Kelly Leads Entering the Jungle

By Mercer BaggsMarch 24, 2001, 5:00 pm
Thirty-six-hole leader Jerry Kelly was admittedly cotton-mouthed prior to playing the third round of the $6 million Players Championship.
However, he more than held his own, shooting a 2-under-par 70 to maintain a 2-shot lead entering the final round. Sunday, hell once again be playing in the final group on the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass. But he wont be playing with Paul Azinger. Hell be alongside Tiger Woods. And those bundles of nerves will be more like boulders.
Welcome to the jungle.
Ive never played with him, said Kelly in reference to Woods. It's kind of like playing in the middle of the freeway.
Woods fired a 6-under-par 66 to cut a six-shot overnight deficit to a more manageable two strokes. Tigers day began and ended with bogeys, but in between there were a handful of memorable moments.
Playing in the penultimate pairing will be Vijay Singh and Scott Hoch. Singh shot 2-under-par 70 to finish in a tie with Woods for second place at 9-under. Hoch bogeyed the final hole to shoot 71 and finish the day alone in fourth place at 8-under.
Playing with Kelly, Azinger shot 2-over-par 74 to fall into a tie for sixth place at 6-under-par.
Singh was six feet from earning a spot in the final group, but missed his birdie effort on the final hole. The Fijian spent the better part of his day jumping back and forth between 8- and 9-under, before a birdie at the par-5 16th moved him into double digits.
A three-putt bogey at the par-3 17th once again dropped Singh down to 9-under, where he finished after failing to take advantage of an impressive approach shot on 18.
Im due for a nice round here on Sunday, and I think tomorrow will be the one, said Singh, who lives just five miles from the course.
Though jittery, Kelly was able to settle himself by birdieing his first two holes. A third birdie at the par-5 6th took him to 12-under-par for the tournament; though he dropped that shot with a bogey at the par-3 8th.
Jerry Kelly_The Players_Sitting_COnce again, Kelly kept his tee shots in play. Saying accuracy was his primary focus before teeing it up this week, Kelly missed just one fairway in the third round.
Kellys back nine was one of consistency. He recorded one birdie, seven pars and a lone bogey at the 17th. That bogey came courtesy of a three-putt.
Im hoping that my mental attitude is going to be extremely strong, Kelly said. Theres always more pressure on (Tiger). Hes expected to win. You know, he is The Man.
Nobody is really expecting me to do it. I mean, you are all saying underdog and this kind of thing. You know, Im in a great position. I still think I just go out and play my game, and Im playing well enough to where I can do it.
In terms of results, Woods got off to a great start Saturday. However, his ball striking was erratic. He didnt hit a fairway until the fifth hole, but managed to overcome a bogey at the 1st with three successive birdies on hole Nos. 2-4.
I hit the ball terrible starting out, Woods said. But somehow I was able to scrape it around and keep it under par with the putter.
Five straight pars left Woods at 5-under upon making the turn. At that point, he trailed Kelly by seven shots.
After another par at the 10th, Tiger smoked a 4-iron from 229 yards on the par-5 11th to within two feet of the hole. The tap-in eagle vaulted Woods to 7-under, which soon became 8-under after a second laser-like iron at the 12th led to another tap-in, this time for birdie.
Almost instantaneously, Woods was within three strokes of the lead.
A 20-foot birdie putt at the par-5 16th got Woods to 9-under. Then, it appeared as if Tiger made a mistake at the par-3 17th. Woods hit a 9-iron from 134 yards to the back of the green. He was quite fortunate the ball stayed on the island.
Putting from the fringe, Tiger navigated a 60-foot, double-breaking putt into the right side of the cup for an unimaginable birdie 2.
Ive had that putt where Ive missed it ' Ive missed it right almost every time, in practice rounds as well as tournaments, said Woods. I know that putt really swings back at the right towards the end. I changed my read a little bit based on past experience. Somehow it snuck in.
Woods pumped his fist emphatically and the masses roared. It was reminiscent of when Tiger holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the same hole to take the lead for the first time in his 1994 U.S. Amateur victory.
I really thought he made a hole-in-one on 17, said Kelly, who heard the crowd reaction while he was playing the 15th.
Perhaps a bit too pumped, Woods elected to hit a 3-iron instead of a 2-iron off the 18th tee. Thursday, he double bogeyed the hole when he hit his tee shot into the water guarding the left side of the fairway.
This time, he blew his shot into the gnarly right rough. He pitched out from there, but missed the green with his third shot. Woods then chipped to five feet and made the putt for bogey. Still, it was enough to earn a spot in the final pairing.
Its always advantageous to see what the leaders are doing, Woods said. If the guys are playing well ahead of you, at least you have time to react to it.
Playing in the final group on Sunday is rather routine for Woods. He did so just last week in his victory at the Bay Hill Invitational.
For Kelly, however, its a whole new experience. Hes led only one tournament entering the final round. That was the 1999 Greater Milwaukee Open. He shot 71 on Sunday and finished third.
I learned a lot from that Sunday, and Ive really been looking forward to getting back in this position and applying some of the things I learned, Kelly said.
The loss was a difficult one to take for Kelly, who was born in Madison, Wisc. He considers that event to be his fifth major. Most others happen to think The Players in next in line for such status.
Perhaps a win ' over Tiger Woods, nonetheless ' will change Kellys mind.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Jerry Kelly is trying to become the first player in the 28-year history of The Players Championship to make this event his first PGA Tour victory.
*Kellys career best finish came in a playoff loss to Loren Roberts in the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open. That was Tiger Woods first event as a professional.
*Woods played with Phil Mickelson in the third round. Mickelson shot an even-par 72. He stands in a tie for 11th.
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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

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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.