Back from break, Laird leads Frys.com Open

By Doug FergusonOctober 11, 2014, 2:17 am

NAPA, Calif. - Martin Laird wasn't sure what to expect out of his game after a seven-week break. He hasn't found too much wrong after two rounds of the Frys.com Open.

Laird bounced back from his first bogey of the new PGA Tour season by running off four straight birdies around the turn. One last birdie on the par-5 18th at Silverado gave him a second straight 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Bae Sang-moon and Zach Blair going into the weekend.

Blair was among 11 rookies to make the cut in their debut as PGA Tour members.

Silverado hadn't hosted a PGA Tour event since 1980, and it appeared the players were starting to figure out how to navigate the tight, winding fairways and small greens that are all about being on the right side of the hole.

There were 13 rounds at 67 or better, compared with only three in the opening round.

One of them belonged to Jimmy Walker, one of four players fresh off the Ryder Cup who came to the Frys.com Open. Walker opened with a 75, and then he followed that with eight birdies in a round of 66 that got him to the weekend with room to spare.

Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar each had a 68 and were at least in range of Laird. Lee Westwood played in the morning through a marine layer that made conditions more difficult. He shot a 69 to make the cut by one shot.

Laird was at 10-under 134.

''You never know how you're going to play after seven weeks off like I had,'' Laird said. ''Just to come out and put back-to-back 67s up and play very solid - very solid 67s - I'm extremely happy.''


Frys.com Open: Articles, videos and photos


He made a sloppy bogey on the sixth hole with a poor tee shot into the bunker, hitting into another bunker some 80 feet from the flag and missing an 8-foot putt. He had to scramble for par on the next hole, and then he took off.

After a pair of short birdie putts, Laird rolled in a birdie from 20 feet on No. 10, and then made another birdie putt from the same range up the ridge toward a tucked pin on the par-3 11th.

Bae made all three of his birdies on the par 5s and was at 135.

Blair finished second in the final Web.com Tour Finals event to get his card, and kept right on rolling at Silverado. He had six birdies against no bogeys, picking up four shots on his final nine holes to get within one shot of the lead.

Scott Langley, in his first event since his wife gave birth to their first child, had a 66 and was at 8-under 136, along with David Lingmerth and Mark Hubbard, who had a hole-in-one on the seventh hole on his way to a 65.

Laird had more time off than he wanted. A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, he felt his game slipping away when he went back to swing coach Mark McCann and started putting the pieces back together. It was too late to salvage his season. Laird wound up at No. 127 in the FedEx Cup standings - missing by 13 points - and had a month off.

There also were two open weeks around the Ryder Cup in his native Scotland.

When he met with McCann during his break to keep working on his game, the swing was in such good shape that they spent the majority of time working on his short game. That much was evident when he missed the green on the par-3 seventh hole and hit a tricky pitch to 6 feet for par, and on the 18th with a wedge from the first cut that spun back a few feet from the cup.

''I've definitely seen it this week,'' Laird said of the short-game work. ''I'm putting good. My wedge game was pretty bad last year, and we really worked on that. My shot on the last ... it's nice when you do the hard work and then you hit a wedge shot on the last hole to tap-in range almost. It makes it worthwhile.''

DIVOTS: Jarrod Lyle, who earned a spot through Monday qualifying, had a 70 to make the cut in his first PGA Tour event since he had a recurrence of leukemia nearly two years ago. ... Hideki Matsuyama of Japan had a 67 and was three shots out of the lead. ... The cut was at 1-under 143.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.