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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Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:51 pm

Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.

Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.

Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.


Full-field scores from the Nashville Golf Open


Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.

While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:

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New putter propels Hoffman to Fort Worth lead

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 7:30 pm

After sitting at home last week, Charley Hoffman decided it was time for a change.

The veteran estimated that he has been using the same version of a Scotty Cameron putter for the last five years, but heading into this week's Fort Worth Invitational he wanted to shake things up.

"I had an idea on Sunday literally coming out here that I wanted to have a little more weight in my putter," Hoffman told reporters. "I went with one that was sort of in my bag of putters at home that I could add some weight here."

The swap provided immediate results, as Hoffman opened with a 7-under 63 while picking up more than two strokes over the field on the greens to take a one-shot lead over Emiliano Grillo, Jhonattan Vegas and Andrew Putnam. It was an all-around effort Thursday for Hoffman, as he missed only two greens in regulation and never faced a par putt longer than 5 feet.

"I was able to knock in some mid-range putts and played very solid," Hoffman said. "It was a nice, very stress-free round. It was fun to play."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Hoffman had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, capping it with a Presidents Cup appearance and a runner-up finish at the Hero World Challenge in December. While he has made nine cuts in 12 starts this year, his T-12 finish at the Masters remains his best result as he has struggled to turn top-20s into opportunities to contend.

Hoffman is making his seventh straight appearance at Colonial, where he tied for 10th in 2015. But he had never shot better than 65 before Thursday, when his decision to switch to a heavier Scotty Cameron model seemingly put a magnet on the bottom of the cup.

"Putting is a fickle part of the game," he said. "So hopefully the good mojo continues."

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McIlroy shoots 67, two off BMW PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 24, 2018, 6:56 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy walked off the 18th green in disgruntled fashion, shaking his head and looking down at the ground.

Shooting a 5-under 67 at Wentworth can rarely have felt so unsatisfactory.

The four-time major winner pushed his approach shot from the middle of the fairway into the overhanging trees at the par-5 last, saw his chip clip the flag pole, then missed a 3-foot putt for birdie for a disappointing end to his first round at the BMW PGA Championship on Thursday.

McIlroy also missed out on a birdie on the par-5 17th, too. Hence his unhappiness immediately after his round, although he was only two shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard (65).


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


''Walking off the 16th green and going to No. 17 at 5 under par, it was good after being 1 over after three (holes),'' McIlroy said, before diverting away from revisiting the end of his round.

''I played really well, gave myself plenty of chances, drove it well, for the most part hit my irons a lot better than I have done, so it was nice to get off to a good start.''

McIlroy is playing the European Tour's flagship event for the first time since 2015. He won it in 2014, the year he won The Open and the PGA Championship – his most recent major victories.

After bogeying No. 3, the former top-ranked McIlroy reeled off seven birdies in 13 holes and later said the greens were in the best condition he'd seen them.

Bjerregaard, whose only win came in Portugal last year, made seven birdies in a bogey-free round – his last at No. 18 giving him the outright lead over South Africans Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt.

Burmester earlier played his last eight holes in 6 under par – including making eagle at the 15th – to draw level with compatriot Fichardt, who was also bogey-free.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished 7-6 on the two par 5s to drop from the outright lead at the time to 4 under.

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Stricker opens with 65 at Colonial despite back pain

By Will GrayMay 24, 2018, 6:45 pm

After four holes of the Fort Worth Invitational, things were looking bleak for Steve Stricker.

The ageless veteran was already 1 over when he tweaked his back playing his approach to No. 13, his fourth hole of the day at Colonial Country Club. He ended up making another bogey, but at that point his score took a backseat to the health of his ailing back.

"I tried to hit a pretty solid 6-iron and got right into the impact area, and actually felt my lower back crack right where I had surgery back in 2014, pretty much right on the spot," Stricker told reporters. "Tried to walk to the green and that wasn't going so well. Kind of tightened up on me. I thought I was going to have to stop and just stand there for a minute, which I did a couple of times. It didn't look or feel very good for a while."

Slowly but surely, Stricker's back began to loosen up, and with it came a turnaround on the scorecard. Stricker had a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round that he played in 5 under, highlighted by a hole-out from the greenside bunker for eagle on the par-5 first hole. Despite the rocky start, he ended up shooting a 5-under 65 to sit two shots off the early pace set by Charley Hoffman.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I just kept plodding along," Stricker said. "I knew there were some birdie holes out here if you can get it in the fairway. There are some short irons."

Stricker had a spot in one of the marquee early-round groups, but his score bettered both Jordan Spieth's 1-under 69 and defending champ Kevin Kisner's 2-over 72. Stricker told reporters that he planned to get his back checked after the round.

Stricker continues to straddle both the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions while crafting a unique schedule, and his appearance this week in Fort Worth came at the expense of skipping the Senior PGA Championnship, a major on the over-50 circuit. But Stricker won at Colonial in 2009 and has now played four straight years on what he described as one of his favorite courses.

"I like to play here. I know I'm going to play John Deere, another favorite tournament of mine, and FedEx St. Jude looks like I am going to try to play in a couple weeks, try to get in the U.S. Open," Stricker said. "So it's just kind of picking them as I go, and seeing where I want to go and seeing what feels good to me at the time."