Nick Watney Out to Early Lead in Hawaii

By Associated PressJanuary 3, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii --Opening day on the PGA TOUR was filled with oddities, starting with Nick Watney leading the Mercedes-Benz Championship on Thursday with a 5-under 68 that featured only one bogey amid a mixture of sunshine and rain.
 
Newcomers are supposed to be at a disadvantage on the Plantation Course at Kapalua with its mammoth greens and severe grain, but Watney kept it simple and poured in enough putts to take a one-shot lead over Daniel Chopra and get his 2008 season off to a good start.
 
'I think maybe they say that because the greens are very grainy,' Watney said. 'I think for me personally with the green, if I don't know what a putt is going to do, then I'll just play grain. So it worked out today.'
 
It didn't work out for most of the winners-only field.
 
Brandt Snedeker was in the lead most of the round until he hit what he thought was the perfect tee shot on No. 17. Imagine his surprise to see his ball in the waist-high native grasses, some 100 yards behind Steve Stricker. Turns out his driver had a hairline crack in the top of the face, which played a big part in his double bogey-bogey finish that sent him to a 71.
 
Scott Verplank was at even-par 73, rattled by a ruling he continued to dispute after his round that cost him a double bogey on the 13th and made him think more about his pre-shot routine than how to play the shot.
 
With his ball positioned on the slope of the fairway, the wind gusting some 30 mph in his face, his ball moved about a quarter-inch. Verplank did not think he had addressed the ball, but after a discussion with rules official Mike Shea, he was told he caused the ball to move. Verplank played a second ball in protest, but lost the argument after his round.
 
Tour officials were trying to find video evidence after the round.
 
'I don't agree with it,' Verplank said. 'I know right from wrong. I know what happened. If I felt I did anything to make that ball move, give me a penalty. At the time, I didn't think I did anything to make it move.'
 
Steve Stricker rallied from a rough start, playing the final 10 holes in 3 under for a 73. But he had a tough time with his new umbrella, which caused his hands to be too slick to grip the club. He wound up grabbing the umbrella by its shaft.
 
The craziest part of all was the weather.
 
Sunglasses quickly gave way to umbrellas as a mist sprayed the lower portions of the Plantation Course, and players had a tough time walking into the wind and up the hills. Worse yet, the damp weather continued to make the 7,411-yard course even longer, and it showed. Stephen Ames flushed his driver on the downhill, 550-yard 17th hole (a par 4), then had to hammer a 3-wood to clear the ravine. Paul Goydos had 215 yards left for his third shot on the 676-yard closing hole.
 
Some vacation this is turning out to be.
 
Goydos and Boo Weekley were the only players who failed to break 80, although Weekley saw this coming. He hadn't played much golf in the last month and figured he would be closer to shooting 82 and than 72. 'I was close,' he said as he walked inside to sign for an 80.
 
There were plenty of beautiful views, as always, including the surfers that could be seen from 11th green. Weekley, who much prefers a rifle or fishing rod to a surfboard, wanted no part of that.
 
'If I showed up out there, they'd think I was a whale that got beached,' he said, rubbing his belly.
 
U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera was among three players at 70, while Snedeker and Mike Weir were another shot behind. Only 10 players managed to break par in the wind and rain, and Vijay Singh wasn't among them. The defending champ opened with a 74.
 
Despite his bad break, Snedeker was pleased with how he played. He had a relapse of the flu when he arrived and was feeling so dizzy that he had a doctor prescribe some steroids -- drug testing doesn't start until July 8 -- to help him get better.
 
But the tee shot on No. 17 stunned him.
 
'I thought I hit it flush. I thought it was maybe a gust of wind,' he said. 'But when I got up to the next tee, I saw the crack. So I had to hit 3-wood, 3-wood and 8-iron on the 18th. It's a stinky way to end a round of golf.'
 
Verplank wasn't happy with how his situation turned out, especially since Rory Sabbatini didn't feel a penalty should have been called. They talked with rules official for 20 minutes after the round, although he kept his sense of humor.
 
'How many FedExCup points is that going to cost me?' he said.
 
Explaining the situation later, the Oklahoma State alum and close friend of football coach Mike Gundy said the penalty wouldn't affect him the rest of the week.
 
'I'm a man!' Verplank said, making fun of Gundy's famous rant from the season. 'I'm 43.'
 
There were a few other light moments on a tough opening day, and some poignant ones at the start. Clifford Naeole, the Maui cultural adviser at Kapalua, offered a traditional Hawaiian blessing on the season, which was followed by a stirring rendition of the national anthem on the ukulele by Jake Shimabukuro, one of the best in the world on an instrument that defines Hawaii.
 
Joe Torre, the new manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers who spends January in Kapalua, was the honorary starter. All he had to do was call out the lineup, not hit a shot, which was probably a good thing. The Plantation Course, which got 16 inches of rain in one week last month and about 4 inches this week, played longer than ever.
 
