Captain Lehman in Control at Buick

By Sports NetworkJanuary 20, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman used a back-nine 29 to fire a 10-under-par 62 on Thursday and take the lead after one round of the Buick Invitational.
 
Lehman posted his score on the North Course at Torrey Pines Golf Club. Players rotate between the North and South Courses over the first two rounds before the final two are contested at the much more difficult South Course.
 
Dean Wilson is alone in second place after a 9-under 63 at the North Course. Arron Oberholser has sole possession of third after a 64, also at the North Course.
 
This event is the first battle of golf's 'Big Four' in 2005 as Phil Mickelson made his season debut. The only player in the top-5 in the Official World Golf Ranking not present this week is reigning U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (No. 4).
 
Ernie Els, ranked third in the world, carded a 7-under 65 and is tied for fourth place.
 
'You've got to do your own thing. You've got to play as good as you can,' said Els. 'You have one chance to shoot something really decent. You've got to hope for the best on the South.'
 
Tiger Woods, a two-time winner and No. 2 in the rankings, shot a 3-under 69 and is part of a group tied for 35th. Woods was pleased with the round considering he has lost seven pounds recently due to illness.
 
'Today was a day that I got a lot out of my round because I probably should not have got what I shot,' said Woods. 'I didn't feel like I was very strong out there, but, you know, hey, I hung in there and made a few putts and lo and behold, I shot a round under par.'
 
Vijay Singh, last week's winner at the Sony Open in Hawaii, missed one cut last year and it was at Torrey Pines. He played better on Thursday with a 1-under 71, but the top player in the game shares 64th place.
 
Mickelson, who has won three times at the Buick Invitational, only managed an even-par 72. He stands in a tie for 89th place.
 
All of the top players were upstaged on Thursday by the 45-year-old Lehman, who was named United States Ryder Cup captain late in 2004.
 
Lehman flew out of the gate on Thursday with a birdie at the first when his 6-iron approach stopped less than 2 feet from the hole. He added another birdie at four after he rolled in a 6-footer, but problems arose for the 1996 British Open champion.
 
Lehman airmailed the green with his approach at the fifth and made bogey. He reclaimed the lost stroke with a tap-in birdie at seven, then closed his front nine with a short birdie putt at the par-5 ninth.
 
The five-time winner on tour parred the 10th, but hit a 7-iron to 12 feet to set up birdie at the 11th. Lehman tallied his final par of the round at 12, then sank a 30-footer for birdie at 13.
 
Lehman two-putted for birdie from 50 feet at the par-5 14th. He hit a pair of sand-wedges to 10 feet to set up birdies at 16 and 17. Lehman played a 6-iron to four feet for his fifth birdie in a row, then polished off a back-nine 29 with an 8-foot birdie putt at the last.
 
'I'm driving it long and I'm driving it in the fairway quite a bit and rolling the ball fairly well and making some putts,' said Lehman. 'I got the North Course today, which is quite a bit easier than the South, so it's quite a bit easier to get a good score on that course.'
 
Although it is too early to think about being a playing captain in next year's Ryder Cup, Lehman is playing spectacular golf in the last five months. Since last year's Canadian Open in September, Lehman has finished outside the top-10 only once, the 2004 Texas Open, where he tied for 17th.
 
'I've been focused since last August or early September,' said Lehman, who tied for ninth last week in Hawaii. 'The things I've been working on with my short game just kind of clicked. Everybody is going to miss greens and make a mistake; that when you can save yourself, make a putt for par, it keeps the momentum going. That's what all the great players have done; they have always recovered well from their mistakes.'
 
Wilson was flawless on Thursday with nine birdies, including a left-to-right 25-footer at 18. He is best known for being one of Annika Sorenstam's playing partners at the Colonial two years ago, but the Hawaii native wants to make a name for himself.
 
'The last time I was in the media room was probably with Colonial and Annika before we even teed off on the Tuesday morning,' said Wilson. 'Near the top is always exciting to get off to a good start.'
 
Tom Pernice, Jr. and Dudley Hart joined Els in a tie for fourth at minus-7.
 
Aaron Baddeley, Carl Pettersson, Pat Perez, Jason Bohn, Darron Stiles and Charles Warren are tied for seventh place at 6-under-par 66.
 
Defending champion John Daly, whose win last year snapped a winless streak dating back to the 1995 British Open, shot an even-par 72 on Thursday.
 
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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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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.