Adam Schenk shares lead after birdie blitz

Unheralded Adam Schenk birdied eight holes in a row to share the lead with top-ranked Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas after Thursday’s second round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

A day after his 30th birthday, Schenk torched the North Course at Torrey Pines for a career-low 62, 10-under par, to stand on 13-under alongside fellow American Thomas and Rahm, who won last year’s US Open on Torrey’s South Course.

“Unbelievable day,” Schenk said. “I didn’t know how many I made in a row. I knew I needed to capitalise while I was playing good golf and that’s what I tried to do.”

Schenk’s birdie run began at the par-four fourth and included a 30-footer at the par-five fifth, a 40-footer at the par-three eighth, a 35-footer to begin the back nine and a 30-footer from off the 11th green.

“I lost track of how many I made,” he said. “I knew there were a lot of gettable holes and I needed to keep going if I wanted to get on top of the leaderboard and hopefully stay there throughout the weekend. I had to try to keep the pedal down and not get satisfied.”

Schenk finished one shy of the US PGA record birdie streak set by Mark Calcavecchia at the 2009 Canadian Open and matched in 2019 by Kevin Chappell at Greenbrier.

After birdies at 16 and 17, Schenk lipped out a birdie attempt at 18 to miss sharing the course record of 61 with compatriots Mark Brooks and Brandt Snedeker.

“It would have been nice to have had that putt go in but I made so many,” Schenk said. “You can’t have them all go in I guess.”

“The score would make you think I played a lot better than I did,” Rahm said. “I struggled finding the fairway. I was able to get myself back in position.

“I’m happy with my putting and the way I managed the course. For how little fairways I hit, I was able to reach the greens from the rough, which is pretty good.”

Thomas also began on the back nine of the North Course and birdied three of his first four holes and closed with birdies on three of his final five, happy to shave five strokes off his opening-round score.

“The score was great but I just had control a lot better. I was able to make some putts and got on a little bit of a roll,” Thomas said. “I’m just driving it well. If you drive it well you can make some birdies.”

That’s the step he hopes to take on the weekend, when the final two rounds will be played on the South Course.

“I have enough confidence and belief in my short irons and wedges that if I can put it in the fairway I can make some birdies,” Thomas said.

American Cameron Tringale was fourth on 132 with American Peter Malnati fifth on 133.

Mark Baldwin receives an invite to the AT&T at Pebble Beach

Will Wilcox

I met Mark in an airport on the way to the 1st KFT stop in 2018.. there was something about the bounce in his step and the clear excitement on his face that made me approach him. We’ve played many practice rounds since and shared conversations while drinking red wine out of paper cups.

He is the true journeyman professional golfer. Example: he could tell you where to get the best noodle bowls in many obscure locations throughout Asia.  He flushes the ball and has actually gained distance as he’s gained years.

Well, this journeyman is now getting a shot he truly deserves… and it’s on the hallowed grounds of Pebble MF’n Beach. Good Luck my brother.

Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau highlight notable PGA Tour players to miss 2022 Farmers Insurance Open cut

But despite perfect scoring conditions for two days – light winds, sunlit skies and the ground a tad on the soft side – some of the PGA Tour’s biggest names said adios to Torrey Pines and its top-notch lodging and golf courses on Thursday.

With the cut coming in at 3 under, that meant the likes of hometown favorite Phil Mickelson, four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, three-time major champion Jordan Spieth and master blaster Bryson DeChambeau missing the cut.

The much tougher South Course got the better of those who won’t play the final two rounds. The South played nearly 4.5 strokes harder than the North Course.

 

Torrey Pines is when Tour life hits the rookies like a ton of bricks: “Welcome to tour life punks” … these courses combined with the crowd are an entirely different feeling than anything they had seen prior. This is the reason I always took this week off if I had the option. Torrey Pines is the one monster of a challenge.

McIlroy: It’s Hard To Say No To Saudi Money

Source: Compleat Golfer

Rory McIlroy, who is back at the Dubai Desert Classic for the first time since 2018, says the European Tour should allow players to compete in Saudi Arabia next week.

The Saudi International ceased to be part of the DP World Tour, formerly called the European Tour, and has become part of the Asian Tour.

Both the PGA Tour and European Tour have threatened not to release their members for the $5-million event due to Saudi Golf’s plans to start a rival Premier Golf League.

“I’ve always thought that rival golf tours are just going to make these tours better. I think competition is a good thing and businesses need competition for things to progress and move on,” said McIlroy, who chairs the 16-member Player Advisory Council on the PGA Tour.

“If guys go to Saudi and they are going to make 10% of their yearly income just by going and playing, then restricting them from doing that, punishing them, that creates resentment for the players and that creates a problem between the Tours.

