Locals enjoy TPC Sawgrass, despite lack of advantage

By Jason SobelMay 6, 2014, 7:25 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – NFL players don’t choose to spend their free time in the shadows of league offices and iron-fisted commissioner Roger Goodell. Major League Baseball players don’t hang near Bud Selig. NBA players don’t live by Adam Silver.

All of which makes the PGA Tour a growing anomaly.

That’s because Ponte Vedra Beach, home to headquarters for the circuit, is increasingly becoming a landing destination for some of its members, who have willfully decided to live in the same town that holds the office of commissioner Tim Finchem.

“Oh, yeah. We get together and go drink beer all the time,” joked Billy Horschel before getting serious. “No, no. I’ll see Tim out here once in a while practicing.”

“I’ve seen Mr. Finchem once or twice in the past five years,” reported Russell Knox.

“So far this year, I’ve seen him here maybe twice,” David Lingmerth said. “But it’s good to see him.”

“Here” is TPC Sawgrass, just a short stroll from the PGA Tour’s main headquarters and, of course, home to this week’s Players Championship. It also serves as home base for seven players in this week’s field – Horschel, Knox, Lingmerth, Jim Furyk, Luke Guthrie, Jonas Blixt and Matt Every - players who are allowed to play and practice at the facility year-round, free of charge, which is an obvious enticement.

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“I wanted to move to Florida,” Lingmerth said. “To have this facility to play for free, I figured it couldn’t hurt.”

This is hardly a new phenomenon. Area residents Mark McCumber and David Duval have each won the event. Same goes for transplants Calvin Peete, Jodie Mudd and Fred Funk. Past champion Sandy Lyle moved here years after his win.

And that list doesn’t even include the most famous local resident, Vijay Singh, who isn’t in this week’s field but who has been known to log more time on the practice range than maybe all of ’em combined.

Which explains the rationale behind living near headquarters. While athletes in those other sports wouldn’t benefit by having extra fields or courts at their disposal, golfers can enhance their performance by taking advantage of these facilities – even if they don’t have an advantage this week.

“It’s nice to have friends and family watching,” said Knox, who lives about 25 minutes away. “But course knowledge? No, there’s no advantage, because the course we play normally compared to the setup this week is like two different courses. Yes, I’ve played it maybe more times than most people, but some guys have played here maybe 20 years, so they have more experience than I do.”

“I don’t play much here; the course is always packed,” Horschel added. “There’s no advantage because the course plays so much different this week. It’s a lot longer. The only advantage is sightlines off the tees; you can get comfortable hitting tee shots.”

There’s more to the area than just golf, though.

For some of these players, the appeal of a sleepy beach town that’s never too crowded outdistances any professional assets.

“I was looking at moving down to South Florida, maybe the Jupiter area,” Lingmerth said. “I feel like it’s more hectic down there. It’s a little more slow-paced here, more laid-back, which I like. It’s close to the beach. It’s a good area. I like it.”

“Where I’m from is a small town,” said Horschel, who lives two miles from the course. “When I graduated UF, I loved Gainesville and wish it had been near the water. But it’s in the middle of the state. Being raised by the ocean, I just felt like I needed to move back. I was here several times, seemed like the logical choice.”

Horschel has seen other benefits to being here, too.

“I get along with pretty much everyone at the Tour,” he said. “They ask me to do stuff and I don’t get bombarded. In return, when I need help, they help me out whenever possible. I may know some – I won’t call it inside information – but I may know a little bit more about what’s going on than some other players.”

There can also be some unforeseen advantages.

Prior to competing in his first Players this week, Knox knew there was something he’d never done at the course. And he knew it could be an important one to cross off his personal list.

“I’d never hit it in the water on 17 and last time I played here was with my wife’s brother-in-law,” he recalled. “I kind of knew that I might get into this tournament and I didn’t want to have the pressure of getting in and never having hit it in the water. So I’m not going to say I deliberately hit it in the water, but when it did go in, I was pretty happy.”

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Garcia among bubble boys keeping playoff hopes alive

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 12:34 am

Sergio Garcia gave himself a chance to keep his perfect FedExCup Playoffs record going with his rally Friday at the Wyndham Championship.

D.A. Points moved into position to make a historic leap into the postseason.

