Pair Share Lead Tiger Plays On

By Sports NetworkMarch 26, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Jerry Kelly shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to join Kevin Sutherland in the lead after two rounds of The Players Championship. The duo finished 36 holes at 9-under-par 135, two shots clear of Ernie Els and overnight leader Adam Scott.
Tiger Woods pulled it together after an opening-round 75 to survive the cut for the 120th straight tournament. Woods, who had not shot an under-par round since last Thursday at Bay Hill, buckled down on Friday with a 69 at the TPC at Sawgrass.
'I play the same way whether I'm shooting 82 or a 62. I play the same way,' said Woods, who finished at even-par 144. 'It's not like I'm trying any harder. I'm trying just the same.'
He started on the back side of the Stadium Course and redeemed himself early with a remarkable second shot at the par-5 11th that stopped within 10 feet of the cup.
Woods drained the eagle putt and dropped his approach inside nine feet for a birdie at the very next hole.
The 28-year-old squandered a shot with a bogey at the 18th but almost chipped in for an eagle at the par-5 second.
Woods tapped in for birdie and parred his way in to make the weekend once again.
'I really felt that I scored today,' said Woods. 'I didn't hit the ball as well as I probably needed to, but I scored and that's the name of the game.'
Sutherland, who missed the cut in three of five previous appearances at this event, picked up his first birdie of the day at the second and hit his second shot to seven feet for a birdie at the fifth to reach 8 under.
The 39-year-old added a birdie at the 10th before finding trouble with a bogey at the 14th. Sutherland was scrambling again at the par-4 15th but chipped in from a bunker for a birdie en route to a round of 69.
'I wasn't coming here expecting to have the lead after two rounds, but I did come here expecting to play well,' said Sutherland. 'The first two rounds I pretty much made just about everything I've looked at. I've just got to keep that going.'
Kelly, who held the lead heading into the final round of the 2001 Players Championship, played the back nine first and collected four birdies before the turn to make his move up the leaderboard.
He added a birdie at the second and ran home a long birdie putt at the fifth to match Sutherland at minus-9.
'It was just a par-saving day,' said Kelly, who has yet to record a bogey this week. 'And that's the kind of mentality you have coming to the Players.'
Scott also started on the 10th and collected six consecutive pars before stumbling to a bogey at the 16th.
The young Australian countered with a birdie at the imposing par-3 17th and reached 8 under with a birdie at the par-3 third after his tee shot stopped within three feet of the cup.
Scott gave that shot back immediately with a bogey at the fourth to finish two shots off the pace.
'If I'm within two of the lead again tomorrow, I'll be pretty happy with that, giving myself a chance for Sunday,' said Scott, who carded a 72. 'But hopefully I go out and play really well and get in the lead and put myself in perfect shape come Sunday.'
Padraig Harrington, who held the 36-hole lead at this event last year, carded a 70 to join Vijay Singh in a tie for fifth at 6-under-par 138.
Phil Mickelson posted a 69 to finish one shot further back at 5-under-par 139 along with Jeff Sluman, Duffy Waldorf and Bob Burns.
Defending champion Davis Love III made a push to qualify for the weekend with a 68 on Friday to finish in a tie for 54th at 1-over-par 145.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-over-par 146 with 83 players making the grade. Among those who fell short were Stuart Appleby, David Toms and Mike Weir.
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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.