Frazar Razor-Sharp in Round One
Seven players are within one shot of Frazar's lead, including Cameron Beckman, who wasn't sure when he woke up Wednesday morning whether he would even be in the tournament.
Beckman received a spot in the field, which consists of 128 pros and 128 amateurs, when defending champion Jesper Parnevik withdrew to stay home with his expectant wife.
Beckman made the most of his opportunity - carding one eagle, seven birdies and a bogey for a career-best eight-under-par 64.
'You get a good break like that and you want to take advantage of it,' Beckman said. 'I really didn't think I'd get in.'
Also in at eight-under is Mark Calcavecchia. Calcavecchia, who had problems navigating the rocky Pebble Beach greens, is back in his comfort zone in La Quinta, Calif.
Three weeks ago, Calc established a PGA Tour 72-hole scoring record with an aggregate total of 256 in the Phoenix Open. But one week after shooting 28-under-par, Calcavecchia missed the cut at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He even broke his putter - the same one that recorded 32 birdies - mid-way through the second round.
'I came here on Sunday and I don't even come to majors that early,' said Calcavecchia, who skipped last week's Buick Invitational. 'I was anxious to play again.'
Playing the La Quinta course, one of four layouts in rotation this week, Calcavecchia posted eight birdies and ten pars, including four-in-a-row to finish his round.
'It's good to be back in the desert where the greens are a lot like they were in Phoenix,' said Calcavecchia.
Seven players share ninth place, just two shots off the lead. One of those is Brent Geiberger, who is coming off a tie for fifth at the Buick; another is David Duval.
Duval has had little success in 2001, missing the cut in back-to-back starts (Phoenix and Pebble Beach) for the first time since 1998. Some may trace his poor play to a change in equipment (Titleist to Nike) or the dueling lawsuits between he and Acushnet, Titleist's parent company. But Duval blames his putter.
Wednesday, putting was not a problem. Duval needed only 26 swipes of the flatstick en route to a bogey-free 65 on the Bermuda Dunes track.
This is the first time since 1999 that PGA West has played as the host course to this event. That year, Duval fired a Sunday 59 to win.
Frazar never reached that territory on Wednesday, but he did post nine birdies and nine pars - despite being just one-under through six holes.
'I want it to be a track meet this week,' said Frazar. 'I feel I can run off a lot of birdies at any given time. My putter is streaky and so are my irons.'
Frazar has yet to win in three full seasons on Tour, though he has earned a pair of runner-up finishes. Last week, Frazar was one off the lead through 13 holes in the final round, but tied for 10th. That finish is one three top-20s posted by Frazar already this season.
'I'm proud of myself the way I've played this early,' he said. 'I've never played well on the West Coast.'
News, Notes and Numbers
*Harrison Frazar was Justin Leonard's roommate at the University of Texas.
*102 of the 128 players in the field broke par in the first round.
*Bob Hope's wife, Delores, said the 97-year-old comedian would not be out all week, despite being in what she said was good health.
*Arnold Palmer, who has won five Hopes, opened in 81.
*This is the penultimate event on the 2001 West Coast Swing. Several players near the first-round lead will be sorry to see the Tour head South. In addition to Calcavecchia's win at the Phoenix Open, Glen Day (T2) tied for 6th at Pebble Beach. Cameron Beckman (T2) tied for 10th at the Buick Invitational. Kevin Sutherland (T2) finished runner-up in Tucson. Garrett Willis (T9) won the Tucson Open. Chris Smith (T9) tied for 10th at the Buick. Brent Geiberger (T9) tied for fifth at the Buick.
*Beckman turns 31 on Thursday.
*Of the four courses in rotation this week, Indian Wells played the easiest in the first round at 68.719. Bermuda Dunes played at 69.125. PGA West played at 69.438. La Quinta (host course) played at 70.125. All four courses are a par-72.
Click here for Full-Field scores from the Bob Hope!
Woods, Leishman, Fleetwood grouped at Northern Trust
While 125 players qualified for The Northern Trust this week, only 120 have decided to tee it up at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Here's a look at a few of the marquee, early-round tee times where players are grouped via FedExCup standing and Tiger Woods makes his first start since a runner-up performance at the PGA Championship (all times ET):
7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood
Woods starts the postseason at No. 20 in the points race, with a great chance to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013. He'll look to pad his point total this week in the Garden State, making his return to competition after a week off following a strong showing at Bellerive. He'll play the first two rounds with Leishman, who has two runner-up finishes this season, and Fleetwood, who nearly caught Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open.
8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka
There should be no shortage of eye-popping drives from this trio, who comprise the top three in the season-long points race heading into the playoffs. Johnson holds the No. 1 spot in both the world rankings and the FedExCup, having won three times since January, while Thomas will look to become the first player to go back-to-back in the playoffs and Koepka hopes to add to a career year that already includes two majors.
8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau
Simpson got back into the winner's circle in impressive fashion at The Players Championship, and he heads into the playoffs off a T-2 finish last week at the Wyndham Championship. Molinari cruised to victory at the Quicken Loans National before his major triumph at Carnoustie, while DeChambeau's win at the Memorial highlighted his season that brought him to the cusp of a Ryder Cup berth.
12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An
Normally featured among the points leaders at this point in the season, Spieth heads into the playoffs at No. 43 in the standings, sandwiched between a pair of players whose best results came in playoff losses. Hossler has had a quietly strong season that was highlighted by a runner-up to Ian Poulter in overtime at the Houston Open, while An lost a playoff to DeChambeau at the Memorial.
