Tiziani Takes Command Up North

By Sports NetworkJune 28, 2003, 4:00 pm
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario -- Mario Tiziani of Chanhassen, MN, used moving day to separate himself from the rest of the pack during Saturdays third round of the Canadian Tours $129,088 Northern Ontario Open.
Holding a share of the lead with Aussie David McKenzie heading into Saturday, Tiziani posted a 3-under 67 for a 54-hole total of 7-under 203, four shots better than McKenzie. Darren Griff of Salt Spring Island, BC, Tony Carolan, Lee Williamson and Kris Mikkelsen sit at 2-under 208.
For the first time since the tournament began, Mother Nature loosened her grip on the 6767-yard Sault Ste. Marie GC, allowing the field to play in dry, albeit cool, temperatures while keeping the swirling winds that had been the norm to a minimum. Just 7 of the 62 players are below par through three rounds.
But even as the conditions improved for the better, most players were not able to take advantage. Most, that is, except Tiziani. The 32-year-old birdied his first hole of the day, and when McKenzie began to stagger on the front side, Tiziani pulled away and never looked back. With birdies on thee of his first five holes, he gave himself some breathing room and held on to the lead thanks to some crucial par saves on the back side.
After cranking his tee shot behind a tree on the par-4 14th, Tiziani chipped onto the fairway, knocked his third shot to within eight feet before canning the par putt. Two holes later, his tee shot found rough and Tiziani was able to dig it out and found the green from 206 yards. On the par-3 17th, he missed the green left but chipped to within a foot.
There is no question those were huge shots for me, but even on 14, after hitting it close, I still had to make the putt, reasoned Tiziani, who won the 2002 Panasonic Panama Open, an unofficial Tour event. I caught a couple of breaks, but that may have made up for some of the putts I missed. I played well today, kept the pressure on everyone else and didnt really give them an opening.
This tournament is unfolding much like it did during the Tours last visit here in 1999, when current PGA regular Arron Oberholser defeated Carolan and Ian Leggatt by a Canadian Tour record 11 shots. Oberholser carried an eight-shot lead into the final round that year, four more than Tiziani will take into Sunday. And while the five-year Tour veteran must be feeling comfortable with just one day left, he isnt about to think of ways to start spending the $20,653 winners check just yet.
I expect more than one person to go low tomorrow, and anyone who is out here knows you need four good rounds to win on this Tour, he admitted. I am not going to worry about anyone else and what they are doing. If someone can shoot that score and come back to beat you, so be it.
Last summer, just across the International Bridge in Bay Mills, Mich., Tiziani came close to clinching his first official Tour win at the Bay Mills Open. Carrying a one-shot lead into the final round, he fired a 1-under 71 but it wasnt enough as former U.S. amateur champion Jeff Quinney came back to win by one. The second-place result has given Tiziani an idea of what he will have to do Sunday afternoon in order to hoist some hardware.
Not to make any excuses, but I wasnt on top of my game in Bay Mills. I am feeling very comfortable right now, and I have been hitting the ball better every day. Ive got one more day to go, and Ill just go in with the same approach. It was a test for me today, and as far as I am concerned, I passed.
McKenzie, who had seven top-10s in 14 events last year, wasnt nearly as enthusiastic as his playing partner Saturday. He bogeyed all five holes where he missed the green in regulation, and even three straight birdies beginning on number 15 couldnt brighten his mood. His putt on the 14th hole horseshoed around the cup and he lipped out on 18, otherwise he would crept to within two strokes.
You know, if you cant get up and down in this game you are going to make bogeys, said a frustrated McKenzie. What is there to be happy about? Not too much. Sure I came back, but I was awful. I am pleased I am still in the tournament, but not thrilled about much else right now.
Griff, the 1994 B.C. amateur champion, also had a few chances to get closer but was pleased with his position. His best finish in 2002 was a tie for third at the Greater Vancouver Classic, and he knows he has some ground to make up if he has his sights set on Tiziani Sunday. Still, he isnt going to tee it up with the intention of playing desperate golf.
Anytime you can be in the top-15 or 20 out here, you have to be playing well, he said. Obviously, I am going to need a good start and well see where it goes from there. As far as chasing pins goes, if you arent going after pins at this level, you arent confident in your game. Mario is playing well, but Ill see what I can get done Sunday.
Related Links
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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.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.