Sabbatini and Uresti share lead at Turning Stone

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2010, 4:52 am

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VERONA, N.Y. – Rory Sabbatini doesn’t have a problem reaching greens. He just has to get his putter working.

The 34-year-old South African hit all 18 greens in regulation for the second time in two months Thursday and shot a 7-under 65 that had him tied for the lead with Omar Uresti at the rain-delayed Turning Stone Resort Championship.

Sabbatini and Uresti both had seven birdies without a bogey and were one stroke in front of Brad Faxon, Brian Davis, Steve Elkington and Alex Cejka.

Despite shooting his best round since a 63 at the season-opening SBS Championship, Sabbatini needed 30 putts, five more than Uresti.

“It’s not often you can come off the golf course and jokingly say you should have birdied them all.” said Sabbatini, who was an alternate for last month’s British Open at St. Andrews but did not play. “But I did.”

John Mallinger, Chris Couch, Jonathan Byrd, Michael Bradley, Jason Dufner and Tim Wilkinson, who had to qualify on Monday, were tied at 67.

Because of a weather delay of nearly three hours, 24 players did not complete the first round. Among those who did not finish and were to complete the opening round on Friday morning were Chris Tidland, who was at 6 under with two holes to play, and Steve Wheatcroft, who was at 5 under after 16 holes.

Fifteen-year-old Gavin Hall, of Pittsford, N.Y., finished at 6-over 78 in his PGA Tour debut. Hall is bidding to become the second-youngest player in PGA Tour history to make the cut in a tournament.

The rain softened the 7,482-yard Atunyote Golf Club layout just enough to allow the players to aim at the pins on what turned into a sunny, humid day with a steady wind between 10 and 20 mph.

Sabbatini, who started on the back nine, birdied his first three holes before lightning and rain caused a 2-hour, 43-minute delay. He came back out and made birdies at Nos. 14 and 15 to make the turn at 31.

Although he made just one birdie on the four par-5s, Sabbatini birdied three of the four par-3s in a round he’ll likely replay in his mind a few times.

“I would say I played well,” he said. “I didn’t score anywhere near what my potential was out there. I had a really good ball-striking day, had a lot of short birdie putts that I missed, a lot of good opportunities that I squandered out there, but overall, you know, going out there I made it a pretty stress-free day.

“I like the layout, and they give us quite a bit of room out there to work with,” Sabbatini said. “Obviously, that little bit of rain we had early on this morning kind of softened the conditions up, so it made it pretty easy to be aggressive, especially to some of those pins.”

Uresti has missed the cut in four of his last five PGA starts, tied for 59th last month at the Reno-Tahoe Open, and had had only one round in the 60s since mid-June.

A new putter made all the difference Thursday.

“If you look at my rounds and my stats recently, I’ve been having 32 to 34, even 35 putts a round and only shooting a couple over,” Uresti said. “So to get it down to where I did today at 25, that’s 10 strokes off the score right there, or at least nine. That’s what’s been hurting me. Today it felt really good in my hands. I felt confident, and I was trying not to take so much time over it.”

Uresti made five birdies on the back side, his best coming at the par-4 13th. He hit a 3-iron into the wind to 44 feet and made the putt, which broke nearly 8 feet. Unfortunately, he had to ask his caddie what happened.

“It stopped on the front lip, and I put my head down and didn’t see it drop,” Uresti said with a smile. “It’s just a matter of getting it in the hole. It helps just to be able to throw up a number. It feels pretty good.”

Hall, who had a gallery of around 200 – by far the largest of the day – following him, was upbeat despite a round that included two bogeys, a double-bogey, and a triple-bogey.

“It was a good day, it was all right, just a struggle from the first hole,” said Hall, who made 11 pars and two birdies. “But that’s going to happen in golf. It was just unfortunate, one of my bad days of golf happened at a PGA Tour event.

“I still have a lot of confidence,” he said. “I’ve never had a big crowd like that around the ropes. It was just a different feeling, so I was out of rhythm most of the whole day. I definitely learned a lot, and if I can improve a little more here and there I think I’ll play well (Friday). I’ve already had a 62 this year, so I think there’s one out there.”

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


Match scoring from U.S. Amateur

U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."

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McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


"I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.