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    Johnson, Moore co-lead Valero Texas Open through 36

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:32 pm

    SAN ANTONIO - Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.

    He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the early 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore.

    ''You just never know. That's the beauty of this game,'' Johnson said. ''I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn't getting rewarded, and you've just got to stay in it. You've got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.''

    Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.

    Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots out of the lead among those who played Friday morning. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.

    Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, might have a long stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.


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    Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and was outside the cut. He was in jeopardy of missing his second straight cut, depending on afternoon scoring.

    Johnson, a two-time winner of the Texas Open, appeared to be headed to a short week until the key par save on the 13th hole, followed by his eagle, par and three straight birdies. He began the second round Friday with five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine, a sixth birdie on the par-4 first hole, and then an eagle on the short par-4 fifth when he holed out from a greenside bunker.

    The only sour taste to his second round was a three-putt bogey from about 30 feet on his final hole. Even so, the view was much better than it was Thursday afternoon.

    Moore thought he had wasted a good birdie opportunity on the par-5 14th hole when he left his 50-foot eagle putt about 6 feet short. But he made that, and then holed a similar putt from 8 feet for birdie on the next hole and capped his good finish with a 15-foot putt on the 17th.

    ''That was a huge momentum putt there,'' Moore said of the 14th. ''It was a tough putt from down there with a lot of wind. That green is pretty exposed and ... yeah, really short and committed to that second putt really well and knocked it right in the middle.''

    The birdies on the 14th and 15th were important to Moore because he missed a pair of 10-foot birdie tries to start the back nine.

    ''So it was nice to get those and get going in the right direction on the back,'' he said.

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    Daly-Allen team grabs Legends of Golf lead on Day 2

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 11:14 pm

    RIDGEDALE, Mo. - John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf.

    Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.

    ''Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,'' Daly said. ''We've been buddies since. He's just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he's not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I'll go first.''

    On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.

    ''I went to high school in Jeff City, so it's cool to have the fans behind us,'' Daly said.

    Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.

    ''I'm just here to free up John,'' Allen said. ''It was fun. Luckily, I started making good putts today. We just want to keep the good times rolling.''


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    Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.

    ''Part of the issue here is all the tees are elevated, so you're up high hitting to a green that's down below and the wind is blowing, and there is more time for that wind to affect it,'' Lehman said. ''If you guess wrong on the wind, you can hit a really good shot and kind of look stupid.''

    Former UCLA teammates Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe were two strokes back at 11 under with Steve Flesch and David Toms and the Spanish side of Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez. McCarron-Jobe had a 47, and Jimenez-Olazabal a 48 at Top of the Rock, and Tom Flesch shot 34 at Mountain Top.

    First-round leaders Jeff Maggert and Jesper Parnevik had a 52 at Top of the Rock to fall three shots back at 10 under. Madison, Wisconsin, friends Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly also were 10 under after a 32 at Mountain Top. Jay Haas aced the 131-yard seventh hole at Mountain Top with a gap wedge. Haas and fellow 64-year-old Peter Jacobsen were 8 under after a 32.

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    Football coach hates golf: Don't need practice swearing

    By Jason CrookApril 20, 2018, 10:15 pm

    Some football coaches are a little more talkative than others. On one side of the spectrum, there's Bill Belichick. On the other sits Washington State football coach Mike Leach.

    Leach always delivers the goods, and when asked recently if he liked golf, he didn't hold back:

    As wrong as the 57-year-old is on the topic (golf is awesome), the man makes some hilarious points:

    • “It’s boring. I don’t care where that ball goes.”

    • "Golfers are always practicing their swing. But you know what I never did? I never practice fishing in my living room.”

    • "They'll line up over the ball and they'll say they're going to do something that you can't do with a sniper rifle and a scope, but they're going to do it with a stick and a ball."

    • “Golf’s pretty much for people that don’t swear effectively enough or need practice. And so there are people that need golf, and I don’t think I do.”

    So in conclusion, it's confirmed: Mike Leach - not a golf guy.

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    Quiros takes 1-shot lead in Morocco

    By Associated PressApril 20, 2018, 8:22 pm

    RABAT, Morocco - Alvaro Quiros shot a solid 2-under 70 in windy conditions to push into a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco on Friday.

    Quiros fought the elements, carding seven birdies and five bogeys to move to 7 under overall and take the outright lead at the halfway point of the European Tour event.

    The Spaniard was one clear of Andrew Dodt, who moved into contention with a 4-under 68 at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course. Dodt dropped two shots in his first six holes but the Australian recovered from that shaky start to collect four birdies and an eagle.


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    Erik van Rooyen of South Africa was another shot back in third on 5 under after his 71.

    Bradley Dredge of Wales, who shared the first-round lead with Quiros, slipped off the pace with a 1-over 73. He's tied for fourth with Austin Connelly of Canada (71), 4 under par and three shots behind Quiros.