Whaley Impressive Haas Jake Leading

By Sports NetworkJuly 24, 2003, 4:00 pm
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Jay Haas shot a 7-under 63 Thursday to hold a share of the lead after the first round of the Greater Hartford Open. Haas was joined atop the leaderboard by fellow veteran Peter Jacobsen.
 
Suzy Whaley is playing with the men this week and opened with a 5-over-par 75.
 
Dennis Paulson posted a 6-under 66 to finish one shot off the lead. Craig Barlow was one shot further back at minus-5.
 
Both Haas and Jacobsen, who at the age of 49 are close to joining the Champions Tour, showed that they still have plenty left in the tank at the TPC at River Highlands.
 
'As I have gotten older my priorities have changed a little bit,' said Haas. 'I enjoy my time at home more than I used to, I guess. But I think just keep being passionate about the game I think is probably the most important thing for me.'
 
'Jay and I come out of the same tour school back in '76, so I have been impressed and inspired by his play this year,' Jacobsen said. 'If he wins this week it wouldn't surprise anybody out here as well as he is playing.'
 
Haas hit his second shot to 10 feet at the first to begin a stretch of three consecutive birdies out of the gate. He rolled in a 15-foot putt for a birdie at the par-5 sixth to make the turn at 4-under.
 
At the par-4 10th, Haas hit his approach to eight feet and Haas continued to roll with a birdie at the par-3 11th after his tee shot stopped 12 feet from the hole.
 
Haas then converted a five-foot putt for a birdie at the par-5 13th and had a shot at another short birdie at the 17th but ultimately missed the cup.
 
'Even though it is playing long, the ball just sticks in the fairway, doesn't run off to the edges too much,' said Haas. 'I think everybody tapered off a little bit and Peter and I kept going.'
 
Jacobsen, who won this event in 1984, ran off back-to-back birdies from the first to start his round. He hit his tee shot to 20 feet at the par-3 fifth and dropped a 9-iron inside 15 feet for a birdie at the sixth.
 
At the par-4 ninth, Jacobsen's 9-iron stopped 20 feet from the cup to set up another birdie. Jacobsen sank the putt to make the turn at 5-under and reached minus-6 with a birdie at the 15th.
 
Jacobsen stumbled with a bogey at the 16th but recovered with a birdie at the 17th and knocked his approach inside two feet for a birdie at the 18th.
 
'Physical conditioning takes a back seat to mental conditioning. I mean, I can give you a lot of names of kids out here that are in great shape that will never win because you know what I'm saying,' said Jacobsen. 'You can laugh at Stad and say that physical condition is not a factor to him. It may not be a factor, but he knows what's going on in here, and he has it here.'
 
While Haas and Jacobsen lead the field, the galleries were treated to Whaley's first round on the PGA Tour.
 
'I think any time a tournament has a special attraction like a Bill Murray or a Suzy Whaley, it's only a good thing,' said Jacobsen. 'I think what Annika did for the PGA Tour and for golf in general at the Colonial was awesome. I think Suzy playing this week, I played nine holes with her on Tuesday, her attitude is fabulous.'
 
Whaley, who won last year's PGA Connecticut Sectional to earn a spot in the field, got off to a rough start with a double-bogey at the opening hole. She dropped another shot with a bogey at the third but settled down from the point on.
 
'It was so exciting. There were so many people there yelling for me, cheering for me, supporting me and it was a great moment,' said Whaley. 'I was extremely nervous on the first hole but I kind of got past it as soon as I did my pre-shot routine. I was very nervous on the green but then I settled down and by the second green I really wasn't that nervous anymore.'
 
Whaley sank a long putt to save par at the sixth before notching a bogey at the seventh. She bogeyed the 10th but picked up another good par save two holes later at the 12th when she rolled in a putt from the fringe.
 
The 36-year-old club pro then picked up a bogey but closed her round in style with a birdie at the par-4 18th for a round of 75.
 
Kenny Perry carded a 4-under 66 to join K.J. Choi, Willie Wood, Todd Fischer, Jonathan Kaye and J.J. Henry in a tie for fifth.
 
Two-time defending champion Phil Mickelson, who has struggled since contending at the Masters, started with a bogey at the 10th, his first. Mickelson then tallied four birdies over his next eight holes to make the turn at 3-under.
 
Mickelson moved to minus-5 with birdies at the second and the sixth but faltered with back-to-back bogeys starting at the seventh to head to the clubhouse at 3-under-par 67.
 
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    Notes: Koepka has Tiger's vote for Player of the Year

    By Doug FergusonAugust 22, 2018, 12:51 am

    PARAMUS, N.J. - Brooks Koepka already can count on one award this year. He has clinched the points-based award from the PGA of America as Player of the Year. Majors are worth 30 points, and there is a 50-point bonus for winning two of them. That gives Koepka 110 points for his U.S. Open and PGA Championship victories.

    Even if Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas or Bubba Watson wins all four FedEx Cup playoff events for seven titles this year, they would not catch Koepka.

    The PGA Tour award is a vote of the players.

    That's still up for grabs, though Tiger Woods thinks the race is over.

    ''You win two majors, you've got it,'' Woods said. ''It's not real complicated.''

    Woods thought back to 1998, when David Duval won four times on the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour vote went to Mark O'Meara for his Masters and British Open titles.

