Singh Drives 63 to Buick Lead

By Sports NetworkJune 10, 2004, 4:00 pm
HARRISON, N.Y. -- Vijay Singh missed the course record at Westchester Country Club by a stroke on Thursday with an 8-under-par 63. That was good enough for the first-round lead at the Buick Classic.
 
Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson is alone in second place at 7-under-par 64. David Frost, the 1992 winner, is in third at minus-5.
 
This is the final tune-up for next week's U.S. Open and Singh, one of the favorites for this season's second major, cemented his status.
 
'When you have wedges and sand-wedges in, you're going to make a lot of birdies,' said Singh. 'I hit really close. I drove the ball beautifully. I attacked the course.'
 
Singh started on the back nine Thursday and struggled with a par and bogey at his first two holes. He rebounded with three birdies on his first nine, including back-to-back at 12 and 13, to make the turn at 2-under 33.
 
After the turn, the No. 3 player in the world caught fire. He ran home a 15-foot birdie putt at the second, then made it four in a row with three birdies from inside 5 feet.
 
Singh was not done tearing up the course. At the short of the seventh, Singh came up short of the green, but hit a beautiful chip that ran into chip-in range. He kicked in the birdie putt to match Jacobson in first.
 
Singh took over sole possession of the lead at the par-5 ninth. He landed in the fairway, then hit a fairway-metal into a greenside bunker. Singh blasted out to 2 feet and tapped in the birdie to come within one of Dan Sikes' 1967 course record.
 
'Last week I played well, I just didn't make any putts,' said Singh, referring to his share of 24th at the Memorial. 'I guess if you hit it close, you don't have to make too many of them.'
 
Jacobson had it going early with strong wedge play. He hit his approach to 5 feet to set up birdie at the second, then added another birdie putt from a foot longer at No. 3.
 
The Swede's round really took shape at the par-5 fifth. Jacobson hit a 3-wood to 60 feet and sank the putt that climbed two tiers before falling in the hole.
 
'It was a roller coaster,' said Jacobson, referring to the long eagle putt. 'It was straight on line and it's very rare you get the pace and everything right on a putt like that.'
 
Jacobson followed the eagle with a 10-footer for birdie at the sixth. He was on the fringe 13 feet away for birdie at the eighth, but the ball lipped out and Jacobson missed the par putt coming back. He reclaimed the lost stroke one hole later with a tap-in birdie and made the turn at 5-under 31.
 
Jacobson laid up off the tee at the 314-yard, par-4 10th and the decision paid off. He hit a wedge to 9 feet and holed the putt to go to 6 under for the championship.
 
His final birdie came at the 17th. Jacobson knocked a 58-degree wedge to 7 feet and rolled home the birdie putt to match his lowest score on the PGA Tour this season.
 
'It's always nice to post a good number early in a tournament,' said Jacobson, who also posted a 64 in the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic. 'When you start playing as good as I did the first six holes, you get into a tournament a bit quicker than you normally do.'
 
The last time Jacobson was this close to the first-round lead on the PGA Tour was at last month's Wachovia Championship, where he shared first. He withdrew before the second round then due to the birth of his first child.
 
'It feels extra nice to be back in the same position that soon after,' said the 23rd-ranked player in the world.
 
Fred Couples, Luke Donald, Jonathan Byrd, Loren Roberts, Peter Lonard, Kris Cox, Dudley Hart, Robert Damron and Roger Tambellini are tied for fourth place at 4-under-par 67.
 
David Toms, Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington and Memorial winner Ernie Els are among a group a stroke back at minus-3. Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson is in a logjam at 2-under-par 69.
 
Defending champion Jonathan Kaye opened with a 2-over 73 and is tied for 106th place.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Buick Classic
  • Full Coverage - Buick Classic
  • Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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."

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.