Howell Perry Share Lead

By Sports NetworkNovember 6, 2003, 5:00 pm
HOUSTON -- Charles Howell III and Kenny Perry posted matching rounds of 4-under-par 67 Thursday to take the first-round lead of the season-ending Tour Championship at Champions Golf Club.
The Tour Championship appeared to be a showdown between defending champion Vijay Singh and No. 1 player in the world Tiger Woods. They rank 1-2 on the PGA Tour money list, are the front-runners for Player of the Year honors and played together in Thursday's opening round.
On Thursday, neither really lived up to the match-up. Woods carded a 1-under 70 while Singh, currently tops in the money race, struggled to a 2-over 73.
Woods collected his first birdie of the round at the fourth when he knocked a 4-iron to six feet. He hit an even better 4-iron at the par-5 fifth as his ball stopped three feet from the stick to set up eagle and get Woods into a share of the lead at 3 under par.
Woods, the 1999 Tour Championship winner, parred five holes around the turn but fell apart, starting at No. 11. He missed a 20-footer to save par at the hole and made it back-to-back bogeys at the 12th when he hit a horrible shot out of a greenside bunker.
The five-time winner on tour this season drove through the dog leg at the par-5 13th but hit a nice shot to find a greenside bunker. His blast from the sand came up 35 feet short and his birdie try missed the hole. Woods left himself with four feet for par but that putt drifted left and it was Woods' third consecutive bogey.
Woods rallied with a birdie at the 14th and added a 25-foot birdie putt at the 16th to reach minus-2. Unfortunately, Woods three-putted from 20 feet for bogey at the last to fall into a share of 13th.
Singh never got on track Thursday with three bogeys and a birdie in his first 12 holes. He failed to give himself good looks on the back nine and is tied for 23rd place in the elite 31-man field, reserved for the top players on the money list.
Spoiling the much-anticipated showdown in round one were Howell and Perry. Howell, winless this season but 27th on the money list, mixed a birdie and bogey over his first five holes.
On the back nine, Howell hit a 3-iron to a foot at the 230-yard 13th to go 1 under for the tournament. He reached the green in two at the par-5 13th and two-putted for birdie, then sank a 10-footer to make it three birdies in a row.
Howell, who finished second to Singh last year, took the clubhouse lead at the 18th when he knocked a 9-iron to 39 feet. He canned the birdie putt to take a piece of the first-round lead for the second consecutive week.
'I guess I like Thursdays, I don't know,' said Howell, who tied for 24th last week in Tampa. 'It was a new wind blowing. We played two practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday with literally absolutely no wind at all. Today there was a bit of wind blowing and from a different direction. You have to kind of expect that, I think, in the Midwest.'
Perry had by far the steadiest round of the day Thursday. He was the only player in the field to go bogeyless and he tallied his first birdie at the par-5 ninth.
Perry recorded back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 to go 3 under and had some opportunities to go lower. He missed a four-foot birdie chance at the 15th then failed to convert a 12-footer at No. 17.
On the closing hole, Perry hit his approach to three feet and would not be denied this birdie. He rolled in the putt to match Howell in first place.
Perry was the hottest golfer in the world over the summer with three victories and impressive performances in both the U.S. Open and British Open. He has since fallen down the charts in the race for Player of the Year despite a possible fourth victory on Sunday.
'I'm probably the more feel good story of the year for the over-40 clan and playing so well,' admitted Perry. 'I've done so much more than I ever dreamed I would ever do in one year. It's voted on by the players. It's up to them to vote but it's just a phenomenal year for Kenny Perry.'
Chris DiMarco, Jerry Kelly and Fred Funk are tied for third place at 3-under-par 68. Chris Riley, Robert Allenby, Briny Baird, Justin Leonard, Jonathan Kaye, 2001 U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen and 2001 PGA Champion David Toms share sixth at minus-2.
Ernie Els joined Woods at 1 under par, U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk carded an even-par 71, Master champion Mike Weir shot a 1-over 72 and Davis Love III played poorly on the way to the clubhouse and finished with a 2-over-par 73.
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.

    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.

    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.

    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”