Furyk Fights Way to Mercedes Title

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 14, 2001, 5:00 pm
Rory Sabbatini missed a two-foot birdie putt to force a playoff, thus giving Jim Furyk his sixth career PGA Tour title at the Mercedes Championships in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
Furyk comments on his Mercedes Championships win.
Playing in the group in front of Sabbatini's, Furyk made a 10-foot birdie putt to take a one-shot lead at 18-under-par, and then watched in surprise as Sabbatini failed to convert a birdie putt of his own from less than half that distance.

'I feel bad for him,' said Furyk, who shot a 5-under-par 67 to overcome a four-stroke deficit as the day began. 'It was a tricky putt. It's not the way you want to see things happen, but I'm also happy for myself.'
This is Furyk's second win in the Aloha State. He also captured the 1996 United Airlines Hawaiian Open. Furyk claims the $630,000 first-place check in his first event since injuring his wrist late last year.
Winning in the wind and coming from behind seem to be Furyk's forte. In addition to his pair of Hawaiian victories, the 30-year-old has won three times in Las Vegas and made up a six-shot deficit over the final seven holes to win last year's Doral-Ryder Open.
Sunday's comeback wasn't as dramatic, but it was impressive.
After a bogey at the third thwarted his early momentum, Furyk sank a 60-foot eagle putt at the par-5 6th to move into contention. Clutch par saves at the 15th and 16th holes kept alive his chances, allowing him the opportunity to win the tournament on the 72nd hole.
Sabbatini played admirably in the final round, recording four birdies and three bogeys for a 1-under-par 72. He finished second alone, one shot clear of his Sunday playing companion, Vijay Singh, and fellow South African Ernie Els.
Singh was just two shots back of Sabbatini as the day began, but bogeyed his first two holes and never contended. Singh managed a final-round 71, two shots higher than that posted by Els. The leader through two rounds, Els fought his way back to within one of the lead by birdying the 15th, yet parred his way into the clubhouse to fall two shots short.
Several players contended on Sunday, including '99 champion David Duval and David Toms. Both men were within striking distance before each carded a double bogey. Duval shot 70 to finish seventh at 13-under, while Toms shot 72 to tie Justin Leonard (71), Michael Clark II (69) and defending champion Tiger Woods (69) for eighth place at 12-under.
Sabbatini only trailed twice all day. The first occasion came when he missed a six-foot par putt at the 13th, though he regained sole possession of the lead with back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15.
Leading by one with three holes to play, Sabbatini, who won the 2000 Air Canada Championship to qualify for this week's event, found trouble at the short par-4 16th.
Ironically, it was at the 16th where Sabbatini holed a 96-yard wedge shot in the second round. That eagle gave the South African his first lead of the tournament.
This time, Sabbatini's wedge shot came up short of the flag and rolled off the front of the green. He then chipped to five feet, where he failed to save par.

Both Sabbatini and Furyk, each of whom attended the University of Arizona, narrowly missed birdie putts at the 17th. Furyk then came up short of the green in two at the 663-yard par-5 18th. He pitched to ten feet. Of course, he made the putt.
Sabbatini hit the green on his second shot, and then lagged a 50-foot eagle putt to within three feet of the cup. Of course, he missed.
'I played a good last hole,' said Sabbatini, who collected $380,000. 'Unfortunately, I just hit a bad second putt - I pulled it. Obviously I'm a little disappointed. But everything happens for a reason. We'll tee it up and try to do it again.'
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Watch: Tiger highlights from Round 2 at Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 23, 2018, 8:12 pm

Tiger Woods started at even par in Round 2 of the Honda Classic. Friday began with a bogey at the par-4 second, but Woods got that stroke back with a birdie at the par-4 fourth:

Following four consecutive pars, Woods birdied the par-4 ninth to turn in 1-under 34.

At 1 under for the tournament, Woods was tied for 10th place, three off the lead, when he began the back nine at PGA National. And the crowd was loving it.

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Defending champ Fowler misses cut at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:14 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The roles might be reversed this weekend for Rickie Fowler.

Last year, when he won at PGA National, Fowler was greeted behind the 18th green by Justin Thomas, one of his Jupiter neighbors. Thomas had missed the cut in his hometown event but drove back to the tournament to congratulate Fowler on his fourth PGA Tour title.

It’s Fowler who will be on the sidelines this weekend, after missing the Honda Classic cut following rounds of 71-76.  

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“I haven’t been swinging it great the last month and a half,” he said afterward. “Obviously playing in the wind, it will pick you apart even more.”

After a tie for fourth at Kapalua, Fowler has missed two of his last three cuts. In between, at the Phoenix Open, he coughed up the 54-hole lead and tied for 11th.

Fowler said he’s been struggling with commitment and trust on the course.

“It’s close,” he said. “Just a little bit off, and the wind is going to make it look like you’re a terrible weekend golfer.”

Asked if he’d return the favor for Thomas, if he were to go and win, Fowler smiled and said: “Of course.”  

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 23, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Cut Line: Woods still eyeing Ryder Cup dual role

By Rex HoggardFebruary 23, 2018, 6:57 pm

In this week’s edition, Jack Nicklaus makes the argument, again, for an equipment rollback, Tiger Woods gets halfway to his Ryder Cup goal and Paul Lawrie laments slow play ... in Europe.

Made Cut

Captain’s corner. Last week Tiger Woods coyly figured he could do both, play and be a vice captain for this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Tuesday, he made it halfway to his goal.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk named Woods and Steve Stricker vice captains for this year’s matches, joining Davis Love III on the team golf cart.

Whether Woods will be able to pull off the double-header is now largely up to him and how his most recent comeback from injury progresses, but one way or another Furyk wanted Tiger in his team room.

“What Tiger really has brought to the table for our vice captains is a great knowledge of X's and O's,” Furyk said. “He's done a really good job of pairing players together in foursomes and fourball. When you look at our team room and you look at a lot of the youth that we have in that team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

Woods is currently 104th on the U.S. points list, but the qualification process is designed for volatility, with this year’s majors worth twice as many points. With Tiger’s improved play it’s not out of the question that he gets both, a golf cart and a golf bag, for this year’s matches.

#MSDStrong. Every week on Tour players, officials and fans come together to support a charity of some sort, but this week’s Honda Classic has a more personal impact for Nicholas Thompson.

Thompson graduated from nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and last week’s horrific shooting there inspired the former Tour member to work with tournament organizers and find a way to help the victims.

Officials handed out 1,600 maroon ribbons to volunteers to honor the victims; and Thompson and his wife, who is also a Stoneman Douglas graduate, donated another 500 with the letters “MSD” on them for players, wives and caddies.

Thompson also planned to donate 3,100 rubber bracelets in exchange for donations to help the victims and their families.

“I’m not much of a crier, but it was a very, very sad moment,” Thompson told PGATour.com. “To see on TV, the pictures of the school that I went through for four years and the area where it occurred was terrible.”

The Tour makes an impact on communities every week, but some tournaments are more emotional than others.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Golden moment. Jack Nicklaus has never been shy about expressing his thoughts on modern equipment and how far today’s professionals are hitting the golf ball, but this week the Golden Bear revealed just how involved he may be in what is increasingly looking like an equipment rollback of some sort.

During a recent dinner with USGA CEO Mike Davis, Nicklaus discussed the distance debate.

“Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. We’re going to get there. I need your help when we get there.'” Nicklaus said. “I said, ‘That’s fine. I’m happy to help you. I’ve only been yelling at you for 40 years.’ 1977 is the first time I went to the USGA.”

The USGA and R&A are scheduled to release their annual distance report before the end of the month, but after the average driving distance jumped nearly 3 yards last year on Tour – and nearly 7 yards on the Web.com Tour – many within the equipment industry are already bracing for what could be the most profound rollback in decades.

Stay tuned.

Geographically undesirable. Although this will likely be the final year the Tour’s Florida swing is undercut by the WGC-Mexico Championship, which will be played next week, the event’s impact on this year’s fields is clear.

The tee sheet for this week’s Honda Classic, which had become one of the circuit’s deepest stops thanks to an influx of Europeans gearing up for the Masters, includes just three players from the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and none from top three. By comparison, only the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge had fewer top players in 2018.

On Monday at a mandatory meeting, players were given a rough outline of the 2018-19 schedule, which features some dramatic changes including the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players shifting back to March, and numerous sources say the Mexico stop will move to the back end of the West Coast swing and be played after the Genesis Open.

That should help fields in the Sunshine State regain some luster, but it does nothing to change the fact that this year’s Florida swing is, well, flat.

Missed Cut

West Coast woes. Of all the highlights from this year’s West Coast swing, a run that included overtime victories for Patton Kizzire (Sony Open), Jon Rahm (CareerBuilder Challenge), Jason Day (Farmers Insurance Open) and Gary Woodland (Waste Management Phoenix Open), it will be what regularly didn’t happen that Cut Line remembers.

J.B. Holmes endured the wrath of social media for taking an eternity - it was actually 4 minutes, 10 seconds - to hit his second shot on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines, but in fairness to Holmes he’s only a small part of a larger problem.

Without any weather delays, Rounds 1 and 2 were not completed on schedule last week in Los Angeles because of pace of play, and the Tour is even considering a reduction in field size at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open to avoid similar schedule issues.

But all this seems to miss the point. Smaller fields aren’t the answer; rules that recognize and penalize slow play are the only solution.

Tweet of the week: @PaulLawriegolf (Paul Lawrie) “Getting pretty fed up playing with guys who cheat the system by playing as slow as they want until referee comes then hit it on the run to make sure they don't get penalized. As soon as ref [is] gone it’s back to taking forever again. We need a better system.”

It turns out slow play isn’t a uniquely Tour/West Coast issue, as evidenced by the Scot’s tweet on Thursday from the Qatar Masters.