Crane leads Memphis through three rounds

first_imgMEMPHIS, Tenn. – Ben Crane finished his third round Sunday morning with a 1-under 69 at the rain-delayed St. Jude Classic, giving him a three-stroke lead going into the final round. Crane had a two-birdie and one-bogey round for a 13-under 197 total. He has a chance to lead wire-to-wire if he can finish off what would be his first PGA Tour win since 2011 and fifth career win. Troy Merritt (67) was at 200 with Brian Harman (67) at 201. Phil Mickelson had a bogey-free round with three birdies on his back nine for a 67 and a 202 total. He hasn’t won in 19 events since the British Open as he tunes up for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Wind, thunderstorms, lightning and fog have delayed play each of the first three days. With more storms forecast, players started the fourth round almost immediately after concluding the third.last_img read more

High Five

first_imgBETHESDA, Md. – Forget about whether Patrick Reed is a top 5 player, it’s best to let history and the big heads at the Official World Golf Ranking sort that out. What needs to be considered when forming an opinion about Reed is his on-course performance multiplied by his limited body of work. Reed has three PGA Tour victories in his last 22 starts and is 18 holes away from completing the single-season trifecta following a 71 on Saturday at the Quicken Loans National that left him alone atop the leaderboard. That may not technically make him a top-5 player – he’s currently ranked 29th for those scoring at home – but over the last 12 months only No. 1 Adam Scott has four “Ws,” and two of those tilts, the Australian PGA and Australian Masters, came against less-than-world-class fields. In a town where declarations rarely dovetail with deeds, Reed is a top-5 player in spirit if not on the spreadsheet. The 23-year-old has become an easy target in recent weeks as he followed his boastful claims at the WGC-Cadillac Championship with some serious backpedaling. He missed the cut in five of his next eight starts and hasn’t finished better than 35th since he rubbed many the wrong way with his brash announcement at Doral that he considered himself a top 5 player. Quicken Loans National: Articles, videos and photos To be clear, there is nothing wrong with thinking you’re a top 5 player – in fact, in his line of work it would be considered an occupational hazard to think otherwise. The problem, as many both inside and outside of the ropes figured, is telling the world how good you are. On this Arnold Palmer seems an appropriate final voice: “As my father taught me, and he drove home that point, he said, ‘Just remember something. You don’t need to tell people how good you are. You need to show them how good you are’,” the King said in March. “Win, and win as much as you can. I think (Jack) Nicklaus has done that. Tiger (Woods) has done that. I never heard Jack Nicklaus say, ‘I’m a great player,’ or Tiger Woods, as a matter of fact. They just get out and do it.” To Reed’s credit, he’s weathered the slings and arrows of his media miscue with a level of restraint that, at least according to those who have spent any amount of time with him, defies his DNA. Reed came by his post-WGC-Cadillac Championship swoon honestly. On May 22, he and his wife Justine welcomed the couple’s first child to the family, daughter Windsor-Wells, and on Saturday he admitted the budding family took an understandable toll on his day job. “After we played Doral, I was more focused on making sure Justine was alright and making sure the baby was fine,” Reed said. “Family comes first, so I was more focusing on that.” Nor is he oozing his signature swagger at Congressional, where an increasingly difficult golf course resulted in traffic largely bound in one direction on Saturday – south. Reed bogeyed Nos. 7, 8 and 13 but still never fell out of the lead and finished with a birdie at the 16th hole to stake his claim to a two-stroke advantage heading into the final lap. It’s also worth noting that Reed’s performance at Congressional has not exactly been a fairways-and-greens clinic. He connected with fewer than half of the Blue Course’s fairways on Saturday, hitting six of 14 in the short grass off the tee, but has saved par six out of the nine times he’s missed a green this week. “Even if you get a good lie in the rough it’s just minimizing those errors on those risks,” said Reed, who is 3-for-3 on Tour after taking at least a share of the lead into the final quarter. “You get in the rough, you might have to play 40 feet away from the flag. You just have to.” Whether Patrick Reed is a top-5 player really doesn’t matter. The record on this is as clear as a warm summer day in the nation’s capital; he has the ability to play like one and he has established himself as the clear headliner at an event suddenly starved for attention after Woods missed the cut. There will be a front-runner on Sunday clad in red and black, just not the guy that’s actually in the top 5 of the world ranking. At least, not yet.last_img read more

