Fernandez Pooley lead Ace Group Classic

By Sports NetworkFebruary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
Champions TourNAPLES, Fla. ' Don Pooley and Vicente Fernandez both carded rounds of 4-under 68 on Friday to share the first-round lead of the ACE Group Classic.
 
Former Champions Tour Player of the Year Jay Haas and Wayne Levi are knotted in third place after opening rounds of 3-under 69 at this year's new venue, the TPC Treviso Bay.
 
Pooley, the 2002 U.S. Senior Open Champion, began on the 10th tee Friday and collected his first two birdies at the 12th, when he got up and down from a bunker, and at 13, when he drained a 6-footer. He promptly gave those two strokes back thanks to back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15.
 
Pooley birdied the par-5 18th after he hit a pitching-wedge to get to 1 under par, but that birdie kicked off a run of spectacular golf that got Pooley a piece of the lead.
 
At the first, Pooley hit a pitching-wedge to 5 feet to set up birdie. Pooley reached the par-5 second green in two and the ball rested 6 feet from the stick. His eagle attempt lipped out of the hole, but he settled for a birdie.
 
Pooley ran home a 30-foot birdie putt at three for his fourth in a row. He had a solid opportunity for birdie at the par-5 fourth, but could not get up and down from a bunker right in front of the putting surface.
 
Pooley parred out for his share of first.
 
'I like the golf course,' said Pooley, who has two Champions Tour wins, but none since the 2003 season. 'It's a good test. It's a ball-hitter's test. With the wind like this, you really have to think your way around. For the most part, I did a good job of that today. Everything was good.'
 
Fernandez, the 2003 winner, also started on the back nine and birdied his first hole. His only other birdie came at the par-3 17th after he drained a long putt.
 
Fernandez tapped in a short birdie putt at one, then came up just short of the green with his second at the par-5 second. He got up and down for birdie, but dropped a shot at five after a three-putt from the edge of the green.
 
He ran home a 35-foot birdie putt at the sixth to reclaim the lost stroke and join Pooley in the lead. Fernandez had a decent look at birdie at nine, but his putt lipped out, leaving him in a tie atop the leaderboard.
 
'I'm very happy with the way I struck the ball,' said Fernandez, who also has not visited the winner's circle since the '03 campaign. 'When I missed the fairway, I missed on the good side.'
 
Last week's winner Mike Goodes, who earned his first professional victory last Sunday at the Allianz Championship, Gene Jones, Dan Forsman, Fulton Allem, Jim Chancey, Loren Roberts and reigning Player of the Year Bernhard Langer are tied for fifth place at 2-under 70.
 
Defending champion Scott Hoch struggled badly on Friday. He only managed an 8-over 80 and is tied for 72nd place of the 77 players who finished the first round.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ace Group Classic
  • Full Coverage - Ace Group Classic
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Gooch chooses 'life over a good lie' with gators nearby

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:31 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – A fairway bunker wasn’t Talor Gooch’s only hazard on the 18th hole at TPC Louisiana.

    Gooch’s ball came to rest Thursday within a few feet of three gators, leading to a lengthy delay as he sorted out his options.

    Chesson Hadley used a rake to nudge two of the gators on the tail, sending them back into the pond surrounding the green. But the third gator wouldn’t budge.

    “It woke him up from a nap,” Gooch said, “and he was hissing away and wasn’t happy.”

    The other two gators remained in the water, their eyes fixed on the group.


    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


    “I’m sure we would have been fine, but any little movement by them and no chance I would have made solid contact,” he said.

    A rules official granted Gooch free relief, away from the gator, but he still had to drop in the bunker. The ball plugged.

    “I chose life over a good lie in that situation,” he said.

    He splashed out short of the green, nearly holed out his pitch shot and made par to cap off an eventful 6-under 66 with partner Andrew Landry.

    “It was my first gator par,” he said. “I’ll take it.”