“Look, everyone knows it’s a tricky one. But I certainly don’t blame anyone for going and doing it. At the end of the day, it’s our job and livelihood. If someone comes and offers you that sort of money, it’s hard to say no.”

Asked if the reactions of the PGA and the European Tour have created a division with the players, McIlroy said: “I think the best course of action for the Tours is to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

The Saudi event has drawn criticism for ‘sportswashing’ funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), with campaigners saying it is designed to distract from the country’s human rights record.

McIlroy said it was futile looking at where the money was coming from.

“You look at so many companies we use, like if you have used Uber, they are funded by the PIF,” he said.

“It’s hard to go anywhere and not have something or someone involved that people won’t agree with. Maybe some people don’t agree with the places that money comes from, but they are involved, a lot of the companies we use, a lot of the products we use.

“If you try to be moralistic about it and having principles, you’re not going to be able to live life at the end of the day. It’s not black and white. There’s a lot of grey area, and I’ve certainly thought about it and wrestled with it.

“If you try to take that hard line of a stance, you’re just going to end up not being able to do what you want to do.”

Switching his focus to this week’s event, McIlroy said he was delighted to return to a tournament where he gained his first professional win in 2009.

“This was one of the first events I played on the European Tour back in 2006, I think as a 16-year-old. The course hasn’t changed that much over the years,” he said. “The greens seem to get progressively smaller as we keep coming back.”

It’s just a golf tournament…  let these very accomplished  players go collect a few mill and stop worrying about the politics. Yes, I have seen the documentary “Inside Saudi Arabia”… and their religious beliefs and practices (punishments) go back a very long time. In my opinion they have nothing to do with chasing a ball in a field.

Swear words aside, world No. 1 Jon Rahm doesn’t back off on criticism of PGA Tour setup last week

Steve DiMeglio

Jon Rahm stood his ground.

Last week en route to finishing in a tie for 14th in the American Express, the world No. 1 was caught on video voicing his extreme displeasure with the course setup in what is annually a birdie-fest in the Palm Springs area, one he captured in 2018.

As he walked from a green to a tee at the Nicklaus Course at PGA West during the second round, Rahm, who wears his emotions on his golf sleeve and has improved his ability to rein in his temperament that has gotten the better of himself a few times over the years, went off with an eight-word out burst with two expletives that made the video go viral.

“Piece of (blank) (blank) setup. Putting-contest week,” he said.

“If I knew somebody was recording, I wouldn’t say it the way I did, but I was just thinking out loud and letting some frustration out because that’s what I felt, right?” Rahm said. “I mean, the video’s pretty self-explanatory. I mean, we’re the PGA Tour, we’re the best golfers on the planet and we’re playing a golf course where missing the fairway means absolutely nothing.

“There were times where missing the fairway by an inch was worse than missing the fairway by 20 yards, that to me is a mistake. I also understand we’re in the desert, you can’t overseed the entire golf course and things like that can’t happen, but yeah, we played a lot of golf with zero rough.

“No matter where you hit it, you’re going to be able to hit it on the green and it becomes a putting contest, who can make the putts. That’s about it, there’s no premium for anything else.

This is a Pro-Am, Pro, and we don’t need 7 hour rounds as they play the Stadium Course. This event has always gone deep and always will (unless the Santa Ana winds blow of course). John Rahm wins yuge tournaments… skip the Pro-Ams I’d say.

‘It should be remembered as a victory:’ Patrick Reed says controversial drop shouldn’t overshadow Farmers Insurance Open win 

Steve DiMeglio

Patrick Reed knew the question was coming.

He knew he’d have to address his controversial drop from an embedded lie in the third round of last year’s Farmers Insurance Open, especially given his checkered past that included his complaints about not playing with Jordan Spieth in the 2018 Ryder Cup and his incident in a bunker in the 2019 Hero World Challenge when he improved his lie before hitting his shot, a two-stroke penalty later assessed.

So, back to the South Course in the third round last year. Reed had taken his golf ball out of the embedded lie in the rough left of the fairway on the 10th hole before calling for an official to get relief. Video of the incident was not kind, and social media lit up and afterward, Xander Schauffele said of the matter, “The talk amongst the boys isn’t great, I guess.”

PGA Tour rules officials said Reed did nothing wrong and no penalty was issued. Reed went on to roll to a 5-shot victory at 14 under, but the episode overshadowed his triumph.

What if it had been a 1-shot victory?

Cash or captaincy: Is Stenson really willing to destroy his reputation for a few extra dollars?

