IRVING, Texas – Alex Cejka withdrew from the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Thursday after shooting a 4-over 74.
No reason was given for Cejka’s decision.
Cejka finished tied for 16th at this event last year but he had a tough day Monday. His round included a double bogey at the ninth hole, as well as three bogeys in his last four holes.
Alex Cejka has withdrawn from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after apparently injuring his right foot after striking it with his golf club, according to the Golf Channel.
Cejka, who opened with a 74 on Thursday, was so frustrated with his play that he took a swipe at the ground with his club -- only he hit his foot. The impact created a hole in his shoe and ultimately injured his right foot.
The German was apparently in tears in the locker room and saw a doctor, according to Golf Channel, before deciding to withdraw.
Standing on the 18th tee Sunday at the Transitions Championship with a first TOUR win possible if he could make par, Gary Woodland had to find the fairway.
A driver wasn’t the smart play for the big hitter. His caddie talked him out of a 3-wood.
Woodland instead hit the fairway – and eventually won – with a Titleist 503i driving iron.
Some may call it a 2-iron or utility iron or an iron-type hybrid, but the club is essentially a driving iron -- and those two words aren’t heard much anymore in an era of hybrids and higher-lofted fairway woods, for both pros and amateurs.
Titleist no longer makes the 503i (Woodland’s is 18 degrees) and never sold it to the public.
“The trend on TOUR, and certainly in the market, is towards more playable, higher-launching hybrids like the new (Titleist) 910,” said Joe Gomes, director of communications for Acushnet Company. “It is used by only a very small number of players and they are typically either high ball speed (like Woodland) or high spin.”
Only five TOUR pros carry the muscle-back forged 503i – David Duval, Bobby Gates, Michael Sim, Kyle Stanley and Woodland – and you’d be hard-pressed to find too many more driving irons from other manufacturers in TOUR bags.
But for a guy like Woodland who doesn’t lack for driving distance (299.5 yards, eighth on TOUR) and can use some help in accuracy (56.58 percent, 144 th), there’s still room for a driving iron. He doesn’t carry a hybrid or any fairway metal other than a 3-wood.
At Innisbrook last week, he rarely pulled driver.
“Four to five (per round), just depending on the wind,” Woodland said. “The wind switched a little bit (Sunday), so I think I hit maybe five, but it’s mostly about four a day.”
● Justin Rose faded on Sunday at the Transitions after starting the day in the lead, but the twin 65s he shot on Friday and Saturday were the low 36 holes on TOUR this year and a first for the Copperhead course. The TaylorMade staff player gave some credit to a Scotty Cameron putter fished out of the garage.
“I used it at the ’08 Masters, I putted nicely at the time. It’s just a different look,” Rose said Friday after the first 65, where he was T12 in putts. “I think that’s what I needed. I had the (TaylorMade) Ghost, which had a lot of lines on it and I just thought I was getting a little bit too technical.
“I feel like I’m threatening the hole from 20, 25 feet more than I have been all year.”
● According to E. Michael Johnson of Golf World, Sergio Garcia was swinging some serious lumber at Transitions, his first TOUR event of the year. His TaylorMade R11 and Burner SuperFast 2.0 fairway woods had Mitsubishi Diamana shafts weighing 103 grams, the heaviest in the field. That’s twice as heavy as some players’ shafts, and for a guy standing 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds.
● Forget having just one’s initials on the back of clubs, Alex Cejka stamps his yardages (in meters) on the back of his wedges. He explains here. –John Schwarb
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The Honda Classic is resembling a U.S. Open when you look at the leaderboard.
Only seven players are under par more than halfway through the morning wave as winds in excess of 20-mph are making club selection a challenge at PGA National's Champion course.
Spencer Levin leads at 3-under through 17 holes. He’s one shot ahead of Matt Bettencourt, Alex Cejka and Jeff Overton.
The course is averaging more than 3 strokes over its par of 70 (73.3).
Among the big names struggling are former Honda champions Ernie Els (5 over through 12 holes) and Luke Donald (3 over through 12) and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (4 over through 12).
