Byrd Holds Slim Lead over Big Crowd

By Sports NetworkJuly 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
ENDICOTT, N.Y. -- Jonathan Byrd posted a 4-under 68 on Saturday to maintain the lead after three rounds of the B.C. Open. Byrd completed 54 holes at 16-under-par 200.
Ted Purdy, Tommy Tolles and Robert Gamez posted matching rounds at 7-under 65. That trio shares second place at 15-under-par 201 with John E. Morgan (68) and Notah Begay III (66).
Due to bad weather in the forecast, Sunday's tee times have been moved up. The players will be paired in threesomes and will tee off both the front and back nines.
Byrd, who led by one shot entering the round, burst out of the gate with three straight birdies from the first to move to minus-15. After a par at the fourth, Byrd stumbled to a bogey at the fifth at En-Joie Golf Club.
Byrd, the 2002 Buick Challenge winner, erased that mistake with a birdie at the ninth. Around the turn, he posted six straight pars before a birdie at the 16th got him to minus-16. He parred his final two holes to maintain his lead.
'I thought we were going to run away with it,' said Byrd of his and Morgan's early birdie spurts. 'We probably jinxed ourselves. We said, 'Let's just keep playing like this and we'll have a match-play match tomorrow.''
Morgan, who could have made this week's British Open with a win last week, lost the John Deere Classic in a playoff. He put himself into good position this week though, posting just three bogeys over the first 54 holes.
In the third round Saturday, Morgan sank four straight birdies from the second to move to 15 under. That run ended harshly as he dropped shots with back-to-back bogeys from the sixth. He atoned for those errors with birdies on the 12th and 16th to share second place.
Purdy began the day four strokes behind Byrd, but erased that deficit before Byrd teed off. Purdy eagled the third and fifth, both par-5s, to jump to minus-12.
He collected birdies at seven and 12 to get to 14 under. Purdy, who is looking for his first tour win, picked up another birdie at 15, but dropped a stroke on 17. He closed with a birdie at the last to join the crowd at 15 under.
Tolles, who is also looking for his first tour win, birdied the first and fourth, but double bogeyed the second. He picked up birdies at the seventh and ninth to make the turn at minus-10. After a birdie at the 12th, Tolles ran off three straight birdies from the 14th. He then closed his round with a birdie at the last.
'I think the split tees are going to make a big effect,' said Tolles. 'A lot of the leaders are going to be going off at the same time or fairly close to guys who are four, five and six shots back. Everybody will be within six or seven holes of each other, so you're going to have the leaders playing very aggressive because they know that guys just a couple of groups in front of them can really put a hurting on the golf course. There won't be conservative play by anybody.'
Gamez, a two-time winner on tour, birdied the first, but stumbled to a bogey on No. 3. He then drained four consecutive birdies from the third to get to 12 under. Gamez, who made six straight birdies en route to a second-round 61, birdied the par-5 12th. He then joined the group at minus-15 with back-to-back birdies from the 16th.
'The old me probably would have shot 80 the second day, but I've been playing extremely well, so my first round didn't bother me at all,' said Gamez, whose last win came in 1990. 'Yes, I was frustrated with the score because I felt I should have shot no worse than 2 or 3 under. But I didn't make any putts. It was just one of those things.'
Begay spread three birdies over his first nine holes. On the back side, he faltered to a bogey at the 10th. But the four-time tour winner reeled off three straight birdies from the 12th before getting to minus-15 with a birdie on No. 16.
Craig Stadler, the defending champion, managed just a 1-under 71. He slid to a share of 32nd place at 9-under-par 207.
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    Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

    By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

    “I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

    Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

    “If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”

    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

    Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

    Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

    As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

    "I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

    Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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    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.” 

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    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. 

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    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.