Notes and nuggets for the LPGA’s closing stretch

first_imgThe PGA Tour’s youth movement has nothing on the LPGA’s. Of course, if you follow the LPGA, you’ve been watching the women’s game get younger for a long time now. But have you checked out the Rolex Women’s World Rankings lately? Yes, 18-year-old Lydia Ko tops the rankings, the youngest No. 1 in the history of the men’s or women’s game, but she has a lot of youthful company. Five of the top 17 players in the women’s world rankings are LPGA rookies. And Ko’s not even a rookie. If In Gee Chun had claimed tour membership after her U.S. Women’s Open victory, six of the top 17 in the world would be LPGA rookies. That’s absurd, but it speaks to the remarkable strength of this year’s LPGA rookie class, which has claimed six titles this season. Some news, notes and nuggets with just three events left on the 2015 LPGA schedule: More on youth being served – Sei Young Kim is 22 years old, but she’s the old woman among the four winners on the fall Asian swing so far. Ko, 18, won in Taiwan, Lexi Thompson, 20, won in South Korea and Jessica Korda won in Malaysia. Korda is a month younger than Kim, who won in China. • The average age of a PGA Tour winner this calendar year is 30.2 years old. • The average age of an LPGA winner is 23.6. • The average age of the top 10 men in the Official World Golf Ranking is 32.6 years old. • The average age of the top 10 women in the Rolex World Rankings is 23.5 years old. By the way, here are those five LPGA rookies among the top 17 in the world rankings: No. 7 Sei Young Kim, No. 9 Hyo Joo Kim, No. 15 Minjee Lee, No. 16 Ha Na Jang and No. 17 Brooke Henderson. Lewis leads the field in Japan – Lewis returns to a course she has conquered before as she seeks to claim her first victory this season in the finale of the fall Asian swing. Lewis won the Toto Japan Classic in 2012 at Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club when the event was played as the Mizuno Classic.  Though Lewis hasn’t won this season, she is third on the LPGA money list with $1,832,425 in earnings. That’s a tour record for the most money any woman has won in a season without a victory. Lewis has six second-place finishes and three third-place finishes this season. The field this week includes three of the top 10 players in the world with No. 4 Lexi Thompson and No. 9 Hyo Joo Kim joining No. 3 Lewis. Michelle Wie, Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer and Yani Tseng are among other headliners playing. Who’s on the CME Globe top-three points bubble? – The top three players on the points list are guaranteed to win the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot if any of the three wins the season-ending Tour Championship. Ko has clinched the No. 1 spot for the points re-set in Naples, Park has clinched the No. 2 spot and Lewis is still in a little tussle with Sei Young Kim and Lexi Thompson for the No. 3 spot, though Lewis could clinch that in Japan this week. Lewis is third in CME points with Kim trailing her by 243 points and Thompson trailing her by 683. The winner of an LPGA tournament gets 500 points, second place gets 300 points and third 190 points with points awarded through 40th place. Kim isn’t playing in Japan this week but will play Lorena Ochoa’s event next week in Mexico. Lewis isn’t playing in Mexico. Thompson is playing in both Japan and Mexico. If Lewis finishes second or better in Japan, Kim can’t catch her. If Lewis wins in Japan, neither can Thompson. Who’s on the CME Globe top-nine points bubble? – Only the top nine players after the points re-set at the Tour Championship have a shot at winning the $1 million jackpot. Shanshan Feng holds the ninth spot in this week’s points standings, but she’s vulnerable. She isn’t playing in Japan or Mexico. Every player sitting 10th through 18th in points has a chance to pass Feng. Also, Chella Choi at 20th remains mathematically alive for a top-nine spot in the re-set because she’s playing in both Japan and Mexico. So are Azahara Munoz at 32nd and Pornanong Phatlum at 33rd, but Munoz and Phatlum will have to win in both Japan and Mexico to pass Feng. A Wie bit close to the top-72 bubble – The top 72 in CME points qualify for the Tour Championship. So do any players tied for 72nd. Min Lee holds the 72nd spot in points, but the most notable story near the bubble is Michelle Wie. She enters the Toto Japan Classic 65th in points, and she isn’t guaranteed a spot in Naples just yet. There are 10 players competing in Japan who trail Wie in CME points. If eight of them pass her this week, Wie gets bumped to 73rd on the point list. Wie isn’t playing the Lorena Ochoa Invitational next week. Yes, it would take an unlikely cosmic alignment of the stars for Wie not to qualify for the CME Group Tour Championship, but the LPGA doesn’t divide up CME points for players who finish in ties, the way it does for money. For example, if Mina Harigae, Marina Alex and Maria McBride all finish tied for second in Japan, they’ll each get the 300 points that comes with a second-place finish. That’s why Wie isn’t mathematically guaranteed a spot just yet.last_img read more