Els, who had hit a PGA TOUR-leading 83.3 percent of his greens entering Thursday, has hit just 6 of 12. -- Craig Dolch
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The final group has six holes remaining, and the race has tightened considerably at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Steve Marino just missed the green at the par-3 12th hole, chipped on and missed a 21-footer for par to drop back into a three-way tie for the lead at 12 under. Also in that group at D.A. Points and Hunter Mahan, who is 5 under through 15 holes.
Bryce Molder and Jimmy Walker are one stroke behind while Alex Cejka and Tom Gillis are tied at 10 under. Of the top seven players on the leaderboard only Mahan has won a PGA TOUR event.
The leader in the clubhouse is Nick Watney, who shot 67 on Sunday to finish at 9 under. If there is a playoff, the holes would be Nos. 18, 17 and 18.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Steve Marino regained sole possession of the lead when he tapped in from 11 inches at the par-5 sixth hole.
But six players stand within three strokes of his lead, including Jimmy Walker, who is at 12 under and D.A. Points, Hunter Mahan and Alex Cejka , who are another stroke back. Points is playing with comedian Bill Murray and the two are tied for the lead in the pro-am portion of the event.
Phil Mickelson, the three-time champ at Pebble Beach, has just birdied No. 11 to move to 10 under along with Bryce Molder. Molder had a chance to win last year’s tournament until he made a 9 at the 14th hole on Sunday. – Helen Ross
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am has tightened up considerably on a spectacular and sunny day on the Monterey Peninsula.
Steve Marino has bogeyed two of his first three holes while D.A. Points has made birdies in Nos. 1 and 2 at Pebble Beach so they are tied at 11 under.
Points, who is playing with comedian Bill Murray, made an 18-footer at No. 1 and two-putted from 33 feet on the par-5 second. Marino is playing Monterey Peninsula Country Club, which is generally regarded as the easiest of the three venues.
Bryce Molder, who started on the back nine at Spyglass Hill, had closed to within a shot after a birdie and eagle on his first two holes but he has just made a double bogey at No. 13. So now he’s tied for third with Jimmy Walker, Alex Cejka, Bill Lunde, J.J. Henry and Keegan Bradley at 8 under.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- A surprisingly dry winter, coupled with picture-perfect weather, has spun the meteorological clock forward on the Monterey Peninsula.
The three courses that make up the rotation for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am are firmer and faster than they normally are in mid-February. Not quite U.S. Open and last June conditions, but the courses are definitely not as soft as usual.
The change is reflected in the scoring averages. The fairways may allow more roll but at the same time, the greens can harder to hold. Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula are all played over par in the first round compared with under par a year ago.
Thursday's scoring average at Pebble Beach was 72.462 compared with 70.885 a year ago. At Spyglass Hill it was 72.444 compared with 71.519 while the numbers at Monterey Peninsual were 70.712 vs. 68.987.
Tom Gillis, who shot 67 at Pebble Beach, said he's never seen conditions like this in February.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Gillis said. "I played yesterday, and I just thought, these greens are so firm and fast, I mean, they're going to have to be careful. If you get a 10-mph wind out here, you got some issues.
“It's in good shape. Don't get me wrong, it's fun. But we're pushing the envelope, especially with the amateurs, because they can't hold any greens.
"If you get above the hole, you could putt it right off the greens. We're not used to seeing it this way. I didn't play here in June. I'm sure it was very similar."
Steve Marino shot a 65 at Spyglass Hill, generally regarded as the more difficult of the three courses. His round of 7 under put him in the lead with D.A. Points, who had a 63 at Monterey Peninsula, the only par 70 in the rota.
Marino called Spyglass, his favorite course, "the longest 6,900 yard golf course ever." It played significantly shorter, though, due to the firm fairways.
"There were a number of holes where I was hitting irons in, like 9-irons and wedges, where I've hit hybrids and 3-woods in before," said.
Alex Cejka, who opened his round with an albatross on the 10th hole, shot a 64 at Monterey Peninsula. He thought the greens there were still a little soft.
