Early Date Doesnt Deter Big Names

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 18, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Buick InvitationalThe Buick Invitational will feature many of the same players it usually does. Two-time champion Tiger Woods will be on hand, as will three-time winner Phil Mickelson, who will be making his season debut. World No. 1 Vijay Singh is in the field, as are Sergio Garcia, Fred Couples and David Duval.
And then theres John Daly, who will be back to try and defend his title.
But if this years Buick Invitational feels a little differently than in years past, there is one good reason: a change in date.
The PGA Tour, in an effort to keep the FBR Open on Super Bowl weekend, moved the Buick forward three weeks. Its the earliest date for the event, which takes place at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, Calif., in 25 years.
Tournament director Tom Wilson expressed concern when he learned last year of the official change in date. He was curious to see if volunteer support would diminish because of the proximity to the holidays. He was concerned that the two courses, the North and South, might need that extra few weeks to reach tour-caliber quality. And he wasnt sure what factor weather would play ' and, oh boy, has it played a major role already.
Its not only rained in Southern California, its flooded many parts of the region. San Diego County has reportedly already surpassed its annual average rainfall for the entire season.
The forecast calls for sunny skies this week, but the effects of the storms will linger.
One of the primary causes for concern are the greens on the North Course. They are some 30 years old and dont hold water as well as the greens on the South Course, which were rebuilt in 2001. That means they may be quite spongy.
And all of these problems dont even factor in public parking, course traffic and television crews.
But somehow, someway, there will be a tournament at Torrey Pines.
Daly will be looking to become the third player in tournament history to successfully defend his title. He won last years edition by beating Chris Riley and Luke Donald in a playoff. His bunker shot, which led to the clinching birdie on the first extra hole, was one of the indelible moments of 2004. It marked his first win since the 1995 British Open.
With Mother Natures permission, there are plenty of other storylines just waiting to be played out.
Woods, who won here in 1999 and 2003, is still in search of his first stroke-play title on the PGA Tour in 15 months. He said that he struck the ball well in his season debut at the Mercedes Championships. But he averaged 30.5 putts per round in finishing tied for third.
Mickelson once again skipped the season-opener in Hawaii in order to extend his vacation with his family.
The last time anyone saw Mickelson in competition he was firing 59 to win the PGA Grand Slam. The record performance capped off another roller-coaster season for the left-hander ' and made sure it ended on a high note.
His 2004 certainly started on a similar positive note, when he won in his first start at the Bob Hope. He then claimed his first major at the Masters and nearly won a couple of more majors. But then things started to go downhill. He was highly criticized for switching clubs prior to the Ryder Cup, was a part of a calamitous pairing with Woods at Oakland Hills, withdrew after becoming ill at the Michelin Championship in Las Vegas, and then broke 70 only once ' with his new Callaway clubs ' in his final two official events.
Fortunately for him, his two days in Hawaii gave him some positive momentum to take into this season.
The South Course will also be in the spotlight. The 7,568-yard beast, which underwent a $3.3 million transformation, will host the 2008 U.S. Open. It will be just the second public venue to host the National Championship, following in the footsteps of Bethpage Black in 2002.
The South is the host course this week. Players will rotate between the two layouts over the first two days, before playing the South exclusively over the weekend.
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    Romo set to make PGA Tour debut at Punta Cana

    By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:43 pm

    While much of the attention in golf this week will be focused on the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Tony Romo may send a few eyeballs toward the Caribbean.

    The former quarterback and current CBS NFL analyst will make his PGA Tour debut this week, playing on a sponsor invite at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic. The exemption was announced last month when Romo played as an amateur at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he's apparently been hard at work ever since.

    "I'll be treating it very serious," Romo told reporters Tuesday. "My wife will tell you she hasn't seen me much over the last month. But if you know me at all, I think you know if I care about something I'm going to commit to it 100 percent. So like I said. you'll get the best I've got this week."

    Romo retired from the NFL last year and plays to a plus-0.3 handicap. In addition to his participation in the Pebble Beach event, he has tried to qualify for the U.S. Open multiple times and last month played a North Texas PGA mini-tour event as an amateur.

