Two players from the Web.com Tour are off to impressive starts at the U.S. Open. Mathew Goggin shot 2-under 68, while Russell Knox was one shot higher.
Goggin, No. 14 on the Web.com Tour money list, is used to playing well in majors. Goggin, who once ranked in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking, played alongside Tom Watson in the final group at the 2009 Open Championship. Goggin had to finish 12 holes of his first round Friday morning, then start his second round soon after. “If you’re playing well it’s probably a bit of an advantage because you get to keep rolling, get a bit of momentum going,” said Goggin, who has two top-10 finishes, and eight made cuts, in 10 starts this year. He celebrated his 39th birthday on Thursday.
Knox is 44th on the Web.com Tour money list while splitting time between that circuit and the PGA TOUR. He’s finished in the top 25 in half of his eight Web.com Tour starts this year, while making the cut in four of six PGA TOUR events.
“I’m thrilled,” said Knox, who will celebrate his 28th birthday in a week. “I didn’t really know what to expect in my first major, but I knew I was capable of having a nice round. … I’m just thrilled to be here.”
Knox played the final 13 holes of his first round on Friday morning, shooting 1 under on those holes to post his 69.
Knox and Goggin both played the PGA TOUR last year. Knox finished 179th on the FedExCup, while Goggin was 192nd.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- After finishing 143rd on the money list last year, Russell Knox knows he's in a tenuous situation.
Such conditional status on the PGA TOUR offers no guarantees. Planning a schedule is all but a pipe dream, and Monday qualifiers are a way of life. So Knox knows what he has to do.
"Just try to play good when I get the chance," he said simply, and that's exactly what Knox did on Friday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Knox played the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula and fired a 64 on the par-70 layout that left him tied with Hunter Mahan for the lead in relation to par. He made eight birdies and two bogeys on a solid day that saw Knox hit 12 fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation. Using just 25 putts didn't hurt, either.
Encouraged by Phil Mickelson's success with a new Callaway driver in Phoenix last week, Knox said he decided to add a new one from Cleveland to his bag this week. He ended up tying his career-low on TOUR.
"It worked," Knox said. "Drove it very well and from the fairway on this course, you can have some shorter clubs in. Hit nice iron shots. Putted great."
Knox, who is based in Jacksonville, Fla., has lived a nomadic existance so far this year. He played in the Sony Open in Hawaii, which was the first full-field event of this year, by virtue of his tie for ninth in the last one of 2012. He missed the cut in Honolulu, though, and then was unsuccessful in Monday qualifiers for the events at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale.
"Played nicely both times but didn't make it," said Knox, who stayed with a family in southern California between events. "So I came in here with a lot of confidence, because I feel like I've been playing very well. Just haven't had the chance to play. It was nice to get off to a good start."
Depending on whether "something good happens" on Sunday, Knox plans to head home to Florida for the first time in five weeks. Then it's off to Web.com Tour events in Panama and Colombia. He expects to return to the PGA TOUR at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com, which is played opposite the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in March.
"It's going to be a mammoth year, so it's kind of nice to take a break to be honest," Knox said. "But I have been itching to go because I feel like my game has improved a lot. I finished last year so well, and so I'm just trying to keep the confidence high and just waiting for my chance to play good."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Hunter Mahan bounced back from his only bogey of the day with a birdie aton Pebble Beach's iconic 18th hole to grab a share of the lead after the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Mahan two-putted from 45 feet on the signature par 5 that skirts the Pacific Ocean to get to 6 under and pull even with Russell Knox in relation to par. The Scotsman shot 64 at Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course, which is the only one in the three-course rotation that plays to a par 70.
"The conditions were so benign right now that you can be aggressive and there are some pins that were definitely accessible today," Mahan said. "So it was nice to take advantage of that.... I like how I played and hit a lot of good quality shots and it was nice to end with a birdie today."
The group at 5 under included Matt Every, Ted Potter Jr., Greg Owen, Ryuji Imada, Scott Langley and Seung-yul Noh, who was in the lead by himself before he bogeyed his last two holes at Spyglass Hill. Langley, the first member of The First Tee to earn a PGA TOUR card, made seven birdies and two bogeys on the Shore Course.
Brandt Snedeker, who currently leads the FedExCup standings and won the season-long competition last year, heads a group of nine players at 4 under. Snedeker, who opened the season by finishing third on Maui, has been the runner-up the last two weeks.
Lee Westwood, who is making his 2013 PGA TOUR debut and played Pebble Beach with his dad John on Thursday, is also in the group at 4 under. Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who won last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open in record-setting fashion, shot 1 under at Monterey Peninsula.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- On one hand, Russell Knox wasn’t thinking about finishing in the top 125 on the money list after entering the final round of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in a tie for 32nd.
On the other, he played his first 14 holes in 7 under to at one point tie for the lead. Even a second-place finish would have helped him after beginning the week 156th on the money list.
Instead, Knox bogeyed his final two holes to fall down a few spots down the leaderboard -- and in the end out of the top 125 on the money list.
The first bogey was the hardest for Knox to swallow. He hit what he thought was a good bunker shot on the 17th hole only to have it land 17 feet away. He missed the par putt, then made another bogey on the 18th when he missed a 4-footer.
“I played as well as I think I ever have,” Knox said. “I feel like I got extremely robbed on 17.
“It looked like the ball had stopped like four feet. A little gust of wind and it goes off the green almost.”
That said, Knox still finished inside the top 150, which guarantees him at least full status on the Web.com Tour.
“I’m over the moon,” said Knox, who did most of his damage in the Fall Series with three finishes in the top 20. “That was my goal. So I think I can pat myself on the back.”
