Trio Tied for Tour Championship Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 4, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Tour Championship by Coca-ColaATLANTA -- Jerry Kelly posted a 3-under-par 67 Thursday to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the season-ending Tour Championship.
Kelly shares the lead with 2004 Ryder Cup performers American Jay Haas and Darren Clarke, from the victorious European Ryder Cup team. David Toms and Zach Johnson are tied for fourth place at 2-under-par 68.
World No. 1 Vijay Singh birdied the 17th hole to close out a round of 1-under-par 69. He shares sixth place with six other players. Meanwhile, former World No. 1 and current No. 3 Tiger Woods returned to action with a 2-over-par 72. He stands in a tie for 19th place at East Lake Golf Club.
The players faced some tough conditions at East Lake. The course played longer than normal after over an inch of rain soaked the course in the early morning hours. Then during the round, winds gusted across the course making shots difficult, even for the top players in the game.
Kelly got going with a birdie at the second after he dropped a 6-iron 6 feet from the cup. The 37-year-old chipped in for birdie at the eighth.
Around the turn, Kelly moved to 3 under with a birdie at the par-3 11th. The two-time winner then birdied the par-5 15th to move out in front at minus-4. However, he was unable to save par at the next hole to slip back to 3 under.
'You're out here to win, and I've gone the last two years without a win,' said Kelly. 'This year was really tough on me. Then you make it here and you step out here and you've got to say, 'Okay, you had a great year. You didn't win, you didn't really do everything you wanted to do, but accept it a little bit and enjoy the fact that you're here.' That's what I've done. It has taken a lot of the pressure off and I've kind of enjoyed it.'
Clarke got into red figures as he dropped in a birdie putt from 15 feet out at the third. He missed a 15-foot par putt at the next hole to slip back to even par.
The Ulsterman sank a 5-foot birdie putt at the sixth and came right back with a 10-foot birdie at the next hole. Clarke kept it going with a 25-foot birdie putt at the 12th.
He also got to minus-4 when he rolled in an 18-footer for birdie No. 14. Clarke dropped a shot at the 16th and parred his final two holes to share first place.
'When I drove up this morning the last thing I thought was that we'd be teeing off on time,' Clarke said. 'The course was a little bit wet out there as you would expect. I had a few mud balls, but everybody was going to have those today. Mine didn't go too far astray.'
Haas sank a 12-foot birdie try at three, but like Clarke stumbled to a bogey at four. The 50-year-old stuck an 8-iron within 6 feet of the cup at six to setup another birdie.
Haas moved to minus-2 when he drained a 12-foot birdie putt at the 11th. The Wake Forest alum faltered to a bogey at the 14th. He came right back by rolling in a 16-foot eagle putt from the fringe at 15 to get to 3 under. He closed with three straight pars to share the overnight lead.
'I played very well. I kept the ball in play most of the day, which you had to do out there, with the rough being wet and things like that, but the greens are holding,' said Haas, who on Wednesday was awarded the tour's Payne Stewart Award, given annually to a player who represents the ideals of the game. 'I would expect somebody will be lower than this today, even though it is windy.'
All three of the leaders are looking for their first win of the 2004 season.
Singh is joined at minus-1 by Mark Hensby, Mike Weir, Padraig Harrington, Stephen Ames, Stuart Appleby, John Daly and Steve Flesch.
Stewart Cink and U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen are tied at even-par 70. Sergio Garcia, Masters champion Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini are one stroke further back at 1-over-par 71.
Woods is joined at plus-2 by Chris DiMarco, Carlos Franco, Todd Hamilton and Ernie Els. Els was so frustrated with his game that he broke his putter on the 16th hole and putted with his sand-wedge the last two holes.
Defending champion Chad Campbell stands in a tie for 24th place at 3-over-par 73. Davis Love III, the 1999 runner-up withdrew after 14 holes due to a shoulder injury.
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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.

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    Farmers inks 7-year extension through 2026

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:04 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance has signed a seven-year extension to serve as the title sponsor for the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, it was announced Tuesday. The deal will run through 2026.

    “Farmers Insurance has been incredibly supportive of the tournament and the Century Club’s charitable initiatives since first committing to become the title sponsor in 2010,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

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    “We are extremely grateful for the strong support of Farmers and its active role as title sponsor, and we are excited by the commitment Farmers has made to continue sponsorship of the Farmers Insurance Open for an additional seven years.

    In partnership with Farmers, the Century Club – the tournament’s host organization – has contributed more than $20 million to deserving organizations benefiting at-risk youth since 2010. 

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    Woods impresses DeChambeau, Day on Tuesday

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 11:27 pm

    SAN DIEGO – Bryson DeChambeau played with Tiger Woods for the first time Tuesday morning, and the biggest surprise was that he wasn’t overcome by nerves.

    “That’s what I was concerned about,” DeChambeau said. “Am I just gonna be slapping it around off the tee? But I was able to play pretty well.”

    So was Woods.

    DeChambeau said that Woods looked “fantastic” as he prepares to make his first PGA Tour start in a year.

    “His game looks solid. His body doesn’t hurt. He’s just like, yeah, I’m playing golf again,” DeChambeau said. “And he’s having fun, too, which is a good thing.”

    Woods arrived at Torrey Pines before 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, when the temperature hadn’t yet crept above 50 degrees. He warmed up and played the back nine of Torrey Pines’ South Course with DeChambeau and Jason Day.

    “He looks impressive; it was good to see,” Day told afterward. “You take (Farmers) last year and the Dubai tournament out, and he hasn’t really played in two years. I think the biggest thing is to not get too far ahead, or think he’s going to come back and win straight away.

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    “The other time he came back, I don’t think he was ready and he probably came back too soon. This time he definitely looks ready. I think his swing is really nice, he’s hitting the driver a long way and he looks like he’s got some speed, which is great.”

    Woods said that his caddie, Joe LaCava, spent four days with him in South Florida last week and that he’s ready to go.

    “Before the Hero I was basically given the OK probably about three or four weeks prior to the tournament, and I thought I did pretty good in that prep time,” Woods told, referring to his tie for ninth in the 18-man event.

    “Now I’ve had a little more time to get ready for this event. I’ve played a lot more golf, and overall I feel like I’ve made some nice changes. I feel good.”

    Woods is first off Torrey Pines’ North Course in Wednesday’s pro-am, scheduled for 6:40 a.m. local time. 

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    With blinders on, Rahm within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

    SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

    The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

    Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

    It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

    “It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

    Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

    According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

    “I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

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    Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

    And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

    As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

    He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

    “I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

    If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

    Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

    “I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

    Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

    Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

    “If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

    Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.