, I think I can put up some good results.”

These days, it’s more of a surprise when he doesn’t.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.