Bryant Wilson Lead Bay Hill

By Sports NetworkMarch 16, 2006, 5:00 pm
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Bart Bryant and Dean Wilson both fired rounds of 6-under-par 66 on Thursday to share the opening-round lead of the Bay Hill Invitational.
Former British Open champions Ben Curtis and Ernie Els each shots rounds of 5-under-par 67 and are tied for third place with Jason Gore, Lucas Glover and Bob Hope Chrysler Classic winner Chad Campbell at Bay Hill Golf Club and Lodge.
Tiger Woods
Four-time Bay Hill champion Tiger Woods is four back after an opening 2-under 70.
Tiger Woods, a four-time winner of this event, opened with a 2-under-par 70 and is part of a group tied for 23rd place.
Woods, who won this title from 2000-2003, began on the back nine Thursday and made the turn at even par. He birdied the first hole, then ran home a 10-foot birdie putt at the third. Woods made it two in a row with a tap-in birdie at four, then reached 4 under par with a birdie at the par-5 sixth.
Things came undone for the top-ranked player in the world. Woods missed a very short par putt at the seventh, then dropped another shot at the eighth. Woods holed a 3-footer for par at the ninth to stay at minus-2.
Wilson started on the back nine Thursday with a 35-foot birdie putt at the 11th. He parred his next three holes, but went on a birdie run that jumped him up the leaderboard.
At the 15th, Wilson hit a 9-iron to 25 feet and converted the birdie putt. He birdied the par-5 16th and capped off his third birdie in a row with a 40-footer at the difficult, par-3 17th.
He parred his first five holes on the second nine, then reached the green with his second shot at the par-5 sixth. Wilson two-putted for birdie from 20 feet and hit an 5-iron to 10 feet to set up his final birdie at the eighth.
Wilson, best known until this year as one of Annika Sorenstam's partners in the first two rounds of the 2003 Colonial, has participated in 10 tournaments so far this season and has started well. He has six rounds in the 60s, including a 64 at the Nissan Open, where he tied for seventh.
'I seem to be putting a lot of rounds together where I hit the ball nice and give myself a lot of chances,' said Wilson. 'That's what I've always been looking for, and so far this year, I've done that a lot, so it's quite pleasing.'
Bryant also played the back nine first at Bay Hill on Thursday and flew out of the gate with a 7-foot birdie putt at the 10th. He added another birdie at the 12th from six feet, then got to 3 under par with a 17-footer at No. 15.
Bryant, who won twice last year, including a wire-to-wire win at the TOUR Championship, hit a 3-iron from 220 yards out for his second at the par-5 16th. His approach landed 12 feet from the hole and he rolled in the eagle putt to get to minus-5.
He dropped his only shot of the round at the 17th when he three-putted, but came back with solid golf on his second nine. At the second, Bryant holed a 30-foot, downhill birdie putt and he collected his final birdie from 10 feet at the fifth.
'It was an exciting round for me, most encouraging round that I played this year, because I finally went out and made some birdies which is something I had not done all year,' said Bryant, who was rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee at the start of the season. 'I felt really good about the round.'
Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Carlos Franco, Robert Allenby and Tom Pernice, Jr. are knotted in eighth place at 4-under-par 68.
Vijay Singh, the second-ranked player in the world, birdied his last hole Thursday for a 1-under-par 71. He is part of a group tied for 39th place.
Kenny Perry won the championship last year, but is not on hand to defend his title. He underwent knee surgery earlier in the week and will miss a little over a month.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Bay Hill Invitational
  • Full Coverage - Bay Hill Invitational
  • Getty Images

    McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

    The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

    McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

    And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

    “I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.” 

    Getty Images

    Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

    No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

    Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

    With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

    “This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

    Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson. 

    Getty Images

    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

    Getty Images

    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?