Rookie Langley leads Sony Open

By Jason SobelJanuary 11, 2013, 5:26 am

HONOLULU – Scott Langley took a quick tour of the Sony Open media center on Wednesday, prior to the opening round. He met some of the ink-stained wretches, introduced himself, shook a few hands and gave a bunch of interviews. It wasn’t anything too formal, just a little get-to-know-you session for a rookie who doesn’t have much experience at the PGA Tour level.

One day later, he was back in the very same spot. This time, everyone knew his name.

That’s because Langley’s name is the one atop the leaderboard after 18 holes, thanks to an 8-under 62 in his first round of his first season.

“What happened?” he asked with a mock stagger. “I just blacked out.”

He was kidding, of course, but just in case he needed a reminder the highlights were still airing on a nearby TV. They included an eagle and six birdies on a flawless card, part of a day that showed an astounding 198 feet of made putts.

He may be a PGA Tour freshman, but Langley is no stranger to the big stage. He was the NCAA individual champion at the University of Illinois, represented the United States in the Palmer Cup and tied for low amateur with a T-16 finish at the U.S. Open, only to follow that with a T-29 in the same event last year.

And yet, at this time last year he was struggling on the Hooters Tour, fresh off a Q-School second stage flameout that landed him in the nether regions of golf’s professional level.

All of which begs the question: In such a mental pursuit like this, where confidence is at a premium, how was Langley able to channel enough of it to lead his 143 fellow competitors Thursday night?

The answer is that it emanates from a few different places in a few different ways.

He credits his instructors for instilling that attitude in him from a young age, when he would spend his winters in St. Louis hitting off artificial turf in heated bays at a place called the Family Golf Center, all the way to his four years playing for Illinois head coach Mike Small.

“Coach Small taught me how to be a competitor,” he said. “He was a big influence on us, and certainly instilled a lot of competitive aspects in me that I didn’t have before I went to school.”

There were his living arrangements last year. After moving to Florida, he needed a place to live and Rickie Fowler’s offered a room in his house, where he lived with fellow pros Cameron Tringale and Morgan Hoffmann.

“I can really point to some areas in my golf game that were really improved just by being around Rickie and being around Cam and Morgan,” he explained. “They’re such competitors and there’s so much good confidence – the right kind of confidence, and I really fed off that living in the house.”

And perhaps by a divine bit of inspiration, there was his opening-round grouping, which included Luke Guthrie and Russell Henley. Langley has been friends with Guthrie “since middle school” and roomed with him when the two attended Illinois; he became fast friends with Henley after they were co-medalists at that U.S. Open three years ago, then flew to the Palmer Cup together directly afterward.

In fact, exactly one year ago it was Henley whom Langley leaned on during a Hooters Tour event – and vice versa.

“He had just missed the cut; I barely made the cut,” Langley said. “We were on the range trying to help each other find it. [On Thursday] we were just walking up 16, you could see the ocean behind, the PGA Tour signs everywhere. We looked at each other and realized this is pretty cool. To look back one year ago and to know that we weren’t here; we were in a far different place.”

As if to confirm that sentiment, Henley himself posted a 63 in the opening round, in sole possession of second place behind his buddy and playing partner.

Looking ahead to Friday, Langley maintained that he’s confident without being overconfident, happy without being too happy.

When it’s joked that he hasn’t yet failed to make his way into the media center’s interview room in his PGA Tour career, a broad smile comes across his face, joined by a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders.

“That’s OK,” Langley said. “I can get used to this.”

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Paisley (61) leads Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, closing with an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

The Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley likely needing to finish in the top three in the tournament to get one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.

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Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.

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“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

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“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”

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Fowler 'pain free' and tied for Tour Championship lead

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:01 pm

ATLANTA – The most important member of Team USA at next week’s Ryder Cup may be the team trainer.

Justin Thomas began the season finale nursing a case of tendonitis in his right wrist and Rickie Fowler skipped the first two playoff events after being slowed by a right oblique injury.

Neither player seemed impacted by the injuries on Thursday at the Tour Championship, with Thomas tied for fifth at 3 under and Fowler tied for the lead with Tiger Woods at 5 under par.

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“I needed the 2 1/2 weeks or so of just sitting around really not doing a whole lot,” said Fowler, who tied for eighth last week at the BMW Championship. “It was definitely the right call. If I would have played through the first or second playoff events, there was really no benefit, especially looking at the ultimate goal being ready for the Ryder Cup and to have a chance to be here at East Lake.”

Being rested and pain-free is a vast improvement over how he felt at the PGA Championship last month, when he underwent therapy before and after each round and had to wear tape just to play.

“It's nice to be back swinging pain-free because I wouldn't have wanted to deal with how it felt during PGA week for a continued amount of time,” said Fowler, who finished his day with a bogey-free closing nine to secure a spot in Friday’s final group with Woods.