Patience Pays for Howell at Tour Championship

By Mercer BaggsNovember 1, 2002, 5:00 pm
ATLANTA ' Patience and caution were paramount under trying conditions Friday in The Tour Championship.
Yet, its a 23-year-old tour sophomore who leads after two rounds.
Charles Howell III parred his final eight holes at the East Lake Golf Club for a 1-under 69. He stands at 5-under-par 135 entering the weekend, one shot ahead of four players.
'It reminded me a lot of the Saturday round up at Kingsmill when I didn't hit the ball very well that day and was able to get up-and-down a lot and hang in there,' said Howell, who earned his first tour win three starts ago at the Michelob Championship.
David Toms (66) and Len Mattiace (68) share second place with overnight leaders Steve Lowery (71) and Vijay Singh (71).
Mattiace shared the lead until the last. After hitting his tee shot on the 232-yard, par-3 18th into the right bunker, he thinned his second shot over the green. The ball bounced off a corporate tent and came racing back to him. It rolled through the green and came to a rest some 30 yards from the hole. He then pitched to four feet and made bogey.
Once you see the ball go over the green, you know that now its impossible. In a way, I got very lucky that the ball hit the ' whatever, and came bounding backwards. Because if it stayed over the greenI would have had an impossible shot, Mattiace explained.
For the second straight day, officials implemented lift, clean and place rules due to the soggy fairways. But a combination of natural and manufactured elements kept players from abusing that condition.
When its windy like this, its really hard to go low, said Tiger Woods. Its stronger now, definitely.
Coming off his first over-par round since his 81 at the British Open, Woods made five birdies and three bogeys Friday to move to 1-under-par for the tournament. His 2-under 68 was good enough to shave two strokes off his overnight deficit.
I wanted to get under par today and I was able to accomplish that, he said.
Aside from the wind drying out the greens and creating a trickier surface ' wickedly quick, according to Woods ' Tiger said there was another reason no one was able to distance their self.
Its the pin locations. They are making it tough because we are able to have the ball in hand, he noted. In conditions like this, you are not going to try to take chances. You are going to dump it in the middle of the greens, two-putt and move on.Howell did that for the most part on the back nine. He hit his final six greens, and two-putted them all. For the day, he made three birdies and two bogeys. Both dropped shots, however, came after hitting the fairways at 5 and 10, and missing both greens with a wedge in hand.
Those two holes there kind of hurt, he acknowledged. If I make two pars there, Im 7-under, which looks a little bit different than 5 (under).
Howell admitted his was happy to be leading the tournament, but wasnt pleased with his second-round score.
I left a few out there where I shouldnt have. I was able to drive it in the fairway enough where I should have taken better advantage of a few of those holes, he said. Obviously, at the beginning of the day I would have been happy with a 69, but from how I drove it, it was decent.
Aside from the similarities Howell sees in his third round at the Michelob and the one he had this Friday, he sees a likeness in the two tournaments on the whole.
Going into this week, I never thought about winning it, he said. Same as the Michelob. I didnt tee off on Thursday thinking, hey, Im going to win this golf tournament.
In the past Ive struggled from actually getting too far ahead of myself and maybe thinking about winning or thinking about something that I shouldnt be thinking about that was going to happen one, two or three days ahead of myself.
Its not that Im not trying to win, I dont expect to win; its that I find more importance in the shot ahead of me versus a result.
Hes now put himself into a position where he can start thinking about the end result.
Full-field scores from The Tour Championship
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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

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.