Goosen, Grace chasing leaders at SA Open

first_imgJOHANNESBURG – Chris Paisley and Adrien Saddier opened up a big lead after two rounds of the South African Open on Friday as they moved to 13 under par and four shots clear of their nearest challengers. England’s Paisley shot 7-under 65 to move up from second overnight. France’s Saddier had the round of the day at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg, a blistering, course record-equaling 63 with an eagle, seven birdies and no bogeys. Both Paisley and Saddier are seeking a maiden European Tour title. Full-field scores from the BMW South African Open Home player Jacques Kruyswijk is alone in second at 9 under, with a group of four players another shot behind him at 8 under and in a tie for fourth. That group contains overnight leaders Branden Grace and Chase Koepka, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, and Retief Goosen, the two-time U.S. Open champion who hasn’t won a professional tournament since 2009. The 48-year-old Goosen began this week with a promising 69 and then carded six birdies and an eagle for his 5-under 67 in the second round. It could have been even better if not for a bogey on No. 13 and a double bogey on the last. Ernie Els, a five-time winner of the South African Open, made the cut after a 70 moved him to 3 under. Defending champion Graeme Storm missed the cut by a shot, though, thanks mainly to his opening-round 75.last_img read more

Langer seeking 3rd straight Tradition title

first_imgBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Bernhard Langer is trying to do something even Jack Nicklaus couldn’t quite pull off. Langer enters the Regions Tradition starting Thursday at Greystone Golf & Country Club aiming to become the first to win the PGA Tour Champions major three years in a row since the event began in 1989. ”I love this golf course,” he said. ”It’s very challenging and demanding at times, and then there’s a couple of holes that are gettable. But there’s some shots you really have to pull it off. You’ve got to be totally committed and hit really solid, proper golf shots. Otherwise you end up in the water or even other places. It will show up on your scorecard. ”So for some reason I’ve done well here the last couple years and hopefully that will continue.” Nicklaus came awfully close to a three-peat. He twice won the Tradition consecutive years at Desert Mountain in Arizona, but Lee Trevino edged him by one shot in 1992 the first time he tried to make it three in a row. Players will have an early two-tee start Thursday because of potential bad weather. Langer is coming off his first win of the year at the Insperity Invitational, putting him eight shy of Hale Irwin’s record of 45 titles on the senior circuit. He had suffered two straight playoff losses but the win put him atop the standings for the first time this year. Full-field scores from the Regions Tradition Langer has won a record 10 majors on the PGA Tour Champions and now has two chances in a row to add to that number with the Regions Tradition and Senior PGA Championship. Langer won by five strokes at Greystone last year after a closing 64. Steve Stricker, who has two wins this season with four top-five finishes, is trying to improve on his worst finish in 10 PGA Tour Champions events. He was tied for 13th last year in the Tradition. Ranked No. 2 in the standings, he chose to head to Alabama instead of the AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA Tour after entering both of them. ”This has been my worst finish on tour, this tournament here last year,” said Stricker, coming off a 23rd-place finish at The Players Championship after a hot start. ”So I need to improve on that a little bit, just keep doing what I’ve been doing, keeping the ball in play ”I haven’t been putting the greatest of late, so hopefully that comes around this weekend. Just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I get some more putts to fall.” There will be eight competing in the Regions Tradition for the first time: Bob Estes, Steve Flesch, Jerry Kelly, Len Mattiace, David McKenzie, Tim Petrovic, Fran Quinn and Tommy Tolles. Kelly missed last year because of his son’s high school graduation.last_img read more

