Levi Pooley Share Royal Caribbean Lead

By Sports NetworkFebruary 7, 2004, 5:00 pm
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Wayne Levi posted a 4-under 68 on Saturday to tie Don Pooley atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the Royal Caribbean Golf Classic. Pooley carded his second consecutive 69 at Royal Crandon Golf Club to tie Levi at 6-under-par 138.
John Bland (67), Bruce Fleisher (70), J.C. Snead (70) and Bruce Summerhays (70) share third place at 5-under-par 139.
Levi bogeyed the par-4 seventh when he hit a poor iron shot into the bunker on the right side. He made up for it with a birdie at the eighth, then added another at the par-5 10th.
'Then I got my act together,' said Levi, after his bogey at seven. 'I had enough good chances.'
At the 11th, Levi holed a 16-foot birdie putt then parred the 12th. At 13, Levi sank a 25-footer for birdie and made it two in a row at the par-5 14th when he lagged a putt from the fringe to tap-in range.
Levi had looks at birdie on both 17 and 18 but missed and on both holes left himself with tough three-footers. He canned both of them and could be on his way to his second victory on the Champions Tour.
'The wind was blowing a lot different today than it was the last few days,' said Levi, who won last year's 3M Championship. 'I hit the ball fairly well and dropped a few putts.
'Tomorrow is the day. You have to get out there and produce. If you want to win golf tournaments, you have to go out and take them.'
Pooley, who won the 2002 U.S. Senior Open in a thrilling duel against Tom Watson, managed only one birdie on his front nine but birdied the 10th. He missed the green with his second at the par-5 hole but chipped to two feet and kicked in the short putt.
Pooley was in a bunker at the 11th and blasted his third 18 feet past the hole. He missed his par-saving putt right and dropped his first shot of the round.
He rebounded with a birdie at No. 12, then rattled off five pars in a row. At the par-5 closing hole, Pooley was short and left with his second shot. He pitched to six feet and drained the putt to join Levi in a share of first place.
Bland was flawless on Saturday with five birdies and no bogeys. Perhaps his finest shot of the round came with his third at the par-5 14th. He hit the flagstick in the air but the ball bounced 10 feet from the hole, where Bland could not convert the putt.
Fleisher, a two-time winner of this event, was even par through the first 14 holes. He birdied the 15th, then laid up at 18 and the decision paid off as Fleisher knocked his third to eight feet and holed the putt.
'Nobody seemed to move too much,' said Fleisher, who lives in nearby Ballen Isles. 'I thought the pins were very difficult. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. You better hit it solid.'
Snead held the lead in the middle of the second round after five birdies and two bogeys through his first 12 holes. At 13, he landed in a bunker, blasted out to 15 feet and missed the par putt.
Snead also dropped a shot at the 17th when he met another sand trap, but birdied 18 to get within one shot of the lead. He will be in search of his first victory since the 2002 Greater Baltimore Classic and that was seven years from his last win.
Summerhays shared first with Levi, but fell apart on 18. His fourth from the back bunker rolled 18 feet from the hole and his par-saving putt died right. Summerhays tapped in for his first bogey of the round.
Dave Stockton (68), Ed Fiori (69) and Morris Hatalsky (69) share seventh place at 4-under-par 140.
Overnight leader Tom Kite struggled on Saturday. He posted a 1-over 73, which included a double-bogey-7 at the closing hole. At that hole, Kite got his drive stuck in a palm tree.
Kite is tied for 10th place with Dick Mast (68), John Harris (67), John Jacobs (69) and Vicente Fernandez (69). That group is knotted at 3-under-par 141.
Related Links:
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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.