    ''I think two majors trumps it,'' he said.


    A QUICK TURN FOR THE BETTER

    Stewart Cink enters the FedEx Cup playoffs at No. 58 in the standings, his best starting position since 2010. Thanks to a tie for fourth at the PGA Championship, he will return to the Masters for the first time in five years.

    He would not have seen this coming three months ago.

    ''The main thing that happened was ... what you think are bad circumstances turn out to be good circumstances,'' Cink said.

    Cink enjoys the late spring because he typically plays well on some of those courses, such as Colonial, Muirfield Village and Quail Hollow. Bad final rounds turned potential top 10s into middle-of-the-pack, if not lower. The final straw was Memorial, where he ended a streak of making the cut in 19 consecutive appearances.

    ''I felt like crap playing bad golf,'' Cink said. ''I had to have a little bit of something to wake me up. I didn't do anything new, I just recommitted to what I was working on the last year.''

    That can be a tall order for a 45-year-old whose last victory was the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. Cink put in time with swing coach Mike Lipnick, and he started hitting the ball the way he envisioned the flight. Over the next two months, he had three top 5s - a runner-up at the Travelers Championship when he closed with a 62, and a tie for fourth at the St. Jude Classic and the PGA Championship.

    The real test was at Bellerive, where he played in the raucous arena with Tiger Woods in the third round and matched his 66. In the mix at a major for longer than he can remember, Cink finished with two birdies for a 67 to tie for fourth.

    ''Being paired with Tiger helped me,'' Cink said. ''I was nervous playing with the Tiger. The crowd was a factor. It felt like a Ryder Cup. It was a great challenge, and I really wanted to embrace it and test myself and see how well I can hang in there. I didn't have the option to fall back into a comfort zone. There wouldn't have been one in that group. I'm proud of myself the way I played.''

    Cink's five-year exemption to the Masters from his British Open victory ran out in 2014, when he shot 68 on Sunday and missed by one shot finishing in the top 12 to earn a trip back to Augusta National. He looks forward to going back.

    But that's in April. Ahead of him is a chance to return home to East Lake for the Tour Championship for the first time since 2009.

    ''I'm super excited,'' he said. ''I have a better chance to go back to East Lake, and that's a goal from here on out to see if I can make it.''

    More than recommitting to his golf, Cink said his heart is in the right place. The last two years have provided the ultimate test after his wife, Lisa, was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. He said her health has been steady - no setbacks - the last several months.

    ''It goes without saying that my life has taken on a different perspective,'' Cink said. ''I'm enjoying playing golf. I don't have anything to lose. I'm having fun competing, testing myself. There's no downside. ... I wish I could tell my 18-year-old self that.''


    WRAPPING UP THE MAJORS

    An obscure record was set at the PGA Championship. Seven players had all four rounds in the 60s, led by champion Brooks Koepka. The others were Stewart Cink, Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Webb Simpson.

    The previous record was five players with all four rounds in the 60s at Baltusrol in 2016, Valhalla in 2014 and Riviera in 1995.

    Koepka and Charl Schwartzel each shot 63 in the second round. That extended the streak to four consecutive years when at least one player shot 63 or better in the majors. Tommy Fleetwood also had a 63 at the U.S. Open, so that makes 2018 the fourth time there were at least three rounds of 63 in the same year. The other years were 1980 (Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf at the U.S. Open, Isao Aoki at the British); 1993 (Nick Faldo and Payne Stewart at the British, Vijay Singh at the PGA); and 2016 (Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at the British, Robert Streb at the PGA).

    Tiger Woods also got in on the act. His 64 in the final round at Bellerive tied for low score of the round. The last time no one had a lower score than Woods in one round at a major was in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he and Dustin Johnson each shot 66 on Saturday.


    DIVOTS

    Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the leading player in the 2018 world amateur golf ranking. The award gives Kupcho an exemption into the U.S. Women's Open and the Women's British Open provided she stays an amateur. ... Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose each have a mathematical chance to reach No. 1 in the world this week at The Northern Trust. ... The University of St. Andrews is honoring teaching pro Renee Powell and British journalist Katharine Whitehorn by naming a residence hall after each of them. Powell in 2008 became the first female golfer in the five centuries of St. Andrews to receive an honorary doctorate degree. ... Darren Clarke makes his PGA Tour Champions debut this week at the Boeing Classic outside Seattle.


    STAT OF THE WEEK

    Only two players outside the top 25 in the world have won majors in the last five years. Martin Kaymer was No. 28 when he won the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, and Jimmy Walker was No. 48 when he won the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol.


    FINAL WORD

    ''You don't want to be put on the bench in the playoffs.'' - Harris English, whose tie for 11th at the Wyndham Championship was narrowly enough for him to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.

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    Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

    It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 2-6 p.m.


    Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

    Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

    Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

    Notable tee times (all times ET)

    • 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

    • 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

    • 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

    • 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

    • 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

    Key stats:

    The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

    • The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

    • 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

    • In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

    • The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

    • Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington

    (2004-2005).

    • The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

    (Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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    Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

    By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

    PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

    For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

    “I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

    Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.


    The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


    Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

    “If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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    Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

    By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

    PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

    Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

    “We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”


    The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


    Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

    He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.