    According to Romo, one of the key differences between pro football and golf is the fact that his former position is entirely about reactive decisions, while in golf "you're trying to commit wholeheartedly before you ever pull the club out of your bag."

    "I'm not worried about getting hit before I hit the ball," Romo said. "It's at my own tempo, my own speed, in this sport. Sometimes that's difficult, and sometimes that's easier depending on the situation."

    Romo admitted that he would have preferred to have a couple extra weeks to prepare, but recently has made great strides in his wedge game which "was not up to any Tour standard." The first-tee jitters can't be avoided, but Romo hopes to settle in after battling nerves for the first three or four holes Thursday.

    Romo hopes to derive an added comfort factor from his golf in the Dallas area, where he frequently plays with a group of Tour pros. While Steph Curry traded texts with a few pros before his tournament debut last summer on the Web.com Tour, Romo expects his phone to remain silent until he puts a score on the board.

    "I think they're waiting to either tell me 'Congrats' or 'I knew it, terrible,'" Romo said. "Something along those lines. They're probably going to wait to see which way the wind's blowing before they send them."

    Romo will tee off at 8:10 a.m. ET Thursday alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.

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    Spieth vs. Reed random? Hmm, wonders Spieth

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Monday’s blind draw to determine the 16 pods for this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play didn’t exactly feel “blind” for Jordan Spieth, whose group includes Patrick Reed.

    Spieth and Reed have become a staple of U.S. teams in recent years, with a 7-2-2 record in the Ryder and Presidents Cup combined. So when the ping-pong ball revealed Reed’s number on Monday night Spieth wasn’t surprised.

    “It seems to me there's a bit more to this drawing than randomness,” laughed Spieth, whose pod also includes Haotong Li and Charl Schwartzel. “It's not just me and him. It's actually a lot of groups, to have Luke List and Justin [Thomas] in the same group seems too good to be true. It might be some sort of rigging that's going on, I'm not sure.”

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    Spieth will play Reed on Friday in the round-robin format and knows exactly what to expect from the fiery American.

    “I've seen it firsthand when he's been at his best. And we have history together in a couple of different playoffs, which is a match-play scenario,” Spieth said. “I've got to take care of work tomorrow and the next day for that day to even matter. But even if it doesn't matter, trust me, it will matter to both of us.”

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    U.S. Open champ Koepka (wrist) to miss Masters

    By Will GrayMarch 20, 2018, 6:12 pm

    Reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka will miss the Masters, according to a USA Today report.

    Koepka has been battling a left wrist injury since late last year, and he hasn't played since finishing last at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions in early January. Weeks later he revealed that he had a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU) tendon but hoped to return in time for the season's first major.

    According to the report, Koepka only started putting this week and plans to begin hitting chips next week.

    "They said I would be about 80 percent, but I can't play 80 percent," Koepka said. "I either have to go full bore or not at all. I don't want to risk getting it re-injured and then be out a long time."

    Koepka has finished T-33 or better in each of his three prior Masters appearances, culminating in a T-11 result last year.

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    Spieth's agent leaving firm, but keeping Spieth as client

    By Rex HoggardMarch 20, 2018, 6:07 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Jay Danzi has stepped down as COO of Lagardère Sports U.S., and will take one of the game’s most marketable players, Jordan Spieth, with him.

    In a press release, Danzi said, “after careful consideration I feel that it’s time for a new adventure.” Danzi will represent Spieth independently.

    “It’s been a privilege having Jordan be part of the Lagardère Sports’ family for the last five years and watching him grow from a promising young player to someone who transcends the game,” said Steve Loy, Lagardère Sports president of golf. “We are also grateful for Jay’s contributions over the years, in golf and other areas of our business.”

    Lagardère Sports underwent an aggressive expansion in recent years, acquiring numerous boutique firms including Danzi’s business and Crown Sports Management.

    Although losing Spieth, the world’s fourth-ranked player, and Danzi, who took over as Lagardère COO in February 2017, is a setback, the firm still has a number of high-profile clients including Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season.