Overton leads Frys.com Open after first round

By Doug FergusonOctober 11, 2013, 12:01 am

SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Coming off his worst year, Jeff Overton opened the new PGA Tour season on a good note.

Once he finally made a putt Thursday in the Frys.com Open, Overton felt as if he couldn't miss. Over the last 11 holes at CordeValle, he made three birdie putts over 25 feet and a 20-foot eagle putt when his gamble paid off on the par-5 ninth.

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He finished with a tap-in birdie on the 18th for a 7-under 64 and a one-shot lead over Brian Harman.

''It really helps if you can get off to a good start,'' Overton said. ''It would be great if we can continue this thing and keep it rolling.''

Harman finished with back-to-back birdies from short range and had eight birdies on his round. Kyle Stanley had a 66.

The group at 4-under 67 included Michael Putnam, who won the Web.com Tour money title last season to earn full status, and Brooks Koepka, the most traveled player at the Frys.com Open. This is the fourth tour Koepka has played this year. He earned his European Tour card by winning three times on the Challenge Tour. He also played a Web.com Tour event, and the Florida State alum is headed to China in two weeks for the BMW Masters.

Ryo Ishikawa, who had to earn his card back at the Web.com Tour Finals, opened with a 69. Hideki Matsuyama, one of three players at the Presidents Cup last week, had a 70.

The PGA Tour season is starting in October instead of January for the first time in history. The official season ends next September at the Tour Championship, although there will be a six-week break leading to the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Officially, it was the start of the 2013-14 season Thursday. It was different from previous ''season openers'' in Kapalua.

The temperature was struggling to climb past 50 degrees when Bryce Molder, wearing rain pants to cope with the morning chill, hit the first shot of the year. He yanked it left and nearly couldn't find it, which would have meant going back to the tee to his third short.

The fairways weren't 80 yards wide. And it wasn't a tropical 80 degrees.

Jhonattan Vegas felt even worse.

He was on the putting green, in the third group, when he had to use the bathroom. He thought he had plenty of time. He was wrong. Vegas was a few seconds later to the tee box, meaning a two-shot penalty. His first swing of the new season technically was for birdie from 412 yards away. He made par, plus two shots for a double bogey.

''I was just caught off guard,'' he said. ''It never crossed my mind I would be late to the tee. I made a mistake and I paid the price. It's not an easy way to start the year''

He opened with a 76.

Overton, who remains the only American to play in the Ryder Cup without ever having won on the PGA Tour, had a year in which just about everything went wrong. He didn't play in any of the majors for the first time since 2007. He was disqualified from Colonial when he thought he could use a training aid to practice putting when there was a delay at the turn. He opened with a 69 in the John Deere Classic and had to withdraw when he felt shooting pain in his right wrist.

And he was the alternate who didn't get in the PGA Championship, leading to a series of angry tweets toward the PGA of America for not giving him an exemption to a guy who played in the Ryder Cup at Wales three years earlier.

Overton said only that ''everything is all good'' when asked about his relationship with the PGA of America.

He hopes the same can be said about his game this year, especially after spending the last few months moving to a stronger grip to alleviate recurring pain in his left wrist. It worked beautifully on a sunny day in the foothills south of San Jose, especially the baby cut he hit into 20 inches on the 18th.

The most important shot he hit all day might have been a 6-foot putt for par on the seventh.

Overton hit the ball so well on the first six holes that he had only one birdie attempt longer than 15 feet and missed everything. But he made the par putt on the seventh, and seeing the ball go into the hole was all it took to send him on his way.

''Next I knew, I made everything,'' he said. ''I saw the ball go in the hole one time, and was just chipping and putting it in – just everything. It was just one of those days that went my way at the end.''

He all had a gamble pay off, hitting 3-wood into the breeze from 244 yards to a green guarded by water. He aimed right and caught it perfectly with a draw, and the ball settled 20 feet away to set up eagle.

DIVOTS: Nine players are still looking for their first birdie of the year. ... Alex Aragon came to the course Thursday morning as the first alternate expecting a long day of no golf. He got the word at breakfast that John Merrick had to withdraw, and he opened with a 68. ... Robert Allenby opened with a 68. It was the first time since The McGladrey Classic one year ago that he broke par in the opening round.

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Down seven pounds, Thomas can gain No. 1

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 11:29 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On March 7, Justin Thomas had his wisdom teeth removed, and just when he was recovering from that, he was slowed by a bout with the flu.

In total, he estimates he lost about seven pounds, and he admitted on Saturday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play that he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play the event.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “I never want to play in a tournament, first off, if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good.”

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Thomas went on to explain he was “50/50” whether he’d play the World Golf Championship, but decided to make the start and it’s turned out well for the world’s second-ranked player.

After going undefeated in pool play, Thomas cruised past Si Woo Kim, 6 and 5, in the round of 16 and secured himself a spot in the semifinals with a 2-and-1 victory over Kyle Stanley in the quarterfinals. If Thomas wins his semifinal match against Bubba Watson on Sunday, he’s assured enough points to overtake Dustin Johnson atop the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I don't care when it happens; I just hope it happens and it happens for a while,” Thomas said when asked about the possibility of becoming world No. 1. “I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.”

