Love Jimenez Lead in LA But Tiger Still in Hunt
Love carded a 4-under-par 67 to tie Miguel Angel Jimenez, who shot 66, for the 36-hole lead in the 75th Nissan Open. At 7-under for the tournament, the pair leads Brandel Chamblee (68), Shigeki Maruyama (69), Scott McCarron (68), Chris Perry (68) and Craig Barlow (68) by one shot.
Tiger Woods spent the better part of the day trying to extend his streak of 63 consecutive cuts made. Despite birdying the first, Woods was even par for the tournament upon making the turn.
Tiger finally found his flow early on the back nine with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes, but a bogey at the par-3 16th dropped him to 1-under-par, a stroke above the cutline.
Woods then put to rest any doubt whether or not he would be around for the weekend by eagling the par-5 17th. He finished the day at 3-under 139, just four off the lead.
'Hopefully, I can get it going,' said Woods, who hit only 10 of 18 greens in regulation. 'The greens I do hit, it's not close enough to make any putts.'
Thanks to a win at Pebble Beach, his first PGA Tour victory in 63 starts, and a tie for second in the Buick Invitational, Love is in position to capture the unofficial $500,000 bonus that is awarded to the winner of the West Coast Swing.
The Sea Island, Ga., resident is tied for the top spot with Brad Faxon and Ernie Els, both of whom are not in competing this week.
But after two rounds in Pacific Palisades, Calif., that's a mere afterthought.
'Winning at Riviera is the focal point,' said Love.
Playing in chilly, rainy conditions early Friday morning, Love started sluggish, making the turn in 1-under-par 34. But as the conditions warmed, so too did Love. The 14-time Tour winner birdied four of his first five holes on the back nine en route to his 11th straight under-par round.
'I was playing good golf, now I'm playing pretty good golf,' Love said. 'I'm not playing great golf. I'm not playing perfect, but I'm playing determined and confident.'
As is Jimenez. The 37-year-old Spaniard has evolved from journeyman to worldwide contender over the past four years. Jimenez recorded multiple win seasons on the European Tour in 1998 and '99. And, despite not winning in 2000, Jimenez posted a pair of top-5 finishes on U.S. soil, including a tie for second in the U.S. Open.
Friday, Jimenez made a strong bid for his first stateside victory by playing his first 13 holes in 7-under. His scoring began with an eagle at the par-5 first, and concluded with a birdie at the 13th.
Jimenez led the event by two shots at 9-under, but bogeyed the 14th and 16th holes to finish at minus-7.
'I have as good a chance as Davis Love,' Jimenez said.
Day Two was a rough one for the overnight leaders. Tom Scherrer posted an even-par 71 to remain at 5-under. Sergio Garcia dropped to 4-under after a 72. Brent Schwarzrock, the 13th alternate who was an 11th-hour addition to the field, fell to 1-under following a 75.
But none fared worse than Kirk Triplett. The defending champion, who opened his title defense with a 66, was 15 strokes higher on Friday. Triplett revived memories of Rod Pampling, who led after the first round of the 1999 British Open only to miss the cut. Triplett did the same thanks to a 10-over-par 81.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Despite finishing with three straight bogeys, German amateur Gary Birch shot 72 to make the cut at even par. Birch, a Monday qualifier, became the first amateur to make a cut on the PGA Tour since Jeffrey Wilson tied for 59th in the 2000 U.S. Open.
*80 players made the even-par cutline; Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples were not among them. Mickelson shot 73-74 to finish at 5-over. Couples shot 73-72 to finish at 3-over. Couples had made 11 straight cuts in this event. Mickelson, who trails Love by 10 points on the West Coast Swing, is now out of the running for first place.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Nissan Open!
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.
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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.
McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”
This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.
A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.
McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.
“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.
“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.
Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead
PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.
While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.
But then . . .
“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”
In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.
She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.
With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.
At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).
Park’s back with a hot putter.
That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.
“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.
“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.
Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.
“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.
Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.
Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.
They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.
Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.
“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.
“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”
Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.
“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”
Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.
“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”