Scott, Landry share first-round lead at Safeway

first_imgNAPA, Calif. — Slow starts plagued Adam Scott last season, a prime reason the former No. 1 player in the world was winless despite solid overall numbers. After taking a brief break, the 39-year-old Australian is back and emphasizing quicker, more aggressive starts. Andrew Landry is just looking for a jump-start after missing the cuts in the first two events of the PGA Tour this season. Scott and Landry shot 7-under 65 on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Safeway Open. Francesco Molinari and Matthew NeSmith were a stroke back. Cameron Champ, Adam Long and Chris Baker shot 67. Playing in the morning pairings at Silverado Country Club, Scott had six birdies and an eagle to make up for an early bogey. Landry teed off 4 1/2 hours later and played bogey-free with seven birdies. ”This is a nice way to start,” Scott said. ”I would like to have a lead going into Sunday and see what I can produce, to be honest. I’ve been four and five back. It’s a lot to ask all the time when you’re as far behind as I kind of was.” Ranked 15th in the world, Scott hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since taking the Honda Classic and World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in consecutive weeks in 2016. Since then he has been up and down the scoreboard, frequently scurrying to catch up in the latter rounds after getting off to sluggish starts. That wasn’t the case in Scott’s season debut. Golf Central Stacked, packed leaderboard after Day 1 at Safeway Francesco Molinari, Andrew Landry and Adam Scott recap their opening rounds at the Safeway Open along with what it will take to stay out in front. Safeway Open: Full-field tee times | Full coverage Despite having only played two rounds previously at the picturesque, 7,166-yard course, he had four birdies on the front nine to compensate for a bogey on No. 13. After birdying two of the first three on the back nine, Scott drained a 53-foot putt for eagle on the 566-yard, par-5 fifth. ”Fun to kind of keep the momentum going and get the most out of the round,” Scott said. ”If I had complaints about last season, I didn’t get the most out of my good rounds or my good weeks. Today felt like I kind of got the most out of myself.” Scott saved par after his drive went into a green-side bunker on No. 7, made another par on No. 8, then narrowly missed a birdie and three-putted for par on No. 9 to close out his day. Landry had five birdies on the front nine. The Valero Texas Open winner last year, he saved par after going into the bunker on the second hole of the back nine, then birdied Nos. 5 and 8 to get to 7 under. ”I was rolling the ball so well that I just figured, hey, I can make a lot of putts right now,” Landry said. ”That’s kind of what I did all day. Ball-striking wasn’t as good as I wanted but the putting was there and made up for it.” Former NFL quarterback and current CBS analyst Tony Romo opened with a 70. Romo is playing on a sponsor exemption. If he makes the cut, he will skip Sunday’s NFL broadcast in Chicago between the Bears and Minnesota Vikings. Defending tournament champion Kevin Tway, Justin Thomas and FedEx Cup points leader Sebastian Munoz were in the group at 71. Munoz three-putted two par 3s to offset three birdies. Phil Mickelson shot 75, making a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 fifth. Jim Furyk also had a 75.last_img read more

