Major feel to Cherry Hills on first day of BMW

By Randall MellSeptember 5, 2014, 12:48 am

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Rory McIlroy felt a little bit like he was playing in a major championship.

That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the field here at the BMW Championship.

With British Open and PGA Championship titles won earlier this year, McIlroy’s game is honed for stern tests. That’s what Cherry Hills offered Thursday in the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

With a 3-under-par 67, McIlroy grabbed a share of the lead in the suspended first round. He’s among three players out front, with nine players yet to finish the round. Play was halted late in the day because of the threat of bad weather.

“It's playing a little bit like a U.S. Open,” said McIlroy. “I wouldn't say it's quite as difficult as that, but it's thick rough, especially around the greens, and firm greens. That's what they need to keep the scoring the way it is.”

Though it has been 29 years since Cherry Hills hosted a PGA Championship, and 54 years since it hosted a U.S. Open, McIlroy fully understood how the venue’s defenses make par a good score, even as short as the course has become over the years because of technological advances. He wasn’t alone thinking that.

Phil Mickelson, who won the U.S. Amateur here in 1990, said Cherry Hills’ defenses remind him of how players made their scores at the Masters when he was first coming into the professional game.

“Actually, it reminds me of Augusta in the early ‘90s, where the course played very short, but the greens were the defenses,” said Mickelson, who opened with a 70. “The greens were very fast, very firm and very difficult to get the ball close. I think that was the defense of the golf course.”

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Jordan Spieth and Gary Woodland share the first-round lead with McIlroy.

Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson are among nine players a shot back. Stenson was among players still on the course when play was halted. He has just one hole left to play. The first round will resume at 11 a.m. local time with the second round scheduled to begin at 11:20 a.m.

Chris Kirk, the FedEx Cup points leader, opened with a 71.

Patrick Reed, an American Ryder Cup team member, shot 77.

Cherry Hills is a par 70 set up at 7,352 yards. With the course at a mile-high elevation, it plays even shorter than that.

“Though it’s not very long, it’s very, very brutal,” Garcia said.

Spieth was more than happy with his 67.

“It seemed like Cherry Hills here and the Tour didn’t want us going too low,” Spieth said.

McIlroy, No. 2 in FedEx Cup points behind Kirk, wants to head to the Tour Championship at East Lake next week in the best position possible to claim the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot that barely eluded him two years ago. That’s why he was kicking himself for the two bogeys he made coming home Thursday.

At 5 under through 15 holes, with sole possession of the lead, McIlroy didn’t have a blemish on his scorecard until making back-to-back bogeys. He couldn’t get up and down from bunkers at No. 7 and No. 8, his 16th and 17th holes of the day.

“A little frustrated coming off the course,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I should have been better than what I finished. A sloppy bogey or two out there.”

McIlroy won a pair of FedEx Cup playoff events in 2012, but the big jackpot eluded him when Brandt Snedeker took it, winning the Tour Championship. McIlroy finished second in FedEx Cup points that year and says the disappointment of playing so well in the playoffs but falling short adds some fuel to his tank this year.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."