Am Tour: Easy swinging on the Palmer Private course at PGA West

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 24, 2013, 7:49 pm

LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Who doesn't love 'The King'?

Arnold Palmer surely has a fan of his golf course design in Christopher Winslow, who carded his first ever ace on the 17th hole of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West.

'I'd been joking for months back home,' said Winslow, from Scottsdale, Arizona. 'I'd say 'I'd get a hole-in-one today but I'd rather save it for the National Championships.'

With a pin position in the extreme front of the long, narrow green wedged between a canal and mountainside, it was just a 100-yard shot for Hogan flight competitors today.

La Quinta and PGA West have been the site of numerous Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships, but this is the first year the Palmer Private course has been included in the rotation. While it's next door to the Nicklaus and Stadium Courses, and a short drive from the Norman Course, it's a facility that looks and plays far different.

A stretch of holes on the back nine juxtapose the natural rock formations along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains with a manmade canal running alongside fairways and greens, though both serve as tough hazards.

'It's got its pitfalls because I took a lot of penalty shots,' said Winslow. His other playing partner, Michael Ohmer, had to follow Winslow's ace on 17 and found the water.

'I was trying to top him so I pulled mine and hit it into the water,' said Ohmer. 'It was tough to follow.'

In 1999, David Duval scored his 59 on the Palmer course during the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (now the Humana Challenge) on the PGA TOUR. Palmer course designs tend to be a little less penal than Dye and Nicklaus courses, and the scoring results in this year's national championships thus far show that to be true. The Hogan flight (handicaps 8-11.9), has played the Stadium, Nicklaus and Palmer Courses in the first three rounds. With a scoring average of 86.27, the Palmer is over three shots easier than the Stadium Course (89.41), while the Nicklaus is second at 89.09.

The biggest difference is reflected in the amount of double bogeys each course has claimed. Only 296 were recorded on the Palmer, compared to 364 and 416 on the Nicklaus and Stadium, respectively.

Ford celebrating 10th Nationals appearance in a row

This is Atlanta tour member Scott Ford's 10th National Championship, dating back to when it was the American Amateur Tour in 2004. In his first appearance that year in La Quinta, he won the Snead (20-plus handicap) flight.

A lot's changed for the better since then, including Ford's handicap. He's clawed his way up over the years to the Hogan Flight (8-11.9 handicaps), where he'll likely finish in the middle of the pack this year. But for Ford, the main appeal of nationals is to play great courses and run into old friends from coast-to-coast.

'People ask me 'why don't you join a country club?'' said Ford. 'This is my club. I've got a core group of guys we always travel with. It's an opportunity to play great courses like PGA West, Chambers Bay and Blackwolf Run.'

Ford has had his moments in 21 events plays thus far on Am Tour this season, including two second place finishes in two majors: Myrtle Beach and Orlando.

Murphy shoots his way back into Championship flight mix

Normally, an opening round in the 80s in the Championship flight doesn't bode well. Oakley Murphy is the exception. After shooting an 82 on Sunday on the Stadium Course, he bounced back with a 71 yesterday on the Nicklaus. Today, however, he became the first Championship flight golfer of the week to post a score in the 60s with a 68.

'I was ten behind [after the first round] so I didn't think I had a chance,' said Oakley, who said a heavy dose of range work, particularly the long irons, got him back in the grove.

The work has paid off and now Murphy finds himself in the last group and two off the lead shared by Michael Bunker and Hardeep Dhani.

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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 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.