Todd recovers after one shot sends career into downward spiral

first_imgThe miss was so wild, so unexpected, that it haunted Brendon Todd for years. He felt a sense of impending doom the moment the shot left his clubface in the third round of the 2015 BMW Championship.  At the time Todd was already a PGA Tour winner and a top-50 player in the world, but he had risen to those heights on the strength of a stellar short game and molten putter. For the most part he was an inconsistent ball-striker; even during his best season, in 2014, when he banked nearly $3.4 million, he hovered near the top 100 in strokes gained: tee to green. A few weeks before the BMW, Todd worked with his swing coach, Scott Hamilton, on closing the clubface on the backswing. Flushing his irons, Todd fired two low rounds (66-63) at Conway Farms, enough to thrust him into the final group on the weekend of a FedExCup playoff event. Even par early in the third round, Todd stood in the middle of the fairway on the par-4 fourth hole. He had 212 yards to the flag. He grabbed a 4-iron. His approach shot sailed right. Way right.   Getty Images   So far right that it airmailed a row of bushes and dove into the native area, leading to a penalty drop, a triple bogey and a third-round 76 that plummeted him out of contention. “It kind of shook me a little bit,” he said. But right there – that was it. That was the shot that sent his career into a tailspin. That fall of 2015, the off-the-planet right miss would pop up again. In Napa. In Las Vegas. In Sea Island. Not every round, and not every tournament, but frequently enough to scare the hell out of him, to force him to overcompensate, to torpedo his confidence. All throughout 2016, he said, he “battled that scary right-yip feeling.” That sent him searching for new instructors and new methods, until he was so lost he’d forgotten who he was as a player. Now 34, Todd never has shied away from talking about his inner demons, or the wrong directions his game has taken, or the endless struggles to regain his status. And why should he? He’s now an authority on the subject, having overcome years of frustration, embarrassment and anxiety to win again on the PGA Tour, this time at the inaugural Bermuda Championship. Sitting next to the winner’s trophy Sunday, Todd gave a 702-word answer to a question about his “progression” from the 4-iron shot that altered the trajectory of his career. His detailed response was a fascinating (and harrowing) look into both the fragile psyche of a Tour player and the razor-thin margins between success and slump. It also helped illustrate why Todd possesses the most admirable athletic attribute: persistence, especially in the face of immense self-doubt. After all, few players this decade have suffered a fall as spectacular as Todd. His swing and footwork a mess, he missed 39 of 44 Tour cuts. He dropped outside the top 2,000 in the world. He shot a combined 136 over par during the 2016-18 seasons. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, Todd would have ranked as the second-worst ball-striker on Tour in 2016 and ’17, and easily the worst in ’18, losing an average of 4.377 strokes to the field PER ROUND. Late last year, he began to confront the harsh reality that his game might be lost forever – he even instructed his agent to start searching for other employment opportunities. But at the urging of a former Georgia teammate, Todd contacted Bradley Hughes, a one-time Tour member turned teaching pro. Todd had devoured the Australian’s e-book, “The Great Ball Strikers,” and was intrigued by his swing principles. After booking a lesson, Todd took off six weeks and worked on Hughes’ drills in his basement. “I gave him permission to be B. Todd again,” Hughes tweeted Sunday. “Working on pressures & force and feels instead of positional swing points.” Todd shares how he overcame the yips: ‘They’re a scary thing’ That was roughly the same time that Ward Jarvis, a former caddie on the then-Nationwide circuit, reached out to Todd to offer his services on the mental side. “Look, man, I think I know what you’re going through,” said Jarvis, who now works as both a firefighter and performance coach. “I’m a stutterer; I have the same sort of mental breakdown that you have. I think there’s a way for us to work through it together.” Jarvis instructed Todd to read a book written by former MLB phenom Rick Ankiel, the uber-talented pitcher whose career was briefly derailed by the yips. (Ankiel later became a capable outfielder.) The self-help book and long chats with Jarvis helped Todd reconceptualize himself. “He was in no man’s land,” Jarvis said. “He was forced to address his mental lows for the first time in his life.” And then: Progress. Todd first began to unlock his old form last November, when he shot 61 in the Monday qualifier for the RSM Classic. He gained confidence with a made cut on Sea Island, then played solidly enough in his 11 starts last season to earn a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where he tied for second in the first postseason event. “He’s a totally different player,” Jarvis said. “He has a mental template now.”  A full-fledged Tour member once again, Todd shrugged off four more missed cuts before the lights-out performance in Bermuda. Rounds of 68-63-67 put him in the final group, and he soared into the lead Sunday after playing the first 11 holes in 9 under par. He cruised to a stunning 62, giving him a comfortable enough cushion to savor the walk up the 72nd hole – and to reflect on his improbable return from the abyss. Afterward Todd hoped his second win would prove to be a springboard for a “really long, successful career,” but he’s experienced too much adversity to now expect a decade of consistency. For now, this hard-earned knowledge is enough: He’s a winner again. His big miss is gone. And no slump is too severe to overcome.last_img read more

