Nobody Leads at Pebble Beach
But if the 25-year-old Q-School medalist can continue to dominate the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am the way he has the first two days, hell be somebody quite soon.
Perez shot a 7-under 65 at Pebble Beach Friday to grab a four-shot lead heading into the weekend. Perez stands at 13-under 131. Lee Janzen, who shot 67 at Spyglass Hill, is alone in second place at 9-under.
Its the largest 36-hole lead at this event since 1973.
This isnt the first time Perez has held such an advantage on the Monterey Peninsula. He led by four shots with eight holes remaining in the Buy.Com Monterey Open, held on the Bayonet Course at nearby Fort Ord two years ago, but couldnt hold on.
He held a similar lead in Q-School that fall and failed to advance.
Those are the ones Id like to forget, he said.
You might be surprised Perez is leading such a prominent event by such a large margin, but not as much as he.
Perez battled a 103-degree fever earlier in the week, complaining to his practice partner, Charles Howell III, that he was so miserable he just wanted to go home.
I couldnt even move on Wednesday night, he said. I couldnt turn my neck, my whole body hurtI thought it was going to be a horrible week; the first two days would be a nightmare.
Instead, theyve proven to be fairytale.
Thanks to a heavy dosage of Nyquil, Perez was a new man Thursday morning. But even though hes now feeling better, hes not about to toss aside the sleep-inducing medicine.
I just popped two (Nyquil pills) on (hole) eight, actually, he said.
This is Perezs debut in the pro-am. But growing up at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, hes comfortable in his surroundings, especially on the rugged poa anna putting terrain.
These are actually better than what I grew up on, Perez said. Everybody complains about these greens and I guess Im just used to them.
I like coming up here, I just think the whole place is awesome.
He even enjoys the format.
Its a little different playing with amateurs, he said. Its kind of fun to talk with the amateurs and have fun out there and just kind of laugh around.
That ease translated into fantastic scoring for the second straight day. Coming off a 66 at Poppy Hills, Perez shot 6-under 30 on the front nine ' his final nine holes ' at Pebble Beach.
He recorded eight birdies to one bogey, and ended his day with a 35-foot bomb at the par-4 ninth.
Today, I woke up feeling pretty well, said Perez, who will next play Spyglass. I have been playing well, and it just feels great.
Now if he could just get a little recognition.
Perez played alongside 17-year-old media darling Ty Tryon over the first two rounds of last weeks Phoenix Open.
It was a circus, he said. You have 5,000, 6,000 people rooting for him. I would make birdie and you could hear the wind blow.
He didnt even get any love from the Arizona State University faithful.
I guess they dont know I went there, said Perez, who was a member of the 1996 NCAA national championship team. I figured it would be a little more, you know, ASU chanting and all that stuff because I went there, but thats okay.
Now that hes the leader through 36 holes at Pebble Beach, does he feel like somebody?
No. Still no, he said. I never feel like the favorite or the guy that everyone is looking at.
Thanks to his exploits this week, on and off the course, Perez is starting to gain a little notoriety.
I know he was the medalist at tour school. And hes faking a fever this week. Actually, I have a 104 degree fever, too, Janzen joked.
Janzen has plenty of recognition, but still yearns for the reputation deserving a two-time U.S. Open champion.
Winless since his last Open triumph at the Olympic Club in San Francisco in 1998, Janzen has taken numerous steps to better his game.
He switched in mid-December to MacGregor clubs. He says that, combined with his use of Callaways red ball, is adding 10 to 15 yards off the tee. Hes also toning up, having been on a fitness regimen over the past eight weeks.
His current physical appearance is a departure from that of several months ago, when, due to an intestinal virus, he dropped down to 165 lbs.
Ive gained a lot of weight back and feel better. Most of it I gained through working out, so Im in a lot better shape now, he said.
Unlike Perez, Janzens name atop the leaderboard doesnt come as a surprise. But the fact that hes here at all, does.
