Choi grabs solo lead in Hilton Head

By Associated PressApril 16, 2010, 2:58 am

2007 Verizon Heritage

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – K.J. Choi kept up his stellar golf, even without Tiger Woods in his group.

Choi played with the world’s No. 1 golfer all four rounds of last week’s Masters but showed no signs of a hangover on Thursday, when he shot a 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead at the Verizon Heritage.

Mike Weir and Greg Owen were next at 66, then came a large group at 67 that included Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia and five-time Verizon winner Davis Love III.

Choi tied Woods for fourth at Augusta National, finishing five shots behind champion Phil Mickelson.

Most of golf’s best, including Mickelson and Woods, are resting after last week’s major.

Not Choi, who wasn’t ready to end a roll that includes second- and fourth-place finishes over his past three tournaments.

“Yeah, the aura, the atmosphere is a little different” than last week, a grinning Choi said through his interpreter and manager, Michael Yin. “But when you step on the tee box in the first hole, you still get that competitive pressure.”

No one competed better at Harbour Town than Choi.

He used a stretch of three birdies over four holes on the front nine to take the lead, then had a similar run on the back to separate from a crowded pack and finish with his lowest score this season. Choi rolled in a 30-footer for birdie on the 13th to catch Jerry Kelly and Love. He closed his charge by putting his approach to 2 feet on the 16th for a birdie.

Choi, who turns 40 next month, said he reveled in every Masters moment with Woods last week and it helped him improve his patience and focus.

“I think that is only going to help me more, and I’m thankful for the experience I had with Tiger,” he said.

It was Choi’s best-ever showing at Harbour Town. Then again, he’d only played here once before, missing the cut in 2001.

Most years, the native of South Korea is at his home in Texas recuperating after the Masters’ grind. This time, Choi feels so good about his game – his 69.25 scoring average is second to Anthony Kim – he didn’t want to take a break.

“I’ve been playing good and I guess I wanted to keep the rhythm going,” he said. “And now that I’m here and I see the reactions of the gallery, the sponsors, I feel a lot of support here.”

Weir discovered that, too. The 2003 Masters champion had only played the Heritage in 1999, the last year he hadn’t qualified for Augusta. But Weir is missing events this summer because of family celebrations – he and wife Bricia’s 40th birthdays; his brother’s 50th; and his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary – and needed earlier tournaments.

“I forgot how narrow (Harbour Town) is, how tight some of the pin positions are, and how precise you have to be on a certain number of shots,” he said. “So that usually suits my game.”

Weir had an eagle on the par-4 first hole, converting an 8-iron from 144 yards away. He moved within a shot of Choi with consecutive birdies on the fourth and fifth holes before a bogey on the seventh – Weir began his round on the 10th hole – dropped him to two back.

Owen has missed five cuts this season and withdrew from his last event, the Houston Open. Still, he shot his lowest round in more than two months.

Love always seems to be on top of the leaderboard here. Besides those five victories, he’s the event’s career money winner with more than $2.6 million and has had 44 rounds in the 60s since his first teed it up here in 1986.

The day’s deja vu moment belonged to Kelly, who aced the par-3 fourth hole for the second time here since 2007.

“Same club, too,” Kelly said of his 4-iron.

He becomes just the third PGA Tour pro since 1983 – Joe Ozaki and Craig Stadler are the others – to ace the same hole twice in tournament play.

Divots: Woody Austin showed off his personality on the back nine. He bounced the golf ball off his head following a 12th-hole bogey, slapped his thigh hard in celebration after a birdie on No. 13 moved him into the lead, then berated himself as he left the par-3 14th with a double-bogey 5. … Two-time Verizon champion Stewart Cink is in the second week of his “Twee Off” challenge to raise funds for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Cink opened with a 71. … Weir said a big reason he returned after 11 years was to support the tournament, which is losing longtime sponsor Verizon after this year. “I know it’s important to play this event because it’s been a stalwart to the tour,” he said.

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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''


Full-field scores from the Sanford International


Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

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Glover (64) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Web.com Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Web.com Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

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Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

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McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”