Notes Garcia Longs for Home
After a long road to the Masters with some frustrating results along the way, Garcia rejuvenated himself by spending three weeks at home in Spain. He has a close circle of friends who don't talk golf. They play tennis, soccer, ride bikes and go swimming -- all the things he doesn't do at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.
'What I feel that I have in Spain, I don't have in Orlando,' Garcia said. 'Although I love staying in Orlando and I think it's a great city, I don't have that group of friends that I can disconnect totally from golf. And that's something that I really need.'
Garcia, 24, didn't even have his driver's license when he first started playing the PGA Tour five years ago. He is close friends with Jesper Parnevik, Ernie Els and other players -- all of them older, most of them married with children. He doesn't have many friends outside golf at Lake Nona.
'In Orlando, all my friends are golf friends,' he said.
Garcia usually stays at his Lake Nona house -- purchased from Els, who found a bigger place -- when he is playing three weeks in a row in the United States.
VIVA LAS VEGAS
The Las Vegas Invitational is cutting the tournament from 90 holes to 72, and swapping out one of the courses for the Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear's Best.
The Las Vegas event will be played Oct. 7-10 and retain its pro-am format for the first three days. Players will compete on the TPC Canyons, the TPC at Summerlin and Bear's Best, with the final round held at Summerlin.
Tournament chairman John Sullivan said one reason for the change to 72 holes is to accommodate those playing the American Express Championship in Ireland the previous week.
Tiger Woods already has had 11 partners in the six Ryder Cup and President Cup matches he has played. By the sound of it, he could be adding to that list in September at Oakland Hills.
Several players and caddies have speculated in recent weeks that Chad Campbell would be the ideal partner for Woods, and Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton did little to quash the rumors.
'Someone asked me who would be a good partner for Tiger, and I said, 'Chad Campbell,'' Sutton said. 'That doesn't mean it's set in stone.'
Campbell still has to make the team. His Bay Hill victory moved him up to No. 6 in the standings, and his game is so sound that he appears to be a lock.
Woods has never had the same partner for all four team matches in the three Ryder Cups he has played. He played all four with Notah Begay (2000) and Charles Howell III (2003) in the Presidents Cup.
A Woods-Campbell team would have one interesting connection.
UNLV recruited Woods to play golf for the Rebels. When he decided to attend Stanford, UNLV gave the scholarship to Campbell.
Tiger Woods will find a slightly different Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill when he defends his title at the Western Open.
The fifth hole has been shortened 45 yards and will play as a par 4 at 480 yards, making the Dubsdread Course at par 71 for the first time. Also, the par-5 ninth was stretched 38 yards to play at 600 yards.
'The players are bigger and stronger and are hitting the ball longer and straighter. And the equipment is better,' said Frank Jemsek, owner and president of Cog Hill. 'They're outdating golf courses. When the pros first came to Cog Hill, the course was a challenge. It no longer was a challenge. That was the impetus for
Woods said No. 5 will still play as a driver and a mid-iron or short iron, as long as it's downwind.
'But if the wind switches and goes back in your face, then it becomes a very difficult hole,' he said.
Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton keeps prodding guys to play hard and make the team, but that doesn't seem to be working. None of the players from seventh through 14th in the U.S. standings has finished in the top 10 the last four weeks. ... Vijay Singh has played the last two holes of his last two final rounds in 8 over par -- a bogey-double bogey finish at Quail Hollow, a quadruple bogey-bogey finish at the Byron Nelson. ... The Women's British Open will return to Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2006, giving the Lancashire Coast of England a doubleheader that summer. The British Open will be a few weeks earlier at Royal Liverpool.
STAT OF THE WEEK
A tie for the fourth in the Byron Nelson Championship was the 100th time Tiger Woods has finished in the top 10 on the PGA Tour in 154 starts -- a rate of 65 percent.
'I've never seen him on so many TV shows before.' -- Tiger Woods, when asked if he noticed any difference in Phil Mickelson since winning the Masters.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship
ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.
The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.
''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''
The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.
''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''
Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.
''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''
Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162
The 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 Paisley and other 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. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.
McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year
ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.
Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.
Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.
“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.
McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.
“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”
Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist
ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.
After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.
He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.
“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.
Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.
“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”
Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead
ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.
Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.
Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.
“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”
Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.
“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.