The reason Im playing is because I didnt want to have to make two trips to the west coast from Florida, said Janzen, who is making his second appearance in the last seven years because he doesn't like the weather and course conditions.
I just figured Id come out, play four tournaments and go home and get ready for Florida.
This is Janzens third start of the year. He missed the cut at the Bob Hope, but shot 64-64 on the weekend in Phoenix to tie for fourth.
Playing the toughest course in the rotation Friday, Janzen made five birdies and no bogeys. His final birdie of the day came at the par-4 second, his 11th hole of the day, with a 20-foot chip-in.
Full-field scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Twice winner Kizzire on missing U.S. Open: 'Fuel to my fire'
CROMWELL, Conn. – Based on recent form, there likely wasn’t a more decorated player watching last week’s U.S. Open from home than Patton Kizzire.
Kizzire is in the midst of a breakthrough season that has already included two wins: a maiden victory at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November, and a marathon playoff triumph over James Hahn at the Sony Open in January. While those titles got him into the Masters and the PGA Championship, they didn’t mean an exemption to Shinnecock Hills.
Kizzire got as high as 51st in the world rankings after his win in Honolulu, but his game started to turn shortly thereafter. A T-12 finish at the WGC-Mexico Championship is his lone top-25 finish in 12 starts since his Sony victory, and he missed four straight cuts from the Masters to The Players Championship.
The U.S. Open grants exemptions to the top 60 in the world at two different cutoff points close to the tournament. But in the midst of a cold streak, Kizzire was 63rd and 65th at each of those deadlines. He attempted to earn a spot at sectional qualifying in Columbus, only to find that his score of 5 under was one shot too many.
“I guess just adding a little fuel to my fire, adding insult to injury,” Kizzire said. “Just to have narrowly missed several different ways of qualification was disappointing. But I just tried to spin it as a positive. I got two weeks off, and I did watch those guys struggle a little bit. I wasn’t struggling at home, we’ll just say that.”
Kizzire hopes to put the disappointment behind him this week at the Travelers Championship, where he finished T-53 a year ago. And while his pair of trophies didn’t get him a tee time last week – or guarantee him a berth in The Open next month – they put him in prime position to make the season-ending Tour Championship, which would mean spots in the first three majors of 2019.
The combination of two recent wins and a ranking outside the top 60 isn’t one that comes up often on Tour, but Kizzire maintains a balanced perspective as he looks to get back to playing the kind of golf that will ensure he doesn’t miss any more majors in the near future.
“If I would have played better in between the U.S. Open and my last win, I would have gotten in. So my play was the reason I wasn’t in,” Kizzire said. “You certainly could look at it and say, ‘This guy’s got two wins, he should be in.’ But I’m not making too much of it.”
Masters, Players and U.S. Open champs grouped at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. – Fresh off a second straight U.S. Open victory, Brooks Koepka is getting right back to work at the Travelers Championship.
Koepka has stood by his commitment to tee it up at TPC River Highlands, becoming the first U.S. Open champ to play the following week on the PGA Tour since Justin Rose played the Travelers after his 2013 win at Merion. Koepka will play the first two rounds alongside Masters champ Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, who captured The Players Championship last month.
Here’s a look at some of the other marquee, early-round groupings for a star-studded field outside Hartford (all times ET):
7:50 a.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Jason Day, Xander Schauffele, Daniel Berger
Day is making his second straight Travelers appearance, having missed the cut both last year in Cromwell and last week at Shinnecock Hills. He’ll be joined by reigning Rookie of the Year Schauffele and Berger, who took home ROY honors in 2015 and last year was on the losing end of Jordan Spieth’s playoff dramatics at this event.
8 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson
Koepka is making his third tournament appearance overall, but his first since a T-9 finish in 2016, before he had either of his two U.S. Open trophies. Reed has become a regular at this event and enters off a fourth-place showing on Long Island, while Simpson cruised to victory last month at TPC Sawgrass and tied for 10th last week.
