Calc Sets New Mark in Phoenix

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 28, 2001, 5:00 pm
Mark Calcavecchia made history this week at the Phoenix Open. Over four days of delays caused by frost and hailstorms, Calc scorched the TPC of Scottsdale to the tune of 28-under-par 256. The aggregate score breaks a 46-year-old PGA Tour record, while the tally in relation to par ties the all-time mark.
Calcavecchia comments on his Phoenix Open win.
Calc fired rounds of 65-60-64-67 to run away with his third career Phoenix Open title. He bettered his nearest competitor, Rocco Mediate, by eight strokes.
Calcavecchia topped Mike Souchak's record aggregate score of 257, set at the 1955 Texas Open. He also tied John Huston's 28-under-par pinnacle set at the 1998 Hawaiian Open.
In addition to etching his name into the PGA Tour record book, Calcavecchia collects his 10th career Tour triumph, and his first since 1998.
'It's been a long time. At least it seems like it's been a long time,' said Calcavecchia, whose last win came at the '98 Honda Classic.
Due to a Saturday hailstorm, Calcavecchia and the rest of the 71-man field were forced to complete their third rounds at 8:00am local time Sunday morning.
Continuing the stellar play that had given him an overnight advantage of five strokes, Calcavecchia carded six birdies and one bogey over the final ten holes of his third round to open up a six-shot lead at 24-under-par.
With just a ten-minute break between rounds, Calcavecchia maintained his march to history by nearly holing both an approach shot to the first hole and his tee shot to the fourth. The pair of tap-in birdies carried Calc to 26-under-par for the event.
That's when the assault appeared to end. Calcavecchia bogeyed the fifth and 11th holes to fall to 24-under-par. Following pars at the 12th and 13th holes, he needed to play the final five-holes in five-under to break Huston's record, and in four-under to break Souchak's mark.
Calc returned to form by birdying the 14th hole. He then added another birdie at the 15th. And when a 12-foot birdie putt fell at the par-three 16th, Calcavecchia was in prime position to surpass both historical numbers.
Yet one more birdie ensued at the 17th. It was Calcavecchia's 32nd birdie of the tournament, breaking the 72-hole PGA Tour record of 31 set by Huston in Hawaii.
Needing a par at the last to break Souchak's record and a birdie to break Huston's, Calc had to settle for the former, as he two-putted from 25 feet.
'I've looked at (Souchak's) record before. But it never crossed my mind I could do something like that,' Calcavecchia said.
'I know I'm streaky, but I'm not that good. Looking at the board when I was out on the green and seeing a red 28, it just looked crazy.'
Calcavecchia is no stranger to going low and winning big. Calc was 27-under through four rounds of the five-round Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 1997. He won the '89 Phoenix Open by seven shots, and the '92 event by five strokes.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Calcavecchia set a new Phoenix Open scoring record. His 256 total breaks that of Steve Jones (258) set in 1997.
*Calcavecchia's back-to-back rounds of 60-64 (124) in the second and third rounds broke the all-time PGA Tour 36-hole aggregate scoring record by one shot.
*Rocco Mediate, who won the 1999 Phoenix Open, recorded his second straight runner-up finish by shooting a final-round 69.
*Tiger Woods carded a final-round 6-under-par 65 to finish in a tie for fifth with Chris DiMarco. DiMarco, who shot 71 on Sunday, employs the same claw-like putting grip used by Calcavecchia.
*Defending champion Tom Lehman tied Steve Stricker for seventh place.
*John Daly shot 5-under-par 66 in the final round to tie for ninth. It's his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since the '98 Honda Classic, which was won by Calcavecchia.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Phoenix Open!
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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

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Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.