Baddeley Leads Els by Two

By Sports NetworkJanuary 18, 2003, 5:00 pm
HONOLULU -- Aaron Baddeley posted a 5-under 65 on Saturday to take the third-round lead in his first event as a member of the PGA Tour, the Sony Open in Hawaii. The 21-year-old stands at 15-under-par 195 and owns a two-shot lead over Ernie Els at Waialae Country Club.
 
Robert Gamez (65), Briny Baird (67) and Chris DiMarco (69) are tied for third place at 10-under-par 200.
 
Retief Goosen shared the second-round lead with Baddeley but opened with a triple-bogey at No. 1. He carded a 2-over 72 and is tied for eighth place at 8-under par.
 
Baddeley did all of his damage on the front side at Waialae, as conditions were much more difficult on Saturday thanks to winds that reached 25 mph, firming up many of the greens.
 
The young Australian birdied No. 2 and holed a 12-footer for birdie at the fourth. At the par-3 seventh, Baddeley rolled home a 25-foot birdie putt to reach 13-under par and go two clear of the field.
 
At the 510-yard, par-5 ninth, Baddeley had only an 8-iron in his hands but thanks to a drive that landed in the right rough, his ball bounded 40 feet from the hole. Baddeley sank the long eagle putt to complete a front-nine, 5-under 30 and put him five shots ahead.
 
'I played very well on the front nine,' said Baddeley, who earned his PGA Tour card by finishing 10th on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2002. 'I hit it close a few times. I was quite relaxed the whole time. The tee shot on one calmed me down.'
 
Baddeley missed several greens on the back nine Saturday but a solid short game, coupled with only 24 putts for the round, kept him in the top spot.
 
At the 16th, Baddeley drove into the left rough behind trees. He smoked a low shot that flew through the green and into a back bunker, leaving him with a down-wind, downhill blast out of the trap. Baddeley's shot out of the sand left him with six feet and the 21-year-old calmly drained the putt to save par.
 
Baddeley had no real chance at birdie on the last two holes as he had 30 feet for birdie at 17 and drove in the rough at 18. But the young Australian has the 54-hole lead in his first event as a member of the PGA Tour.
 
'I thought I played alright on the back side, I just missed a couple of greens,' said Baddeley. 'The swing still felt good out there. I only just missed the greens. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.'
 
Sunday's final pairing will feature Baddeley and Els. In the last week, Els established a new PGA Tour record for scoring in relation to par with his 31-under, eight-shot drubbing of the field at the Mercedes Championships, which moved him to second in the World Golf Rankings.
 
Baddeley is a battle-tested rookie in the golf world. He won two Australian Opens before he turned 20 and bested Sergio Garcia in a playoff to capture the 2001 Holden International.
 
'I'll go out and I'm just going to enjoy it,' said Baddeley. 'Ernie's a laid back fellow. I get along well with Ernie. I think tomorrow is going to be a good day. All I can do is get out there and golf my golf ball and if I can do that, hopefully I can get a win.'
 
Els got into second place with a birdie at the 14th but he still trailed Baddeley by four. He holed a 12-foot birdie putt at the 16th and made it two in a row with a 20-footer at the 17th to get within striking distance of Baddeley.
 
'You just have to try and keep going,' said Els, who shot a 4-under 66 on Saturday. 'The greens were so fast today. You have to hit a lot of greens and then try and get your putter hot.'
 
Els knows that despite his huge success of late, he will have to do more than just show up to visit the winner's circle on Sunday.
 
'He's obviously very hungry to win his first event,' said Els, who can become the first player since Steve Jones in 1989 to win the first two events on a PGA Tour calendar. 'He's got a lot of talent. He's very much going to be a star of the future. Obviously, he's a guy for big occasions. He's definitely not scared. This is the big leagues, now, but he's a big-league player.'
 
Shigeki Maruyama is alone in sixth place at 9-under par, followed by Goosen and Robert Allenby, who are tied for seventh at minus-8.
 
Jerry Kelly, the 2002 Sony Open winner, is part of a group in ninth at 7-under-par 203. Among the other players who are tied for ninth place are 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, Fred Funk and 1999 Sony Open champion Jeff Sluman.
 
Related Links
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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."