Tiger Woods makes his third straight birdie at the 11th hole on Thursday.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Ryan Palmer has vaulted into a tie for second place and Tiger Woods is also on the move as the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship winds down at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday afternoon.
Palmer, who birdied five straight holes on the back nine to turn in 32, has added two more on the front to move to 6 under. Also finished at that number, which is three strokes off Roberto Castro's torrid pace, are Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson.
Woods, who leads the FedExCup and world rankings, has just made his fourth straight birdie, the streak starting at No. 9 when he tapped in from 22 inches. He added a 6-footer at No. 10, an up-and-down from the greenside bunker at the par-5 11th hole and a 5-footer at No. 12.
In the nine years since he won THE PLAYERS in 2001, Woods has not shot lower than a 67. He has already won three times in 2013.
Padraig Harrington, Webb Simpson and 2008 PLAYERS champ Sergio Garcia are among the group tied at 4 under. Harrington has played 15 holes, Simpson 14 and Garcia 13.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Palmer was the leader in the clubhouse for about 45 minutes on Thursday. Not that anyone knew it, of course. Not with Phil Mickelson stalking what came within one putt of being a magical 59.
"Obviously there are scoreboards everywhere and you see it, but all you can do is shoot a low round today," Palmer said. "You can't worry about a guy leading the golf tournament and going low like that on the first day. It's fitting it's Phil. It will be fun to see how it all pans out."
Particularly after the way Palmer played in the first round.
He was in the first group of the day off the 10th tee and shot 64 -- the same score he posted a year ago when he shared the first-round lead with Jason Dufner. When all was said and done on Thursday, though, Palmer found himself in a five-way tie for second, four shots behind Mickelson.
"It's always nice to play Thursday and get off to a good start," Palmer said. "You can't win on Thursday but you can sure lose it."
Palmer set the tone for the day when he made an 8-footer for birdie at the 10th hole. He then "plodded" his way around the back nine and closed with three birdies in his last four holes to turn in 32. He added three more birdies on the front nine for the 64.
"I drove it great, and I made a few more putts today than I have been the past few weeks," said Palmer, who hit all but one green in regulation. "Great day."
Palmer didn't have many other great days a year ago at TPC Scottsdale, though. He ended up tied for 55th after shooting 72-76-71 in the next three rounds.
Palmer came to Phoenix with positive thoughts, though, after tying for sixth at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation.
"So hopefully we can make up for what we did last year on the last two rounds," Palmer said. "I think my game is in better shape than it was, so I'm looking forward to playing well."
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Always with a flair for the dramatic, Phil Mickelson rolled in a 17-footer for birdie at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale to grab a share of the lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Mickelson's birdie, which came under the watchful eyes of the always vocal crowd on the famous par 3, put him in a three-way tie with Ryan Palmer and Gary Woodland at 5 under. Mickelson, who is a two-time champion of this event, has played seven holes.
Mickelson, who put a new driver in his bag this week, has hit 4 of 6 fairways and all seven of his greens in regulation. He's also one-putted five times and used just nine total.
Palmer briefly held sole possession of the top spot when he rolled in a 13-foot birdie putt on the first hole, his 10th of the day. Palmer has hit every green in regulation so far in the first round.
The big-hitting Woodland nearly drove the green at the 17th hole, a 313-yard par 4, to pick up his fifth birdie in eight holes.
Tied at 4 under are Matt Every, Charlie Wi and PGA TOUR rookie Nicolas Colsaets. Every just made the turn and birdied Nos. 1 and 2 to make it three in a row while Wi shot 31 on the front nine and Colsaerts shot 4 under on the back.
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: Ryan Palmer will be in the final season of the two-year exemption he earned by winning the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. Not that he figures to be too worried after finishing 58th or better on the money list each of the last three years.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: The affable Texas A&M grad had a torrid five-tournament stretch in May when he posted four top-10s. The last was particularly hard-fought as Palmer rallied from a first-round 74 with three rounds in the 60s, including a closing 66 that left him owning the clubhouse lead before Dustin Johnson went on to win the FedEx St. Jude Classic. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: Palmer told me at the Sony Open, he had spent the off-season working on his wedge game. He hits the ball a long way and is a very good putter but still wants to become better at approaches between 100-125 yards where he ranked 158th on TOUR. He hits a very consistent, very tight draw. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Even though he endured his second straight hit in earnings, I'm not worried. He still finished 58th on the money list with $1.5 million. He still mashes it off the tee and putts lights out. And he recorded a career-high 10 top 25s. These numbers reflect his baseline. We're talking about a three-time winner still just inside his prime at 36 years of age. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
SOCIAL MEDIA: Find him on Facebook
2012 QUICK REVIEW
|Regular Season ranking
|Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||T3||FedEx St. Jude Classic|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 16
Rounds played: 81
Top-10 finishes: 4
Money List rank: 58th
Driving distance: 15th
Driving accuracy: 144th
Greens in regulation: 94th
Strokes gained-putting: 23rd
Scoring average: 35th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Ryan Palmer in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
This file updated at 9:04 p.m. with updated tee time information
IRVING, Texas -- Chad Campbell said his backyard in the nearby suburb of Colleyville is about 500 yards from the backyard of his fellow PGA TOUR-playing neighbor, Ryan Palmer.
Palmer put the distance in golf terms.
"Probably a 5-iron away," he said.
Campbell and Palmer first met during their high school days in west Texas -- Campbell was born in Andrews, Palmer in Amarillo. Palmer and Judd Burkett, Campbell's caddie, played on the same high school team at Amarillo High and were next-door neighbors at one point when Palmer first moved to the Metroplex. Palmer's caddie James Edmondson is also part of the close-knit group.
