First-timers try to tame Sawgrass at The Players Championship

By May 9, 2012, 5:01 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In 30 years of hosting The Players Championship, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass has been tamed by only three players on their first try.

Jerry Pate won the first staging of the event here in 1982. A year later, Hal Sutton prevailed in his first Sawgrass start. Another 19 years passed before Craig Perks survived the final stretch to win the '02 title.

First-timer Scott Stallings saw firsthand what it took for Perks get to the finish line.

'I remember watching Perks win,” he said Wednesday. “You could tell the wheels were starting to come off a bit, but he had some great chips on 16 and 18 to win.'

Stallings was first alternate here a year ago, getting to go through the dress rehearsal before playing. He had a pleasant first experience before a wake-up call.

'The first time I played No. 17, I birdied it. The next few times, I went in the water and realized it wasn't so easy,' he said.

Canadian Graham Delaet was gutted not to play here last year due to injury and is excited to be in this palpably different atmosphere.

'The pressure here is very different,' he said. 'I've never played in a major, but this event has a distinctly different feel than every other I've played.'

Experience was almost universally stressed by the rookies. J.J. Killeen played a practice round with '07 winner Phil Mickelson, who needed 14 tries to conquer TPC Sawgrass.

'I played with Phil and Brendan Steele, and they both said to simply play the course as much as you can,' Killeen said.

Jacksonville Beach native Matt Every has done just that, playing here many times with fellow pros like Bud Cauley or his buddies. He is disregarding that experience this week.

'The course is totally different for the tournament,' he said. 'The greens run as 12s (on the Stimpmeter) instead of 8s. The ball runs 40 yards further. There are guys in the field who have played the course this way for 10 or 20 years, but I haven't.'

Every, however, has seen the Stadium Course's most famous hole differently than most in the field.

'My buddies and I go behind the tee at No. 17 to the back of the hole and play if from 180 yards,' he said, 'to make it more fun.'

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.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.