Couch Leads Outright Tiger Battles Back

By Sports NetworkJuly 1, 2005, 4:00 pm
LEMONT, Ill. -- Chris Couch posted a 4-under 67 on Friday to move into the lead at the halfway point of the Cialis Western Open. Couch's 36-hole total of 9-under-par 133 left him one shot clear of his closest competitors.
Jim Furyk, who shared the first-round lead with Ben Curtis and Todd Fischer, managed a 1-under 70 to join Tim Herron and Duffy Waldorf at 8-under-par 134. Curtis was one shot further back at 7-under-par 135 while Fischer followed at 6-under-par 136 along with Steve Flesch.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods fired a 5-under 66 to climb back onto the leaderboard at the Western Open.
Three-time Western Open champion Tiger Woods had a difficult opening round, but the top player in the game battled back with a round of 66 Friday on the Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club.
'I played a little bit better today, but more importantly I putted better,' Woods said.
Woods played the back side first and collected a birdie at the par-5 11th before a bogey at the very next hole dropped him back to two-over. Woods answered with an eagle at the par-5 15th and a birdie at the par-4 18th to make the turn at 1 under.
The reigning Masters champion found trouble with a bogey at the par-3 second, but he got that shot back with a birdie at the par-4 fifth. At the par-4 seventh, Woods played his second shot inside 2 feet and tapped in for a birdie. He then drained a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the par-4 eighth to finish at 3-under-par 139.
'You just stay in the present,' said Woods. 'You work on what you have to do to get the ball to the next spot, and that's it. It doesn't get any more complicated than that. You just try and place the golf ball where you need to try and place it at all times and try and stay as focused as you possibly can at that moment, and forget the rest.'
Couch, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour this season, parred each of his first nine holes before running off back-to-back birdies starting at the par-4 10th.
The 32-year-old, who owns five career titles on the Nationwide Tour, two- putted for a birdie at the par-5 15th to reach minus-8. then dropped his second shot inside 4 feet and converted the short birdie try to secure the 36-hole lead.
'My goal coming into the week was to make the cut and take advantage of what they did for me, and that's happened,' said Couch, who is playing under a sponsor's exemption. 'So far a little better than that, so hopefully I can have a good weekend and a good outcome.'
Furyk struggled early with a pair of bogeys over his first five holes. The former U.S. Open champion countered with back-to-back birdies from the eighth and rolled in a 5-foot putt for a birdie at the 11th to get to 8 under.
Furyk was unable to make a move down the stretch, however, and parred his way in to finish one shot back.
Herron started on the back nine and birdied his first two holes out of the gate. Herron stumbled to back-to-back bogeys from the 12th, but responded with three consecutive birdies starting at the 14th.
He added two birdies on the front side for a round of 66.
'I got the ball up and down pretty well, hit some good trouble shots,' said Herron, who hasn't won since the 1999 Bay Hill Invitational. 'I felt like I kept it going, which will be more positive and beneficial going into the weekend.'
Waldorf also started at the 10th and birdied each of his last three holes for a round of 65 and a share of second place.
Chad Campbell and Scott McCarron share eighth place at 5-under-par 137. Shaun Micheel, Stuart Appleby, Brian Gay, Craig Perks, Jonathan Byrd, Brett Quigley and Ted Purdy are knotted at 4-under-par 138.
Defending champion Stephen Ames shot a 71 to finish at 1-under-par 141. Vijay Singh followed on the cut line at even-par 142 after a round of 70. Among those who failed to make the cut were John Daly, Mike Weir, Ryan Moore, Charles Howell III and Peter Lonard.
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

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    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.