Players critical of Players greens

By Associated PressMay 8, 2010, 4:31 am

The Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jerry Kelly knows the TPC Sawgrass endured a relatively harsh winter, one of the coldest on record for northeast Florida.

But he believes freezing temperatures “are no excuse” for the greens being as soft and supple as they have been through two rounds in The Players Championship.

“They’re spongy, they don’t roll true in the afternoon, they can’t keep them short enough,” Kelly said Friday. “I’m disappointed in the way that this thing is set up. I know it’s a tough winter, but I was hoping they could stress these greens a little more. It just looks like they can’t stress them. I don’t know what’s going on. I’d start again.”

And get this: Kelly shot a bogey-free 66 in the second round, leaving him little reason to complain. He may have been the most outspoken, but he was hardly alone.

Several others said they were surprised to see the Stadium Course greens playing relatively easy during the event.

“Very surprised,” Tiger Woods said. “We’re holding 5-irons, and shots on (No.) 8 with 3-irons are holding. You would think that they’d be a little bit more springy than that.”

HAAS HICCUP: A double bogey on the par-4 18th kept Jay Haas from making Players history Friday.

Haas, trying to become the oldest player to make the cut at the tournament, pulled his tee shot on the final hole into the water left. He reached the green two shots later, but two-putted from 30 feet for a 6.

Making matters worse, the 56-year-old Haas bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15. So he walked off the Stadium Course having given back four strokes over the final five holes.

“I’m real disappointed right now,” he said. “You know, I guess I had some dreams of making the cut, doing some good things, but just couldn’t finish.”

Haas shot 73 in the second round, moved to even-par 144 and missed the cut by two strokes.

Julius Boros remains the oldest to play all four rounds at The Players. He made the cut at age 55 in 1975.

The weekend wasn’t a complete loss for Haas. His son, Bill, was 7 under after two rounds. The father-son combination was the first to compete at The Players in the same year.

“Yeah, I’m excited for Bill,” Jay Haas said. “He’s been playing really well. Hopefully he can keep that up. I’m anxious to come out and watch him and see what he can do.”
Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and defending champion Henrik Stenson were among the notables who missed Friday’s cut.

Stenson, Singh, Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink, Paul Casey, Camilo Villegas and nine others got knocked out by a single shot – John Merrick’s 15-foot birdie putt to end his round.

“I had no idea,” Merrick said. “That’s the way it works sometimes. Oh well.”

Had Merrick made par on No. 18, those 15 would have stuck around for at least another day. Instead, he hit a solid drive, an even better 8-iron from 175 yards out and then sank the putt from below the hole.

“To have to finish on that hole and have to make birdie or par, that’s the last hole you want to play,” said Merrick, who was at 2-under 142. “That putt on 18 was the first putt outside of 3 feet I made all day.”
Francesco Molinari could have stayed home and played the Italian Open this week – much like his brother, Edoardo, did. Instead, Francesco decided to travel overseas for The Players Championship.

His decision looks like a wise choice.

Molinari shot a 7-under 65 in the second round and moved to 11 under for the tournament, one shot behind leader Lee Westwood.

“That, for me, was a really tough decision,” he said. “Because not playing there for the first time – I’ve always played decently – and I won four years ago, so I was looking forward to playing the Italian Open, especially because it’s in my hometown.

“But then when I saw it was clashing with The Players. This is one of the tournaments you dream of playing as a kid and you watch on TV. I think it’s easy to say now that I’m 11 under. But even if you miss the cut, it’s one of those tournaments that takes you to a different level, and it’s really good for your experience.”
Mathew Goggin carded the highest, single-hole score of anyone Friday, a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 fourth. He also finished with the craziest scorecard of the tournament – posting six birdies, five pars, three bogeys and four “others.” His card had just about every number between 2 and 9, missing only an 8.

The worst one came after he reached a greenside bunker with his second shot. Goggin flew the green with his third shot and found water.

He dropped on the other side and chunked his chip into the drink. He finally found the green after another drop, then two-putted for 9.

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.