Alex Perry

The Ryder Cup captaincy conundrum once again makes headlines… 

Wait, isn’t it normally announced by now? 

Well spotted. Yes, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for the following year is normally revealed at the Abu Dhabi Championship – because where else would they do it? – but it’s been pushed back a few weeks as the selection panel continues to work out where it all went wrong in September’s 19-9 drubbing at Whistling Straits.

Lee Westwood ruled himself out a few weeks back to effectively make it a two-horse race between Henrik Stenson and Luke Donald, while Robert Karlsson – a pivotal part of Thomas Bjorn’s victorious backroom team in 2018 – has since been thrown into the mix.   

But according to the Telegraph’s James Corrigan – who rarely misses when it comes to anything DP World Tour or Ryder Cup related – Stenson has been told he must decide between leading Team Europe out in Italy next year or signing up to Public Investment Fund-backed Super Golf League. 

While the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, and Justin Thomas are among the big names who have already announced they will remain loyal to their circuits, Stenson is one of a host of players ready to accept the Saudi cash.  

The 2016 Open champion, if reports are to be believed, has been offered $30 million.   

With Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose likely to take the Ryder Cup reins at some point in the next decade, it looks like ‘23 will be Stenson’s only chance. Though, Corrigan adds, murmurings at Ryder Cup HQ suggest the panel would rather go with the right person for the job, rather than just the next legend to reach a certain age. There has even been talk of Bjorn going again.

The question that remains is: would Stenson really destroy his reputation – and his chance at one of the most coveted roles in golf – for a few extra zeros on his bank balance? 

It’s not like he’s short of a bob or two. Despite that scam that cost him around eight million big ones a few years back, we’re still talking about someone who sits in fourth on the all-time European Tour earnings list – only Westwood McIlroy, Garcia have won more – and has also won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and all the riches that brings. 

I know how I’d rather be remembered.

Henrik! 30 mill isn’t small potatoes.. grab that Saudi cash and post up at Lake Nona and paddle board with the fam. 

Why Tour Players Should Stop Criticising Course Set-Ups And Just Play Golf

Fergus Bisset

Tyrrell Hatton, defending champion in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, was so critical of the 18th at Yas Links he said he’d like to “drop a bomb on the hole and wipe it off the face of the earth.”

At The American Express on the PGA Tour, a spectator caught Jon Rahm on camera unleashing an expletive-laden tirade about the course being too easy. “Piece of s**t, f***ing setup, putting contest week,” he said.

Although there were very different circumstances for each of these outbursts – One intended to be heard, the other being overheard, there’s a bit of a theme in that some professional golfers need to be a little more careful about what they say for the overall good of the game.

There’s a big difference between course design and course set-up.

‘Blow it up to oblivion’: Tyrrell Hatton goes nuclear on Abu Dhabi hole design

James Colgan 

Tyrrell Hatton didn’t hold back his disdain for the 18th hole at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi.

It’s hard to know for certain, but Tyrrell Hatton might not love the 18th hole at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi.

And why do we say that? Oh, well only because he’s dedicated consecutive post-round sessions with gathered reporters at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship to the subject of the 646-yard par-5, and his critiques have been … not sterling.

“That must be one of the worst par-5s I’ve ever seen in my life,” Hatton said Saturday. “And over the last two days, I’ve clearly played it about as well as it was designed.”

As for the offending issue, Hatton had … a few thoughts.

“What’s wrong with it? Where do you start? It shouldn’t have a bunker in the middle of the fairway, and it shouldn’t be over 600 yards from a forward tee,” he said Saturday. “If you hit a good drive as a pro, you should have at least a chance to go for the green in two, otherwise the hole becomes a par-3, and that’s if you play it well. Hardly anyone will get there in two with the wind even slightly against you.”

Go Terrell!

Low scoring pushes Lee Hodges, Paul Barjon to American Express lead heading into final round

Larry Bohannan, Palm Springs Desert Sun

Hodges opened the tournament with a 62 at La Quinta, but was hitting the ball just as well Saturday, he said.

“It was a great day. Hit the ball really well. I know it was really nice to see some putts fall on that back nine,” Hodges said. “I made three nice putts in a row there from like 10 to 12. And then just kind of really hit some quality shots coming in to give myself some easy birdies.”

Playing side by side with Hodges, who is ranked 312th in the world to Barjon’s 313th, Barjon played the final nine holes Saturday in 4 under to get a share of the lead. A rookie on the PGA Tour, Barjon is looking for his first win on tour, as are six of the top 10 players on the leader board. Barjon also played his way into the final threesome Sunday, where he will play with Hodges for the fourth consecutive day.

Hodges is playing in the last group for the first time on the PGA Tour.