Tiger in Contention as Jack Says Goodbye

By Sports NetworkJune 3, 2005, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Jeff Sluman remained atop the leaderboard after the second round of the Memorial on Friday. He posted a second-round, 1-under 71 and completed 36 holes at 8-under-par 136 at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Jeff Sluman
Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have grabbed all the headlines, but Jeff Sluman has the lead.
Tiger Woods carded a 4-under 68 and is part of a group tied for second place at 7-under-par 137. He is tied with Lucas Glover (70), Nick O'Hern (70), Harrison Frazar (68) and Jonathan Kaye (70).
Jack Nicklaus said goodbye to competitive golf in the United States on Friday as he posted a 5-over 77. He finished two rounds at his tournament at 8-over-par 152.
He nearly holed a long birdie putt on the last hole, but the ball hung on the edge. Nicklaus marked his ball, allowing playing partners David Toms and Ernie Els to finish the hole. He tapped in for par, then left to thunderous applause.
Nicklaus indicated that the British Open next month at St. Andrews would be his final competitive tournament. He said he might play the Memorial or an occasional Skins Game or Father/Son tournament on the Champions Tour in the future.
'I've got a lot of nostalgia and I'm very sentimental and I'm very much that way, but I try not to be that way,' admitted Nicklaus. 'I try when I'm out there to go play golf. That's what I'm out there for.
'I guess it's not very exciting when you've got somebody shooting 152, so I'll get off the stage and wait for a golfer to come along.'
Sluman, who served as Nicklaus' assistant captain at the last Presidents Cup, is that golfer.
He opened Thursday with a 7-under-par 65, but failed to generate the same magic on Friday.
Sluman drained a 30-footer for birdie at the fifth, then dropped his first shot of the tournament at No. 8. He made eight consecutive pars until an errant iron shot at the par-4 17th.
The 1988 PGA champion chipped in from off the green for a birdie and sole possession of the lead at minus-8. Sluman two-putted from 40 feet at the last to take his first 36-hole lead on tour since last year's Chrysler Championship.
'I felt certainly better over the ball, but quite candidly, some shots I just didn't get it as close as you need to out there,' said Sluman, who is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption. 'I hit a tremendous amount of good putts that didn't go in, but I think everybody does that here, as good as the greens are.'
Woods, a three-time winner at Muirfield, flew out of the gate on Friday. He broke into red figures with a short birdie putt at the second, then added another birdie from 15 feet at the fourth. Woods made it two in a row as his 12-foot eagle try at five narrowly missed and he tapped in for the birdie.
At the seventh, Woods rolled in a 7-foot birdie putt. He recorded a pair of nice par saves at nine and 10, then knocked his third at the par-5 11th to tap-in range. That birdie tied Woods for the lead with Sluman, but problems arose for the No. 2 player in the world.
At the par-4 17th, Woods mis-hit a 3-wood off the tee and left himself with a 211-yard approach. That sailed left of the green and he pitched 10 feet right of the hole. His par putt missed right and Woods fell into a tie for second.
'I made a nice little birdie on 11 and from there, the brakes were on. For some reason, I just didn't get it going coming in,' said Woods, who is starting a new consecutive cuts made streak after his record run of 142 ended two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson Championship. 'Overall, I'm very pleased. I'm only one back.'
Fred Couples fired a 5-under 67 on Friday and is tied for seventh place with Tim Herron (70), Bart Bryant (69), Steve Flesch (69) and Stewart Cink (69). That group is knotted at minus-6.
Defending champion Els shot a 1-under 71 and is tied for 52nd place at even-par 144.
Nicklaus was not the only big name to miss the cut, which came at 2-over-par 146. World No. 1 Vijay Singh, Davis Love III and Mike Weir all came in at 7-over-par 151 and will miss the weekend.
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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.