Tiger on Top at Western

By Sports NetworkJuly 3, 2003, 4:00 pm
LEMONT, Ill. -- Tiger Woods matched the course record at Cog Hill Thursday with an opening-round, 9-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead in the 100th Western Open.
Vance Veazey is alone in second place at 8-under-par 64, followed by last week's St. Jude Classic winner David Toms, who is in third place after a 7-under 65.
There was a weather delay that lasted nearly two hours Thursday. All players returned to the course and were able to complete their opening rounds.
Woods got his round started on the back nine at Cog Hill and wasted little time in breaking into red numbers. At the par-5 11th, Woods knocked a 6-iron onto the putting surface with his second shot and rolled home a 30-footer for eagle.
He quickly gave a stroke back with a three-putt bogey at No. 12, but birdied the 13th when he once again used a 6-iron to get the ball to finish 12 feet from the hole.
Woods tallied back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 when he two-putted from 40 feet at the par-5 15th and rolled home a 15-footer at No. 16. After the stoppage, Woods hit a terrible 8-iron at the 18th that landed right of the green. His chip was nothing special either as he went over the green, but the two-time former Western Open champion chipped in his par save.
'When you're right in the middle of the fairway, to hit that poor a golf shot, especially when I know I wasn't committed to playing the golf shot, that to me is so frustrating,' said Woods 'It was kind of in the back of my mind should I hit the other club instead of saying pick a spot out there and rip it. I didn't do it and it was nice to get away with that.'
Woods coasted on the second nine after the lucky save at 18. He birdied No. 1 then parred the next three holes before another birdie tear at the end of his round.
The No. 1 player in the world reached the green in two at the par-5 fifth and two-putted from 30 feet. At the par-3 sixth, Woods played a 6-iron to 12 feet and holed the putt before a tap-in birdie at the next hole. Woods closed his round with a two-putt birdie at the ninth for his lowest round of 2003.
'I hit a lot of good shots today,' said Woods. 'It's a lot of fun when you hit shots that flush and that solid and it's awfully nice to get rewarded by making some putts. I hit some good putts with some nice speed that went right in the hole. It was a good combination.'
Woods has been hearing talks of a recent slump. He's failed to contend at either major tournament so far this season and has not won since Bay Hill in March, but insisted that he took no satisfaction out of possibly squelching slump rumors.
'It's certainly not because of that. It's because of the fact that the things that I've been working on came together today. That's what you have to keep in mind.'
Veazey mixed nine birdies and one bogey on Thursday in what was clearly his best round of the season. He opened the season with a tie for 40th at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but missed every cut on tour before a share for 20th last week in Memphis.
'It has been a tough year so far,' said Veazey. 'The main thing I want to do is keep plugging away. I felt like last week my game was starting to come together and I played solid rounds. I shot under par four days, every day.'
Toms posted one bogey, at the fourth, and closed with three birdies over his last four holes as he tries to join Kenny Perry and Ernie Els as players to win in consecutive weeks on tour in 2003.
'I can use the positive in that last week I played great and I won the tournament and take confidence away from that, but here it's a totally different course,' said Toms, who won the 2001 PGA Championship. 'The greens are totally different, the fairways are totally different, just a different style of golf.'
Defending champion Jerry Kelly carded an opening-round 66 for fourth place. Masters champion Mike Weir, Cliff Kresge, Jason Gore, Chad Campbell, Heath Slocum and Brian Bateman are tied for fifth place at 5-under-par 67.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage of the 100th Western Open
  • 100th Western Open Leaderboard
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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.'"

    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."

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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.