Jacobson Goes Low for Lead

By Sports NetworkOctober 30, 2003, 5:00 pm
CADIZ, Spain -- Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden fired an 8-under-par 64 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Volvo Masters Andalucia at Valderrama.
 
Carlos Rodiles is alone in third place after an opening-round 68.
 
The Volvo Masters Andalucia is the final event on the 2003 European Tour schedule. It is reserved for only the top 60 on the Order of Merit money rankings. but three players (money winner Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Peter Lonard) passed on the invite.
 
Jacobson, a two-time winner this season, tallied three birdies in his first seven holes then knocked his approach to a foot for a tap-in birdie at the short par-4 eighth.
 
Jacobson birdied the 12th and 13th holes and made it three in a row with a 25- foot, right-to-left swinger at the 14th. He missed the green with his tee ball at the par-3 15th and took bogey but closed with birdies at 16 and 17 to miss Bernhard Langer's course record by two strokes.
 
The Swede battled the swirling winds that came into Valderrama in the afternoon to post one of the finest rounds ever at the site of the 1997 Ryder Cup matches. He fired a 60 in the first round of the Linde German Masters and compared the two.
 
'They were both great rounds but coming close to 59 was something special, so I have to regard that as the more special moment,' said Jacobson. 'But with the conditions getting difficult and windy, I never expected to shoot such a low score today.'
 
Jacobson did not expect to be in the lead after watching Hansen shoot 66, eat lunch and address the media all before Jacobson teed off in his first round.
 
'I thought Anders was going to have a few shots lead today,' admitted Jacobson. 'I think he took advantage of the greens when they were a little better.'
 
Hansen was flawless on Thursday with six birdies and no bogeys. He tied for 15th in the Open de Madrid last weekend to finish in 60th position on the Order of Merit to be eligible for the Volvo Masters Andalucia.
 
'I had a fairly good idea I was going to be out first after finishing in 60th place. It wasn't a surprise at all,' said Hansen. 'I was afraid that I might go out and just play too quickly but actually I felt I was keeping things together pretty well. I kept my concentration level pretty high and didn't rush things too much.'
 
Rodiles moved into third place with a 15-footer for eagle at the 11th and a 10-foot birdie at the 12th. He would have been a stroke closer to Jacobson had it not been for a three-putt bogey from 10 feet at the 17th.
 
'That is probably my steadiest round of the whole year, except for the mistake on the 17th,' stated Rodiles. 'You learn how to handle these things and control your emotions and I think I am better prepared for it now.'
 
Colin Montgomerie, who shared the title last year with Langer as the two decided on a tie after their playoff ran into darkness, opened his defense with a 1-under-par 71.
 
Montgomerie was joined in sixth place by Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, John Bickerton, Angel Cabrera, Brian Davis, Niclas Fasth and Stephen Gallacher.
 
Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke all struggled in the first round Thursday. Westwood shot a 75, Harrington a 76 and Clarke opened with a 77.
 
Anders Hansen, the 60th and final player eligible for this field, needed only two and a half hours Thursday to complete his round of 6-under 66. He was the first player off the tee in the morning and made it around the famed course with only a scorer.
 

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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 Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

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

    Former Web.com 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 Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com 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.

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    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.


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    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?