Kuchar stumbles coming in; 4 tied at Humana

By Associated PressJanuary 25, 2015, 12:40 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. - Matt Kuchar's ball crashed into the rocks at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains and shot sideways into the All-American Canal.

More rocks and water gobbled up another ball - and with it, his third-round lead on Saturday in the Humana Challenge.

"It's too bad, but it's what happened," Kuchar said. "I still got one more day left to try to make some birdies and still pull this thing out."

Two strokes ahead after a birdie on the par-5 14th, Kuchar bogeyed three of the final four holes for a 1-under 71 on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course. That left him a shot behind two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton, Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and Michael Putnam.

The highest-ranked player in the field at No. 11, Kuchar lost a shot on the par-3 15th when he drove to the right, sent his second to the back edge and missed a 14-footer.

"Just nearly an impossible up-and-down if you miss the green right," Kuchar said.


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He bogeyed the par-3 17th after his tee shot went right, bounced off the mountain rocks and raced across the green into the canal.

"With a pitching wedge, you're looking to hit a good shot," Kuchar said. "Unfortunately, I let it hang too much and it caught a rock and went in the water."

The seven-time tour winner closed with another rocky bogey, ending his birdie-eagle string on the par 5s. On the first 12 pars 5 of the week, he had an eagle and 11 birdies.

On 18, his 235-yard approach sailed long and left into the rocks and water. After his ball rolled away on a penalty drop, he placed it deep in the dormant grass, blasted out to 8 feet and two-putted.

"I hit a great drive and was in between a 3- and 4-hybrid," Kuchar said. "I went with a 3-hybrid, trying to get it back to the hole and hit a solid shot that just didn't fade."

Compton shot a 67 on the Jack Nicklaus Private Course to join Haas, Thomas and Putnam at 17-under 199. Haas, the 2010 winner, had a 69 on the Nicklaus layout. Thomas shot 68 on the Palmer course, and Putnam had a 69 at La Quinta Country Club.

Compton birdied three of his last five holes in breezy, warm conditions.

"I had a couple shots that were loose on the drives, but I salvaged the round," Compton said. "Tomorrow's a new day."

On the final day of the pro-am competition, Compton played in a group with amputee Chad Pfeifer and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bud Norris. Pfeifer lost his left leg in Iraq.

"On the third hole, he said, `Hey, listen, you know, you really inspired me learning about your story,'" Compton said. "And I'm kind of speechless, because I see him with a huge adversity that he's gone through and it speaks volumes."

Haas is making his first start since November. He took the long break to rest his left wrist, injured when he fell down stairs at Hilton Head.

"So far, something to build on, but I also know in the back of my head I don't think I'm a hundred percent," Haas said. "So, I'll go on the range and work on it. I just got to stay in the moment and try not to hit too many foul balls tomorrow."

Thomas birdied two of the last three holes. The 21-year-old former Alabama player hit a 91-yard shot to a foot for birdie on the par- 4 16th and two-putted for birdie on the 18.

"I'm pleased where I'm at going into tomorrow," Thomas said.

Ryan Palmer, Scott Pinckney and Steve Wheatcroft were a stroke back along with Kuchar.

Palmer followed his 61 on Friday on the Nicklaus course with a 68 on the Palmer layout. Wheatcroft had a 68 on the Nicklaus course, and Pinckney shot 69 in the Palmer.

Defending champion Patrick Reed, paired with Kuchar, was tied for ninth at 14 under after a 67. He's coming off a playoff victory two weeks ago in Hawaii in the Tournament of Champions.

Phil Mickelson was 11 under in his first start since the Ryder Cup in September. He had eight birdies and four bogeys in a 68 on the Palmer course.

"It was a day that could have been really low," Mickelson said. "It had a lot of potential and I ended up making too many bogeys and letting some birdie opportunities slide."

The 44-year-old Mickelson won the event in 2002 and 2004.

DIVOTS: Former President Bill Clinton was on the Palmer course, greeting players as they crossed the bridge between the 17th green and 18th tee. The Clinton Foundation is a tournament partner. ... Blake Adams missed the cut by four strokes in his return from hip replacement surgery. A shot out of the lead after an opening 64 on the Nicklaus course, he had a 79 on Friday at La Quinta and a 69 on Saturday on the Palmer course.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.