Lombard (72) leads Oosthuizen in South Africa

first_imgSUN CITY, South Africa – Zander Lombard will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge and is in position to win his first European Tour title at his country’s most prestigious tournament. The 24-year-old South African, who led by two strokes overnight, ground out a level-par 72 in the third round on Saturday to move to 11 under par and stay ahead of compatriot Louis Oosthuizen (71) and Belgian Thomas Detry (69). Lombard made a bogey on No. 6 and a double bogey on No. 8 but fought back with three birdies on the back nine. Oosthuizen opened the tournament with a 63 and had a 72 in the second round. The 2010 British Open champion is chasing his first Sun City crown. Full-field scores from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Oliver Wilson made a big move up the leaderboard with a 67 and is tied with Marcus Kinhult in fourth, three shots off the lead on 8 under. Defending champion Lee Westwood, Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger, Joachim B Hansen, Mikko Korhonen, Aaron Rai and Jason Scrivener are on 6 under. Lombard’s double bogey came when he missed the fairway, was forced to lay up and then three-putted. He birdied the next hole after a fabulous chip and added birdies on Nos. 10, 14 and 15. “I’m still in the lead,” he said. “I’ve got to stay positive and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.” Detry, who is also seeking a maiden European Tour title, has been in contention all week and made six birdies in his 69 before slipping up with a double bogey and a bogey in his last five holes. He drew level with Lombard after a birdie on No. 16 but missed the green at the last and had to settle for a bogey.last_img read more

