Round 1 From My View

By Kraig KannNovember 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
ChildrenLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Seventy-three is the scorecard Jay Williamson signed at the end of our round ' just after 6:15 p.m. (ET) tonight. We teed off at 12:30 p.m. which says something about the pace of play this week at the Childrens Miracle Network Classic. But you know what, I enjoyed every minute of my day today.
Kraig Kann and Jay Williamson
Can you tell which of these two made the wrong decision on which shoes to wear?
I met Jay at the Polynesian Resort about 10:30 a.m. Actually, I arrived early at 10:00 a.m. and read the local paper ' talking about our Orlando Magics opening night win against Milwaukee.
We chatted for a couple minutes, and then drove over to the golf course. Jay went to the locker room, and I went to get his bag from the storage area. Jay told me to meet him on the practice putting green about 11:15 a.m. ' which was perfect because GOLF CHANNEL was meeting me to put a microphone on me for the round ' to enhance the telecast.
Before Jay got there, I bumped into our playing partner J.P.Hayes (who now happens to be the Day 1 leader.) I let him know I was sorry for what he was actually in for ' cameras and an inexperienced bagman along for the round. Hayes is a great guy. His exact quote Dont even worry about it. Its gonna be a walk in the park. Just another round of golf ' youll be fine. That really helped because I was actually a bit nervous at that point.
A few practice putts, and off we went to the practice range. Thats where I realized my decision on shoes might come back to haunt me ' the day after Halloween. I switched from my oldest pair of black Adidas sneakers to my newest pair of black Adidas running shoes ' which have a bit of a mesh-like fabric to let air (or in todays case rain and water) right into the shoes. That shoe decision was made in the Polynesian parking lot before we left for the course. Oh well.
Jay was working his way through the bag on the range when the first band of showers paid everyone a visit and forced me into the ready for anything day. I then got the umbrella ready, the rain gear ready and my mind ready.
I also borrowed a quarter from the fine volunteer on the range because Jay and I were without coins (believe it or not.) All I had was that lucky penny I found the other day (heads up) which I was keeping in my pocket. Jay was worried it might not be shiny enough so we traded a signed golf ball for the quarter and off we went to the putting green once again.
They announced Jay and J.P. on the first tee. J.Ps actually got a lot to play for this week. Hes 123rd on the money list. Jay thinks he does but everyone seems to think hes quite safe on his money made.
Jays first tee shot missed the fairway left and wouldnt you know it. the sprinkler head nearest to his ball was not marked as it is in the yardage book that all the caddies get. That threw me right off the bat. So Jay had to take over on the yardage and ultimately we made a bogey. Not the start we wanted. In fact, the entire front nine was a bit uneasy.
Off and on rain showers, which were very heavy at times, and swirling winds, made for an interesting rhythm. For example, the par-5 fifth. Good tee shot, good second shot and the third left us with 123 yards to the flag. We felt like the wind was at us making it like 130. About 10 seconds before the shot I felt like the wind stopped but never said anything (which has been my direction this week.) He hit a very good shot but it one-hopped into the back bunker which left him with no green to work with on his fourth and ultimately we walk away with a bogey.
In fact, Jay made bogeys on both the front 9 par 5s ' which is sinful on the PGA TOUR. His only real bad shot of the day came at the par-5 8th ' a 3-wood that he pushed to the right and into a bush. He punched out, but couldnt get up and down with a 9 iron.
Then at nine I made him switch to marking the ball with the lucky penny. He actually asked me for confirmation on the putt from the fringe at 9 (very good second shot) and holed the putt. We agreed, the penny was the call from then forward.
He also birdied the 10th so we were back to plus-1 after a 3-over start through eight holes.
But the back nine never gave Jay a chance at a birdie run. He hit the driver very well, but his iron shots werent close enough and we only managed 1-under on the back.
Toughest thing about the day was not the cameras from GOLF CHANNEL which followed us every hole. It wasnt the fact that we were miked. It was the weather. Rain cover on, rain cover off. Umbrella out umbrella in. It was amazing the amount of rain we dealt with and my feet got soaked.
The courses are very, very wet.
As we finished I was left with nothing but respect for my friend Jay Williamson. Shooting 73 didnt make him happy. But remember, hes also babysitting to some degree this week.making sure Im doing the right thing. Focusing on your own golf, your amateur partner (who could really play) and me must have been tough.
Jays ability to get it up and down when he didnt have his best was also really impressive. I cant tell you how many times I was actually looking down when he putted out.just hoping hed make the putt for par and keep us in the game so to speak.
I think Jay grew comfortable with my yardages and as the round went along I loosened up a bit and talked a bit more about what I thought. He never told me dont talk. I answered his questions, confirmed his beliefs if I agreed and he actually had me help him with a read or two on the putts.
J.P. Hayes played great. Eight birdies I think. He made everything! And he hits it a long way. I was also left thinking, how is this guy 123rd (on the money list)? He and Jay were very positive toward each other and talked a lot about what club theyd just hit while walking down the fairway.
J.P. s round is proof that these guys really are good. Tiger and Phil are great ' we know that. Today, J.P. played like one of golfs true superstars. Tomorrow, Jay has another chance to make it happen and keep both of us working this weekend. I have no doubt he can do it.
Ill hope he keeps using the lucky penny. And Ill make sure Ive got the right shoes ' in case of rain.
8:30 a.m. on the Palm Course. Im waking up at 5:30 and meeting him at 6:45. As sore as I am (yes, Im walking a bit slow), I cant wait to make it happen.

