By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Padraig Harrington went out early Thursday, posted a course-record and career-low 61 then watched as everyone tried to catch him.
No one did.
Harrington’s bogey-free day -- in which he had 14 one-putts -- was highlighted by a 75-footer he canned on the par-3 17th. It was the longest putt he’s made in his career.
The three-time major champion’s 61 also ties the low-round of the season, a mark previously reached by four others. Harrington’s previous low round on the PGA TOUR was a 63, which he’s shot three times, most recently in the first round of the 2007 Nissan Open. His previous best score here was a 65 in the second round in 2010.
This marks the sixth time Harrington has held at least a share of the opening-round lead. None of the previous five have resulted in victory. His last first-round lead was at the 2010 Travelers Championship, where he finished in a tie for fifth.
Since its 2000 inception, the only first-round leader of the Transitions Championship to go on to win was in 2002 when K.J. Choi achieved the feat.
The closest competitor to Harrington is Will Claxton, who is four shots back.
Claxton, who Monday qualified into last year’s Transitions Championship, holed a 93-yard wedge at the par-5 14th hole for an eagle and birdied the par-4 18th to cap his day.
His previous best score on TOUR? A 66, which he posted in the first rounds of the Sony Open in Hawaii and Mayakoba Golf Classic.
Meanwhile, 51-year-old Kenny Perry, who is sponsored by Transitions, opened with a 66.
It was his best score since the first round of the 2011 Viking Classic, where he finished in a tie for 38th.
Perry, who is making his third PGA TOUR start this week, has made three Champions Tour starts as well this season.
Most recently, Perry won the ACE Group Classic in Naples for his second Champions Tour title.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- If this is Kenny Perry’s last year playing here, it might be a good one -- at least judging by how he played Thursday anyway.
Perry, who is sponsored by Transitions, which is in its last year of title sponsorship here, shot a 5-under 66 Thursday to sit high on the leaderboard after his opening round.
This is also a rare appearance for Perry on the PGA TOUR. Though the 51-year-old has full eligibility, he’ll spend much of the year on the Champions Tour.
“It's good to come back and play with my old buddies',” said Perry, who is playing in his third TOUR event of the season. “I'm just enjoying life, I'm just playing where I want to play, go where I want to go.”
Thursday, Perry had plenty to enjoy. He made a half-dozen birdies and just one bogey in his lone round in the 60s out here this year.
A one point, Perry birdied four straight holes and five of six in the middle of his round. His only hiccup came on the 18th, where he hit to the back of the green on his approach, put his next shot to 6 feet and missed the par putt.
“I putted beautifully today,” said Perry, who had 28 putts and made five of them from beyond 10 feet. “That was probably the best round of golf I've ever played on this golf course. This course usually beats me up pretty bad.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Graeme McDowell had some driver drama early in the week at Abu Dhabi, and shared the details with his 285,000 followers on Twitter.
Played beautifully today. Controlled the ball well. No joy on greens. Then my driver cracked! Hit it 200y out of middle on 17 – aqua #double
Never happened to me before, cracking my driver like that. The head just came apart. Cleveland Classic is in the bag tomorrow. #thefuture
McDowell was true to his word – Cleveland’s new retro-look Classic driver went in his bag, and he finished T3 in the event. McDowell was a Callaway staff player in 2010, when he won the U.S. Open, before moving to Srixon last year. Srixon is a subsidiary of Cleveland, so connect the dots.
After the cracking incident, a fan asked McDowell on Twitter how many Callaway clubs he still carried, and G-Mac answered “as of tomorrow. None. Unless you count my putter. Odyssey.”
MORE RETRO: OK, the metalwoods Brandt Snedeker used in winning the Farmers Insurance Open aren’t completely old-school, but could be considered so in the TaylorMade family.
Snedeker carries a Burner SuperFast driver and 3-wood – the black-headed ones of a couple years ago, not the ballyhooed whites that took the game by storm last year. There are plenty of TaylorMade white woods on the PGA TOUR, including the new Rocketballz models, but very few black.
NEW SCOTTY: At last week’s PGA Merchandise Show, Scotty Cameron displayed an adjustable long putter in Titleist’s booth. With a twist of a knob, the shaft can extend up to six inches to perfectly fit someone for a long putter. For now it’s a fitting club rather than a playing club, as it has not been approved for competition by the USGA.
The grip on the putter is equally notable, and legal now – a 25-inch one-piece grip, different from the split grips that are seen on full long putters. True to Cameron style, it has the designer’s letters running vertically on the shaft, but Cameron notes that it’s an alignment aid. Get your hands comfortable, take note of the letter, and set up the same way every time.
WELL FIT: Ernie Els is having no issues with his Callaway Razr Fit driver, at the Farmers he averaged 304.6 yards off the tee and is leading the TOUR in down-the-middle accuracy – he averages just 14 feet, six inches off the center line (yes, ShotLink measures this ). But as he explained in his blog , it’s still all about the putting.
