Conditions Easy Course Still Tough

By Mercer BaggsJune 13, 2002, 4:00 pm
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- You could see your breath as you walked onto the Black Course Thursday morning. Chilly weather (temperatures in the mid-50s) and damp conditions awaited the players as they set out to tackle their 7,214-yard opponent. But even slight overnight showers and benign weather didnt ease the task.
 
Dudley Hart officially opened the 102nd U.S. Open with his tee shot on the 492-yard, par-4 10th. Sixty-eight swings later he was in the clubhouse.
 
Hart was one of only four men playing in the morning to shoot under par, but it wasnt quite good enough for the mid-day lead; that honor belonged to Sergio Garcia.
 
Buoyed by an enthusiastic following, Garcia made only one bogey in round one, en route to posting a 2-under 68. His day included a birdie at the fourth, a chip-in birdie at the fifth, and a 20-footer for birdie at the 499-yard, par-4 12th.
 
Im happy with 68, Garcia said. Maybe I could have asked for a couple of shots less. But I made some really nice key par putts, which maybe leveled out with the birdie putts I missed.
 
This is the 22-year-old Spaniards third U.S. Open appearance. He tied for 46th at Pebble Beach in 2000, and was one shot off the third-round lead at Southern Hills last year before shooting a Sunday 77 and finishing tied for 12th.
 
Part of Sergios first-round success was playing holes 10-13 (which, in total, measure well over a mile) in 1-under par. Phil Mickelson said earlier in the week that he would be happy to play the same stretch in even par. Thursday, he did it in 2-under.
 
For the first time in tournament history, the USGA has employed split tees over the first two rounds. Mickelson teed off on the back nine first Thursday. His second shot of the day, a 3-iron from 217 yards, came to rest inches away from the cup at the 10th. He tapped in for birdie, and then curled in an 15-footer for birdie at the 11th.
 
The lefthander bogeyed the 12th ' which plays as the longest par-4 in Open history ' but came right back with a birdie at the par-5 13th.
 
You dont know when your birdies are going to come, you just hope you can get a few during the round, he said.
 
Mickelson missed the elevated green at the par-4 15th. With his ball entangled in the rough, he tried to pitch to the top tier, but instead watched helplessly as his Titleist came rolling back towards him. He carded a double-bogey, thus giving away all he had fought for over the courses most difficult stretch of holes.
 
Mickelson went on to shoot even par, and said he was glad to do so.
 
It was a round of 70 and Ill take it, he said. This is as hard a U.S. Open as Ive played, and thats given we played in perfect conditions.
 
Harts round was even more erratic than that produced by Mickelson. The sometimes volatile veteran had his patience tested when he hit his tee shot on the par-4 fifth ' his 14th hole of the day ' into the lip of a fairway bunker. He was barely able to advance his second shot out of the hazard, and took a triple-bogey-7.
 
But instead of blowing a fuse, the Mini Volcano responded with a 25-foot birdie at the seventh, an 18-foot birdie at the eighth and a 35-foot bomb at the ninth ' his last.
 
My roller-coaster month continues, he said. I have a bunch of good holes and then something crazy happens.
 
Jeff Maggert and K.J. Choi matched Hart's 69.
 
Davis Love III was leading the tournament after turning in 3-under 32, but came home in 4-over 39 for a 1-over total.
 
I hit fairways on the front and missed them on the back, its as simple as that, said the 1996 U.S. Open runner-up.
 
Defending champion Retief Goosen is among the afternoon participants, as is tournament favorite Tiger Woods, who teed off at 1:35 PM ET.
 
Full-field scores from the 102nd U.S. Open
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.