McCullough Out to Early Lead

By Sports NetworkFebruary 21, 2003, 5:00 pm
Lutz, Fla. -- Mike McCullough posted a 4-under 67 Friday to take the opening-round lead of the Verizon Classic. McCullough finished one stroke clear of his closest competitors.
Bruce Fleisher, who won this event in 2000, finished alongside Hale Irwin, Tom Kite and Mark McCumber at 3-under-par 68.
A steady breeze and difficult pin placements offered several challenges during the first round at the TPC of Tampa Bay. McCullough, who tied for seventh at this event last year, started with a birdie at the first.
McCullough dropped a wedge inside 12 feet for birdie at the fifth but found trouble with a three-putt bogey at the par-5 seventh to make the turn at minus-1.
The 57-year-old surged into the lead on the back nine. McCullough two-putted for birdie at the par-5 12th and hit his second shot to six feet for birdie at the 13th. At the par-5 14th, McCullough knocked a wedge to five feet for his third birdie in a row.
McCullough bogeyed the 17th to fall back into a tie for first at 3-under but responded at the following hole. He left his approach 40 feet from the cup and drained the putt to secure the first-round lead.
'The golf course played pretty quick and the greens were receptive,' said McCullough, a two-time winner on the Champions Tour. 'Skill level might be higher and that's why everyone is bunched together. We're all playing from about the same position.'
Irwin, who tied for seventh last week in Naples, played the back side first and had two birdies and one bogey on his first nine holes. He hit a pitching-wedge inside four feet for birdie at the fourth and drained a 12-footer at the sixth to finish just one off the lead.
'I played very well today,' said Irwin. 'I'm pleased with the position I'm starting tomorrow. Today was a tough scoring day.'
Andy North, Mike Hill, Graham Marsh, David Graham and Rocky Thompson were two shots off the lead at 2-under-par 69.
Lee Trevino had two birdies and a bogey to finish one shot further back at 1-under-par-70. Trevino was joined by Bill Rogers, Jim Holtgrieve, Bruce Summerhays, Jay Sigel, Allen Doyle, Dana Quigley, Larry Nelson, Tom Wargo, James Mason, John Jacobs, Mark Pfeil and defending champion Doug Tewell in a tie for 11th.
Jack Nicklaus, who won this event in 1996, had two birdies over his first five holes. He struggled on the inward half, however, with three bogeys and one birdie to finish in a group at even-par 71.
Arnold Palmer was intent on playing this week but withdrew prior to the start of the first round due to back spasms. Palmer, who also pulled out of Thursday's pro-am, had not withdrawn from an event since the 1997 Bay Hill Invitational.
Related Links
  • Full-field scores from the Verizon Classic
  • Full coverage of the Verizon Classic
  • Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

    By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

    Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

    Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

    What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

    Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

    Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

    Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.