Storylines of the Year, No. 4: Woods ties Snead with 82 PGA Tour wins is counting down the top storylines of 2019. Here’s a look at Nos. 10-6 and those that just missed the cut. No. 5 was the  the “simplified” Rules of Golf and No. 4 on our list is Tiger Woods’ record-tying 82nd PGA Tour win at the Zozo Championship in Japan.   WHY IT MATTERED At the depths of Tiger Woods’ struggles with injury and age, the noise that always followed him echoed with a familiar theme. To many, Woods’ pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ mark of 18 major championships ended in 2008 when he won his 14th Grand Slam title. A career that was always going to be measured by majors had gone from official hiatus to forced retirement, or so some thought. But as the questions and concerns persisted, Woods set about changing the narrative by suggesting that it was Sam Snead’s 82 and not Jack’s 18 that he was fixated on. For Woods, Snead’s all-time PGA Tour victory mark of 82 was both immediate and easier to digest. He had, after all, won 14 times since his last major triumph at Torrey Pines in ’08. He also always believed that if he was healthy, he still had the game to catch Snead. If Nicklaus’ benchmark felt like a longshot in some circles, Woods’ pursuit of Snead’s record was somehow more realistic. That optimism grew with each start in 2018 following his fourth back procedure. News & Opinion Tiger’s 82 PGA Tour wins easy to appreciate BY Rex Hoggard  — October 28, 2019 at 1:45 PM In Japan it’s called an enthronement, but most would consider it a coronation. Either way, there were two such grand occasions last week in Tokyo. He finished second at the Valspar Championship and was back in the hunt the next week at Bay Hill, where he tied for fifth place before closing the season with top-10 finishes in the year’s final three majors. The breakthrough came at the Tour Championship, where he dominated the field for victory No. 80. “To kind of get to the 80 mark is a big number. Sam is still ahead of me. I’ve still got a chance to play some more golf and maybe I’ll keep chipping away at that number and maybe surpass it,” he said at East Lake. “I just think that what I’ve gone through and what I’ve dealt with, I’ve gotten lucky, to be honest with you. I’ve gotten very lucky.” Woods’ “luck” only got better in 2019, when he delivered a commanding performance at Augusta National for major No. 15 and Tour title No. 81. Although his one-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka reignited the debate over whether or not he’d reach Nicklaus’ Grand Slam haul, for Woods it moved him to within a single trophy of tying Snead. For a player who has carved out a Hall of Fame career by focusing on the process, and not the outcome, being so close to a lifelong goal was impossible to ignore. “To get into those numbers it takes longevity and hot years. I think you need multiple winning seasons. You need to do that for decades. That’s something I’m proud of,” Woods said in June. “That’s not something that happens overnight. To be able to come this close to get to one behind Sam Snead has been pretty amazing. It’s been a pretty amazing run throughout my 20 some-odd years out here.”   HOW IT PLAYED OUT When Woods arrived in Japan for the Zozo Championship in October, expectations were surprisingly low for the 43-year-old. Since the emotional high of his Masters victory, he’d posted just a single top-10 finish (a tie for ninth at the Memorial) and missed the cut at the year’s final two majors. More concerning was his withdrawal from The Northern Trust with an oblique strain. After being bounced from the playoffs early, Woods announced he underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee on Aug. 27. It was the fifth procedure on his left knee dating to 1994, when he was an amateur and Woods earmarked the new event in Japan as his return date. “I spoke with him a couple weeks ago and he said he was doing really well, but I told him it’s always different when you have a scorecard in your hand,” Davis Love III said prior to the Zozo Championship. Those expectations didn’t improve when Woods lost a skins game to Jason Day on the Monday before the tournament and appeared to struggle with both his ball-striking and short game. Tiger: ‘I know how it feels to have this game taken away from you’ “It was nice to get out there and compete,” Woods said following The Challenge: Japan Skins. “To get back in the flow of things. My range of motion, my strength, is there again. I just have to work my way back and hope I find a feel for the round quickly.” As Love predicted, it was different when the tournament started. Woods opened with a 64 that included birdies on four of his final five holes for a share of the lead and matched that score in Round 2 for a two-stroke lead. Heavy rain from a passing typhoon washed out Round 2 and officials scrambled to finish the event on time, which meant early starts and late finishes for a player with a fused back and a recently repaired knee. “It’s going to be a bit of a test physically and mentally to play for, what, up to 10 hours. So, it’s going to be a long day,” Woods said following the second round. Woods aced both the physical and mental test, extending his lead to three shots with a third-round 66 and enduring a grueling finish that spilled over to Monday, holding off local hero Hideki Matsuyama to tie Snead with his 82nd Tour victory. Although he’s been reluctant throughout his career to put his numerous accomplishments into perspective, Woods admitted following his victory that he started thinking about Snead’s record when he eclipsed 50 Tour victories. “Unfortunately, I went through some rough patches with my back and didn’t play for a number of years, so that record seemed like it was out of reach,” Woods said. “Having had my fourth back procedure and being able to come back and play at a decently high level again, it put the number back in the conversation again. Lo and behold, here we are tied.” While the world fixated on his pursuit of Nicklaus’ major mark it was Snead’s record and the demands of prolonged consistency that’s driven Woods through injury and back to competitive relevance.   MORE DEFINING STORIES Golf Central Woods recalls playing with Snead as a 6-year-old in 1982 BY Rex Hoggard  — October 28, 2019 at 12:22 AM It took a few decades, but Tiger Woods finally squared his match against Sam Snead. Golf Central 82 vs. 82: Tiger’s and Snead’s PGA Tour wins BY Golf Channel Digital  — October 27, 2019 at 8:45 PM A look at the official PGA Tour wins for Tiger Woods and Sam Snead, the two most triumphant players in Tour history. Golf Central Social media reacts to Tiger’s 82nd PGA Tour win BY Golf Channel Digital  — October 27, 2019 at 9:14 PM Tiger Woods won his 82nd PGA Tour event to tie Sam Snead for the all-time record on Monday at Narshino Country Club in Japan. Social media was the first to congratulate him on the feat.last_img read more

Leaney (65) leads Langer by 1 at Chubb Classic

first_imgNAPLES, Fla. – Stephen Leaney leads after Saturday’s second round at the Chubb Classic, and Fred Funk is two shots back as he attempts to become the oldest competitor to win a PGA Tour Champions event. Leaney made an eagle on the 17th hole and has posted consecutive rounds of 65, putting him one shot ahead of Bernhard Langer and two clear of Funk, Chris DiMarco and Fred Couples. “I played well the last two days,” Leaney said. “I have been driving it great, hitting a lot of very good iron shots. And suddenly started to make some putts, which I didn’t really do last year. So just try to keep it going tomorrow.” Leaney’s 130-shot total is his best 36-hole score at a PGA-sanctioned competition. His last pro win was at the 2017 Western Australian Open, and his only appearance in a Sunday final group on the PGA Tour was at the 2003 U.S. Open, when he started three shots behind eventual champion Jim Furyk. “I mean, I have won over 16, 17 times in the world,” Leaney said. “I mean, I have won tournaments before. No problem in this position. So it’s all about controlling yourself. I can’t control what anyone else does.” At 63 years, eight months and two days old, Funk would be the oldest winner ever on the tour, surpassing Scott Hoch at 63 years, five months and four days. “That’s unbelievable,” Funk said. “That would be awesome. Although that will be broken once Bernie gets to be 63, so I might as well get it.” Full-field scores from the Chubb Classic Funk’s two-round total of 132 is his best since the 2017 Regions Tradition, and that was also the last time he started the final round of an event in the top three. He finished tied for fourth. He hasn’t won a PGA Tour Champions event since the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf with partner Jeff Sluman. He’s made 145 individual starts since his last solo victory at the 2012 Greater Hickory Classic. Funk has dealt with back and nerve pain recently and said he had to push through the latter Saturday. “My back is overall a lot better,” he said. “I usually don’t have the nerve pain. Today that nerve pain fired up again on 13, for some reason, going right down my hip and into my leg. And killing me right now. But it’s been a lot better. It’s been a lot more functional. “When I had that nerve pain the last two years, it completely shut me down. And I’m scared to death of it, because I know what it means if it pops back up. So I don’t want it to come back. I can play with pain, I can’t play with that nerve pain.” Langer is a three-time winner at the Chubb Classic, last in 2016. He shot 5-under 66 in the second round, sending him into Sunday among the top-five at this tournament for the 10th time in 12 starts. A year after posting a course-record 9-under 62 in the second round at the Chubb Classic, Kevin Sutherland shot a bogey-free 63 and jumped into a tie for sixth place.last_img read more