Two former champions are among those setting the pace as the morning wave heads to the back nine in the first round of the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank.
Defending champion Luke Donald and K.J. Choi, who has won the tournament twice, are playing togethyer and both are 3 under. Also tied at the top of the leaderboard is Brendan Steele.
World Golf Hall of Famer Vijay Singh also has played 13 holes and is tied at 2 under with Chez Reavie and Peter Tomasulo. Nick Watney, Ryan Palmer and PGA TOUR rookie Patrick Reed are among eight players tied at 1 under.
Former champion Jim Furyk, who lost in a playoff last year, is even par through 13 holes while Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer are also at that number.
MARANA, Ariz. -- England's Justin Rose, a No. 2 seed, won a tight match against 15th-seeded K.J. Choi of Korea, 2 and 1, in the first round.
Rose now advances to play Belgium Nicolas Colsaerts in the second round.
Rose entered the day 2 up through nine holes but saw his lead quickly evaporate with bogeys at the 10th and 12th holes.
With the match all squared, both players birdied the par-5 13th and parred the par-4 14th. But Rose regained the advantage by converting a 23-foot birdie putt at the par-4 15th while Choi failed to roll in his 11-footer for birdie.
"I said at the beginning of the week, it comes down to that one moment in the round where you need to make something happen, and that moment for me was on 15," Rose said. "... I was looking like I was going 1 down.
"... To make a putt when I really needed it feels good, and I felt like that's what I've begun to do a lot recently."
Rose then put the match away by winning the 17th hole after Choi had trouble off the tee. He now has a chance to advance past the second round for just the second time in his eight appearances here.
"It'll be a tough game," Rose said of his match against Colsaerts, 'but obviously one that I'm looking forward to, and I'll have to make some birdies."
HOUSTON -- K.J. Choi, who has supported relief efforts worldwide as well as programs targeted to domestic and international Korean communities, is the recipient of the 2013 Golf Writers Association of America’s Charlie Bartlett Award.
The 42-year-old founded the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 with the mission of helping children and communities break the cycle of hopelessness and achieve their dreams, but his reach has extended to scholarships and global aid for hurricane and tsunami victims.
The award, named for the first secretary of the GWAA, is given to a professional golfer for his/her unselfish contributions to the betterment of society. Choi will be honored at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner April 10 in Augusta, Ga.
"I would like to thank all those who have supported me,’’ Choi said. “Without them I would never have been able to be in a position to be helping others.
“Thank you to the Golf Writer's Association of America. Although I feel that I haven't done that much, I am honored to be recognized for my actions. This is the first award of any sort that I have received during my 13 year career on the PGA TOUR and I feel that much more honored to be receiving an award for my charitable actions rather than my play."
Choi, born in Wando, South Korea, became the first Korean player to play full time on TOUR and was the 2000 Rookie of the Year. When he won the 2005 Chrysler Classic of Greensboro he presented a $90,000 check to a Korean Presbyterian church in Greensboro. Since then, his charitable work has increased.
Choi donated $90,000 to hurricane victims in the United States in 2009 and, after his 2011 win at THE PLAYERS Championship, he donated $200,000 to victims of the tornadoes that ravaged the southeastern part of the U.S. Later than year, he $100,000 to victims of the tsunami that hit Japan.
In addition to those gifts, Choi ‘s foundation supports scholarships, junior golf in Korea and supports Korean communities with food aid and development of farming production.
Choi follows Notah Begay (2012), Lorena Ochoa (2011), Ernie Els (2010), Tiger Woods (2007), Greg Norman (2008) and Jack Nicklaus (2009) as recent recipients.
Other former Bartlett winners include the Louisiana trio of Hal Sutton, David Toms and Kelly Gibson, Val Skinner, Betsy King, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Tom Lehman, Arnold Palmer, Kenny Perry, Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade, Patty Berg and Andy North.
The GWAA will also honor Players of Year Rory McIlroy, Stacy Lewis and Roger Chapman, William D. Richardson Award winner David Fay, Ben Hogan Award winner David Meador and ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award winner Laura Davies at the April 10 dinner.
LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The South annually plays as the more difficult of the two courses at Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open. Not to mention, it hosted the 2008 U.S. Open.
