Masters Resumes With Weir in the Lead

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 12, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Most of the 93-man field returned to Augusta Naitonal under clear, blue skies Saturday to finish up the second round of the rain-soaked Masters. Canada's Mike Weir led the field at 6 under, while Tiger Woods was trying to overcome a poor start to defend his title.
 
Mike WeirSeeking an unprecedented third straight Masters victory, Woods stumbled through the rain-delayed first round Friday. He finished with a 4-over-par 76 - his worst opening at a major since he was a 20-year-old amateur playing the U.S. Open in 1996.
 
When Woods arrived at the clubhouse for a brief layover before the second round, he had yet to make a birdie and was seven shots behind his amateur playing partner, Ricky Barnes.
 
Barnes thoroughly enjoyed his first trip to the Masters, opening with a 69 despite the toughest scoring conditions for a first round at Augusta National since 1988.
 
Asked whether he expected to be seven strokes ahead of the world's greatest player after 18 holes, Barnes deadpanned: 'You're kidding.'
 
When the horn sounded to end play for the day, the sun had already slipped behind the Georgia pines, and Woods was back on track. He played the first 10 holes of the second round at 2 under and was 2 over for the tournament.
 
Woods was still far off the pace being set by a left-hander seeking his first major - no, not Phil Mickelson but Weir, one of just four players in the red when darkness fell.
 
Only 18 players made it through 36 holes on Friday.
 
Ricky BarnesBarnes was in the exclusive below-par group, still holding on at 1 under when play stopped. First-round leader Darren Clarke, who opened with a 66, dropped two strokes in the second round but remained at 4 under.
 
Then there's Mickelson, still lugging around that dreaded title of Best Player Never To Win A Major. It looks as if Lefty will be in contention again, standing 2 under with seven holes left to play in the morning.
 
This one is a bit of a surprise. Mickelson took a month off for the birth of his third child and didn't feel as though his game was in peak condition for a major.
 
'I'm not going to look at my position until the end of the second round,' he said. 'I want to see how I play the last seven before I really try to find out where I stand.'
 
Woods got off to a dreadful start: four errant swings left him with a 40-foot chip for bogey. It dropped, a shot that might be worth remembering if he makes a charge on the weekend.
 
But Woods still has a lot of work to do.
 
Not only was it his highest first-round score in a major since turning pro, it was his worst start at any PGA Tour-sanctioned event since a 76 in the 1998 Western Open.
 
Even more ominous: No Masters champion has ever started with worse than a 75; no winner has ever been 10 strokes out of the lead after 18 holes; and Woods has never opened with worse than a 72 in any of his 37 career victories.
 
He was unfazed by the deficit.
 
'Obviously, I would like to be a little better than I am,' he said. 'But I'm on the right track. I don't have to play a great second round, just have to play a solid one. That's what I'm doing.'
 
Indeed, Woods got himself on track with a birdie on his 22nd hole. He unleashed a big smile, licked his finger and gave the sign that indicated, 'Put one on the board.'
 
He birdied two of the next three as well, but a bogey on his next-to-last hole put a bit of a damper on Tigermania.
 
'I'm right where I need to be,' Woods said. 'I've still got a chance at the tournament, and there's a long way to go. The leaders aren't going to run away and hide here with the way the conditions are.'
 
Weir bolstered his score by making a bunch of 5- and 6-foot comebackers after sliding putts past the hole. Those are the shots of a Masters champion-in-the-making.
 
'I have always felt like the next step for me is to try to contend in major championships,' Weir said. 'So far, I'm doing it. We'll see if I can do it all week.'
 
On Saturday, some of the attention at Augusta will be diverted to a grassy patch of land along Washington Road, a half-mile from the front gate to Magnolia lane.
 
Martha Burk and opponents of the club's all-male membership are scheduled to protest, along with those who support Augusta National's right to keep women out.
 
They won't be alone on the weedy 5.1-acre lot that Sheriff Ronald Strength picked a half-mile from Augusta National's main gate to keep the one-day protest from snarling Masters traffic.
 
Among the other groups planning to picket are the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Todd Manzi of Tampa, Fla., Burk's self-appointed nemesis; and Joseph J. Harper of Cordele, Ga., the leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group.
 
Woods wasn't the only golfer with back-to-back Masters championships having a miserable day.
 
Jack Nicklaus opened with an 85 - his worst score in 2,235 career rounds on the tour. He had plenty of company, too, with 14 other players scoring 80 or higher.
 
Overall, the average first-round score - 76.2 - was the highest at the Masters since 1988.
 
Nicklaus preferred to blame himself. He repeatedly wound up on the wrong side of the flag. Even when he was in good position, the putts wouldn't drop.
 
'The course wasn't much of a problem,' he said. 'I was.'

Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • Photo Gallery
  • Augusta National Course Tour
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
     
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  • Def. champ Fitzpatrick grabs lead at Euro finale

    By Associated Press, Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 1:50 pm

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour's season-ending Tour Championship on Friday.

    At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick leads English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.

    Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant 9-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

    In the Race to Dubai, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at 6 under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he's just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.

    Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.


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    Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose's finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn't finish in the top five and Garcia doesn't win, Fleetwood will have done enough.

    Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.

    Overnight leader Patrick Reed is now three back following an even-par 72. Reed is in the field thanks to a European Tour regulation that allows the Presidents Cup to count as an official event, thus allowing him to meet his quota of tournaments played.

