Tag:sawgrass friday
Posted on: May 13, 2011 7:21 pm

Bubba bucks up, doesn't bail, shoots 66

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Bubba Watson could have pulled up his tent stakes and mailed it in on Friday.

Instead, he shot the secoond-best score of the day with a 6-under-66 and made the weekend after all at TPC Sawgrass, a course he freely admits scares the bejeesus out of him.

Watson, riding high with two wins this season, skied to a 4-over 76 in the first round of the Players Championship, leaving him miles outside the projected cut. Instead of going through the motions, he made six birdies and played a bogey-free round.

"Yesterday was all putting," he groused. "My putting sucked. The greens get to me here -- they are so grainy. That's why I moved out of Florida. That's the difference [between the two rounds]."

Watson was asked whether he might have mentally checked out in the past after such a poor opening round, and strongly disagreed with that sentiment.

"I would never mail it in," he said. "I have improved. But I have improved mentally the most. That was just a perfect round of golf, for me."

Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 7:18 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 7:19 pm

Sabbo and Sean clear air -- what happens next?

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Sean O'Hair told reporters after the second round of the Players Championship on Friday that he and sparring partner Rory Sabbatini have cleared the air.

They two had an on-course exchange two weeks ago in New Orleans that escalated into a profane, high-decibel argument in which bystanders interceded.

O'Hair told reporters that he and Sabbatini spoke early last week and addressed their grievances, which date to three months ago and another Sabbatini blowup in Los Angeles that O'Hair also witnessed.

O'Hair said he doesn't believe that anything he did, personally, in the New Orleans incident warranted a suspension.

The PGA Tour has neither acknowledged that the incident took place nor announced what will happen with Sabbatini, who is tied for 11th after 36 holes. A tour source said last week that Sabbatini was suspended for the Riviera incident, but that the disciplinary move was later rescinded when he agreed to apologize to all of the offended parties.

Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 7:15 pm

Act of integrity gets Wilson the weekend off

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Mark Wilson, a two-time winner this season who claimed his first PGA Tour event in 2007 despite calling a penalty on himself that week, red-flagged himself again Friday at the Players Championship.

This time, he won't get any karmic payback at the end for being honest -- he missed the cut by one.

Wilson, who won the Honda Classic four years ago despite a penalty assessed for a rules breach committed by his caddie, asked a tour official in Friday's second round to review videotape to see if he had unintentionally double-hit a shot on the fifth hole at TPC Sawgrass.

The tour eyed the tape and got back to him, informing him that no penalty had been committed. Trouble was, they reviewed the wrong shot. After telling Wilson he was clear, the official came back a few minutes later after realizing the error. The videotape of the actual shot in question was inconclusive, so Wilson went with his gut instinct and added another stroke to his tally on the hole.

He missed the cut by a shot at 1 over.

"If it was 1 percent that I thought I did it, I'd have called the penalty on myself," Wilson said.

Wilson, a guy with deep religious convictions and about as honest as they come, shrugged off the penalty. "I won't remember this 10 years from now. Webb Simpson did it [called a penalty on himself] and guys do it all the time out here. It's a gentleman's game."

Wilson noted that he had nine holes left when he committed the double-hit and had plenty of time to get back inside the cutline and didn't.
Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:41 pm

Finchem shoots down Tiger conspiracy theory

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tim Finchem wasted no time refuting any supposition that the PGA Tour placed pressure on an ailing Tiger Woods to play this week at the Players Championship before he was medically ready.

Appearing live on CNBC on Friday morning, the commissioner of the tour stated unequivocally that there was never any arm-twisting to play or quid pro quo involved for making the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse available for Woods' high-profile public apology last year, a theory that was espoused on a CNBC sister network, the Golf Channel.

"... The idea that we would pressure him to do anything is ludicrous," Finchem said flatly. "We don’t pressure any player to play any tournament. Tiger doesn’t enter a tournament unless he thinks he can win.”

Maybe yes, maybe no, at least on that last point. Woods appeared nowhere near ready to play this week, given that he played only 18 holes in four weeks heading into the tournament and had spent one day practicing with his new swing coach. In the nine holes he played before withdrawing Thursday, Woods was 6 over and hit two balls in the water. There are few, if any, examples of Woods showing up to play with less preparation than this week.

Various talking heads suggested that Woods played only because he was pressure or felt beholden to the tour for making the facility available when he made his first public comments on his ruinous, off-season sex scandal. Finchem told CNBC that he was not concerned that Woods would be sidelined for a lengthy period and said ratings were up from last year in most of the season’s early broadcasts.

“The story now is the young players and when Tiger’s going to come back and play as he used to,” Finchem said. “He doesn’t need to come back and dominate like he did. He needs to play.

“My concern is where his injuries are going to go, and he doesn’t know what the answer is to that. And we won’t know that for a while.”

