Damron Dazzling Up North

By Marty HenwoodJuly 25, 2003, 4:00 pm
VICTORIA, British Columbia -- American Patrick Damron finds himself in unfamiliar territory as he carries the lead into Saturdays third round of the Canadian Tours Victoria Open.
 
The Canadian Tour rookie, who carried a two-shot lead into the second round, didnt bend under the pressure Friday, posting a 3-under 67. His 36-hole total of 10-under 130 is two shots clear of Steve Schneiter of Utah. Former PGA Tour champion Richard Zokol of White Rock, B.C., drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to come in at 7-under 133.
 
A total of 66 players made the cut with a two-day total of 2'over 142 or better.
 
Damron, the younger brother of PGA winner Robert, has made three of five cuts in his rookie campaign and has not finished higher than 13th. Robert Damron played on the Canadian Tour back in 1996, and the experience was something he was able to pass on to his younger brother, advising him to kick off his professional career north of the border. The suggestion was echoed by longtime Tour member Kevin Baker, one of Damrons closest friends.
 
I play with Kevin almost every day, and both he and Robert told me to come up here, it was the best place to get the experience and improve your game, said the 24-year-old. Ive met a lot of the guys out here before, and you know you are going to have to play well to win.
 
Schneiter played on the Canadian Tour from 1992 through 1994 before plying his trade on what is now known as the Nationwide Tour for the next four seasons. With no place to play this year, he was urged by good friend and Canadian Tour player Brad Sutterfield to request a sponsors exemption into this event. He has attended PGA Tour Qualifying School for 16 consecutive seasons but has never been able to play full-time on golfs biggest stage.
 
With Saturdays always referred to as moving day in the world of golf, Schneiter wouldnt bite when asked if he would rather be the hunter or the hunted heading into round three.
 
Its always fun to come from a little bit behind and sneak up on someone, but you cant think like that. Ill take what I can get. Im just going to stay in the present and worry about my own game.
 
As he sails off into unchartered waters Saturday, Damron admits he is looking forward to the challenge of playing with Zokol, a seasoned pro who happens to be a friend of his brother. While he isnt sure how he will react playing in the final group, he seems to like the feeling a whole lot better than the alternative.
 
Well I like the idea of being chased, since usually its me doing the chasing, added Damron. I just want to go out there and keep doing what Ive been doing. Who am I to say? Ive never been in this position before. Id like to try it from here and see what happens.
 
Harris, with four second place finishes in the past year, once again finds himself sniffing around the top of the leaderboard. A thunderous roar echoed throughout Royal Colwood Friday when Harris, wearing a microphone for a Golf Channel broadcast, aced the 175-yard, par-3 13th, his fourth hole of the day. Despite hitting a couple of speed bumps later in the round, including a double-bogey six on number three, Harris feels confident heading into Saturday.
 
I took my lumps where I did, now I just have to get ready for the weekend, he said. Theres just two good rounds left and I can walk away with the trophy Sunday.
 
Schneiter had a rollercoaster round himself, carding five birdies with a pair of bogeys. His day was typified on the par-5 15th beginning with an errant tree shot that sailed left and landed a foot from the base of a tree. Kneeling down, Schneiter then backhanded a chip onto the fairway before cranking a 3-iron left once again. He then pulled off his shot of the day, chipping his fourth stroke over a bunker, with the ball bouncing off the bank of a hill and rolling to within five feet of the cup to save par.
 
That was certainly an up and down round, said Schneiter. It was pretty adventurous, but I just hung in there. That 15th hole was a grind, and I was lucky to get out with par.
 
If things dont work out this weekend, Schneiter will head over to the mainland and try to qualify for next weeks Greater Vancouver Classic on Monday. With a win here, he will be exempted through the end of the 2005 season. He can board the ferry to Vancouver Sunday night $28,000 richer, and knowing he doesnt have to get up early for the qualifier.
 
Yeah, well thats the plan, he said with a smile Friday. Just dont tell anyone.
 

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.

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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.