Good Open at The Open for Tiger

By Sports NetworkJuly 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Tiger Woods drained a 35-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Thursday to shoot a 5-under-par 67 and is only one behind after the first round of the British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland established a new course record with a 6-under-par 66 on Thursday and has the lead, but all of the attention will be focused on Woods.
Graeme McDowell
Tiger Woods may grab the headlines, but Graeme McDowell has the lead after Day 1.
The defending champion, who missed his first cut in a major as a professional last month at the U.S. Open, struggled out of the gate with a three-putt bogey.
Despite the miscue and how easy scoring conditions were for a good chunk of Thursday's opening round, Woods stuck to his conservative game plan, leaving the driver in the bag.
Woods birdied the fifth to get back to even-par, then rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the ninth to break into red figures. At the 11th, Woods hit an errant drive, but hooked his second to 10 feet and converted that to get to minus-2.
Woods finally pulled out the big club at the par-5 16th and the decision die not seem to pay off. His drive landed in the 17th fairway, but Woods hit it on the green and two-putted for a birdie.
'I decided to hit driver there because I thought I could take the bunkers out of play,' said Woods, whose two British Open titles both came at St. Andrews. 'Which I did, I just went left of them instead of going over them. That was the only altering of the game plan today.'
At the closing hole, Woods hit a 2-iron into the fairway. He used another long iron to reach the putting surface, then sank a 35-foot eagle putt to get within one.
The eagle putt prompted a big fist pump and now Woods is in great shape to capture his first major of the year. However, the No. 1 player in the world knows conditions are going to get tougher.
'I'm in good shape, but we've got a long way to go,' admitted Woods. 'The course is only going to get faster. I don't think the R&A really appreciated us going this low.'
Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain, Keiichiro Fukabori of Japan, and Englishmen Greg Owen and Anthony Wall joined Woods in a share of second place at 5-under-par 67.
A huge group of players are at 4-under-par 68 and some are the biggest names in golf, including Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, three-time major winner and 2002 British Open champion Ernie Els, 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir, the U.S. Open champion from the same year, Jim Furyk, and 1996 British Open winner and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman.
Also tied for seventh place at minus-four are Marcus Fraser, S.K. Ho, Brett Rumford, Ben Crane, Memorial winner Carl Pettersson, Mark Hensby and Mikko Ilonen, who won the British Amateur at Royal Liverpool in 2000.
Reigning Masters and PGA champion Phil Mickelson, trying to rebound from a double-bogey on the 72nd hole that cost him the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, reached 4 under par through 10 holes on Thursday, but bogeys at 12 and 14 dropped him down the leaderboard.
The No. 2 player in the world rebounded with a 6-foot birdie putt at the par-5 16th, but squandered a birdie chance at 18. In the end, Mickelson posted a 3-under-par 69 and is tied for 20th place with such players as Darren Clarke, Robert Allenby, 50-year-old Fred Funk, reigning Rookie of the Year Sean O'Hair and Lee Westwood.
'The last eight I struggled a little bit. I wasn't quite hitting it the way I wanted to there in the end,' acknowledged Mickelson. 'I fought hard to keep it at 3 under and I'll take it. We've got three rounds left and I have to go make some birdies.'
Birdies were in large supply early on Thursday at Royal Liverpool, a course which has not hosted an Open Championship since 1967. Players were treated to great scoring conditions early in round one as five hours worth of overnight rain softened the track.
However, as Thursday dragged on, the wind picked up and the course dried out and played much quicker, as it had in the practice rounds throughout the week.
McDowell collected his first birdie of the round on Thursday at the par-5 fifth. He added another at seven, but appeared to be in trouble at the par-3 ninth. McDowell found a bunker off the tee, but holed out for his third birdie of the round.
That hole-out birdie spurred McDowell up the leaderboard. He birdied the 10th, then tied for the lead at minus-5 when his 10-foot birdie putt found the bottom of the cup at 11.
McDowell broke out of the tie for first at the par-5 16th as he had a good look at eagle from 18 feet. He missed that putt, but tapped in for birdie and sole possession of the lead.
At the par-5 closing hole, McDowell hit a horrible drive left of the fairway. He laid up with his second, then played No. 3 to 20 feet. McDowell missed the birdie putt, but is still alone on top of the leaderboard.
His 66 represents a new course record at Royal Liverpool as Gary Player and Roberto de Vicenzo, who won in 1967, posted 67s to go along with the five players who carded the number on Thursday.
'I controlled my ball well today so I'm pretty pleased,' said McDowell, who played this course in the 2000 Palmer Cup. 'I didn't light things up with the putter, but we'll save that for the weekend.'
Owen, who has battled a serious back injury in recent years, plodded along with birdies at the fifth and eighth holes, but dropped a shot at the par-4 12th. Owen caught fire after the bogey and moved into the lead.
The Englishman birdied the 13th and 14th to reach 3 under par, then tied the large group at minus-4 with a birdie at the par-5 16th. Owen two-putted from 30 feet at the closing hole to reach 5 under par.
'I couldn't ask for anything better at the moment,' said Owen, who primarily plays the PGA TOUR and finished second this year at Bay Hill, when he three-putted from five feet for a double-bogey on the 17th hole. 'I had a really good morning and I'm very happy.'
Wall moved to minus-6 after a tap-in eagle at the 16th, but fell to 5 under par because of a three-putt bogey at 17.
'I played some good golf,' said Wall. 'You need the luck. That's the main thing and here I am. I'm playing solid golf and I feel like I know what I'm doing now.'
Jimenez overcame a bogey at the fourth with a birdie at five and three in a row from the eighth. He added birdies at 16 and 18 to join the group in second place.
Fukabori's last par came on the 12th hole and when his eight-foot birdie putt at the last fell, he found himself at minus-5.
The two remaining top-five players in the world rankings are part of a group tied for 33rd place. Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, along with, among others, Fred Couples, former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, Chris DiMarco and 2001 champion David Duval, all posted 2-under-par 70s on Thursday.
Related Links:
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  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
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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. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.