Tour's young players see opportunity at Annandale

By Associated PressJuly 13, 2011, 9:45 pm

MADISON, Miss. – The Viking Classic field doesn’t often have a lot of easily recognizable names. For golfers like Alex Rocha, that’s not a bad thing at all.

Like most rookies on the PGA Tour, Rocha has struggled keeping up with the best golfers in the world. He ranks 190th on the season money list, far below the 125th place threshold needed to keep his tour card. His best tournament of the season was a 33rd place finish in June at the Travelers Championship.

But the Viking Classic at Annandale County Club is one of a handful of PGA Tour events that is played on the same week as another tournament. Most of the world’s best are thousands of miles away in the British Open at Royal St. George’s.

The 33-year-old Rocha said that leaves rookies an opportunity. The former Mississippi State star often played at Annandale when he was in college, and hopes the familiarity will also be an advantage.

“The guys who are not here may not be the best in world as far as rankings are concerned, but they are awesome players. Make no mistake about that,” Rocha said. “Still, it’s more plausible to think that you can have a winning week at a tournament like this just because you don’t have to go against the (Nick) Watney’s and (Phil) Mickelson’s of the world.”

Australian John Senden is the tournament’s highest-ranked player, at No. 89 in the Official Golf World Rankings. Tommy Gainey is the tournament’s top earner, ranking No. 42 on this year’s money list.

“That’s just a number,” said Gainey, who has three top five finishes this season. “It doesn’t have any bearing on what happens right now. My goal is to win no matter if it’s the hardest field of the year or the weakest field of the year.”

The Viking Classic has proven to be an important tournament for young players. Luke Donald, the world’s current top-ranked golfer, won his first career tournament at Annandale in 2002.

The tournament is used to being in the shadow of one of golf’s big events. For several years, it was played the same week of The Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup before being switched to this year’s date opposite the British Open.

For tournament director Randy Watkins, the move has been overwhelmingly positive. Now the event gets more television coverage on the Golf Channel and is also part of the FedExCup, even though the 250 points awarded for a win are half of most of the other tour events. Watkins also hopes to attract more fans since the tournament doesn’t compete with college football season.

“I’ve been smiling all week because I’ve just got the feeling we’re going to change some young player’s life,” Watkins said. “There’s so much good young talent here and somebody’s going to look back on this week as the tournament that got everything started.”

The one major negative to the July move: Mississippi’s heat. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s throughout the tournament with the heat index hovering around 110, making afternoon rounds an especially difficult endurance test.

“It’s warm - it’s definitely warm,” said Chez Reavie as sweat dripped off his face following a brutally hot practice round. “But everybody’s got to play in it so you just try to stay as hydrated as possible.”

Reavie comes into the tournament as one of the favorites, following a fifth-place finish at last week’s John Deere Classic. He jumped 22 spots to No. 91 on the money list with the $171,000 earned, putting him in much better position to keep his tour card next season.

At first glance, the Viking Classic’s weaker field seems to give him an opportunity to keep the momentum going. But he doesn’t see it that way.

“Every week out here - all these guys can play golf,” Reavie said. “To win this week, you’ve got to play great. I’ve just got to try and shoot as low as I can.”

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take an four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up once to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made XX birdies and just XX bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentianian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.  

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 8-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman, and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year. 

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th. 

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.

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McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.

The Wentworth course ends with back-to-back par-5s, and McIlroy birdied both of them. He got a break on the 18th hole as his drive hit a spectator and bounced into light rough.

"It was a struggle out there today," McIlroy said. "I think when you're working on a few things in your swing and the wind is up and you're stuck between trying to play different shots, but also try to play - you know, make good swings at it, I just hit some loose tee balls on the first few holes. But I'm proud of myself. I stayed patient. I actually - I'm feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday."