Course Wins Round One at Bay Hill
After the first round it appears as if the course is safe.
Five players set the early pace in Orlando, Fla., and it held up throughout a blustery afternoon, which saw gusts of up to 33 mph.
1997 champion Phil Mickelson, last weeks runner-up Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Pate, Dennis Paulson and Grant Waite each carded 6-under-par 66s to share the first-round lead.
But the ultimate victor in Thursdays first round may have been the par-72 7,208-yard course - in particular, the 459-yard par-4 8th. The hole played at an average of 4.484, easily the toughest of the day. It also allowed more double bogeys than birdies (11 to 7).
Bay Hill's Director of Golf Jim Deaton talks about the set-up of the championship course
Four dreaded others were recorded at the 8th. Its most prominent victim just happened to be the defending champion.
Take a closer look at the 8th hole in our Virtual Tour of Bay Hill.
Tiger Woods was 4-under-par through 16 holes, but tripled the 8th (his 17th hole of the day). He finished with a 1-under-par 71.
Woods hit his approach shot into the water. After a drop, his next shot found the back greenside bunker, where it took him two more shots to reach the green. Tiger then one-putted for a triple-bogey 7.
After his round, Woods walked briskly past the fans and media, forgoing autographs and interviews. His lone comment was to a tournament official, in which he described his play in a couple of salty words.
As for the leaders, Pate was in the first group out on Thursday. Playing at a leisurely pace, he birdied four of his first seven holes to make the turn in 4-under-par 32. The lone blemish on his card occurred at the 8th. Like Woods, he too found the water. But unlike the worlds No. 1, Pate was able to salvage a bogey, and then birdie the par-4 9th.
Following six straight pars to start the back nine, the six-time ' and oft-injured ' Pate birdied the 16th and 17th holes to set the early mark at 6-under.
This is Pates seventh start of the season. Hes missed three cuts and has yet to post a top-20 finish. Last week, he withdrew from the Honda Classic due to a rib injury.
Ive been doing everything extremely average. Nothing well, said Pate. Ive been hurt a lot this year. My back has been messed up. I messed up my ribs. I felt decent at Phoenix. I felt decent at L.A., and I feel decent here, but other than that, I felt horrible.
Pates recent mishap is just another in a long line of injuries that primarily dates back to a 1996 car crash which left him with a broken right hand, wrist and cheekbone. He missed all but three events in 96, but returned to form in 1998 with a victory at the CVS Charity Classic.
He then followed up that season with a 13th place finish on the 1999 money list. That year he finished fourth in the Masters and the Andersen Consulting World Match Play Championship. He was also a captains choice for the victorious Ryder Cup Team and named Comeback Player of the Year.
Mickelson began his day auspiciously with a bogey at the par-4 10th, but then proceeded to record four birdies and an eagle over his next six holes.
The first half of the round for everybody was the easier half because we had very benign conditions, said Mickelson. The wind was down and the greens were soft and the pins were very accessible.
The back nine, when the wind picked up - it played differently.
After another birdie at the par-4 1st gave the lefty a share of the lead at 6-under, Mickelson bounced up and down the leaderboard; offsetting bogeys at the second and sixth holes with birdies on the fourth and ninth holes.
I played well. I made a lot of good putts, and two of the holes I bogeyed I ended up missing putts that I thought I hit pretty good, said Mickelson, who took 25 putts in the first round.
Im not disappointed that I had three bogeys. I made a lot of birdies and played well today.
This years Buick Invitational winner was one of the few who survived the par-4 8th unscathed. Paulson wasnt so lucky. Like Woods and Pate, Paulson hit his approach shot into the water. Fortunately for the Nissan Open runner-up, he managed to match Pates bogey.
Just misjudged the winds, said Paulson, who lost the six-way playoff to Robert Allenby in L.A. Hit it straight up in the air and the wind hammered itdropped it in the water.
Despite the slip at No. 8, Paulson tied the tournament record with a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine.
Fellow co-leader, Waite, also had an experience at No. 8, though his was a relatively good one ' at least for him.
I tried to smooth a driver out there and I pulled it, said Waite, who finished runner-up to Woods in his last PGA Tour victory, the 2000 Bell Canadian Open. It hit someone in the gallery. Then I pitched down the fairway and I had 98 yards to the flag and just chipped a 9-iron.
I had about 18 feet, and I had about three- or four-feet of break. Maybe more, five-feet of break and I managed to make that. That was more exciting than any birdie I made. No question.
Waite was one of only four players to complete the first round without a bogey.
Three players are just one shot off the 18-hole lead ' Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Jeff Sluman. Janzen was in contention last week to win his first Tour event since the 1998 U.S. Open, but shot a final-round 75 to tie for 39th.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Only 49 of the 122 players managed to break par in the first round. The scoring average for the field was 72.689.
*The morning wave of 61 players were a cumulative 23-under-par, while the afternoon group was a combined 107-over-par.
*None of the afternoon players shot lower than 4-under-par 68. Sergio Garcia made his way to 4-under, but double bogeyed the par-5 6th (his 15th) and bogeyed the par-4 8th for a round of 1-under-par 71.
*John Daly recorded a triple-bogey 8 at the par-5 6th. Still, it was 10 strokes lower than what he shot on the same hole in the final round in 1998. Dalys good friend Fuzzy Zoeller posted a 10 on the same hole Thursday. Daly shot 77, while Zoeller shot 81.
*Reigning British Amateur champion Mikko Ilonen, believed to be the first Finnish player to start in a PGA Tour event, opened in 6-over-par 78.
*Tournament host Arnold Palmer shot a first-round 13-over-par 85.
Click here for full-field scores from the Bay Hill Invitational
Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88
MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.
Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.
Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.
The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.
On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.
Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.
He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.
In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.
Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.
Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M
In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.
This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.
Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.
Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.
The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.
Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout
CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.
Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.
Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.
“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”
Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.
“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”
Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break
Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.
Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.
Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.
“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”
Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.
“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”
Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.