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Garnett's six-shot lead dwindles to two in Punta Cana

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 10:57 pm

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Brice Garnett took a six-stroke lead into the wind Saturday in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship. He came out with a two-stroke advantage.

Garnett bogeyed three of the final six holes in the wind and rain for a 3-under 69 and a 16-under 200 total.

''Once we made the turn coming back, all those holes coming in toward the north, it was all we wanted and then some,'' Garnett said. ''I kind of took advantage of some holes going out, some holes downwind, some par 5s, and then we were just trying to leave it in the right spot those last four or five holes. Pars are pretty good scores on those holes.''

Canadian Corey Conners was second after a 67, and Tyler McCumber also had a 67 to get to 12 under. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped out Friday, finishing last in the 132-man field in his PGA Tour debut. He shot 77-82 playing as an amateur on a sponsor exemption.

A stroke ahead after each of the first two rounds, Garnett opened with a bogey, birdied Nos. 2, 4 and 6, eagled the par-5 seventh, and made two more birdies on the par-3 ninth and par-5 12th. He bogeyed the par-4 13th, par-5 15th and par-3 17th.

Full-field scores from the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship

''I looked once and the lead was a little bigger than what it is now,'' Garnett said. ''The eagle was huge, kind of gave me that confidence that I can push it on out and stretch it a little bit more. That wind was tough and I'll take a two-shot lead into tomorrow.''

The 34-year-old Garnett is winless on the PGA Tour. He won twice last year on the Web.com Tour.

''You've got another 18 holes. So much can happen,'' Garnett said. ''Just going to try to keep the golf ball in front of me. I have that self-belief this week and that's what I had last year when I won, so I'll just keep my head down and just keep going.''

Conners had five birdies and a bogey on the front nine and added a birdie on No. 12.

''Really happy with the round,'' Conners said. ''I got off to a nice start, made a bunch of birdies on the front nine and kind of held it together on the back nine. It was playing really difficult. The wind was really blowing out there, made things challenging.''

McCumber, the son of 10-time PGA Tour winner Mark McCumber, has played his last 39 holes with a bogey.

''Second shots have been pretty solid,'' McCumber said. ''Putting pretty well, short game is pretty good. Just really being in the right areas and staying below the hole.''

Tom Lovelady was fourth at 11 under after a 68. Seamus Power (71), Denny McCarthy (71) and Seungsu Han (72) were 10 under.

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Poulter incorrectly told he's in Masters before loss to Kisner

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 10:33 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Ian Poulter was not happy, and it was only partially because of his blowout loss to Kevin Kisner in Saturday’s quarterfinals at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Following his morning victory in the round of 16 over Louis Oosthuizen, the Englishman was incorrectly informed that by making it to the Elite 8 at Austin Country Club he was assured enough Official World Golf Raking points to move into the top 50 and qualify for the Masters in two weeks.

“I should never listen to other people,” Poulter said following his 8-and-6 loss to Kevin Kisner in the quarterfinals. “When you finish a round of golf and the press and everybody is telling you you're in the Masters, and then you get a text message 10 minutes before you tee off to correct everybody, to say, ‘Oh, we've made a mistake, actually, no, that was wrong, you're not in. You need to go and win.’

“Not that that's an excuse in any form or factor, it's a little disappointing.”

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Poulter actually needed to advance to the semifinal round to move into the top 50. Instead, his last chance to qualify for the Masters is to win next week’s Houston Open, although he was unsure if he’d play the event.

“I don't know yet, I haven't decided,” said Poulter when asked if he’d play next week. “I'm tired. It's been a long week. It's been a draining week. I'll wait until Monday night and if I have the energy then I will.”

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Not DJ, not Poulter: Kisner most proud to take down Kuchar

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 9:34 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – On his way to this week’s Final Four at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Kevin Kisner has beaten world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and the European match play ninja Ian Poulter. But neither match could compare to his duel with Matt Kuchar early Saturday.

“I was more jacked to beat [Kuchar], really. Kuch is such a good player and our games are so similar,” said Kisner, who defeated Kuchar in the round of 16, 1 up. “We both made eight birdies this morning and I barely snuck out of there. I thought it was a lot of fun.”

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By comparison, his quarterfinal bout against Poulter wasn’t nearly as electric. Kisner won two of the first four holes when the Englishman made bogey (No. 3) and when he was conceded the fourth hole, hecruised to an 8-and-6 victory for the week’s most lopsided win.

“I don't know Ian that well, so I don't really have a history with him, other than watching him kill us in the Ryder Cup,” Kisner laughed.

Things won’t get any easier for Kisner on Sunday when he’ll play Alex Noren in the semifinals. The Swede has been dominant this week and is considered one of Europe’s top players heading into this year’s Ryder Cup.