Levi Breaks Through Leads Senior PGA

By Sports NetworkJune 7, 2002, 4:00 pm
Senior PGA Championship logoAKRON, Ohio -- Wayne Levi carded a 2-under 68 Friday to take the 36-hole lead of the Senior PGA Championship. He holds a one-shot lead over Larry Nelson, Larry Ziegler and Walter Hall at the Senior Tour's second major championship of the season.
Levi's two-day total of 3-under-par 137 marks the highest score to hold the lead through the midway point of the championship since 1990 when Harold Henning and Gary Player shared the top spot.
The four players at the top are the only golfers under par at Firestone Country Club as high rough and slick greens have made play difficult.
One of the best golfers on the over-50 circuit struggled Friday as Tom Kite, one of the three co-leaders after the first round, shot a 3-over 73. He is tied for 10th at 1-over-par and is joined by a large group headlined by former champions Hale Irwin and Ray Floyd.
Jack Nicklaus, who has battled back injuries, opened with a 1-over 71 Thursday but did not play as well in round two. He shot an 8-over-par 78 and made the cut on the number at 9-over-par 149.
Had Nicklaus not carded an even-par 35 on his second nine Friday he could have missed the cut and in the process snapped one of the most impressive streaks in his storied career. Nicklaus has made every cut in a major tournament since joining the elder circuit in 1990, a streak that has now reached 46 consecutive championships.
'I don't worry about cuts - I'm more interested in hitting good shots,' said Nicklaus, who has been forced to withdraw from two majors on the Senior Tour. 'I was pretty pleased with the back nine. You know, I don't really worry about my injuries, it's just years of playing golf taking its toll. All I can do is take one shot at a time. Some days you are good and some days you aren't, and today I wasn't very good.'
Jim Thorpe, the first major champion of the year at The Tradition, is tied for fifth place with Jay Overton, Bobby Wadkins, Bob Gilder and Fuzzy Zoeller. The group stands at even-par 140.
Levi has only one top-five finish this season in 10 starts, a tie for fourth at the Farmer's Charity Classic two weeks ago. Levi won 12 times on the PGA Tour, including four wins in 1990 en route to being named PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Levi's brief career on the Senior Tour has been filled with ups and downs with the short stick. He took 32 putts in Thursday's round of 69 but only needed 24 to get around Firestone in the second round.
'The putting has been fairly poor, so that's what probably has kept me from doing better than I have,' said Levi, who ranks 62nd in putts per round on tour with an average of almost 30 putts a round. 'This poor putting has killed me, but I'm out here to win tournaments.'
Friday's second round was highlighted with more ups and downs for Levi. Levi shot an 1-under-par 34 on the front side with three birdies and a pair of bogeys.
At the turn, Levi was tied for the lead at 2-under-par but he broke out of the pack and drained the birdie putt to go to 3-under. Levi extended his lead two holes later when he played a 5-iron to 20 feet, where he cashed in on another birdie putt.
Levi did not take long to squander his edge. At the 15th, Levi blocked his tee ball into a right greenside bunker where he left his bunker shot on the fringe. He chipped to four feet and rolled home the bogey putt but still maintained a one-stroke lead.
Levi, who turned 50 in February, looked in great shape at the par-5 16th when he ripped one down the center of the fairway before he pushed his second shot in the right rough under a tree. Levi's third bounded off the green and his chip on to the green left him six feet from the hole, where he missed to fall back into a tie for first at minus 2.
He rebounded at 17 when once again he striped his drive down the fairway and played a 6-iron five feet behind the hole. Levi holed the birdie putt to take the 36-hole lead at 3-under-par.
'Early on I played a couple of bad shots but after that I started to settle down a little bit more and started hitting the ball quite well,' said Levi. 'There's a lot of tough holes out there. You have to keep at it.'
Nelson, Ziegler and Hall each posted rounds of 2-under-par 70 Friday and each player loved the level of difficulty that Firestone offers.
'(Firestone) feels more like the U.S. Senior Open than our Opens have been,' said Nelson, considered the best Senior player never to win a major on this tour. 'We haven't played a U.S. Senior Open course that's been as difficult. I think it's great. There's no reason to make our majors a pitch-and-putt.'
'I think this is the hardest, fairest course I've ever played. No gimmicks,' Ziegler said. 'Guys love coming here to play golf. We play so many courses where you feel like you're playing Mickey Mouse. They've got big, old rolly greens. It's not fun to play what they're building today.'
'Today is a great example of a perfect weather day to play, yet the scores are not low,' said Hall, a former salesmen. 'The course will not allow it.'
Tom Watson, the 2001 champion, struggled to a 6-over 76 Friday and shares 36th place at 5-over-par.
The 36-hole cut fell at 9-over-par 149 and 80 players advanced to the weekend.
Full-field scores from the Senior PGA Championship
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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry

Photo by Enrique Berardi/LAAC

Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.

"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."

He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

Click here for full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."

Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.