"He and Judd are two of my closest friends out here, for sure," Palmer said.
But the conversation doesn't always turn to golf. Asked if he and Palmer discussed last year's HP Byron Nelson Championship, in which Palmer lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley, Campbell said, "Not too much ... We're definitely friends and talk but not really about anything in particular."
Although Palmer and Campbell live in the same neighborhood, it's mostly at PGA TOUR events where they hang together. "I never see him at home," Palmer said. "It's always on the road."
"I hope it works out because it will be fun with James and Judd and Chad and I," Palmer said after his round. "We're real close and the family and friends we have in town, we could be the popular group tomorrow."
When Jason Dufner grabbed the late late in the day, it appeared Palmer and Campbell would not be together. But because so many players made the 36-hole cut – 79 in all – tournament officials opted to switch the usual twosomes on Saturday to threesomes going off both the first and 10th tees.
That means Campbell and Palmer will be together in the final group along with Dufner. You can expect the hometown fans to cheer on the chasers.
“It’s nice to have that support out there,” Campbell said.
And nice to be paired with a neighbor.
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the HP Byron Nelson Championship below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
|Matt Kuchar vs. Keegan Bradley||Last week's champ vs. last year's champ|
|Phil Mickelson vs. Ernie Els||Two World Golf Hall of Famers at Byron's place|
|Adam Scott vs. Jason Day||Two Aussies, two former champs in this event|
|Jhonattan Vegas vs. Ryan Palmer||Both have strong Texas ties, and both are bombers|
|Jason Dufner vs. John Huh||Both scored their first career wins earlier in 2012|
Ryan Palmer talks about his play in the 2012 Zurich Classic with John Maginnes from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference.
In Ryan Palmer's case, a new putter grip has given him renewed confidence and it showed on Saturday as he made nine birdies en route to a 64 that tied the course record at TPC Louisiana. More importantly, Palmer now finds himself among the leaders at 13 under entering Sunday's final round.
Palmer was the third person this week to shoot 8 under and the sixth person to have a share of the course record. He had a shot at owning it alone, but Palmer put his second shot at the par-5 18th into a greenside bunker where what he called a "bad rake job" proved costly as he left it in the bunker and made par.
Still, he couldn't be too disappointed. "It's one of those deals you get a bad break here and there, made par and it was fine," Palmer said.
Besides, the Texan was thrilled with the way his putting came around on Saturday after he switched to a Super Stroke Red grip. He's been consistently solid tee-to-green but his putting was the key to the third round. He used just 24 in the third round after needing 30 and 29 in the two previous days.
"It was awesome," Palmer said. "I knew it was coming. I've been hitting the ball so good lately, just haven't been making the putts. Did some work Tuesday ... for quite awhile, switched to the smallest grip. It's helped. The last few days trying to get comfortable with it and today the flood gates opened up."
Palmer said the new grip on his Odyssey putter causes him to stick his hands out a little more. "I'm a forward press kind of putter and I took it out, forward press out," he said. "I'm seeing the ball roll a lot more smooth, lot more truer. So, finally get to the middle of the hole."
When he teed off on Saturday Palmer told his caddy he was hoping to get with three or four shots at the end of the day. Turns out, he did considerably better.
"I don't think I need a course record-style round (on Sunday),"
Palmer said. "My idea going into today, I need to get to 18 total
for the next two days and I might have a chance. So, I might be
three, four back but today is obviously moving today for a lot of
guys. Tomorrow it gets a little more tense.
"I'm not going to put a number. ... It's probably going to take 18 to get there 5, 6-under, see what happens."
Palmer played with Sean Peyton in Wednesday’s pro-am and the embattled New Orleans Saints coach was in his buddy’s gallery on Friday. Palmer said he expected some words of wisdom prior to the final round.
"We've become good friends the last few years," palmer said. "Played together last year. He treated a couple of us to Green Bay last year, sideline and everything. ... Maybe (I'll) get him back here to watch tomorrow."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Palmer knew the shadows were lengthening on Thursday afternoon.
At the same time, though, he still had work to do. The Texan was going low at TPC Scottsdale and he wanted to finish strong.
That's exactly what Palmer did, shooting consecutive 32s to get to the clubhouse at 7 under and one stroke ahead of Webb Simpson after the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Palmer surged past the former Wake Forest All-American when he birdied three straight holes on his second nine.
Turns out, Palmer's final putt at the ninth hole dropped minutes before play was suspended by darkness at 8:05 p.m. ET. A total of 42 players were stranded on the course and must return at 9:30 a.m. ET to finish off their rounds.
Mother Nature permitting, the second round will also begin at 9:30 a.m. ET. But Thursday began with an hour's frost delay and the forecast for Friday is for even chillier temperatures.
"Probably about my last three or four holes, you could tell it
was getting closer and closer so I was trying not to worry about
it," Palmer said. "I knew I was going to be here in the morning for
the second round, so I wasn't worried about if we had to come back
and restart. So I didn't think about it and I just kept hitting
shots and sticking to my game plan.
"The last putt was a little dark I can say, but I'm glad to be done, and now I can get going in tomorrow's routine. Instead of getting ready for one hole, I can get ready for the whole day. It's going to be a nice night."
Among the players who will be returning to finish their first rounds are Bubba Watson, Spencer Levin and Jason Dufner, who lost last year’s playoff to Mark Wilson. Watson and Levin are 5 under through 15 holes while Dufner has only played 13.
FedExCup leader Johnson Wagner is 3 under through 16 holes. He’s playing with Wilson, who is 1 under, and Brandt Snedeker, who won last week’s Farmers Insurance Open and is even for the day.