Ames to Please at The Players

By Sports NetworkMarch 25, 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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    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.