Ames to Please at The Players - COPIED

By Sports NetworkMarch 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Ames managed a 2-under 70 on Saturday to take the third-round lead of The Players Championship. He stands at 9-under-par 207 and is one ahead at the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass.
 
Ames was steady on Saturday, when the wind kicked up considerably, making the Pete Dye design extremely difficult. There were only three birdies recorded at the famous island green, par-3 17th and one at the closing hole as greens became very slick.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had four birdies, but also five bogeys in his 1-over 73 Saturday.
No one exemplified the hardships 17 and 18 presented more than Arron Oberholser.
 
This year's winner at Pebble Beach, was tied for the lead with Ames as he moved to the 17th tee. He found water, made triple-bogey, drove into more water at 18 and made double-bogey. He lost five shots, and when Ames birdied 16, Oberholser fell six off the lead.
 
'I made a bad club choice and one poor swing and it added up to 6-6 on the last two holes,' said Oberholser. 'I'm not the first person that's done that, and I certainly won't be the last.'
 
Some handled the final two holes better than others.
 
Vijay Singh, the world No. 2, posted one of the three birdies at 17 en route to a 2-under 70. He finished at 8-under-par 208 and is tied for second place with Saturday's playing partner Sergio Garcia, who also carded a 2-under 70.
 
Former Masters champion Mike Weir, who holed his approach for an eagle at four, shared honors for lowest round of the day with a 4-under 68. He is knotted in fourth place with Henrik Stenson, who aced the 13th hole Saturday. Stenson, who is second on the European Tour Order of Merit, bogeyed his final two holes for a 70, but joined Weir at minus-6.
 
Tiger Woods, the 2001 Players Champion, mixed five bogeys and four birdies for a 1-over-par 73. The reigning Masters and British Open champion is tied for 23rd place at 2-under-par 214.
 
Woods is seven back and on a course that is playing as difficultly as the TPC at Sawgrass, he will have a tough time catching Ames, who he trounced 9 and 8 in the opening round of this year's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Ames trailed Jim Furyk by a stroke heading into Saturday's third round, but made up the deficit quickly with a 13-foot birdie putt at the first. He parred his next three holes, which was enough to keep him atop the leaderboard.
 
Ames found trouble with his tee ball at the par-4 fifth. His ball landed in the rough near a trap and Ames was forced to hit his second with the ball about belt high. Ames hit his approach into the left rough, then played an awkward pitch 15 short of the flag.
 
He rolled his par putt almost 3 feet past the hole, but missed that putt coming back. Ames walked off with a double-bogey 6 and fell two behind Singh.
 
Every player fell down the leaderboard throughout the round, so Ames never trailed by an insurmountable margin. He birdied the 10th, then hit his third to a foot to set up a tap-in birdie at the par-5 11th. That birdie brought Ames to 8 under par, but he still trailed by a stroke.
 
He got into a tie for the lead, but fell quickly when his 7-iron tee ball came up short and right of the putting surface on the par-3 13th. Ames atoned for the mistake with a 15-foot birdie putt at the 14th to match Oberholser in the lead.
 
Oberholser collapsed as Ames finished his back nine, but Singh and Garcia both got to minus-8. Garcia two-putted from 40 feet for a birdie at the par-5 16th, while Singh rolled in a 4-footer for birdie at 17.
 
Ames broke into the lead at the par-5 16th. His drive landed in the fairway, but his second found a left, greenside bunker. Ames blasted out to 3 feet and converted the birdie try.
 
Ames hit a 9-iron to 26 feet at the 17th, but had a very fast putt. He lagged it inside 3 feet and holed the par putt.
 
At the closing hole, Ames once again drove into the short grass and had 185 yards to the flagstick. Pat Perez had been the only player to record a birdie at 18, but Ames took dead aim. His ball ran just past the hole to 11 feet, where Ames over-played the break. He tapped in for par and his fourth 54-hole lead on the PGA TOUR.
 
Ames won once in the previous three tries, the 2004 Western Open. He also finished as runner-up at this event in 2002, when Craig Perks posted a wild victory than including a pair of chip-ins on the back nine on Sunday.
 
'I just want to go out tomorrow, and play the same way I did today,' said Ames. 'Commit to everything like I did today and hopefully things will work out in my favor.'
 
Furyk fell quickly with a double-bogey 7 at the second and a bogey at No. 3. All tallied, the first and second-round leader collected two double-bogeys, five bogeys and six birdies for a 3-over 75.
 
He is tied for sixth place with two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (71), Carl Pettersson (70), Tom Pernice, Jr. (71), Bo Van Pelt (72) and John Rollins (72) at minus-5.
 
Adam Scott, the 2004 champion, was tied with Ames for second place at the start of the third round. He struggled to a 10-over-par 82 and is tied for 51st place at plus-3.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.