"If it's a little bit firmer you hit the balls a little bit further, you hit shorter clubs into the greens," Cejka said. "I don't want say it's playing easier, but it's playing a little bit shorter. The greens are kind of still soft. They run great, but they're soft.
"What's good is when you hit a 50iron in and you pitch it and you stop it in the next couple feet so you can attack much more flags than normal. Like when we played here for the U.S. Open, it was totally different story.
"I never seen it like this, and I was almost in shock when I get here and played my first practice round, what kind of difference from the tournament that we're playing now in January or February, and then you come in June to the Open.
"So that was a different story. But the weather is nice. It's calm and warm right now, and all three courses are brilliant. We have a couple more rounds to go. We'll see what happens." – Helen Ross
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- In case you were wondering, he didn't see the ball sneak into the hole.
The way the marshals and that handful of fans were cheering, though, Alex Cejka knew his second shot on the par-5 10th hole at Monterey Peninsula Country Club had to be good.
The albatross Cejka made with a 3-wood from 240 yards -- his second shot of the day -- was the first of his career. It sparked him to a round of 64 that left him 6 under and one stroke off the pace being set by Steve Marino and D.A. Points
According to PGA TOUR records dating back to 1982, no one has ever started a tournament with a double eagle. But the last player to open a round with an albatross is Tim Petrovic in the third round of the 2007 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Poppy Hills.
"There were like four marshals and three or four people," Cejka said. "Once the ball was rolling towards the hole they got louder and louder, and suddenly everybody was raising up their hands.
"We knew it either lipped out, it's very close, or it's in. But it's tough to see because it's an uphill shot."
Cejka has a pretty good track record on the Monterey Peninsula after tying for 10th at last year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and eighth four months later at the U.S. Open. The albatross, though, was something really special.
"I hit it solid," Cejka said. "I was going down the left hand side because it's a big slope in front of the green. I hit it just right. You know, this is luck. Even hole-in-ones or shots like this, this is always 80 percent luck.
"You can hit a great shot, but it took the break perfectly. You can't judge that from 240 yards. It was one of those great shots what I will remember for the rest of my life."
Cejka then birdied the 12th and 13th holes to move to 5 under through four holes, but he gave some of that back with three bogeys over his next four. He played his final 11 holes in 4 under to polish off the 64, though.
"Overall, it was a great day," Cejka said. "I hit a lot of good shots and I putted well. ...
"Every player has a couple courses out here where he always plays well. ... How can you not love it here? It's great. I come here with a great attitude, and so far I've been playing well. I hope it's going to continue like this." – Helen Ross
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – No, your eyes are not deceiving you.
Alex Cejka did start the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with a double eagle on the 10th hole at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. He had 240 yards for his approach and used a 3-wood.
The albatross has given Cejka a one-stroke lead over his playing partner Kevin Sutherland, who eagled No. 10, and Andres Romero, who is also playing Monterey Peninsula but started on the front nine.
Cejka’s double eagle is the first of 2011 and just the 11th since the start of the 2009 season.
Click here for Cejka’s first-round scorecard.
DOUBLE EAGLES IN 2010
|Carl Pettersson||Bob Hope Classic||La Quinta||5th||3rd|
|Steve Wheatcroft||St. Jude Classic||TPC Southwind||3rd||2nd|
|Shaun Micheel||U.S. Open||Pebble Beach||6th||4th|
|Shiv Kapur||Reno-Tahoe Open||Montreux||9th||2nd|
|Vijay Singh||Deutsche Bank||TPC Boston||2nd||3rd|
|Johnson Wagner||Viking Classic||Annandale||7th||2st|
DOUBLE EAGLES IN 2009
|Matthew Borchert||Valero Texas Open||LaCantera||14th||2nd|
|Paul Lawrie||British Open||Ailsa Champ.||7th||4th|
|John Senden||Deutsche Bank||TPC Boston||2nd||2nd|
|Nicholas Thompson||Frys.com Open||Grayhawk||11th||3rd|