12:50 p.m. Thursday, 7:50 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Russell Knox
This was the tournament that turned things around last year for Spieth, who took home the title in his debut thanks to one of the most dramatic shots of the year in a playoff against Berger. He’ll start his title defense alongside a pair of past champs, as Leishman won here for his first Tour title back in 2012 and Knox was a winner two years ago when the tournament was played in August.
1 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. Friday: Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas
This group should get plenty of attention in the early rounds, with Thomas entering as the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 and joined a pair of players who will launch drives all across TPC River Highlands. Watson has feasted on this layout, winning in both 2010 and 2015 among five top-10 finishes, while McIlroy tied for 17th last year in his tournament debut but missed the cut last week at Shinnecock.
Travelers Championship: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
There will be plenty of star power this week in Hartford as the PGA Tour moves north for the Travelers Championship. Here is the key info for this week's event.
How to watch:
Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3:30-6:30PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Purse: $7 million
Course: TPC River Highlands (par 70, 6,841 yards)
Defending champion: Jordan Spieth. Defeated Daniel Berger with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
Notables in the field
• Missed last two cuts (the Memorial, U.S. Open) entering this week
• 188th on PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting (4th in strokes gained: tee to green)
• Only player to win Travelers Championship back-to-back: Phil Mickelson (2001-02)
• Making third career start in Travelers Championship (last start: T-9 in 2016)
• First player to play Travelers week after U.S. Open win since 2013 (Justin Rose)
• First player to win U.S. Open back-to-back since 1988-89 (Curtis Strange)
• Fifth career start in this event (MC, T-3, MC last three years)
• Second on PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: tee to green (+1.49)
• Second career start in Travelers Championship (T-17 last year)
• Missed cut last week at U.S. Open (shot 80 in opening round)
• Fourth career start in Travelers Championship (best finish: T-18 in 2014)
• Leads PGA Tour in strokes gained: putting this season
• Earned second-most world ranking points of any player in 2018
• Finished fourth at U.S. Open last week (three shots behind Koepka)
Day 'disappointed' in USGA's handling of course, Phil
CROMWELL, Conn. – Jason Day had the weekend off following a missed cut at the U.S. Open, but that didn’t prevent the Aussie from keeping an eye on all the drama that unfolded at Shinnecock Hills.
The former world No. 1 found it “disappointing,” – with “it” being both the deterioration of a major championship setup and the fallout from Phil Mickelson’s putter slap during the third round.
Day is hoping to bounce back from an early exit at this week’s Travelers Championship, but before turning his attention to TPC River Highlands he shared that the brunt of his disappointment stemmed from the USGA’s inability to keep Shinnecock playable during the third round and their subsequent decision to water it down for the tournament’s conclusion.
“It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Day said. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”
But Day’s frustration also tied back to Mickelson’s head-turning decision to hit a moving ball on the 13th green during the third round, and the USGA’s subsequent ruling that the actions merited a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.
“It’s obviously disappointing to see what Phil did,” he said. “I think a lot of people have mixed reviews about what he did.”
USGA officials explained over the weekend that Mickelson’s actions explicitly fell under Rule 14-5, which called for a two-shot addition and turned his score of 8 into a 10, rather than Rule 1-2 or Rule 33-7 that could have resulted in disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules.
Day felt it was unfortunate that all of Saturday’s drama deflected attention from a world-class performance from Brooks Koepka en route to a successful title defense, but when it comes to the handling of the Mickelson controversy he believes the USGA could have made good use of a mulligan.
“It’s just unfortunate that it happened at the USGA’s tournament, where they enforce the rules, like the R&A. And I think they may have, they probably should have enforced a different outcome for Phil,” Day said. “But it is what it is. It’s done. It’s just disappointing that that is overshadowing the winner of the whole week. I think if they had it back again, they may have chosen a different outcome.”