Sorenstam Wie to Play Pro-Am

By Associated PressJanuary 7, 2004, 5:00 pm
The Mercedes Championships has 34 groups for the Wednesday pro-am, but only 30 players are in the winners-only field at Kapalua.
In these cases, the tournament asks other pros to fill in.
This year, they turned to Olin Browne, Fred Funk, Billy Andrade - and Annika Sorenstam.
Sorenstam, the first woman in 58 years on the PGA Tour when she play at the Colonial last year, has said she won't play on the tour again, except for special events, such as the Skins Game.
'I've heard more excitement about a Wednesday pro-am than I have in a long time,' Davis Love III said.
Michelle Wie also is playing as an amateur. She also played in the pro-am last year.
NEW LOOK:@ Charles Howell III will be sporting a new look this year - on his rail-thin body, and maybe in his bag.
Howell ended his two-year relationship with Swedish designer J. Lindeberg, and signed a multiyear clothing deal with Japanese-based Sanei over the weekend.
The clothes are said to be a little more classic in style, although Howell won't exactly blend in with the crowd.
As for the clubs?
Callaway Golf, the new owners of Hogan by way of its Top-Flite Golf Co. acquisition, recently sent Howell a few sets of the Hogan irons. He makes his '04 debut next week in the Sony Open, and might put the blades in his bag, or possibly a combination of blades (for the shorter irons) and the offset Callaways (longer irons).
RECOVERY WORK:@ The maintenance staff at Kapalua gets an early nominee for comeback of the year.
Kapalua received 13 inches of rain over the first three days of the New Year, turning the Plantation course into a river just five days before the start of the season-opening Mercedes Championships.
Sand that washed out of some bunkers left an 80-yard trail of silt down the fairways. Officials canceled an amateur tournament Sunday.
'If this was any other golf course, we'd be looking for alternative dates to play this tournament,' PGA Tour rules official Jon Brendle said.
By Tuesday, everything was almost back to normal. The severe elevation changes on the Plantation course helped allow the course to drain remarkably fast, and the maintenance staff went to work on the bunkers.
'It's gone from a bleak outlook to a very promising outlook,' tournament chairman Gary Planos said.
Sunshine was in the forecast the rest of the week, and Brendle said preferred lies was not even a consideration.
One thing became clear: The course won't play nearly has firm and fast as it did last year.
Ernie Els won at a record 31-under par, and the shot that had everyone talking was his 400-yard drive on the par-5 15th, which he hit to the bottom of the hill, which left him with only an 8-iron into the green.
During a practice round Tuesday, that wasn't the case.
'I didn't come close to where I was last year,' he said. 'This year, it's a lot softer. You're not going to see 390-, 400-yard drives this week.'
NEW FATHER, EMPTY NEST:@ Jim Furyk has plenty of room this week at his house on the Plantation course at Kapalua, for good reason: His wife, Tabitha, is home in Florida with their newborn.
Tanner James Furyk was born Dec. 12, their first son and second child.
His wife wanted to come to Maui, but their child was too young to travel so far. Furyk will play next week in the Sony Open, then likely take as much as a month off. That means missing Pebble Beach, one of his favorite events.
DIVOTS:@ Steve Flesch was looking at the pairings for the first round of the Mercedes Championships and rolled his eyes when he saw his name with Kenny Perry. 'Awwww, I don't want to play with Kenny,' Flesch moaned. 'I played with him last week and he was hitting it 50 yards by me.' Flesch and Perry are the only two players at Kapalua from Kentucky. ... Fresh off his first PGA Tour money title, Vijay Singh was seen practicing Monday and Tuesday with a regular putter. He won four times and $7.5 million last year using the belly putter. ... Scott Hoch will have to find another caddie after the Hawaii swing. His regular man on the bag, Damon Green, is leaving to caddie for Zach Johnson, the Nationwide Tour player of the year.
STAT OF THE WEEK:@ The U.S. Open at Olympia Fields had only one hole - No. 12 - that ranked among the 50 toughest holes on the PGA Tour last year. The British Open (Royal St. George's) and PGA Championship (Oak Hill) each had four holes in the top 10.
FINAL WORD:@ 'We get beat up for being honest, but he's the guy to beat. No argument.' - Davis Love III on Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Getty Images

Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''

Full-field scores from the Sanford International

Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.

Getty Images

Glover (64) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:12 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Former U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover shot his second consecutive 7-under 64 on Friday to take a one-shot lead at the Tour Championship.