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    'Putting Stroke Whisperer' helps get McIlroy on track

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 9:39 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – During a charity event a few years ago Brad Faxon was asked what he’s thinking about when he putts. A hush fell across the green as everyone within earshot eagerly awaited the answer.

    Imagine having the chance to quiz Leonardo da Vinci about the creative process, or Ben Hogan on the finer points of ball-striking. Arguably the best putter of his generation, if anyone could crack the complicated code of speed, line and pace, it would be Faxon.

    Faxon mulled the question for a moment, shrugged and finally said, “Rhythm and tempo.”

    If Faxon’s take seems a tad underwhelming, and it did that day to everyone in his group, the genius of his simplicity was on display last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

    Before arriving at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy ranked 124th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting, losing .1 strokes per round to the field. In fact, he’d missed the cut a week earlier at the Valspar Championship when he needed 58 putts for two days and made just a single attempt over 10 feet.

    It’s one of those competitive ironies that having the weekend off turned out to be just what McIlroy needed. He went home to South Florida to work on his game and ran across Faxon at The Bear’s Club.

    Although Faxon’s take on the art of putting was probably more involved than it had been a few years earlier, he seemed to have touched on all the right points.

    “Freed up my head more than my stroke,” McIlroy explained. “I sort of felt like maybe complicating things a bit and thinking a little bit too much about it and maybe a little bogged down by technical or mechanical thoughts.”

    Earlier in the week McIlroy had a slightly different take on his putting turnaround at Bay Hill, where he led the field in strokes gained: putting, picking up 10 shots for the week, and rolled in 49 feet of putts over his last five holes to end a victory drought that had stretched back to the 2016 Tour Championship.

    “Just playing around with it. Seeing balls go in in the front edge, trying to hit them in the left edge, the right edge, hit them off the back of the cup,” he said on Thursday. “Just trying to get a little bit more feel into it and a little more flow.”

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    If that doesn’t exactly sound like an exact science, welcome to the Faxon way. In recent years, he’s become something of F which is no huge surprise considering his status as one of the game’s best on the greens.

    Between 1991, the year he won the first of eight Tour titles, through 2005, the year he won his last, Faxon ranked outside the top 20 in putting average just four times, and he led the circuit in that category three of those years. But in recent years he’s come into his own as a putting guru.

    “The first clinic I attended that a Tour player gave, it was Hale Irwin, and he talked about rhythm and tempo, I was disappointed because I wanted to hear more than that,” Faxon explained. “I thought there would be more technical stuff. I thought it was the default phrase to take pressure off the player, but the more I’ve learned about teaching the best players in the world don’t have many complicated thoughts.”