So K.J. Choi had to feel like he had a leg up on the field when he birdied the ninth hole at the South to polish off a round of 65 that left him tied for the lead with Brandt Snedeker after the first round. Snedeker's round came on the more generous North, which played to a par of 70.64 in the first round.
"The golf course is in great shape and to play the way I played today was nice,' Snedeker said. "I drove the ball really well, didn't make too many mistakes, and, when I did, my putter saved me which was nice.
"It was a great day, but I realize we've got three more of them to go, and I've still got the hard course to go, so not too much excitement yet.
Choi made eight birdies, including four in a row on the back nine, and dropped just one stroke to par. He took full advantage of the par 5s, playing them in 4 under, including a 12-footer at No. 9, his final hole of the day.
To put Choi's round in perspective, the South Course clocked in with a 71.718 average.
Charles Howell III, who lost in a playoff last week at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, heads a group of eight players at 6 under. Also in that group are Mike Weir, Josh Teater, Luke List, Ross Fisher, Billy Horschel and Scott Stallings, who would have been in the playoff with Howell on Sunday had he no made bogey on the 72nd hole.
Six-time Farmers Insurance Open champion Tiger Woods bogeyed two of his last three holes at the South Course to shoot 68 while Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner here, couldn't get untracked on the North and finished with a 72. Mickelson is tied for 90th.
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: A year after winning THE PLAYERS, K.J. Choi's scoring average increased nearly a stroke in 2012 -- likely due to that slide from 81st to 137th in greens hit and 73rd to 172nd in strokes gained putting. Shore up those areas, and the steady Choi could be contending for his ninth TOUR win.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Given the quality of the field, Choi's tie for eighth at Firestone -- just his third top-10 in 31 World Golf Championships events -- was probably the highlight. But he went on to finish 98th in the FedExCup, marking just the second time since the Playoffs began that Choi failed to crack the top 15. – Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I imagine K.J. was disappointed in his season, winning less than $1 million and winding up 102nd on the list. He did not drive it well or putt well but always seems to find a way to rebound. K.J. is 17th in career money leaders. He’s a candidate for a big bounce back. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Just two top 10s in a career-tying-low 21 starts, then successfully defended an event on the Korean Tour that he hosts. His inconsistency is best illustrated by the fact that he hasn't deviated less than $1 million up or down from the previous year since 2006. As we prep for 2013, he's an inexpensive roll of the dice at $969K. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Facebook
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
||Hyundai Tournament of Champions|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 16
Rounds played: 70
Top-10 finishes: 2
Money List rank: 102nd
Driving distance: 162nd
Driving accuracy: 54th
Greens in regulation: 137th
Strokes gained-putting: 172nd
Scoring average: 140th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is you prediction for K.J. Choi in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
At an average of 305.1 yards per drive for the week, runner-up Troy Matteson had the highest driving distance among the top 15 finishers at the John Deere Classic.
It took a little work to get there from an equipment standpoint.
Matteson, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, came to TPC Deere Run telling TaylorMade reps he was ‘killing’ his RBZ fairway wood but was not able to hit a power draw on command with his driver. Instead, he was hitting pulls.
Matteson’s original driver, an 8-degree TaylorMade R11S, had been tuned to a lower position while the ASP sole plate was in the closed setting – in short, a low-lofted driver with a open face, setting up closed. To help fix, TaylorMade reps gave him a higher-lofted driver with a closed clubface that appeared square, shortened by an inch to get the club more vertical and promote the draw.
In the end, going from a 7.5-degree/2-degree open face to an 8.5 degree/1-degree closed/1-inch shorter club immediately promoted more ball speed, higher launch and a higher spin rate, allowing the ball to stay in the air and turn right-to-left.
How much the switch pay off? In the first round at the John Deere, Matteson made 10 birdies in a round of 61 and ultimately lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson.
ANSER MEN: At the other end of driver spectrum was Ping, a holdout in the adjustable driver craze – until earlier this month. Ping’s new Anser driver is its first entry into the adjustable market, with lofts able to be tuned a half-degree up or down.