    Getty Images

    Koepka's game 'where it should be' even after injury

    By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 11:18 pm

    AVONDALE, La. – Brooks Koepka didn’t look rusty Thursday while making six birdies in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

    Making his first start in four months because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, Koepka and partner Marc Turnesa shot a 5-under 67 in fourballs at TPC Louisiana.

    “It felt good,” Koepka said afterward. “It was just nice to be out here. I played pretty solid.”


    Full-field scores from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Articles, photos and videos


    The reigning U.S. Open champion felt soreness in his wrist the week after he won the Dunlop Phoenix in the fall. He finished last at the Hero World Challenge in December and then the following month at the Tournament of Champions before shutting it down.

    He only began practicing last week and decided to commit to the Zurich Classic after three solid days at Medalist. He decided to partner with one of his friends in South Florida, Marc Turnesa, a former PGA Tour winner who now works in real estate.

    Koepka hasn’t lost any distance because of the injury – he nearly drove the green on the 355-yard 16th hole. He’s planning to play the next two weeks, at the Wells Fargo Championship and The Players.

    “I feel like I’m playing good enough to be right where I should be in April,” he said. “I feel good, man. There’s nothing really wrong with my game right now.”

    Getty Images

    Like a tattoo: Ko shares early Mediheal lead

    By Randall MellApril 26, 2018, 10:45 pm

    Lydia Ko put herself in early position Thursday to try to extend her birthday celebration through Sunday at the LPGA Mediheal Championship.

    Ko, who turned 21 on Tuesday, is off to a strong start at Lake Merced Golf Club, where she has a lot of good memories to draw upon as she seeks to regain the winning form that made her the greatest teen phenom in the history of the women’s game.

    With a 4-under-par 68, Ko moved into a four-way tie for the lead among the morning wave in the first round. I.K. Kim, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall also opened with 68s.

    All Ko has to do is look at her right wrist to feel good about returning to San Francisco. That’s where she tattooed the date April 27, 2014, in Roman numerals. That’s how she commemorated her Swinging Skirts victory at Lake Merced, her first title as an LPGA member. She won there again the following year.

    “This is a golf course where I've played well,” Ko said. “The fans have been amazing. They’ve been super supportive every single time I've come here, even since I played the U.S. Juniors here.”


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship


    Ko made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced in 2012.

    “It just brings back a lot of great memories,” she said.

    Ko got this week off to a good start with friends from South Korea and New Zealand flying to California to surprise her on her birthday. She was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand.

    “Turning 21 is a huge thing in the United States,” Ko cracked. “I’m legal now, and I can do some fun things.”

    Ko is looking to claim her 15th LPGA title and end a 21-month winless spell. Her ball striking was sharp Thursday, as she continues to work on improvements under her swing coach, Ted Oh. She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

    “My ball striking's been getting better these last few weeks, which has been really nice,” Ko said at week’s start. “But then I've been struggling with putting, which was the aspect of the game that was going really well. I feel like the pieces are there, and just, sometimes, the hardest thing is to kind of put all those pieces together. Just have to stay patient, I know there are a lot of good things happening.”

    Getty Images

    Watch: Rose drops trou despite gator danger

    By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 10:12 pm

    We all know how fashion-conscious pro golfers are, and sometimes that even trumps modesty.

    Take Justin Rose, whose tee shot on the par-3 third hole in Thursday's opening round of the Zurich Classic found the water. But the ball was close enough to shore for Rose to try to play it. Not wanting to get his light-colored pants dirty - what is up with all the white pants on Tour these days, anyway? - he took them off to play the shot.

    If there were any gators in the water hazard - and this being Louisiana, there almost certainly were - they showed no interest in the Englishman.

    It was only appropriate that Rose should strip down for a shot, as his partner, Henrik Stenson, famously did the same thing (to an even greater degree) at Doral in 2009.

    Finally, just to provide some closure, Rose failed to get up and down.