    Fitzpatrick was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.

    ''I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,'' Fitzpatrick said.

    ''The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 (on the stimpmeter) even. You've just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You've got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it's easy to three-putt out here.''

    Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.

    ''To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,'' Rose said.

    ''I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I'd probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It's a position you can build on the weekend.''

    Fleetwood resurrected his chances of winning the Order of Merit with a 65, eight shots better than his opening round. His only bogey of the day came on the seventh after an errant drive, but that was the only mistake on a solid day that saw him make eight birdies.

    Fleetwood spent hours on the putting green after his first round.

    ''I needed a low one today for (a tournament win and the Order of Merit),'' he said. ''Luckily, I got a good score.''

    Closing eagle gives Kirk 1-shot lead in RSM

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 12:16 am

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Chris Kirk holed an 18-foot putt for eagle on his final hole for a 9-under 63 and a one-shot lead Thursday in the RSM Classic.

    Kirk played the par 5s on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club in 5 under.

    ''I kind of hit my putter on the fringe a little bit and I wasn't sure it was going to get there, but that was just kind of the day that it was,'' Kirk said. ''Even when I thought it wasn't quite going to work out, it still went in the middle of the hole.''

    The seven lowest scores of the opening round came on the Plantation Course during a picturesque afternoon on the Golden Isles. Sporting a University of Georgia hat Thursday, Kirk won at Sea Island four years ago for the second of his four PGA Tour victories.

    ''It's a big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons,'' Kirk said. ''Hopefully, my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week.''

    The tournament is the final PGA Tour event of the calendar year, and Kirk is sorting out equipment changes.

    ''I'm still trying to get it all worked out and figure out what I want to do going forward,'' Kirk said. ''But keep shooting 9 under, so I won't have to worry about it too much.'

    Joel Dahmen had a 64.


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    ''I think it played a little easier today,'' Dahmen said. ''The wind was down, greens were a little softer over here on the Plantation side. But just kept the ball in front of me and made a bunch of 8- to 10-footers.

    ''I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    Sea Island resident Hudson Swafford was at 65 at the Plantation along with Jason Kokrak and Brian Gay.

    ''I feel like I've been rolling it pretty good,'' Swafford said. ''Took some time off, which was nice, after China. I was kind of frustrated with the golf a little bit. Took a little time off and got back into it. Something just kind of started clicking, but knew I don't have to be crazy aggressive and just give myself a chance.''

    He played alongside fellow former Georgia players Bubba Watson and Brian Harman.

    ''We are right in the heart of Dawgs' territory, mine and Harman's backyard, so it's kind of nice,'' Swafford said.

    Though, his caddie wore an Auburn shirt.

    ''We don't need to talk about that,'' said Swafford, not needing to be reminded that Auburn beat Georgia in football last week.

    Nick Watney and Brice Garnett each had a 5-under 65 on the Seaside Course, which will be used for the final two rounds.

    Brandt Snedeker opened with a 67 in his first return from a sternum injury that sidelined him since the Travelers in June.

    Harman shot 69, and Watson had a 71.

    Co-leader Smith credits Foley's influence

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:33 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sarah Jane Smith is making the most of the devoted efforts of Sean Foley this week.

    Foley’s prize pupil, Justin Rose, is in the hunt at the World Tour Championship in the United Arab Emirates, looking to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, but Foley isn’t there with him.

    Foley promised to help Smith this week, and he’s living up to the pledge, making the trip to Naples.

    “At 33, Sarah is in her prime,” Foley told GolfChannel.com. “She is going to hold a trophy at some point. She is too skilled not to win.”

    Foley's extra attention is paying off for Smith.


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    With a 6-under-par 66, Smith moved into early contention to make her first LPGA title memorable at the CME Group Tour Championship. She’s tied for the first-round lead with Taiwan rookie Peiyun Chien.

    “I just seem to play my best with him,” Smith said.

    Foley, the former coach to Tiger Woods, was No. 10 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 teacher rankings released this fall.

    Foley sees a lot coming together in Smith’s game. She is a 12-year veteran building some momentum. She tied for third at the Women’s Australian Open earlier this year and is coming off three consecutive top-15 finishes in Asia. She is sixth on tour in birdies this season. 

    “As a coach, you try to get a player to see something in themselves that is already there,” Foley said.

    Rose, by the way, opened with a 6-under-par 66 in Dubai and is one shot off the lead.

    Seeking awards sweep, Park 1 off lead

    By Randall MellNovember 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park made a strong start in her bid to make LPGA history with an epic sweep of the year’s major awards.

    Park opened the CME Group Tour Championship Thursday with a 5-under-par 67, moving her a shot off the lead.

    Park is looking to join Nancy Lopez as the only players to win the Rolex Player of the Year and Rolex Rookie of the Year awards in the same season. Lopez did it in 1978. Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year Award.

    Park, 24, can also walk away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot.


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    Nobody has ever swept all those awards.

    There’s even more for Park to claim. She can also take back the Rolex world No. 1 ranking. She’s No. 2, just two hundredths of a point behind Shanshan Feng.

    “I think the course suits my game really well,” Park said through a translator. “I think I can play well in the next rounds.”

    Park played the course just once before Thursday’s start, in Wednesday’s pro-am.

    The reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion, Park won twice this year. She also won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open this summer.