By Mercer BaggsSeptember 21, 2000, 4:00 pm
Hennie Otto fired a career-best 7-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead over five others through 18 holes of the Belgacom Open in Royal Zoute, Belgium.
A rookie on the European Tour, Otto is in dire need of a strong finish to the season in order to maintain his playing privileges. With just over $60,000 in earnings this year, Otto stands 135th on the current Order of Merit - 20 spots removed from an automatic exemption in 2001.
Time is running out for the 24-year-old South African. The Belgacom Open is one of only four remaining full-field events on the 2000 schedule.
Thursday, Otto didn't show a sense of urgency out of the gates. He parred his first eight holes before recording his first birdie of the day at the par-4 9th. That's when the floodgates opened.
Otto birdied four consecutive holes beginning at the 9th, and seven of his final 10 holes. The South African's back-nine surge moved him past early leaders Padraig Harrington and Marc Farry, who each carded rounds of 6-under-par 65.
'I've been working really hard on my mental approach to the game and staying focused,' said Otto. 'It's coming through slowly but surely.
'Today I hit the ball great the first eight holes but just didn't make the putts. Then made a 20-footer on nine and thought the luck was going to change. Hit a good second shot on 10 to six feet and made that. Then I felt the confidence grow.'
By day's end, there was a quintet of players within one shot of Otto's lead. Lee Westwood, Stephen Scahill and Olle Karlsson (no relation to defending champion Robert) all opened in 65.
Said Westwood: 'There's a long way to go but I'm in good position. It is always nice to start off with a fast start and get into contention early. You feel like you are in the tournament more.'
Westwood is trying to reclaim the top spot on the Order of Merit. He currently trails Darren Clark by just over $82,000. Clarke is tied for 108th after the first round. The Ulsterman opened in 2-over-par 73.
While Clarke had a frustrating first day, at least it wasn't painful. The same can't be said for Thomas Bjorn. The Dane, currently fourth on the Order of Merit, had to withdraw from competition due to a foot injury after playing just five holes.
'It is inflamed underneath the left foot,' said Bjorn. 'It has been bothering me every day this week especially in the evenings. It was all right in the mornings, so I thought I would keep going and give it a try. I took a few painkillers this morning but it is not getting any better. There is too much big golf coming up for me.
'I'll be fine next week. I need some ice and some rest. I'm going to go straight home and get some treatment in London. I'll be back next week.'
Aside from Bjorn's withdrawal, three holes-in-one highlighted Thursday. Ivo Giner, Jean-Franois Remesy and Paul Affleck all carded an ace. Unfortunately, none of them managed the feat on the 16th, where a heart-shaped diamond worth $30,000 was for the taking.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'

Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving

Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing

Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'

Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm