Monster Takes a Bite in Round 1

By Sports NetworkMarch 4, 2004, 5:00 pm
MIAMI -- Chris Smith double-bogeyed the famous 'Blue Monster,' Doral's 18th hole, but still managed a 7-under-par 65 Thursday to lead after the first round of the Ford Championship at Doral.
 
Joe Durant actually birdied the longer 18th at the Blue Course at Doral Resort and Spa to shoot a 6-under 66.
 
The hole was lengthened from the tee, making the drive very difficult with water on the left. There were some other minor alterations in length and swirling winds made Thursday's opening round difficult.
 
Phil Mickelson, Scott Verplank and 2001 U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen each posted rounds of 5-under-par 67 to share third place.
 
Smith reached the par-4 18th at 9-under par and ripped his drive down the center of the fairway. He had a 5-iron into the green, one of the smallest clubs hit at the hole during the round, but the wind pushed it left into the water.

After a drop, Smith hit a wedge 35 feet over the hole with his fourth. His bogey putt never came close to the hole, but the 2002 Buick Classic champion still took the first-round lead for the first time since the Memorial three years ago.

'It is a hard shot to begin with,' said Smith, referring to No. 18. 'I felt like I had plenty of club and I hit a lot of good shots all day. I came over it just a little bit and the wind grabbed it, went in the water and I made six.
 
'It's alright. I made one marginal swing on the last hole and hopefully I'll feel good again tomorrow morning.'
 
Before Smith fumbled the 18th hole, he flew out to 10-under during the first round.
Smith was 4-under par through his first five holes with an eagle at one and birdies at three and five. He birdied the par-5 eighth hole, then added a 25-footer for birdie at the ninth to make the turn at 6-under-par 30.
 
Smith continued his birdie run at the 10th to make it three in a row and the 34-year-old made it four straight at No. 11 when he knocked a 6-iron on the fringe 10 feet from the hole.
 
At the par-5 12th, Smith came up short with his second shot and pitched his third 15 feet past the hole. He drained the birdie putt and knocked his tee ball to five feet at the par-3 13th to set up his sixth birdie in a row and grab a five-stroke lead.
'It snowballed into a little bit of confidence,' said Smith. 'It was fun.'
 
It stopped being fun at the 15th when his eight-footer for birdie died right. At No. 16, Smith drove into a bunker on the left side of the fairway and flew his second long and left of the green. His pitch rolled through the green 30 feet from the hole and he missed the par save.
 
Despite the mishaps late Thursday, this was Smith's best of the round of the season by three shots over last week's 68 in the opening round of the Chrysler Classic of Tucson.
 
'I think overall it's the best round I've played this year,' said Smith. 'I got the putter rolling at the start of the round and I made some putts. I drove it pretty good and I hit some good iron shots. Everything kind of came together.'
 
Durant, the 2001 champion, tallied three birdies in his first four holes but went dry from there. He recorded one bogey and seven pars over his next eight holes then went on another birdie run.
 
He collected three birdies in a row from the 13th and made a clutch par save at the 17th. Durant ran home a seven-foot birdie putt at the closing hole to get within one of Smith, a feat that looked pretty impossible about an hour earlier.
 
'The putter's been pretty dry the last two years, but I made some changes in the off-season and I'm starting to see some results,' said Durant, who won twice in 2001 but has only four top-10s since.
 
Chris DiMarco, Mark Calcavecchia, Briny Baird, Tim Clark, Zach Johnson, Craig Perks, Todd Hamilton, Dennis Paulson and John Riegger share sixth place at 4-under-par 68.
 
Defending champion Scott Hoch posted a 2-under-par 70 and is part of a group tied for 19th place.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ford Championship
  • Full Coverage - Ford Championship
     
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  • 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.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: