Anderson Tops Tight Leaderboard

By Sports NetworkApril 21, 2005, 4:00 pm
Canadian Tour-LargeMODESTO, Calif. -- Stuart Anderson of Edmonton fired a 6-under 66 Thursday to grab the early lead at the Canadian Tours Foster Farms California Classic.

The 27-year-old Anderson will try to build on a one-shot edge when he tees it up in the morning wave Friday. Iain Steel of Malaysia and Americans Mike Grob, Josh Habig and Pat McDonald, a former regular on the Champions Tour, are just one back.

Seven others--Alex Rocha, Michael Harris, Rob Johnson,Ryan Miller, Brien Davis, Eugene Smith and Brad Sutterfield--are at minus-4.

McDonald, playing on a sponsors exemption this week, will celebrate his 55th birthday Friday. The oldest player to win a Canadian Tour event is Ray Stewart, who was 45 when he won twice in 1999.

Anderson was even par after six holes before holing out from a greenside bunker on the par-5 7th to get two shots in the red. After turning at 2-under, Anderson reeled off three birdies in four holes to start his back nine. He had the flat stick working on the greens Thursday, a sharp contrast to last weeks event up the road in Stockton when he three-putted three of his final four holes on Friday to miss the cut by one.

That (finish last week) really left a bad taste in my mouth, said Anderson, who switched to a new putter earlier this week. The hole-out really seemed to get the ball rolling today. Ive been hitting it great for the past couple of weeks, it is just a matter of getting more confidence on the green. I felt it was time for a change, so Ive got the new putter. So far, so good.

In 2002, Anderson, one of the longest hitters on Tour, dropped a playoff heartbreaker to fellow Canadian Matt Daniel at the Telus Edmonton Open, with the runner-up finish his best showing on the Canadian Tour. He placed seventh last month at the Barton Creek Austin Canadian Tour Challenge in Texas and feels if he can keep it straight off the tee at Del Rio, he could be in the thick of things come Sunday afternoon.

On the flip side, players who have a tough time hitting the fairway could be on the outside looking in come the weekend.

This is really a ball-striking course, Anderson added. The greens are just fantastic, but you better hit quality shots off the tee and into the green or you are going to get yourself in trouble.

This is great for me to build momentum. To be in this position after day one is where we all want to be.

Beginning his round on the back nine, Habig jarred a 12-footer for birdie on his opening hole of the day and followed that up with a par-saving 50-footer on number 11. The 28-year-old made the turn at 3-under and stayed away from trouble most of the day, thanks in part to birdies on all four par-5 holes at Del Rio.

Finally, I had something going out there, said Habig, a former Academic All-American at Northwestern University. I felt comfortable today and got into a bit of a groove. Anytime you can get a good start you have to be happy. There isnt a player here that would be disappointed with a 67 to start. You just want to be around to give yourself a chance Sunday afternoon.

Now into his third season on the Canadian Tour, Habig is coming off a less than memorable 2004 campaign in which he made seven of 13 cuts and finished 65th on the money list. . In his 2003 rookie season, Habig had five top-20 showings.

I still havent been able to put a full tournament together, added Habig. In my rookie season, I had a few chances to win but just couldnt finish it. Last year, I took a couple of steps backwards. It felt like I was in the dark out there. I just couldnt get any rhythm going. It took a toll on my confidence.

Steel was cruising right along until hitting a wall on the par-4 ninth, his final hole of the day. Hitting a 7-iron into the green, Steels attempt instead found a sand bunker. It took the 33-year-old two attempts to dig himself out and by the time the dust had settled, he had double-bogeyed the hole to fall to 5-under.

It was a good day'at least for 17 holes, said Steel. I fell asleep on the final hole and it cost me. That hole was a nightmare. It made lunch a little bitter.

Steel won the Nationwide Tours Boise Open back in 1997 and still holds status on that circuit. In 2002, he won a thrilling playoff at the Greater Vancouver Classic but hasnt been able to find the winners circle since. Steel says the Del Rio layout suits his iron game and is hoping to build on his start in Modesto.

The greens are perfect here. There are a lot of birdies to be had. I left a few out there, just as you do every round, but a good start is key to get my confidence going. Vancouver was my last win, so I just want to put four good rounds together and see where I am.

Coming off a win at last weeks Northern California Classic, Californian Jim Seki struggled to an opening-round 82.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Foster Farms California Classic
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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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    Webb granted special exemption for U.S. Women's Open

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 6:22 pm

    Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.

    The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.

    "As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."

    Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.

    Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.

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    Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

    But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

    Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

    That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

    A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

    “Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

    “Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

    “And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

    “So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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    McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

    After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

    McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

    Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

    8/1: Tiger Woods

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

    16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

    18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

    25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Alex Noren

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

    80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

    100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner