Course Wins Round One at Bay Hill
After the first round it appears as if the course is safe.
Five players set the early pace in Orlando, Fla., and it held up throughout a blustery afternoon, which saw gusts of up to 33 mph.
1997 champion Phil Mickelson, last weeks runner-up Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Pate, Dennis Paulson and Grant Waite each carded 6-under-par 66s to share the first-round lead.
But the ultimate victor in Thursdays first round may have been the par-72 7,208-yard course - in particular, the 459-yard par-4 8th. The hole played at an average of 4.484, easily the toughest of the day. It also allowed more double bogeys than birdies (11 to 7).
Bay Hill's Director of Golf Jim Deaton talks about the set-up of the championship course
Four dreaded others were recorded at the 8th. Its most prominent victim just happened to be the defending champion.
Take a closer look at the 8th hole in our Virtual Tour of Bay Hill.
Tiger Woods was 4-under-par through 16 holes, but tripled the 8th (his 17th hole of the day). He finished with a 1-under-par 71.
Woods hit his approach shot into the water. After a drop, his next shot found the back greenside bunker, where it took him two more shots to reach the green. Tiger then one-putted for a triple-bogey 7.
After his round, Woods walked briskly past the fans and media, forgoing autographs and interviews. His lone comment was to a tournament official, in which he described his play in a couple of salty words.
As for the leaders, Pate was in the first group out on Thursday. Playing at a leisurely pace, he birdied four of his first seven holes to make the turn in 4-under-par 32. The lone blemish on his card occurred at the 8th. Like Woods, he too found the water. But unlike the worlds No. 1, Pate was able to salvage a bogey, and then birdie the par-4 9th.
Following six straight pars to start the back nine, the six-time ' and oft-injured ' Pate birdied the 16th and 17th holes to set the early mark at 6-under.
This is Pates seventh start of the season. Hes missed three cuts and has yet to post a top-20 finish. Last week, he withdrew from the Honda Classic due to a rib injury.
Ive been doing everything extremely average. Nothing well, said Pate. Ive been hurt a lot this year. My back has been messed up. I messed up my ribs. I felt decent at Phoenix. I felt decent at L.A., and I feel decent here, but other than that, I felt horrible.
Pates recent mishap is just another in a long line of injuries that primarily dates back to a 1996 car crash which left him with a broken right hand, wrist and cheekbone. He missed all but three events in 96, but returned to form in 1998 with a victory at the CVS Charity Classic.
He then followed up that season with a 13th place finish on the 1999 money list. That year he finished fourth in the Masters and the Andersen Consulting World Match Play Championship. He was also a captains choice for the victorious Ryder Cup Team and named Comeback Player of the Year.
Mickelson began his day auspiciously with a bogey at the par-4 10th, but then proceeded to record four birdies and an eagle over his next six holes.
The first half of the round for everybody was the easier half because we had very benign conditions, said Mickelson. The wind was down and the greens were soft and the pins were very accessible.
The back nine, when the wind picked up - it played differently.
After another birdie at the par-4 1st gave the lefty a share of the lead at 6-under, Mickelson bounced up and down the leaderboard; offsetting bogeys at the second and sixth holes with birdies on the fourth and ninth holes.
I played well. I made a lot of good putts, and two of the holes I bogeyed I ended up missing putts that I thought I hit pretty good, said Mickelson, who took 25 putts in the first round.
Im not disappointed that I had three bogeys. I made a lot of birdies and played well today.
This years Buick Invitational winner was one of the few who survived the par-4 8th unscathed. Paulson wasnt so lucky. Like Woods and Pate, Paulson hit his approach shot into the water. Fortunately for the Nissan Open runner-up, he managed to match Pates bogey.
Just misjudged the winds, said Paulson, who lost the six-way playoff to Robert Allenby in L.A. Hit it straight up in the air and the wind hammered itdropped it in the water.
Despite the slip at No. 8, Paulson tied the tournament record with a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine.
Fellow co-leader, Waite, also had an experience at No. 8, though his was a relatively good one ' at least for him.
I tried to smooth a driver out there and I pulled it, said Waite, who finished runner-up to Woods in his last PGA Tour victory, the 2000 Bell Canadian Open. It hit someone in the gallery. Then I pitched down the fairway and I had 98 yards to the flag and just chipped a 9-iron.
I had about 18 feet, and I had about three- or four-feet of break. Maybe more, five-feet of break and I managed to make that. That was more exciting than any birdie I made. No question.
Waite was one of only four players to complete the first round without a bogey.
Three players are just one shot off the 18-hole lead ' Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Jeff Sluman. Janzen was in contention last week to win his first Tour event since the 1998 U.S. Open, but shot a final-round 75 to tie for 39th.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Only 49 of the 122 players managed to break par in the first round. The scoring average for the field was 72.689.
*The morning wave of 61 players were a cumulative 23-under-par, while the afternoon group was a combined 107-over-par.
*None of the afternoon players shot lower than 4-under-par 68. Sergio Garcia made his way to 4-under, but double bogeyed the par-5 6th (his 15th) and bogeyed the par-4 8th for a round of 1-under-par 71.
*John Daly recorded a triple-bogey 8 at the par-5 6th. Still, it was 10 strokes lower than what he shot on the same hole in the final round in 1998. Dalys good friend Fuzzy Zoeller posted a 10 on the same hole Thursday. Daly shot 77, while Zoeller shot 81.
*Reigning British Amateur champion Mikko Ilonen, believed to be the first Finnish player to start in a PGA Tour event, opened in 6-over-par 78.
*Tournament host Arnold Palmer shot a first-round 13-over-par 85.
Click here for full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18
Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf
Well, this is a one new one.
According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:
“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”
Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.
“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.
The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.
“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”
The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.
Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.
Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.
PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation
Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.
The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
The statement reads:
The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.
Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.
The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.
The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.
The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.