Z. Johnson, Daly trail Kirk at Sony Open

By Will GrayJanuary 12, 2014, 12:46 am

With tee times moved up to skirt inclement weather in Honolulu, conditions were ideal for scoring at Waialae Country Club and players took full advantage. Here's how things stand heading into the final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, where Chris Kirk holds a slim lead with several players still in the mix:

Leaderboard: Chris Kirk (-12), Will Wilcox (-11), Harris English (-11), Jerry Kelly (-10), Jimmy Walker (-10), Zach Johnson (-9), Retief Goosen (-9)

What it means: A winner earlier this season at the McGladrey Classic, Kirk fired a 5-under 65 Saturday to emerge from a logjam that at one point saw as many as seven players tied for the lead. As he sets his sights on a third career PGA Tour victory, he'll have to fend off a pack of contenders that includes English and Walker, both winners already this season, and Johnson, the former Masters champ and fellow Georgia resident who hoisted a trophy just last week in nearby Maui.

Round of the day: After opening with a 4-under 66, John Daly struggled to a 73 in the second and very nearly missed the 36-hole cut. The two-time major champ rebounded in style Saturday, though, carding a 6-under 64 to move back into contention in Honolulu. Daly notched seven birdies against just one bogey in the third round, as the 47-year-old closed with three birdies across his final five holes. Daly will need a similar round Sunday to retain full-time playing privileges, as he needs a win or solo second to keep his current PGA Tour status.

Best of the rest: Playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption, Wilcox is making the most of his opportunity and surged into contention thanks to a 6-under 64 Saturday. Wilcox began slowly, playing his first six holes in 1 under, but then recorded four birdies across a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 7-13. The PGA Tour rookie added birdies on his final two holes and at 11 under sits just one shot off the pace heading into the final round.

Sony Open: Articles, videos and photos

Biggest disappointment: Reigning Masters champ Adam Scott began the day in contention and birdied his first hole, but from there the Aussie failed to get anything going. On a day when the rest of the pack had little issue carding red figures, Scott failed to make another birdie until the home hole, and his 1-over 71 caused him to drop into a tie for 27th. At 6 under for the week, he will now begin the final round six shots off the pace with a large pack of names above his on the leaderboard.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Kirk showed at Sea Island that he has the ability to close when leading, and those chasing will likely need to go low Sunday to pass him. Waialae is certainly a course that can yield a low score or two, however, giving hope to those still within striking distance. Twelve players will enter the final round within three shots of Kirk's lead, and as a result this event remains far from over.

Shot of the day: Ryan Palmer tugged his tee shot at the par-5 18th, but he was able to recover in dramatic fashion. With the ball well above his feet in a fairway bunker, Palmer hoisted a fairway wood approach that landed just short of the green and rolled to within seven feet of the hole. The Texan holed the subsequent putt for eagle to put the finishing touches on a 3-under 67 that moved him to 8 under for the week.

Getty Images

Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

Getty Images

Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

Getty Images

Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1

Getty Images

Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”