Louis Oosthuizen (pictured at right) put a Anser driver in the bag at last week’s Scottish Open and brought it to the British Open, where he’s the defending champion. Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera has been working with an Anser 3-wood.
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Callaway’s X Utility Prototype irons have been hot on TOUR and will continue to be this week at the British Open, where accuracy is far more important than distance. The company has been frantically shipping clubheads from its PGA TOUR trailer overseas; clubmaker Roger Cleveland even traveled to England with five 18-degree X Utility Prototype heads in his baggage.
BAG BITS: K.J. Choi won the 2011 PLAYERS with Miura irons; last week he finished T13 at John Deere with Callaway RAZR Musclebacks. … Blake Adams switched from steel shafts in his TaylorMade Tour Preferred MC irons to Aldila-prototype graphites at the John Deere. Most PGA TOUR pros prefer steel in irons. … Chez Reavie first began working with a TaylorMade Ghost Spider belly putter at the AT&T National, finally putting it into play at TPC Deere Run and finishing T68.
SCRIPT: You know you’re important when your apparel supplier dresses you. Check out how Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose are scripted by TaylorMade-adidas.
WINNER’S BAG: Johnson at the John Deere
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board, 9.5 degrees)
Fairway woods: Titleist 910F (15.0 degrees) and 909 F2 (18.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Titleist 909H (21 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP1 (4) and AP2 (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design (48, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: SeeMore FGP
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Three players have finished their first rounds of the John Deere Classic with 65s, leaving them one shot off Ricky Barnes' lead.
Garrigus, who ranks 30th in the FedExCup standings, made three birdies on the front nine and finished strong with a birdie and an eagle at Nos. 16 and 17, respectively. He is coming off a tie for fourth at the AT&T National and has two runner-up finishes this year, as well.
Piercy, who won his first PGA TOUR event last year in Reno, has been solid this season with four top-20 finishes in his last eight starts. He posted four rounds in the 60s last week at The Greenbrier Classic.
Choi has won eight times on TOUR, most recently at THE PLAYERS last year. He tied for fifth at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions but hasn't finished in the top 10 since that event.
SILVIS, Ill. -- Tee times have been released for the first two rounds of this week’s the John Deere Classic. Here’s a look at some of the notable and more intriguing groups.
Which groups are you most interested in following this week? Fill out the form below and let us know.
Scott Piercy, Rory Sabbatini, Charley Hoffman: Piercy is coming off a top 15 finish at Greenbrier. Sabbatini and Hoffman both have top-five finishes recently -- but no wins.
Ted Potter Jr., Zach Johnson, Nick Watney: One week after his unlikely win at The Greenbrier, Potter finds himself paired with a couple of A-listers at TPC Deere Run. Johnson already has a win this season, and the Iowa native badly wants to win this event.
K.J. Choi, Jonathan Byrd, Stewart Cink: These three veterans all have multiple PGA TOUR wins -- but Choi's 2011 PLAYERS win remains the most recent. Byrd won this tournament in 2007.
Kyle Stanley, Steve Stricker, Camilo Villegas: Already with a win this season and three previous John Deere titles, Stricker is the favorite this week. He is paired with Kyle Stanley, whom he beat with a birdie on the 72nd hole last year.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Prior to last year, K.J. Choi had finished in the top 25 at THE PLAYERS Championship just twice in nine trips to TPC Sawgrass. Not exactly a great track record.
Then of course in 2011, he beat David Toms in a playoff.
No one, however, has successfully defended their title in 37 previous PLAYERS Championship.
“This is the type of a course where you have to really concentrate on every shot,” Choi said Tuesday. “There's so much pressure out there, emotionally, not only golf-wise, but you have to have control of your emotions as well. “You have to set your expectations low and not ignore all the risks that are out there, because if you lose one shot that could be it. That could be the end of the tournament.”
Choi comes into this year’s PLAYERS Championship having not exactly played his best, either.
He missed two of his last three cuts and hasn’t had a top 10 since the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Now he’ll try to do what no other player has done here: Successfully defend.
“I think this course is good in a way because it gives a fair amount of chance to both guys who can hit the ball long, and also guys who don't hit it as long,” he said. “Everybody has a chance.”
Even Choi, no matter how slim it might seem.