PGA TOUR rookie Harris English led the list of eight players who qualified Monday for this year's British Open. He also set a course record in the process.
The qualifier, the only one held in the United States, took place Monday at Gleneagles Country Club in the Dallas suburb of Plano. As in previous years, it comes in between the PGA TOUR's two tournaments in the North Texas area, last week's HP Byron Nelson Championship and this week's Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
English opened the 36-hole qualifier with a course-record 10-under 60 in the first round, with a string of six consecutive birdies at one point. He followed with a bogey-free 63 in the second round for a two-round total of 17 under. That was three shots better than Greg Owen.
Besides English and Owen, the other six qualifiers are Stephen Ames, Andres Romero, Justin Hicks, Bob Estes, Daniel Chopra and James Driscoll.
Another PGA TOUR rookie, Russell Knox, was tied with Estes, Chopra and Driscoll at 9 under but was the odd man out in the four-man playoff.
QUALIFIERS FOR BRITISH OPEN
|Pos||Player||Country||Round 1||Round 2||Score|
|1||Harris English||USA||60||63||17 under|
|2||Greg Owen||England||66||61||13 under|
|T3||Stephen Ames||Canada||69||61||10 under|
|T3||Andres Romero||Argentina||67||63||10 under|
|T3||Justin Hicks||USA||67||63||10 under|
|T6||Bob Estes||USA||66||65||9 under|
|T6||Daniel Chopra||Sweden||64||67||9 under|
|T6||James Driscoll||USA||66||65||9 under|
Gary Woodland has withdrawn from the Wells Fargo Championship as he continues to recover from a the injury to his left wrist that forced him to withdraw after the third round of the Masters.
Russell Knox, who tied for 30th last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans has replaced Woodland in the field. Matt Every also withdrew on Wednesday and was replaced by Alexandre Rocha. The first alternate is now Daniel Chopra.
“There is no structural damage and I have been cleared to play by doctors, but I really feel it is necessary to rest one more week,” said Woodland. “My thanks to (Quail Hollow Club President) Johnny Harris and (Executive Director) Kym Hougham and everyone involved with the Wells Fargo Championship for their understanding. I look forward to returning to Charlotte next year. With one more week of rest, I will be ready to go next week at THE PLAYERS Championship.”
THE PLAYERS will be contested May 10-13 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- For the last six or seven years, Russell Knox has been among the many fans in the gallery at THE PLAYERS Championship.
Now the PGA TOUR rookie has an outside shot at making the field for next month's 38th renewal. Knox needs a win, though, and he's put himself in position this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Through two rounds at TPC Louisiana, Knox was 11 under and two strokes off the lead. He made his first trip to the media center on Friday. The Golf Channel booth, too -- and he tweeted a photo later when he came back to earth.
"It's already been a success," Knox said as he contemplated the week. "I just wanted to get into that rhythm of playing better and I played great yesterday and played obviously great (in the second round). ...
"Of course, I'd like to win but we're a million miles away from that. There's two more good round, under par rounds would be great and I mean my goal at the start of the week was Top 25. Now -- it's still that, really."
Still, there's the lure of THE PLAYERS. Knox came to the United States to play golf at Jacksonville University. It was the first place the Scotsman -- who was born in historic Inverness but holds dual citizenship since his dad Mike is from California – visited.
"(I) liked the coach, and actually I worked with my swing coach and thought he was an interesting, cool guy and Jacksonville just seemed like a nice place," Knox said. "I mean it was warm, the sun shines more than three days a year. It was an obvious choice."
Knox spent the 2011 season on the Nationwide Tour where he won once and finished 12th on the money list to earn his PGA TOUR card. He's only made two cuts in eight starts but a recent putting lesson with Dr. Craig Farnsworth -- just his second ever -- appears to have paid dividends. The week of the RBC Heritage Knox played in the Nationwide Tour's TPC Stonebrae Championship and tied for seventh.
"This is it, my rookie year," Knox said with a smile. "It's different. I mean there's a lot going on. I've never had to sit and do this before so that's nice and … I haven't played well this year so far but it's been the best year of my life."
Knox settled in Jacksonville Beach and he practices at TPC Sawgrass, which hosts THE PLAYERS. He says his lowest round from the tips there is probably a 67 although like most pros who live in the area, Knox is more apt to be seen on the range.
"Every time I'm out there playing I'm like, 'How cool is this, man?'” Knox said. “I played this course a million times on the computer. I still have that feeling.”
Knox has also gotten to play a few practice rounds with Jim Furyk, who plays a game not unlike the Scotsman does. "It's nice to always play with a guy that good to kind of pick his brain, and then we hit the ball similar distances," Knox said. "So it's nice to see someone who has done so well that maybe doesn't hit it 330."
Knox knows he faces an uphill battle to make THE PLAYERS field this year. His success on TPC Louisiana, another Pete Dye course like the Stadium, may not be coincidental, though.
"It really hasn't even entered my mind before this week because I was so far away but obviously that's a goal to eventually, maybe if not this year, eventually get to play in THE PLAYERS," Knox said. "And I love that course. I always thought I could do well there and my game suits that course very good which I think is why I'm playing good this week, the same designer. I love the holes."
In the past, Knox would have gone to THE PLAYERS to watch someone like Tiger Woods hit a few shots. Now that he’s a member of the PGA TOUR, though, his outlook has changed. He’s no longer mesmerized by the players he grew up following.
“Now it's my job to beat them,” Knox said. “It's lost out like the wow factor, these guys are amazing because now, hopefully, I'm that guy.”