Garrigus moves out front at Kapalua after 63

By Doug FergusonJanuary 8, 2011, 7:39 am

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Being at Kapalua has been the paradise that Robert Garrigus imagined.

He hasn’t been on Maui since his honeymoon. He is one of the newcomers to the Tournament of Champions, but he had heard stories that the Plantation Course favors the big hitters, and no one hits it longer and more consistently than Garrigus. He has led the PGA Tour in driving distance the past two years.

But if it’s surprising to see Garrigus atop the leaderboard going into the weekend, it has more to do with one of his shorter clubs.

The wedge.

Garrigus hit a 61-degree sand wedge to an inch on the third hole. He hit the same club to 2 inches on the 10th hole, surprised it didn’t drop for eagle. So he must have thought he was due when yet another wedge on the 16th hole landed some 15 feet beyond the cup in just the right spot, catching the grain that grows toward the Pacific Ocean and trickling into the hole for an eagle.

He followed that with two birdies for a 10-under 63 – matching his career-low round – and he had a one-shot lead over Carl Pettersson through two rounds of the PGA Tour’s season opener.

“My wedge game is exactly where I want it to be,” Garrigus said. “I worked very hard at my wedge game, and today I almost made … I think four wedges actually hit the hole.”

One of them was a 30-yard pitch on the sixth hole, the others were full swings.

“I love Maui,” he said. “I came over here on my honeymoon, and it feels great to be in this position.”

Garrigus was at 14-under 132.

He qualified for this winners-only event in the final PGA Tour event of the year at Disney. This week is as relaxing as there is on tour, with only a 32-man field and no cut, meaning it’s the first time Garrigus has teed it up with a guarantee of making money.

“I told everybody, ‘I’m not going to really be nervous unless I’m in the last group,”’ Garrigus said. “Here we go.”

It’s the last few groups on the weekend that can put a little edge on this working vacation.

He will be paired with Pettersson, who birdied the last hole for a 67. Jonathan Byrd had a 68 and was another stroke back.

The heavy hitters follow.

Ernie Els, who set the tournament record at Kapalua in 2003, got back into the mix with a 9-under 64. Steve Stricker didn’t make a bogey in calm conditions and shot a 67. Francesco Molinari of Italy recovered from a bogey-bogey start with eight birdies for a 67. FedEx Cup champion Jim Furyk had another 68. All of them were only four shots behind.

“Everybody is jammed up there,” Stricker said. “If the weather stays like this, there’s going to be low scores. You’ve got to keep going.”

Also in the mix was Dustin Johnson, among seven players who had the lead at one point Friday. He ran off five straight birdies before trying to drive the 14th green, losing his ball into the native grass and taking double bogey.

“If I drive it straight, it definitely favors long hitters,” Johnson said.

Garrigus can go toe-to-toe with anyone off the tee, and he showed that coming in. He ripped a 392-yard drive on the 17th, a big number considering the lack of a strong wind, and stuffed his approach to about 6 feet. And on the 684-yard closing hole, he had a 5-iron for his second shot after a 394-yard drive.

For all his length, it’s hard to ignore the short aspects of his game.

He uses a 28-inch putter – he once left one in Tiger Woods’ locker to give to his daughter, Sam – to help on the greens.

“He was making fun of me on the putting green,” Garrigus said. “He was like, ‘You putt with that?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m sponsored by U.S. Kids Golf, you didn’t know that? It’s all about the kids.”’

But the key has been the wedge game.

Garrigus, who blew a three-shot lead on the 18th hole and lost in a playoff at Memphis last year, was talking to swing coach Jim Ahern a few days before Disney when he was asked why he hadn’t performed better.

Garrigus told him the wedge game was awful, or words to that effect. Ahern suggested he work on his wedges.

It was really simple.

“That week of Disney, I had eight shots inside 100 yards and never had it outside 3 feet – and I made one,” Garrigus said. “So it’s hilarious to think that little amount of work I put in is paying dividends this big.”

He didn’t stop with Disney. He hit three bags of balls from inside 100 yards on the range after Thanksgiving, and he is growing more confident with each shot.

Garrigus still believes Kapalua is for big hitters. The fairways are so wide they are hard to miss. But what he has found so appealing is hitting it so far that he leaves himself such a short distance – a wedge distance – to the green.

And he loves his wedges.

“When I launch a driver and I catch it good, I’m inside 100 yards and that’s what I’m working on all winter,” he said. “It’s kind of fun.”

For two days, it’s been paradise.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."