Allenby Stenson on Top at Doral

By Sports NetworkMarch 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipMIAMI -- Henrik Stenson, the winner of the season's first World Golf Championships event, the Accenture Match Play Championship, appears to be making a serious bid at the single-season WGC Grand Slam.
 
He posted a 5-under-par 67 on Thursday and shares the opening-round lead of the WGC-CA Championship with Robert Allenby after a windy and rainy first day at Doral.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is four off the lead at Doral. (WireImage)
This is the first year the event at Doral joined the World Golf Championships rotation. It was previously the American Express Championship and one player is in a unique position.
 
Tiger Woods not only won last year's event at Doral, but also the American Express Championship at Mount Juliet Estate in Ireland.
 
On Thursday, Woods managed only three birdies and two bogeys en route to a 1-under-par 71. He is tied for 10th place, but had a chance to go lower.
 
Woods reached 2 under par thanks to a birdie at the par-5 first, his 10th hole on Thursday. He missed a 6 -footer for par at the third, then rattled off six consecutive pars, which was not good considering he had three straight birdie chances from inside 12 feet from the sixth.
 
At the par-3 ninth, Woods knocked his tee ball to 9 feet. Once again, Woods' ball stayed above ground as his flat stick could not get him any closer than four shots to the lead.
 
'It's just weird out there,' said Woods. 'I putt a lot by memory and a couple of the putts did the exact opposite of what they used to do.'
 
The weather was a factor on Thursday as rain fell periodically, but it was the wind that flummoxed players.
 
'Just go out there and fight your hardest,' said Stenson, who is the fifth-ranked golfer in the world. 'I think a lot of times you have to be smart and miss it in the right places. Don't short-side yourself in these conditions.'
 
Stenson also began on the back nine Thursday and birdied his second hole. He dropped a shot at the par-3 13th, but reclaimed the lost stroke and more with back-to-back birdies at 14 and 15.
 
He birdied the par-5 opening hole to reach 3 under par for the championship. Stenson bogeyed the third hole, but got back to minus-3 with a 5-foot birdie putt at the fourth.
 
The Swede parred his next two holes, then closed out his round in impressive fashion. He knocked his approach to 5 feet to set up birdie at the seventh, then made it two in a row thanks to a 14-footer at the par-5 eighth.
 
A par at the ninth was enough to keep Stenson atop the leaderboard. After his somewhat startling victory last month at the Accenture Match Play Championship, more people are getting to know his name.
 
'I don't know if they have heard about me or not, but if I keep playing well I guess they will,' said Stenson, who also has a win on the European Tour this year. 'That's what I'm trying to do.'
 
Allenby also started on the second nine and flew out of the gate with back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11. He bogeyed 13, but birdies at 14 and 16 got him to 3-under at the turn.
 
He reached 4-under at the par-5 first as his second landed in a greenside bunker. Allenby blasted out to tap-in range and took the tournament lead.
 
Allenby gave himself another tap-in birdie at the fifth, but stumbled down the leaderboard at six. His approach found a bunker and his third came up 10 feet short of the stick. The Aussie missed the par save, but drained a 19-foot birdie putt at eight to join Stenson in the lead.
 
For the Aussie, the terrible conditions were like home.
 
'It's hard to control it,' admitted Allenby. 'I just tried to hit three-quarter shots pretty much most of the way in and really stay in control with the shots that I hit.'
 
Thomas Bjorn carded a 4-under 68 on Thursday and is alone in third place.
 
Aaron Baddeley, Charles Howell III and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal are tied for fourth place at 3-under-par 69. Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Rod Pampling are knotted in seventh at minus-2.
 
K.J. Choi, Bart Bryant, Sergio Garcia, Rory Sabbatini and Tom Pernice, Jr. joined Woods in 10th place at minus-1.
 
Last week's winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Vijay Singh, only managed a 2-over-par 74 and is part of a group tied for 38th place. Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen were even worse on Thursday as they both shot rounds of 5-over-par 77 and are tied for 66th place in the 73-player field.
 
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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 www.playfantasygolf.com 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."