Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Golf

Dustin Johnson leads Memorial; impact of Doral move on Innisbrook's Valspar

DUBLIN, Ohio — Dustin Johnson set the pace early with 10 birdies on his way to 8-under 64 at the Memorial.

Jason Day avoided his aggressive nature to try to catch him Thursday.

One day after Jordan Spieth referred to Johnson as the most talented player on the PGA Tour, Johnson opened with three straight birdies, made three straight birdies to close the front nine, added four in a row on the back and finished with his best score in his nine years at Muirfield Village. He had a one-shot lead over Brendan Steele, who holed out for eagle on the 18th for 65.

Day, the world's No. 1 player and a Muirfield member, played in the afternoon as clouds began to gather. He rallied on the back nine with three birdies and an eagle, and wound up two shots back, which was fine with him. His 66 was his best score in competition on the course Jack Nicklaus built.

"Mr. Nicklaus told me early, 'Just play within yourself.' Being patient is key out here," Day said. "When you see 8 under, it's hard to be patient. But pleased."

Spieth's putter saved him in a scrappy round of 70.

Rory McIlroy, playing with Spieth, changed back to a conventional putting grip. That helped only so much in his round of 71.

Much attention was on the top three players in the world — Day, Spieth and McIlroy — because of their ranking, having won five of the past seven majors, and because all three arrived at the Memorial coming off victories.

Johnson, with his power and, Thursday, his putting, showed why Nicklaus and others think the Big Three will grow in size.

"I just played well right out of the gates," Johnson said. "This year I've felt like I'm playing well. I just haven't quite played up to my potential. With me, it has everything to do with the putter. I rolled it well today."

Matt Kuchar holed a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole to join the group at 66 that included Hudson Swafford, who did all his damage on the front nine when he tied the course record with 29.

Luke Donald was among those at 67, and Phil Mickelson was at 68, partly due to a wild shot on No. 15. Mickelson beaned a marshal in the head, and the ball kicked back across the fairway and led to birdie on the par-5 hole.

Valspar tourney boss sees little impact due to Doral

With the tour's announcement Wednesday that the World Golf Championship tournament at Doral Country Club near Miami will move to Mexico City for at least the next seven years, Innisbrook's Vals­par Championship now will follow a tournament outside Florida.

Will that make it harder to attract top players to Palm Harbor?

Not really, tournament director Tracy West said. Because the Mexico City tournament will provide a charter jet for players to Tampa after that tournament, West said she thinks she might even be able to improve the field.

"From our perspective, I don't think it's going to change anything,'' West said. "I think the players that normally play here will still play us. I don't think the extra travel will impact us. … We're making it as easy as possible (with the charter).

"I'm going to be targeting the guys who play in the World Golf Championship who don't normally play here. I'm going to say, 'Hey, you're landing in Tampa.' It might help us. I don't think it will have an impact, and maybe we get a few guys that we wouldn't normally get.''

Times staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.

Comments

Dustin Johnson, Ted Potter Jr. tied for lead at Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Dustin Johnson overcame a sloppy back nine in the stiffening breeze by making a 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach for 2-under 70 that gave him a share of the lead going into the final round of the Pebble Beach Nat...
Published: 02/10/18
Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship? Maybe

Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship? Maybe

PALM HARBOR — Every year at this time, Valspar Championship officials release a list of players committed to the tournament, those likely to commit and those who have not definitively said no. For the first time since it became a PGA Tour event in 20...
Published: 02/08/18
Gary Woodland rallies to win Phoenix Open in playoff

Gary Woodland rallies to win Phoenix Open in playoff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Gary Woodland was surprised to see infant son Jaxson with wife Gabby late Sunday afternoon at the Phoenix Open. "My wife kind of surprised me with him," Woodland said. "I didn’t think he was going to be there. I thought it would j...
Updated one month ago
Record crowd watches Rickie Fowler take Phoenix Open lead

Record crowd watches Rickie Fowler take Phoenix Open lead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rickie Fowler birdied the last three holes in front of the largest crowd in golf history Saturday to take the lead in the Phoenix Open. Fowler shot 4-under 67 to reach 14 under with a round left at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course,...
Updated one month ago
Fowler back in contention in Scottsdale

Fowler back in contention in Scottsdale

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rickie Fowler took a share of the lead into the weekend in the Phoenix Open. He knows from experience the party is just getting started. "Just keep the gas pedal down," Fowler said. Fowler has had a lot of success at TPC Scottsdal...
Updated one month ago

Bill Haas takes first-round lead at PGA’s Phoenix Open

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bill Haas’ 9-iron landed to the right of the pin and spun left, settling 3 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th in the Phoenix Open. "I just tried to play the hole like I would any other hole, even though it’s not like any other...
Updated one month ago
Jason Day wins playoff at Farmers Insurance Open

Jason Day wins playoff at Farmers Insurance Open

SAN DIEGO — Jason Day calmly sank an 18-inch birdie putt at 8:17 a.m. Monday in front of empty grandstands on No. 18 at Torrey Pines for his first PGA Tour win in 20 months. There were no roars, just cheers from Day’s family and a handful of mates. I...
Updated one month ago

Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome defends title at Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Brittany Lincicome beat darkness — with help from floodlights Sunday on the Ocean Club’s 18th green — to win the Bahamas LPGA Classic for the second straight year. The Seminole resident birdied the final two holes and four ...
Updated one month ago

Nine-time European champion Alex Noren takes lead at Farmers Insurance Open

SAN DIEGO — A nine-time winner on the European Tour, Alex Noren of Sweden gave himself a chance to make his mark in America with 3-under 69 Saturday for a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Noren finished strong, ...
Updated one month ago
Ryan Palmer leads Farmers Insurance Open; Tiger Woods barely makes cut

Ryan Palmer leads Farmers Insurance Open; Tiger Woods barely makes cut

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Palmer is the 36-hole leader in the Farmers Insurance Open. Jon Rahm is right behind, poised to reach No. 1 in the world. And for the first time in 29 months, a PGA Tour event will feature Tiger Woods on the weekend. Palmer finished ...
Updated one month ago