Three Tied for Lead at BC Open

By Sports NetworkJuly 21, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 B.C. OpenVERONA, N.Y. -- Gabriel Hjertstedt captured the B.C. Open nine years ago to become the first Swede to win on the PGA TOUR. Now, he's positioned for a repeat performance.
 
Hjertstedt, Scott Gump, and 35-year-old rookie Daisuke Maruyama of Japan each shot a second consecutive 5-under 67 on Friday to tie for the second-round lead at 134. Murayama, the only player in the wind-swept afternoon grouping to make a run at the top, completed his round with a birdie at 18.
 
One shot back of the trio was David Branshaw (64) of nearby Oswego, N.Y. Trailing by another stroke at 136 were Esteban Toledo (67), Mathias Gronberg (68), Cameron Beckman (66), Michael Bradley (68), and Frank Lickliter II (67).
 
First-round leader Mark Brooks, who began the day at 7 under, couldn't find his putting touch and finished at even par. He was tied with Harrison Frazar (71) and six others at 137. Defending champion Jason Bohn, who began the day tied with Frazar one shot off the lead, also shot 72 and was at 138.
 
Hjertstedt certainly hasn't given an indication a breakthrough was near. He missed his last three cuts and his best showing so far this year was a tie for ninth at Tucson, only his second top 10 in the past six years, much of which has been spent on the Nationwide Tour.

'I've been getting it together the last three weeks, but I haven't had any results,' said Hjertstedt, who also won the 1999 Tucson Open. 'Last week, I was playing great and missed the cut by one. You get punched up so many times, finally you say, 'That's enough.' I think that's what's happened this week.'
 
Or maybe it's just the B.C. Open, and the fact that this is the last. It's being dropped from the PGA Tour after this year.
 
'You look at the trophy and you want another one,' Hjertstedt said. 'It was just a breakthrough for me. The last few years haven't been the easiest. I'm trying to find my game again.'
 
The morning didn't start as something special. With a low-hanging mist and heavy air, remnants of overnight thunderstorms that dropped a half inch of rain and softened Turning Stone Resort's Atunyote Golf Club course, the course was playing much longer.
 
Hjertstedt opened with six straight pars, then sank a 45-foot birdie putt at No. 16, and things quickly changed.
 
'That was a bit of a bonus,' he said. 'I wasn't playing great, just steady. All of a sudden, I started making a few birdies.'
 
Hjertstedt made four more birdies on the front side before bogeying his final hole, the par-4 ninth.
 
The softer conditions allowed players to become aggressive with their approach shots, and it didn't take Branshaw long to realize the birdies were there for the taking.
 
Starting on the back nine, he hit a pitching wedge inside a foot at No. 10 and made eagle at the par-5 12th hole after hitting 5-wood from 230 yards to 12 feet of the pin.
 
'I knew from the very first hole you could be aggressive with the iron shots,' said Branshaw, who was forced to withdraw from the Colonial in May because of an injury to his left wrist that still hasn't completely healed. 'That helps you play a little more solid instead of being a little tentative, which I am. My first little chip wedge checked up within 5 feet. Yesterday, that shot would have released 30 feet.'
 
Gump could have become a victim of the changing conditions. His distance off the tee dropped from 313 yards to 252, but his iron play more than made up for it. He hit 10 fairways and made 14 greens in regulation.
 
'I felt like I was Hercules out there yesterday and today I was back to Minnie Mouse,' said Gump, who has three seconds in 308 events since joining the tour in 1991.
 
Michael Allen, who also has never won on tour, provided the most dramatic example of the improved scoring conditions as he recovered from an opening 76. A day after carding 38 on the front nine, he made six birdies en route to a 30 and finished with a course-record 9-under 63.
 
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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.