BITS: John Huh, 21, turned heads with a T3 at Farmers in his second PGA TOUR start. He’s a PING staff player and was T3 in putts per round for the week with a Scottsdale Series Wolverine C putter. … Kenny Perry’s new Adams bag (he switched manufacturers in the offseason after years with TaylorMade) features the company’s Redline irons, its game-improvement set. Though his bag has conventional 3- and 4-irons, not the hybrids that most amateurs purchase. The Champions Tour regular is playing this week at the Waste management Phoenix Open. … At the PGA Merchandise Show, 213 PGA professionals tested their putting prowess using PING’s iPhone putter app. The four best played a Skins Game for $5,000, with Chris Hodge winning. He’s the head pro at River Falls Plantation in Duncan, S.C.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
If you’re reading this and haven’t finished (or started) shopping for the golfer in your life, you know you’re under the gun. Fortunately there’s help online, from the good ( our holiday gift guide) to the very, very bad.
For what not to buy, check out the “10 stupidest golf gifts” from Golfdigest.com. To sum it up – goofy headcovers aren’t so cool anymore, scoring computers shouldn’t replace scorecards, loud pants are best left to John Daly and “adjustable club” doesn’t mean one club that changes into other clubs.
Running out of time is no excuse for the bad golf gift.
PERRY’S MOVE: Kenny Perry, a first-time winner on the Champions Tour in 2011, will return in 2012 with a new equipment deal. The longtime TaylorMade player is switching to Adams Golf, playing Speedline woods and Idea hybrids and irons.
Other prominent Adams players on the Champions Tour include Michael Allen and former Schwab Cup
WEDGE GAME: The personalization aftermarket for wedges is turning into big business. It’s not enough anymore to choose a loft and a metal finish, not with multicolored paintfills and shaftbands plus engraved initials and even entire names. Cleveland is the latest to join the party, with its mycustomwedge.com website. (You can tinker with different designs without purchasing.)
Titleist and wedge designer Bob Vokey have been in the customization business for a while at vokey.com, and makes its new SM4 wedges available for personalization in January. New engravings (pictured) are among the customization options.
A 15TH CLUB?: Titleist had some fun with its TOUR pros, asking what they would put in their bag if a 15th club was allowed. Check out the video here. Some opted for wedges, some for hybrids. What would you want?
Many more birdies are available today at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship under blue skies and temperatures near 60 degrees. David Frost is taking advantage, surging into the lead at 5 under with a round that includes four birdies in a five-hole span from the eighth through 12th holes. He bogeyed the 13th, however.
Bernhard Langer, the 2010 Schwab Cup winner, is at 4 under along with Kenny Perry at TPC Harding Park.
Jay Haas double bogeyed the 12th to fall back to 3 under; he had led earlier in the day. Playing partner Fred Couples, who also shared the first round lead with Haas, is 1 over on the day. He began his second round with a double bogey at the first and has one birdie since then.
Points leader Tom Lehman is tied for 10th, even for his second round. Mark Calcavecchia, second in points, shot 68 but let a few get away late in the round. He’s at 3 under and tied for fourth, though he needs to finish in the top two to have any shot at stealing the points title from Lehman.
We’re well into the afternoon wave at The Old White TPC, and no one has been able to catch Trevor Immelman, who leads after a 6-under 64.
Brendon de Jonge has a chance to at 4 under through 12 holes, but he’s been stuck on that number for about an hour.
Meanwhile, Kenny Perry, Gary Woodland, Ryuji Imada and Kyle Stanley are all sitting another stroke back at 3 under.
Speaking of Woodland and Stanley, they, along with J.B. Holmes and Steven Bowditch, are among the four players in the field this week with the best driving distance average.
Coincidence that three of those four are near the top of the leaderboard? Probably not, especially since 200 yards was added to the course for this year’s tournament. And the only one of that group who didn’t play well Thursday was Holmes, who shot 76.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
The cut line sits at even par right now and while it’s still early in the second round, it looks like Ben Crane will have a short week at Colonial.
Crane, who came into the week as one of the PGA TOUR’s most accurate players off the tee and into the green, ranking eighth in driving accuracy and 19th in greens in regulation, has been anything but that this week.
Through 33 holes, Crane has hit just 13 fairways and 18 greens and is 8 over for the week.
In terms of performance, his opening 75 was his worst score in relation to par since last year’s TOUR Championships presented by Coca-Cola where he shot 76 in the third round. It’s also just his seventh round over par in 31 rounds on TOUR this year.
Other notables currently on the wrong side of the cut: John Daly, Kenny Perry, Jerry Kelly and Trevor Immelman.
By Michael Curet, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Kenny Perry won bragging rights to the 50-and-over competitors at TPC Sawgrass in the 2011 PLAYERS Championship, finishing 4 under after a a 73 on Sunday.
Perry, who has played in THE PLAYERS 23 straight years, owns two
top-10 finishes at TPC Sawgrass, tying for third in 1996 and fourth
Corey Pavin, 51, made his 26th start at THE PLAYERS, including 24 straight until missing 2008 and again in 2010, fired a 71 Sunday to finish 2 under for the week.
The oldest player in the field, 54-year-old Mark O'Meara, who was near the top of the leaderboard after a 66 in Round 1, never regained that form in the next three rounds and finished 8 over. This was his first PLAYERS since 2003, having qualified via his victory in the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Kenny Perry has withdrawn from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he shot a 7-over 79 in the opening round. Perry made nine bogeys and two birdies. In five previous starts this year, Perry missed the cut three times. His best finish was a tie for 43rd at The Honda Classic.