Despite hosting the event this week at PGA Tour headquarters, Finchem has yet to meet with the print media this week, though a Sunday press session was added after several complaints about his availability were voiced.


Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 3:12 pm

'Rookie' Karlsson zeroes in on Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Robert Karlsson is, albeit technically, a 41-year-old rookie this season on the PGA Tour.

The former Ryder Cup player is also ranked No. 22 in the world, so pretty clearly, this is hardly his first rodeo.

Still, after a highly successful run as a European Tour regular, there's been a transition period for the 6-foot-5 Swede after he moved his family to the States late last year to play a new circuit. Namely, on the greens.

Like the speeds limits on the various global highways, Karlsson is finally getting up to speed and shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to move into the top 10 on Friday morning at the Players Championship.

As a rule, Karlsson said the greens on the PGA Tour are firmer and faster than in Europe and that an approach shot that stops five feet from the flag overseas will trickle away to seven or eight feet in the States. By any yardstick, scoring becomes more difficult, he said.

"The short game and putting is a bit different than in Europe," said Karlsson, who moved to Charlotte, N.C. in the offseason. "I think the greens are quicker and just much more demanding in general."

Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:55 pm

Reinvigorated McDowell resurfaces at Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- World No. 5 Graeme McDowell started the year where he left off in 2010, right in the weekend hunt, atop the leaderboards more often than not, mostly hitting the hero shots.

Then just as suddenly, he couldn't find the middle of the clubface if he was hitting a beach ball.

"I've been swinging the club like an idiot," he said.

After another long session last weekend with English swing coach Pete Cowen, McDowell is at last back in his customary position heading into the weekend at the Players Championship, tied for second as the afternon wave played at TPC Sawgrass.

Dressed in black on a stifling day of heat, McDowell shot a 3-under 69 despite a double-bogey and a pair of three three-putts, but was otherwise delirious to be back among the relevant players this week. He had missed three of his last four cuts and finished T61 in his other start.

The Ryder Cup hero admitted that some of his earlier results this year were a bit misleading, too, and that the late flashes of brilliance he showed in 2010 hadn't necessarily carried over as fully as many believed.

"To be honest, I probably backed into most of my good results this year, with a low one in the last round in Abu Dhabi, and I backed in at the Honda Classic as well," he admitted. "So I haven't put myself in contention going into Saturday this year. I said to my caddie walking to the first tee yesterday, I'm missing being in contention. So, really happy to be there.

"I came here with no expectations. After a weekend of grinding, you're never really sure if you're going to go put it on the golf course. I;ve given myself a lot of confidence the last couple of days and whatever happens this weekend, these last two days have been a huge step forward for me after the way I played the last six weeks."

Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:40 pm

Mickelson goes up, down, and maybe out

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Even for Phil Mickelson, the gold standard for upheaval and unpredictable play, it was a ridiculously uneven round of golf.

Mickelson, the 2007 champion at the Players Championship, lit up TPC Sawgrass with a stellar 5-under 31 on his opening nine to climb into the top five before skidding home on his closing nine to finish with a disappointing 1-under 71.

"I don't really know what to say," he said. "I stopped hitting fairways and really lost the momentum."

Four sloppy bogeys on his back nine were killers, leading to an energy-sapping 40. With the Bermuda rough at 3 inches, playing out of the fairway this week is like a half-shot penalty in some parts of the course. It's virtually unplayable out of the rough.

"I hit a lot of fairways on the front and was able to make birdies," he said. "Then on the back I'm having trouble just hitting the green."

Hhe his two of seven fairways on his back nine to fall well out of the mix. As the afternoon wave played, Mickelson was a whopping eight shots behind leader David Toms, who shot 68 and is 10 under.

Category: Golf
Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 2:29 pm

Wild, woolly weekend ahead at Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla . -- We scribes here at CBSSports.com are forever in search of the latest trends, the things that move and shape the sports we cover, from the people to the rules, in an attempt to keep our readers up to date on the games they love.

Here's a hot one for you: Three guys with beards are in the top five at the Players Championship.

Make no mistake, beards are rare in golf, because it's a monochromatic, buttoned-down crowd, mostly. But thanks to guys like Lucas Glover, who won last week and looks as though he hasn't shaved since the onset of puberty, they are becoming more noticed of late.

Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan, also in the top five at TPC Sawgrass as of midday Friday, are also unshaven and ranked in the world top 20. The timing seems odds on all three counts, since summer temperatures are blazing already in the Southeast and beards aren't exactly cool in the summer months.

Mahan said his beard, which is sparce compared to the manicured fescue that Glover sprouted, isn't uncomfortable. So it's not a fair comparison, he said,

"I don't really feel it that much," Mahan said. "Yeah, [Glover] is in another category of woolly mammoth."
Category: Golf
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