And Johnson Wagner dunked his last shot of the day from long range to keep his hopes of making the playoffs alive.

But the day didn’t end nearly as well for Tyrone Van Aswegen’s FedExCup hopes.

Van Aswegen didn’t do himself any favors trying to hold on to the 125th spot on the FedExCup points list. He missed the cut by a shot.

Only the top 125 advance to The Northern Trust and next week’s start to the playoffs.

Van Aswegen wasn’t alone among “bubble boys” missing the cut. No. 122 Jhonattan Vegas, No. 123 Seamus Power, No. 124 Martin Piller, No. 126 Chad Campbell and No. 127 Robert Garrigus all failed to make the weekend.

Garcia is among 13 players who have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs every year since they began in 2007, but his run was in jeopardy of ending starting the week. He’s 131st on the FedExCup points list

With a 65 Friday following his opening round 66, Garcia is in more than a great position to advance. He’s in position to win the Wyndham. He is tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. The day ended with Garcia projected to move up to 118th on the FedExCup points list.

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Current FedExCup points list

“I'm just going to try to keep building on the things that I did well these first two days,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. Like I said at the beginning of the week, if I have a great weekend, then it will be great. If I don't have a great weekend, it will still be great because

I'll get to rest.”

Points started the week 214th on the FedExCup points list. With back-to-back 64s, he trails only Brandt Snedeker going into the weekend. He’s projected to move to 81st in points. Nobody has ever started the Wyndham Championship that far back in points and qualified for the playoffs. Davis Love III was 186th when he won and advanced in 2015.

Wagner, 136th on the FedExCup points list, went to spectacular lengths Friday to keep his playoff hopes alive. He was outside the cut line until holing his 153-yard approach at the last.

Bill Haas, who is among those 13 players to have qualified for the playoffs every year, started the week 150th in points. He can keep his perfect playoff record going with a big weekend. He shot 68 Friday to make the cut. He’s tied for 52nd in the tournament.

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Points two back after missing 16 of 17 cuts

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:54 pm

What’s the better story come Sunday?

Brandt Snedeker turning his 59 in the opening round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship?

Or D.A. Points winning after missing 16 cuts in his last 17 starts?

They’re both scripts in the works at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Points, who has been struggling this season with a herniated disc that causes numbness in his fingers, has broken through his season-long funk to shoot back-to-back 64s. He starts the weekend in second place, two shots behind Snedeker.

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“It's been difficult,” Points said of his slump. “It's been hard on my family. I was in this position a couple years ago, and I clawed my way back and won in Puerto Rico.

“I had that big downturn, and I clawed my way out of it just to find myself way back down in another deep hole again.”

Points, 41, is a three-time PGA Tour winner. He won his first title playing alongside Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2011 and two years later won the Shell Houston Open. He slipped into a three-year funk after that, before rebuilding his game and winning the Puerto Rico Open last year.

“Hopefully, this is my way of starting to claw back out,” Points said.

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New 'Mr. 59' Snedeker needs Day 2 rally to keep Wyndham lead

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

Brandt Snedeker struggled coming off the emotional high that comes with shooting 59, but it didn’t stop him from rallying Friday to try to turn his historic round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Snedeker caught fire on the back nine at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to take the lead going into the weekend.

With a 3-under 67, Snedeker moved to 14 under overall, two shots ahead of D.A. Points (64).

“I knew it was going to be tough” Snedeker said. “It wasn't going to be the same way it was yesterday. Kind of battling the emotion of everybody pulling hard for you, wanting to see you do it again. So the front nine was disappointing.”

A day after becoming the ninth player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 tournament round, Snedeker opened with three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine. He said it was a struggle to begin anew.

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“You hear people telling you every two seconds, `Mr. 59,’ or saying how cool it was to watch it,” Snedeker said. “Phone's still blowing up this morning, guys in the locker room are still talking to me about it. So, yes, totally on your mind. You can't ignore it. You can't try to forget about it. Hardest thing is trying to get back into a rhythm.”

Snedeker did with an eagle and two birdies on the back nine. Rolling in a 30-foot eagle putt at the 15th gave him back the lead he lost earlier in the round.

“To see that go in was huge,” Snedeker said.

Not every player to break 60 on the PGA Tour has gone on to win. In fact, Snedeker is looking to become just the fifth player to do so.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

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"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.