A six-way tie for the lead at Waialae

By Doug FergusonJanuary 15, 2010, 6:03 pm

2007 Sony Open

HONOLULU – The Sony Open is the first full-field event on the PGA Tour, so introductions are in order. It’s not unusual for players to walk down the range or onto the putting green, see a player, then look over to the stitching on his bag to find out who he is.

More unusual is to see an unfamiliar name atop the leaderboard.

That’s where Troy Merritt comes in.

The 24-year-old from Boise State, who had a decorated college career and went wire-to-wire at Q-school to earn his card, had never played in a PGA Tour event until Thursday, when he steadied his nerves, stuck a tee in the ground, heard his name announced and then navigated his way around wind-swept Waialae in 5-under 65 for a six-way share of the lead.

“Things went way better than I thought,” Merritt said.

He was tied with Davis Love III, Robert Allenby, defending champion Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer and John Merrick.

It was only fitting that Merrick was the last guy to join the lead, because he featured prominently at the start of the round – even though he wasn’t playing. Merritt was walking down the third fairway when Rickie Fowler noticed that the wrong name was on the hand-held scoreboard in their group. It said “Merrick,” a phonetic mix-up by tournament officials.

“We have lockers right next to each other,” Merrick said. “Probably will all year.”

Among the 10 players one shot out of the lead was Steve Stricker, and he was not the least bit ashamed to admit that while “Troy Merritt” was vaguely familiar, he didn’t know him.

Even so, it brought back memories to when Stricker first played on the PGA Tour.

“It was tough to draw the club back,” he said.

Then he paused.

“Is that what he shot? 5 under?” Stricker asked. “That’s pretty strong.”

Strength mainly belonged to the wind, and that might have been the biggest surprise of the day. The shores of Waikiki had been relatively calm throughout the week, and the early starters were jolted to attention at dawn when the palm trees were swaying.

“I just figured we wouldn’t get much wind,” Pat Perez said after his 66. “And it was howling.”

No matter how hard the wind blows, or even which direction, Waialae seems to yield good scores, perhaps because with 144 players in the field, someone is bound to go low.

Thursday brought quite the mixed bag.

Davis Love III has been coming to Waialae for years, even though it’s a course on which he has never won. He turns 46 in April, and if anyone saw him trotting out to the 11th green late Saturday evening after checking into his hotel, it might be a valid assumption that Love is as enthusiastic now as he was his rookie year.

Actually, it was the fact Love had not felt grass under his feet for a month, and had not competed in two months. It was cold along the Georgia coastline, so he hit balls from his garage into a mat. Then came the family holiday to the snow of Idaho. Just his luck, mats were still being used on the practice range at Waialae.

“I was dialed in for hitting off the mats,” Love said.

He dialed his game in quickly, too, making a birdie on the opening hole of his 2010 season and not making a bogey. He also finished with a birdie, and was pleased.

“I was optimistic,” Love said. “But I was anxious about competing. Once I got it going, once I got under par … I’ve been out here a long time. You don’t forget.”

Not so optimistic was Allenby, even though no other player arrived on Oahu with better form. Allenby won the last two times he played, in South Africa and Australia. Just his luck, he went for a walk Monday morning with his wife, Sandy, stepped off a curb the wrong way and twisted his ankle so severely that he thought about withdrawing.

“I’ve come too far,” Allenby said, and considering Hawaii is about halfway between Florida and Australia, no reference is needed. He had been in Florida, for the record, and found the weather far better in Honolulu, anyway.

Like so many other golfers who are injured, Allenby kept the risks and his expectations low. There was that 4-iron he hit cleanly on the tough par-3 fourth hole for birdie, yet also a 6-iron to the green on the par-5 ninth that he couldn’t fade because he was afraid to put too much weight on his right ankle. He scrambled for birdie and a share of the lead.

“I think if I was at Kapalua, I wouldn’t be able to play,” Allenby said. “There is a lot of slide slopes there. But here, it’s dead flat. I couldn’t have asked for an easier course to play – walking-wise, not hitting-wise.”

He managed both just fine, along with so many others. One round into the Sony Open, 16 players were separated by one shot.

Not everyone had an easy time with it. Fowler, the 21-year-old rookie who lost in a playoff last fall in Arizona, made double bogey on his opening hole and shot 75. John Daly had a 73, bemoaning that he couldn’t make a thing.

Merritt had company, too. Among those at 68 were a pair of other rookies in Martin Flores and Brian Stuard, who also was playing a PGA Tour event for the first time. For now, the PGA Tour must feel like paradise.

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Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups

By Grill Room TeamJune 24, 2018, 11:33 pm

Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.

That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.

Watch the video below.

The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.

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Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 11:07 pm

ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title

The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.

Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.

Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.

Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.

Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.

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Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 10:09 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.

According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.

“I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.

It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.

“They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.

“It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”

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Bubba fires 63 to win his third Travelers title

By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 9:52 pm

Bubba Watson fired a final-round 63 to storm from six back and steal the Travelers Championship. Here’s how Bubba came from behind once again at TPC River Highlands.

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-17), Stewart Cink (-14), Beau Hossler (-14), J.B. Holmes (-14), Paul Casey (-14)

What it means: This is Watson’s 12th PGA Tour win, his third of the season, and his third Travelers title. Watson picked up his first Tour victory at this event in 2010 – when he also came from six back – and won again in 2015 in a playoff victory over – guess who – Casey. Thinking he might need a round of 60 to scare the leader, Watson made eight birdies, the last of which came on the 72nd hole, giving him the outright lead by one. A short while later, Casey would bogey the 16th and 17th to end the drama and allow Bubba to breathe easy. With the win, Watson becomes the only Tour player to win three times this season. He moves to third in the FedExCup points race, behind two-time winners Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.

Round of the day: Cink’s round was a stroke better, but Bubba earns this title for winning the title. The left-hander made the turn in 2-under 33 and then ripped off five birdies on his back nine to take the clubhouse lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish.

Best of the rest: Cink looked as though he was going to record the second sub-60 round at the Travelers in the last three years. The 2009 champion golfer of the year played his first 10 holes in 7 under par on the par-70 layout. Cink added three more birdies but also added two bogeys to settle for 8-under 62, tying the round of the week. The 45-year-old has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts.

Biggest disappointment: Casey (2-over 72) began the day up four and couldn’t close. Even par on his round through 15 holes, he missed a 4-footer for par on 16 and found the water off the tee at 17, ending his chances. The Englishman, who ended a nine-year Tour winless drought earlier this season at the Valspar, is now 1 for 4 with a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

Shot of the day: Watson’s wedge from 77 yards at the 72nd hole, setting up his eighth and final birdie of the day.

Quote of the day: “That’s the best shot you ever hit.” – caddie Ted Scott to Bubba Watson on his approach at 18