Listless Day Yields Low Scores

By Mercer BaggsJanuary 9, 2003, 5:00 pm
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- The amenities on offer this week to the 36 participants in the Mercedes Championships field create quite a relaxed atmosphere.
From the title-sponsor loaner to the whale-watching cruises, players are in a complete comfort zone off the course.
But there may be one player more at ease than the rest.
Jim Furyk is the only man in the field who has competed in every Mercedes Championships since the tournament moved to Kapaluas par-73 Plantation Course in 1999. Hes finished inside the top 10 in each of those years, and claimed first prize in 2001.
In fact, he liked the venue so much he built a house just off the 18th fairway last year.
Furyk walked out of his front door and into the first-round lead of this weeks season-opener. On a benign tropical day, Furyk fired a one-eagle, seven-birdie 64 to tie Ernie Els for the top spot at 9 under par.
It was a good start to the year, good start to this week, and hopefully Ill keep it up, Furyk said.
The two lead Gene Sauers, who is making his first Mercedes appearance in 13 years, and first-timers Chris Riley and Jerry Kelly by a shot.
Kelly won the Sony Open in Hawaii last season to qualify for this event.
Riley and Sauers played in the same pairing Thursday and carded matching 8-under 65s.
I think we absolutely fed off each other, Riley said.
Both players made four birdies in a five-hole stretch starting at the par-3 second. They also each shot 4-under 33 on the back nine.
Riley ' after three-putting the par-5 15th for par ' birdied his final three holes. I just kind of got mad, he said with a laugh.
In a tournament with few favorites ' with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson absent ' Furyk and Els showed why theyre two of the weeks best bets to grab the $1 million first-place check and the keys to the Mercedes-Benz SL500 sports car.
Furyk eagled the par-5 ninth after hitting a 4-wood to 15 feet. He made the turn in 5 under, and added four more birdies on the inward half.
Els parred his first four holes before making an eagle of his own at the par-5 fifth. He also birdied 5 and 6, but gave both shots back with a double bogey at the par-4 seventh when he pulled a 6-iron into the left hazard.
Undaunted, the 2000 runner-up birdied three of his next five holes and posted his second eagle of the day at the 15th ' it was the second time he hit 7-iron into a par-5 and converted the putt for a 3. He then closed with birdies on 16 and 18.
I just felt quite comfortable out there today, Els said. Im feeling good with the driver. I just let it go.
If there is a home-course advantage for Furyk its not due to the living quarters. The home wasnt finished until last summer, and he and his family have only spent a few weeks total there.
The advantage lies in his familiarity with the course. While there are 18 first-timers in the field this week, Furyk has not only played the Plantation Course every year its hosted this event, but he also played the course three times competitively in the former Kapalua Invitational.
I got to see the course in a lot of different conditions and styles, Furyk said.
Thursdays conditions were far from the norm.
I dont think Ive ever seen it this calm before, said Els. It cant stay like this, its impossible.
If it does, the 72-hole scoring record of 26-under-par 266 might be in jeopardy. Only four players failed to break par in the first round. The overall scoring average of 69.361was the lowest in any round since this event moved to this course.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia, who turned 23 Thursday, had a 2-under 71.
Related Links:
  • Full-field scores from the Mercedes Championships
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

    He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

    Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

    Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

    Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

    Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

    Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

    Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

    Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

    Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

    Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

    Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

    Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

    Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

    Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

    Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

    Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

    Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

    Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

    Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

    Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

    Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

    The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

    Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

    And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

    Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

    Photo Galleries: Best of ...

    Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

    Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.