Singh Four Others Tied in Hawaii

By Sports NetworkJanuary 4, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Vijay Singh, K.J. Choi, Will MacKenzie, Players Championship winner Stephen Ames and American Ryder Cupper Brett Wetterich all posted rounds of 4-under-par 69 on Thursday to share the first-round lead of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.
This event is reserved for winners from last year's official PGA TOUR schedule with 34 players teeing it up at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort. Only two players who hoisted trophies last year did not play this week - major winners Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Thursday's opening round also marked the first round of the inaugural season-long FedExCup, which culminates with a $10 million first-place prize later this season at the TOUR Championship.
Jim Furyk
Kapalua resident and world No. 2 Jim Furyk opened two shots off the lead.
During Thursday's first round, winds gusted close to 30 miles per hour and altered several shots. There were periodic bouts of rain, but the wind is what the players were talking about after the round.
'It's hard when you hit a 9-iron from 200 yards and turn around and hit 9-iron from 100 yards,' said Davis Love III, who is alone in sixth place at 3-under-par 70.
Singh, whose only win last year came at the Barclays Classic, flew out of the gate on Thursday with a pair of birdies at one and two. He narrowly missed an eagle chance at the fifth, but tapped in for birdie to reach 3-under par.
The former world No. 1 dropped a shot at the seventh and made pars around the turn. Singh hit a 408-yard drive at 12 and reached the green, but two-putted for a birdie.
Singh bogeyed 13, but took advantage of his length again at the 14th and kicked in a short birdie putt. He joined the group at 4-under par with a 4-foot birdie putt at the 15th.
Singh found a few bunkers on the way into the clubhouse and never gave himself a great look at birdie. He settled for a share of the first-round lead.
'I know the golf course pretty well, but this wind was something else,' said Singh. 'I just went out there with a very positive vibe and said I've got to hit solid shots, and that was my objective today.'
Choi, who got into the field thanks to a win last year at the Chrysler Championship, got off on the wrong foot with a bogey at the third when his approach sailed over the green.
That would be Choi's last mistake of the front nine as he went on a birdie run. He two-putted for birdie at the par-5, then rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at seven. Choi knocked his tee ball to tap-in range for birdie at eight and polished off three in a row with a 2-footer at nine.
Choi appeared headed to a fourth birdie in a row at the 10th, but his birdie putt from 10 feet flew 4 feet past thanks to the wind. He missed the comeback putt, but atoned for the error with a 3-foot birdie putt at the driveable, par-4 12th.
Choi closed his round at 18 with a birdie when he missed the green with his second at the par-5 hole, but chipped to 3 feet with his third.
'As far as my swing, everything was feeling good, stroke was good, windy conditions were definitely prevailing,' said Choi. 'However, it's a very important day for the FedExCup in 2007 and I'm glad I finished the first round real well.'
MacKenzie, last year's winner in Reno, tallied two birdies in his first five holes, but bogeyed No. 8. At the par-five ninth, MacKenzie hit his third shot right of the hole, then watched the ball spin into the cup for an eagle.
He three-putted from 42 feet for a bogey at the 13th, but back-to-back birdies from the 15th got him into a share for the lead.
'I hit the ball really well out there for the most part, and I putted well, as well, so it was a good combination,' said MacKenzie.
Ames, in one of Thursday's later groups, played the first 13 holes in one- under par, thanks to a pair of birdies a one bogey. He birdied No. 14 to get to minus-two, then it was his strong finish that moved him up the leaderboard.
At the difficult, par-4 17th, Ames drained a 20-foot birdie putt to get within one of the lead. One hole later, his 24-foot birdie try found the bottom of the cup and suddenly the Players Champion found himself tied atop the leaderboard.
'Today was a tough day,' acknowledged Ames, who also won The Skins Game in the offseason. 'Coming out here, after time off, I'm quite pleased.'
Wetterich notched an eagle, two birdies and three bogeys to reach the 11th tee one-under par. He birdied 14 and 15, then nearly holed a 40-foot eagle try at the last before settling for birdie.
'I can't remember the last time I played in wind like this,' admitted Wetterich. 'It was really tough. I'm going to keep playing hard and see what happens.'
Jim Furyk, the 2001 winner, Chris Couch, Rory Sabbatini and 2006 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Trevor Immelman are knotted in seventh place at 2-under-par 71.
Three-time defending champion Stuart Appleby is tied for 13th place at even-par 73.

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    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x