Hot Rod Leads Ford Championship


Fresh off his opening-round 8-under 64, which gave him the lead in the Ford Championship at Doral, Rod Pampling was asked by the media to talk about his professional life over the past few years.
Well, after the British Open, Pampling started his response.
It always goes back to the 1999 British Open for Rod Pampling. Theres B.C. and A.C. ' Before Carnoustie, and After.
Pampling was the first-round leader following an even-par 71. Eighteen holes and 86 strokes later, however, and he watching the final two rounds on TV.
It didnt really bother me because I knew I didnt play bad, the conditions were just unbelievably tough, said Pampling, who noted the average score that Friday was in the neighborhood of 79.
It might have rolled right off the 33-year-old Australians back, but its still his small claim to fame, or infamy.
That could change come Sunday evening, should he continue the play he displayed Thursday morning.
Pampling made eight birdies and no bogeys in the first round of the first event on the 2003 Florida Swing. His play was so precise that he needed only one putt of longer than 12 feet to fall in order to post his career-best round on the PGA Tour.
I had a real solid day, said Pampling, who finished his round just as the trademark Florida winds were gaining strength. The par-5s were a big key. Besides the first hole, everything else was just a tap-in on the par-5s.
This marks the first time since 1999 that Pampling has held a PGA Tour lead at days end. He did that on more than one occasion on the Nationwide Tour, where he spent 2000 and 2001. Last year, he was a rookie on the primary circuit, and allowed himself a sophomore season by finishing 89th on the money list.
Pamplings advantage is one over Bob Tway, who is winless on tour since the 1995 Heritage.
Scott Hoch and 2002 British Open runner-up Thomas Levet are tied for third place at 6-under.
Hoch is playing in just his third event of the season. He is limiting himself to courses where he feels he has a chance to compete. Doral measures 7,125 yards, but Hoch feels the pinched fairways and moderate rough gives shorter hitters a chance.
Though, he almost didnt get a chance to tee it up Thursday.
Something in my hand kind of locked up yesterday and I had a problem; it got worse as the day went on. I couldnt hit it in a 10-acre field, Hoch said.
A tour-provided trainer stabilized Hochs left wrist with tape, which he wore overnight. He cut it off prior to his morning warm-up session, and said he didnt feel comfortable competing until about 10 balls from the end of practicing.
Maybe when you take off as long as I did and all of a sudden you play for two straight weeks, it might take its toll, Hoch said. Im going to go back (to the fitness trailer) today and have him work on it. Its moving a lot better than it did yesterday.
The 47-year-old took off nearly three months before making his season debut in the Nissan Open. He then lost to an unrelenting Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship. He used a new set of Yonex irons last week at La Costa, when his specialized set was mistakenly sent to his home in Orlando, Fla. He has both sets on site this week, though he used the replacement clubs Thursday.
Hoch also deployed a new putter. He temporarily put aside his basic Scotty Cameron model for the Futura, which has been used by Phil Mickelson.
That was the key to my round today, Hoch said of his 29-putt performance. He added that he was happy with the results, if not the design.
It looks like a potato masher with holes it,' he said. 'Im very traditional as far as how clubs look. This one does not fit the traditional pattern at all, so its taking some getting used to as far as looking down at it.
The proof is in the pudding. It rolls so good. If you can look past that ' how it looks ' you can get used to it.
While he may not like what he sees, Hoch is happy that hes at least seeing it clearly. He underwent his third laser eye surgery in a year in the off-season, and says he is almost void of double vision, thanks to a hard contact lens in right eye.
My vision is very good straight ahead, but if I peripherate on my right eye, its still a little double, he explained. The problem is getting used to having one contact in and not having one in the other.
Two-time Doral winner Jack Nicklaus was 3-over before birdieing his final two holes for a 1-over 73.
I was so mad at myself after bogeying 4, 6 and 7, that I got on the eighth tee and said, Forget it. Were now playing the rest of the tournament. And then I birdie 8 and 9. So now Im 2-under for the rest of the tournament ' Im going from there, said the 63-year-old, who is competing in just his second regular tour event in the last 22 months.
Related Links
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