    Faxon’s career has been nothing short of impressive, his eight Tour titles spanning two decades; but it’s his work with players like McIlroy and Gary Woodland that has inspired him in recent years.

    A man who has spent his life studying the nuances of the golf swing and putting stroke has created a teaching philosophy as simple, or complicated depending on the player, as rhythm and tempo.

    “He teaches me, which is a good thing. He doesn’t have a philosophy,” Woodland said. “I was around him a lot in 2011, 2010, it’s unbelievable how well he can relay it now. He has video of a million guys putting and he’s one of the best to do it, but he can show you that you don’t have to do it one certain way and that was good for me.”

    For Woodland, Faxon keyed in on his background as a college basketball player and compared the putting stroke to how he shoots free-throws. For McIlroy, it was a different sport but the concept remained the same.

    “We were talking about other sports where you have to create your own motion, a free-throw shooter, a baseball pitcher, but what related to him was a free-kicker in soccer, he mentioned Wayne Rooney,” Faxon said. “You have to have something to kick start your motion, maybe it’s a trigger, some might use a forward press, or tapping the putter like Steve Stricker, sometimes it’s finding the trigger like that for a player.”

    Faxon spent “a good two hours” with McIlroy last weekend at The Bear’s Club, not talking technique or method, but instead tapping into the intuitive nature of what makes someone a good putter. Midway through that session Faxon said he didn’t need to say another word.

    The duo ended the session with a putting contest. Putting 30-footers to different holes, the goal was to make five “aces.” Leading the contest 4-2, Faxon couldn’t resist.

    “Hey Rory, after you win Bay Hill this week you’ll have to tell the world you lost to Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” Faxon joked.

    McIlroy proceeded to hole three of his next four attempts to win the contest. “I’m going to tell everyone I beat Brad Faxon in a putting contest,” McIlroy laughed.

    Maybe it’s the way he’s able to so easily simplify an exceedingly complicated game, maybe it’s a resume filled with more clutch putts than one could count. Whatever it is, Faxon is good at teaching. More importantly, he’s having fun and doing something he loves.

    “I have a hard time being called a teacher or a coach, it was more of a conversation with Rory, being able to work with someone like Rory is as excited as I’ve ever been in my career,” Faxon said. “It meant much more to me than it did Rory.”

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    Frittelli fulfilled promise by making Match Play field

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:40 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Dylan Frittelli attended the University of Texas and still maintains a residence in Austin, so in an odd way this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is a home game for the South African who plays the European Tour.

    Frittelli actually attended the event last year as a spectator, when he watched the quarterfinal matches on Saturday afternoon, and made a promise to himself.

    “I told a lot of people, I was running into them. I said, ‘I'll be here next year, I'll be playing in this tournament,’” said Frittelli, who climbed to 45th in the world ranking after two victories last year in Europe. “People looked at me, you're 190 in the world, that's hard to get to 64. It was a goal I set myself.”

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    Frittelli’s next goal may be a little payback for a loss he suffered in college when he was a teammate of Jordan Spieth’s. Frittelli is making his first start at the Match Play and could face his old Longhorn stable mate this week depending on how the brackets work out and his play.

    “We had the UT inter-team championship. Coach switched it to match play my senior year, and Jordan beat me in the final at UT Golf Club. It was 3 and 2,” Frittelli said. “So I'm not too keen to face him again.

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    Match Play security tightens after Austin bombings

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 8:06 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – A fourth bombing this month in Austin injured two men Sunday night and authorities believe the attacks are the work of a serial bomber.

    The bombings have led to what appears to be stepped-up security at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

    “I was out here [Sunday]; typically that's the most relaxed day. But they had security officials on every corner of the clubhouse and on the exterior, as well,” said Dylan Frittelli, who lives in Austin and is playing the Match Play for the first time this week. “It was pretty tough to get through all the protocols. I'm sure they'll have stuff in place.”

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    In a statement, the PGA Tour said, “While we do not comment specifically on security measures, the safety and security of our players and fans is, and always will be, our top priority. Our security advisors at the Tour are working in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to monitor, review and evaluate the situation and implement procedures as needed. We encourage all spectators to review the PGA Tour's bag policy and prohibited items list, available at, prior to arriving at the tournament."

