Assault on Par Continues at Hope

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 15, 2001, 5:00 pm
Sixty-two is normally considered a special number in professional golf. Not so Thursday in La Quinta, Calif.
Three players carded 62 in the second round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. But it wasn't even the low round of the day, as Joe Durant fired an 11-under-par 61 to take the lead in the 90-hole tournament.
Durant's day on the Indian Wells course consisted of one eagle, ten birdies and a bogey. He finished his remarkable round - a career best by four shots - with six consecutive birdies.
'I was just on fire all day,' Durant said. 'That's about as good as I can play.'
At 18-under-par through two rounds, Durant leads Chris Smith by three strokes. Smith shot a no-so-shabby eight-under-par 64 at Bermuda Dunes to move to 15-under.
Bob Tway, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Mark Calcavecchia share third place at 14-under. Tway and Jimenez each posted 10-under-par 62s - Tway at Indian Wells and Jimenez at PGA West.
Jimenez started the tournament 5-over through four holes, but has birdied 19 of his last 32.
'It feels like you are in a cloud,' said the Spaniard, who has won seven times internationally but never on the PGA Tour. 'I don't mind. I just hope it keeps going like that.'
Calcavecchia, who earlier in the year shot 60 in the second round of the Phoenix Open, carded a more human-esque 6-under-par 66 at Indian Wells.
Durant is lucky he's more proficient at hitting fairways and greens than selling insurance. In 1991 Durant quit the game for six months. He earned his insurance license, but never sold a policy.
Thanks to a pep talk from his wife, Tracey, Durant returned to the touring life with an improved outlook.
He alternated between the Buy.Com and PGA Tours from 1993 to 1996, before stabilizing himself with the big boys. After maintaining his PGA Tour card with a top-100 finish on the 1997 money list, Durant became a first-time winner at the '98 Western Open.
A rib injury set him back in '99. He finished the season 157th in earnings. But armed with a two-year exemption courtesy his win at Cog Hill, Durant made 18 of 28 cuts in 2000, finishing 76th on the money list.
Durant, 36, began the '01 campaign in similar fashion, making three cuts in four starts but never shooting lower than 68 - officially, that is. Durant shot 61 in the Tucson Open pro-am last month.
'I think that helped me today,' he said. 'I was just trying to keep on firing at the flag.'
Durant opened the tournament in seven-under-par 65, tying his career low round on the PGA Tour. Thursday, he was poised for another solid round. He eagled the par-five 18th to make the turn in five-under 31. However, he bogeyed the very next hole, the par-4 first.
It didn't prove to be a deterrent.
Durant birdied the par-4 second, and following a par at the third, finished with six straight red numbers.
'Who knows what the scores will be, but you have to think really low,' Durant said.
Smith can certainly find inspiration in Durant's tale. Just four years ago, he was the first player to receive a 'battle-field' promotion to the PGA Tour; which is awarded when a player wins three times in one season on the Buy.Com Tour.
It's been a struggle ever since. Smith finished 144th on the money list in 1998 and was forced to retain his card via Q-School. In '99 he wasn't as fortunate. After ending the year 184th in earnings, Smith failed to secure his PGA Tour playing privileges in the qualifying tournament.
It was back to the Buy.Com Tour, where Smith again manhandled the more scorer-friendly courses. He completed the season sixth on the money list; thanks to a Tour record five runner-up finishes.
It now appears as if Smith has found his groove on the big tour. He opened in 66 and closed in 67 to tie for 10th at last week's Buick Invitational.
This week, Smith opened in 65 and followed that with 64. His day included seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch.
Trailing Smith and Durant are a host of more established players. In addition to Tway, Jimenez and Calcavecchia are Brad Faxon, David Duval and Billy Mayfair; all three of whom are tied for 10th at 11-under-par.
Mayfair was the third of the players to shoot 62 in the second round, doing so at Indian Wells. Duval shot 68 at La Quinta; while Faxon recorded back-to-back eagles, but also produced three bogeys for a 67 at Bermuda Dunes.
First-round leader Harrison Frazar is now tied for 13th at 10-under, following a Day-Two 1-under-par 71 at Bermuda Dunes.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Joe Durant's 36-hole total of 126 is two strokes higher than the Tour record. Mark Calcavecchia shot back-to-back rounds of 60-64 in his victory at the Phoenix Open.
*Durant's 61 ties an Indian Wells course record, set by Bert Yancey in 1974 and tied by David Edwards in 1987.
*Brad Faxon has now recorded 10 eagles in 2001 - a career high. In fact, golf's premiere putter has as many eagles this season as he had in the previous three years combined.
*The 90-hole tournament scoring record is 35-under 325 by Tom Kite in 1993.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Bob Hope!
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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods tees off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.