12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau
There will be four green jackets among this group, as the reigning Masters champ is joined by a pair of Ryder Cup hopefuls in Mickelson and Finau. Lefty broke a lengthy victory drought with his WGC-Mexico win in March but has largely slowed this summer, while Finau notched top-10 finishes in each of the first three majors to enter the discussion for possible picks for Paris.
Randall's Rant: Too much Tiger for his own good?
We could be getting a dose of way too much Tiger Woods.
Yeah, that’s difficult to fathom, given how good his return to the game has been on so many levels, but the man might be too close to winning for his own good right now.
I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but a reasonable person has to wonder how playing the next three weeks in a row – five of the next six weeks – will affect Woods’ surgically fused spine.
That isn’t to say Woods is actually going to end up playing that much, but it looms as a real possibility.
In fact, dating back to the WGC Bridgestone, it’s possible he could be amid a run of playing seven times in the last nine weeks.
My sacroiliac joint is throbbing at the thought.
Beginning with The Northern Trust this week, Woods is committed to the first three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t play the final leg at the Tour Championship if he qualifies.
It’s impossible to imagine he won’t be among Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks to play the Ryder Cup.
So if Woods continues this streak of strong play, what’s going to give?
We hope it isn’t his back.
Or his neck.
Or his knees.
Only Woods and his doctors really know how much the 42-year-old can take physically, but there is more to lose than to gain by overdoing it now.
Yeah, the FedExCup Playoffs are great fun, more meaningful with each passing year, but it’s all about the major championships now for Woods.
Competitively, it’s all that matters.
Nobody but the most anal Tiger fans are going to remember how many FedExCups he won, but we’re all going to remember how many majors he won.
We’re all going to remember him resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, if that’s where his summer tease is taking us, with Woods’ T-6 at The Open last month and his second-place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.
Whether you are a Woods fan or not, how can you not want to see a historic chase of Jack as Tiger’s last chapter?
The game soars to yet another level with that.
A legion of young, new fans come pouring into the game even if Tiger only gets to 17 major championship titles.
So while the FedExCup Playoffs give us a postseason in golf, make Player of the Year chases more interesting and Ryder Cup captain’s picks more intriguing, they are a mere prelude for Tiger.
The playoffs give him another chance to get ready for next year’s Masters.
They give him a chance to win something before heading to Augusta National.
They give him another chance to rebuild his closing skills.
Woods doesn’t have to win the overall FedExCup to do that.
And he doesn’t have to play every event he commits to playing. He’s 20th in FedExCup points right now. He can get to the Tour Championship without playing all three of the legs leading there.
The tough spot for Woods is withdrawing from a FedExCup event. It’s trickier for him. With all the extra tickets sold when he commits, with all the excitement his anticipated arrival creates, it feels like a broken promise when he backs out.
Yeah, other players WD before big events for reasons beyond injury, but they don’t create the massive disappointment Woods creates.
For somebody invested in wanting to see Tiger vs. Jack reprised, it’s a lot easier to live with seeing Woods pull out of a FedExCup Playoff event to rest than to see him WD from one with an injury.
There’s more excitement in the prospect of seeing a lot of Woods in the majors next year than seeing too much of him now.
Here’s hoping somebody helps Tiger gets his FedExCup Playoff dosage right. His pain could be golf’s pain.
Watch: Marshawn Lynch's golf game could use some work
NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch is pretty great at driving golf carts, but from the looks of a video that surfaced this weekend, his golf prowess starts and ends there.
"Beast Mode" was in attendance at Klay Thompson's charity event in San Francisco on Sunday, and luckily the Golden State Warriors shooting guard caught Lynch's swing on camera - because it is a sight to behold.
Dressed in a traditional golf hoodie, the former Super Bowl champion who has been thrilling fans with his raw athleticism and power on the gridiron for more than a decade showed off a swing that would make Charles Barkley blush.
Lynch was not questioned about the swing by members of media afterwards, although there's a pretty good chance you already know how he would've answered.
Stenson (elbow) withdraws from playoff opener
Former FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson will start his postseason on the sideline, as he withdrew on Monday from The Northern Trust because of an elbow injury.
Stenson captured the season-long title back in 2013, when he won two of the four playoff events. At 50th in the current points standings, he's assured of a spot next week at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship and likely to make the field at the 70-man BMW Championship the following week.
A PGA Tour official confirmed that Stenson cited the elbow injury as the reason for his withdrawal. He was bothered by an injured elbow last month that led him to withdraw from the Scottish Open and limited his prep for The Open, where he tied for 35th.
The 42-year-old defended his title last week at the Wyndham Championship, tying for 20th place after shooting a 6-under 64 in the final round.
"It's fine, I can practice and I can play without any problems as of now, but I can't really go after it in the gym fully," Stenson told reporters last week in Greensboro. "The main thing that we can play and practice without having any problems there, so it's getting better."
The intrigue around Stenson's decision grows when the context of the Ryder Cup is taken into consideration. The Swede has represented Europe in the biennial matches four times, but he's currently 16th in both the European Points and World Points lists with only two weeks remaining in the qualification window.
Even before skipping this week's event in New Jersey, Stenson appeared likely to need a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn, who will round out his 12-man roster with four selections on Sept. 5. Other notable players who are not currently in position to qualify include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.
Stenson becomes the fifth player to withdraw from this week's field, which does not feature alternates and is now down to 120 players. Rory McIlroy opted to rest up this week, while Patrick Rodgers is skipping the tournament to attend a wedding. Both Rickie Fowler (oblique) and Bud Cauley (June car accident) withdrew because of injury.