Bad memories: Pros recount rounds in the 80s

By Jason SobelFebruary 1, 2015, 1:29 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Here’s something you already know: Tiger Woods posted an 82 on Friday, the worst single-round score of his professional career.

Here’s something you might not know: Shooting a number that high happens to every top player at some point – even if many of 'em have blocked it out of their minds.

“Man, I’m sure I did it at the British Open one year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “I want to say that’s the only place I’ve done it.”

“Oh, gosh,” answered Zach Johnson. “I’m pretty sure I’ve shot 80 at Augusta. It could have been 81 or 82. I don’t know.”

“I have no idea,” Matt Kuchar admitted. “Most likely a long time ago, but it could have been a British Open or one of those types of days.”

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One day after Woods’ uncharacteristically ugly score, reactions were mixed when players were asked about the last time they’d reached the low 80s.

There were those who couldn’t remember, but there were just as many who couldn’t forget - even if they wanted to.

“I shot 80 here last year,” Keegan Bradley instantly recalled after the Waste Management Phoenix Open third round. “That’s the highest round I’ve shot probably since I was a freshman in college.”

It not only led to a missed cut after an opening 66, it gave him reason to doubt himself.

“When it happened to me, it scared me,” he continued. “It was scary. I never felt like that before. No matter what I did, I couldn’t salvage it. I’m pretty good at salvaging rounds and fighting back. I couldn’t do it and it was scary.”

How long did it take for Bradley to regain his composure?

“It took me awhile. It surprised me that I had that in me to shoot that high. It rattled me, for sure.”

He isn’t the only player to post a big number in the overpopulated asylum that is TPC Scottsdale.

“You know what? It was right here. This tournament, three years ago,” Stewart Cink said of an opening-round 83. “And it was humbling.”

While some players contend that a missed cut is a missed cut, no matter the score, Cink insisted that a score so high can lead to some frayed nerves.

“It’s much worse to shoot a high score than to miss the cut by a few,” he explained. “Way worse. That’s a damaging kind of thing. It’s pretty traumatizing. It just kind of comes out of nowhere. But I did it without the spotlight really being on me.”

His implication – and a correct one at that – was that Woods’ big number came with the eyes of the world firmly affixed to his performance.

Others have the ability to blow up in relative anonymity. And because of that, maybe the ability to forget about it even quicker.

“It was Bay Hill in 2013,” Billy Horschel said of a final-round 85. “Didn’t matter to me. The next week, I came back and finished second in Houston.”

That alone should be reason for optimism in Camp Woods, though as Horschel pointed out, not all high scores are created equal.

“There are different ways of shooting 82,” he resolved. “If you feel like you’re close and shoot 82, that’s fine. If you feel lost and shoot 82, then you’re lost. Then that’s a tough one to come back from. You don’t know where you’re going with your golf game. You have no direction, no path.”

As every player said when asked about shooting a particularly poor score, you get over it – whether that takes minutes, days or weeks – because of the most basic truth about such a situation.

There is no other option.

“If you’re off, you’re off,” Johnson reasoned. “I don’t want to say the scorecard is irrelevant, but when you’re trying to get back into a rhythm and trying to get back into golf-playing mode, you’ve got to take those days and just chew on them.”

“Any one of us, as a professional golfer, we can feel a long way off,” agreed Kuchar. “But it’s just as simple as finding the right thing. You can feel a long way off, but it’s just making the right change, putting the right ingredient in, and you can go win a tournament. It can happen that quickly.”

Woods will tee it up once again at Torrey Pines in just a few days. He’d love for it to happen that quickly, to erase the 82 and instantly rid himself of any doubts about his game.

Maybe, though, it will take longer.

What we do know is that like any other player who has posted a big number, he’ll get over it. Because just like the rest of 'em, he doesn’t have any other choice.

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.