    Despite the bombings, which have killed two people and injured two others, the Tour has not yet reached out to players to warn of any potential threat or advise the field about increased security.

    “It’s strange,” Paul Casey said. “Maybe they are going to, but they haven’t.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Faxon helps 'free' McIlroy's mind and stroke

    By Tim RosaforteMarch 19, 2018, 8:00 pm

    With all the talk about rolling back the golf ball, it was the way Rory McIlroy rolled it at the Arnold Palmer Invitational that was the story of the week and the power surge he needed going into the Masters.

    Just nine days earlier, a despondent McIlroy missed the cut at the Valspar Championship, averaging 29 putts per round in his 36 holes at Innisbrook Resort. At Bay Hill, McIlroy needed only 100 putts to win for the first time in the United States since the 2016 Tour Championship.

    The difference maker was a conversation McIlroy had with putting savant Brad Faxon at The Bears Club in Jupiter, Fl., on Monday of API week. What started with a “chat,” as McIlroy described it, ended with a resurrection of Rory’s putting stroke and set him free again, with a triumphant smile on his face, headed to this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and Augusta National in two weeks.

    The meeting with Faxon made for a semi-awkward moment for McIlroy, considering he had been working with highly-regarded putting coach Phil Kenyon since missing the cut in the 2016 PGA Championship. From “pathetic” at Baltusrol, McIlroy became maker of all, upon the Kenyon union, and winner of the BMW Championship, Tour Championship and FedExCup.

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    As a professional courtesy, Faxon laid low, respecting McIlroy’s relationship with Kenyon, who also works with European stars Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Knowing how McIlroy didn’t like the way Dave Stockton took credit after helping him win multiple majors, Faxon let McIlroy do the talking. Asked about their encounter during his Saturday news conference at Bay Hill, McIlroy called it “more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”

    “There was nothing I told him he had never heard before, nothing I told him that was a secret,” Faxon, who once went 327 consecutive holes on Tour without a three-putt, said on Monday. “I think (Rory) said it perfectly when he said it allowed him to be an athlete again. We try to break it down so well, it locks us up. If I was able to unlock what was stuck, he took it to the next level. The thing I learned, there can be no method of belief more important than the athlete’s true instinct.”

    Without going into too much detail, McIlroy explained that Faxon made him a little more “instinctive and reactive.” In other words, less “mechanical and technical.” It was the same takeaway that Gary Woodland had after picking Faxon’s brain before his win in this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

    Sunday night, after leading the field in strokes gained-putting, McIlroy was more elaborative, explaining how Faxon “freed up my head more than my stroke,” confessing that he was complicating things a bit and was getting less athletic.

    “You look at so many guys out there, so many different ways to get the ball in the hole,” he said. “The objective is to get the ball in the hole and that’s it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit.”

    All of this occurred after a conversation I had Sunday morning with swing instructor Pete Cowen, who praised Kenyon for the work he had done with his player, Henrik Stenson. Cowen attributed Henrik’s third-round lead at Bay Hill to the diligent work he put in with Kenyon over the last two months.

    “It’s confidence,” Cowen said. “(Stenson) needs a good result for confidence and then he’s off. If he putts well, he has a chance of winning every time he plays.”

    Cowen made the point that on the PGA Tour, a player needs 100-110 putts per week – or an average of 25-27 putts per round – to have a chance of winning. Those include what Cowen calls the “momentum putts,” that are especially vital in breaking hearts at this week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

    Stenson, who is not playing this week in Austin, Texas, saw a lot of positives but admitted there wasn’t much he could do against McIlroy shooting 64 on Sunday in the final round on a tricky golf course.

    “It's starting to come along in the right direction for sure,” Stenson said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there this week, even though maybe the confidence is not as high as some of the shots were, so we'll keep on working on that and it's a good time of the year to start playing well.”

    Nobody knows that better than McIlroy, who is hoping to stay hot going for his third WGC and, eventually, the career Grand Slam at Augusta.