DiMarco Cools Still Leads

By Mercer BaggsOctober 19, 2002, 4:00 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. ' A pair of 2002 trends are forming this week at the Disney Golf Classic.
Players seeking their first wins, and others seeking to stop the hands of time are once again in contention outside the Magic Kingdom.
Chris DiMarco, however, would love nothing more than to buck both trends. He wasnt able to maintain his torrid pace Saturday, but he did just enough to keep his two-stroke lead heading into the final round.
DiMarco shot a bogey-free 3-under 69 to move to 20-under-par 196. Hes two clear of Skip Kendall (66), Bob Burns (67) and Scott Hoch (69). Hoch bogeyed his final hole, as did Joel Edwards, who is three back after a 67.
'I'll be more aggressive tomorrow,' DiMarco said. 'I think I came out a little tenative today. I mean, after shooting 63-64, I think I should have come out more aggressive.'
Kendall was agressive from ths start Saturday. He was 8-under, and leading the tournament through 13 holes, but bogeyed the 15th and 17th to relinquish his position.
The goal today was to close the gap, and I did that, said Kendall, who started the day five back. Obviously, Im not happy with the way I finished, but Im only taking away positives.
DiMarco and Kendall will be paired in Sundays final twosome. The two share more than just the fact that they both live in the Orlando area; it was Kendall who resurrected DiMarcos career by introducing him to the claw-style putting grip.
Skip is a good guy and he knew I was struggling back in 95 and showed me something that helped, DiMarco said. It really doesnt matter how you hold it, as long as the ball goes in the hole.
Tiger Woods had a hard time getting the ball in the hole in round three. Needing a remarkably low number to cut into his overnight eight-shot deficit, Woods could only muster a 5-under 67.
I hit so many good putts that didnt go in, he said.
Woods stands at 14-under-par. Hes six off the lead, with 20 players tied with or in front of him.
It is almost impossible to try and catch up, because you need to shoot 62 or something like that to make up a difference and hope they dont go low, he said.
I have always liked tournaments where you go and you shoot 69, and it is well learned and well deserved, and you are going to move up the leaderboard.
Aside from Tigers usually dominance, there have been a record 15 first-time winners on the PGA Tour this season, while five players in their 40s have posted victory.
Kendall, a three-time career runner-up, currently stands behind only Greg Kraft (324) on the active players list without a tour title. This is the 38-year-olds 260th start in the big leagues. Bob Burns stretch extends to 172 events.
A year ago, Edwards snapped a 315-tournament drought at the Air Canada Championship. Now, he wants to add to the list of 40-something winners.
Edwards is 40; Hoch is 46.
DiMarco is neither a graybeard nor winless. He has won each of the last three years, but is still in search of his first multiple-win season.
After shooting a front-nine 35 Saturday, DiMarco was trailing Kendall. He birdied 13 and 15 to jump in front, at minus 20. He then parred his final three holes.
'Playing with Skip, that will be really fun tomorrow,' DiMarco said. 'I know he's had a lot of close calls. My job tomorrow is not to give it to him. If he goes out and beats me...I'd probably feel just as happy as if I won. Because if I play good and somebody beats me, that's fine. And if it's Skip, it's even better.'
Full-field scores from the Disney Golf Classic
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

Former Web.com 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 Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com 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.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x