The 38-year-old Glover, who won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, can still regain his PGA Tour card through a medical extension if he fails to earn enough money in the four-tournament Tour Finals. But a high finish this weekend at Atlantic Beach Country Club would take care of everything.

''I've got a lot to fall back on regardless of this week, but any time I tee it up, I want to play well,'' Glover said. ''Tomorrow won't be any different. Sunday won't be any different.''

Glover had arthroscopic knee surgery in June and will have eight starts to earn 53 FedEx Cup points and keep his card. He earned $17,212 in the first three Tour Finals events. The top 25 money winners in the series earn PGA Tour cards, and the final card went for $40,625 last year.

Glover was at 14-under 128. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back. McCarthy, a former Virginia player, has a shot at winning the Finals money list, which would guarantee him fully exempt status and entry into The Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

''There's no secret about it. I'll come out and tell you I'm here to win this tournament and get that No. 1 spot,'' McCarthy said. ''I've been hungry for a while. I have a pretty hungry attitude and I'm going to stay hungry.''

Tour veteran Cameron Tringale, who has earned just $2,660 after missing two of the first three cuts, was 12 under after a 67. Last year, Tringale entered the Tour Championship at 63rd on the Finals money list and finished tied for fifth to get back onto the PGA Tour. He struggled again this season, though, missing 19 cuts in 26 starts.

''Yeah, I was hoping last year was my last time here, but I do have a comfort at this golf course and I'm excited to keep pressing,'' Tringale said.

The four-tournament series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top 25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals.

Sepp Straka and Ben Silverman were three shots back. Each would likely need a top-5 finish to earn his card.

Peter Malnati, who regained his card with a second-place finish in the opening finals event, followed his opening-round 74 with a 9-under 62, shooting an 8-under 27 on his second nine.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Aaron Baddeley was among those who missed the cut. He was 22nd on the finals money list going in and likely will fall short of earning his card.

Getty Images

Thomas (69) only three back with 'C' or 'D' game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTA – Justin Thomas was tied for fourth place following his second-round 69 on Friday at the Tour Championship, which considering the state of his game on Day 2 was an accomplishment.

“I wish I had my 'B' game today. I would say I had my 'C' or 'D' game today,” he laughed.

Thomas’ struggles were primarily with his driver and he hit just 6 of 14 fairways at East Lake, but he was able to scramble late in his round with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18 to remain three off the lead.

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I drove it so poorly today, this is probably in my top 5 rounds of the year I'm most proud of just because I easily could have shot 4- or 5-over par today and not had a chance to win the tournament,” he said. “I hung in there and birdied two of the last four, and I have a chance.”

Thomas was slowed the last two weeks by a right wrist injury that limited his preparation for the finale and said the issue with his driver is timing and the byproduct of a lack of practice.

Thomas made up for his erratic driving with his short game, getting up and down four out of seven times including on the fourth hole when he missed the fairway well left, punched out short of the green and chipped in from 81 feet.

“[Rory McIlroy] just kind of said it looked like a ‘3’ the whole day and I kind of laughed because I played with him at The Players and I chipped in three times that first round with him, so I guess he's good luck for me,” Thomas said.

Getty Images

McIlroy two behind Woods, Rose after 68

By Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2018, 11:46 pm

ATLANTA – Maybe it should be no huge surprise that Rory McIlroy finds himself back in contention at the Tour Championship. It is, after all, a Ryder Cup year.

In 2016, McIlroy won the finale before heading to Hazeltine and posting a 3-2-0 record. In ’14, he finished runner-up to Billy Horschel and went 2-1-2 at the Ryder Cup; and in ’12 he finished tied for 10th place at East Lake and went 3-2-0 at Medinah.

“I was on such a high a couple of years ago going into Hazeltine after winning the whole thing, and I felt great about my game that week and played well. I won three matches,” McIlroy said. “I guess it doesn't matter whether it's a match play event or whatever. If you're playing well and you've played well the week before, I think most people can carry it into the next week, whatever that is.”

Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy’s performance this week certainly qualifies as “playing well.” He charged out on Friday with birdies at two of his first three holes and bounced back from a pair of late bogeys to shoot a 68 and was in third place and two strokes off the lead held by Tiger Woods and Justin Rose.

“I've made 12 birdies in 36 holes, which is really good around here, and that's with not birdieing either of the par 5s today,” he said. “So yeah, just tidy up the mistakes a little bit.”