PGA TOUR Regroups in Connecticut

By Sports NetworkJune 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
Travelers ChampionshipCROMWELL, Conn. -- J.J. Henry made this tournament his first win last year when it was called the Buick Championship, shooting a final-round 67 to hold off Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore by three shots at 14-under 266.
 
Henry's weekend included a 63 on Saturday. After brutal Oakmont chewed up golf's best players at the U.S. Open last week, that score must look like candy to the players entered in this week's field.
 
Phil Mickelson is no longer among them, his nagging wrist injury forcing him to withdraw. He played Oakmont wearing a brace and missed the cut by a shot.
 
Mickelson had won this event twice when it was still known as the Greater Hartford Open.
 
Vijay Singh, David Toms, Chris DiMarco and Masters champion Zach Johnson are among the players who will be competing this week after also appearing in the U.S. Open. They will be getting a break: TPC River Highlands is 6,820 yards, more than 400 yards shorter than Oakmont.
 
The rough is sure to be less penal, too.
 
GOLF CHANNEL will have three hours of coverage on the first two days beginning at 3 p.m. (ET), and CBS is back this week with the same amount of coverage on the weekend.
 
Next week's event is the Buick Open, where Tiger Woods won his 50th PGA Tour title last year.
 
With GOLFCHANNEL.coms Tour Trade 2 fantasy game underway, here are some of the players who have fared the best in recent years at the Travelers Championship.
 

Kenny Perry
Starts: 18
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 6
Best finish: T4 (2003)
 
TRADE Talk: Perry, who underwent knee surgery in early 2006, went 38 consecutive events without a top-10 finish. That changed in his most recent start, at the Memorial, where he tied for third. Perry has three top-10s in his last five appearances at River Highlands. He also has had two weeks off and didnt wear himself out at Oakmont.
 
Stewart Cink
Starts: 9
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 4
Best finish: Win (1997)
 
TRADE Talk: After a two-year hiatus, Cink returned to Connecticut last year and promptly tied for fifth. This is the site of his first career TOUR title, earned a decade ago. Cink missed the cut last week at the U.S. Open, but has three top-5s over the last month-and-a-half.
 
Woody Austin
Starts: 9
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 3
Best finish: Win (2004)
 
TRADE Talk: Austin didnt have much success the first six times his played this event, missing three cuts and never finishing better than T41. That all changed when he won in 04. He followed that up with a tie for ninth in 05 and a tie for fifth last year. Austin captured the Stanford St. Jude Championship two weeks ago.
 
J.J. Henry
Starts: 8
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 1
Best finish: Win (2006)
 
TRADE Talk: Henry is looking to become just the second man (Phil Mickelson, 2001-02) to successfully defend his title. He won last years edition thanks in large part to a third-round 63. Henry was born in Fairfield, Conn., and made his first TOUR start at TPC at River Highlands as an amateur in 1998. He played admirably well at Oakmont, tying for 26th.
 
Corey Pavin
Starts: 14
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 5
Best finish: T2 (1991)
 
TRADE Talk: Pavin first played this tournament in 1984, when it was hosted by the late Sammy Davis, Jr. From 1991-93, he finished no worse than T4. More recently, though, he tied for sixth in 04 and was solo eighth in 05. Age is actually on Pavins side, too, as three of the last four winners of this event have been at least 40 years old.
 
Four more to keep an eye on this week at TPC at River Highlands:
 
Justin Rose
Rose has only played this tournament three times prior, and is sticking around this week after competing in the U.S. Open. He was in good position to end the European major drought at Oakmont, until a Sunday 76 relegated him to a tie for 10th. Though he missed the cut last year, Rose finished third at the Travelers Championship in 05.
 
Ryan Moore
A year ago, Henry earned his first TOUR win at this event. This year, Moore would like to follow in his footsteps. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but was runner-up in his previous start at the Memorial. He was also a co-runner-up here in 06.
 
Hunter Mahan
Just like Henry, Mahan made his first-ever TOUR start at this event, doing so as an amateur in 2000. He would certainly like to do what Henry did last year and make this his first TOUR win as well. Mahan shot 63-67 over the weekend in 06 to tie Moore for silver medal honors.
 
Notah Begay III
This will be Begays first start on the PGA TOUR this season. Begay, who is now spending the majority of his time playing on the European Tour, won this event in 2000. He was granted a sponsors exemption to compete last year and tied for ninth. Hes back in on a sponsors exemption this year.
 

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    McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

    McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

    Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

    McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

    Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

    “That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.