By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- The southern drawl should be a dead giveaway.
But Kentucky's own Josh Teater has been mistaken for Sergio Garcia more than once during his career. The first time was way back at the 2000 U.S. Amateur when a caddy at Baltusrol told him he looked like the famous Spaniard. It’s happened fairly regularly since.
"I remember an instance at West Virginia last year, a lady came up to me with her daughter and was like, my daughter carried the standard bearer sign for you," Teater recalled another confusing incident. "I didn't remember it.
"... Then I had a pretty lengthy two- or three-minute conversation trying to tell her that I was from Kentucky, because the guy next to her had a Kentucky hat on, and even after that she still didn't believe it."
Two weeks ago, Teater played one group away from Garcia at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and the two were signing autographs at the same time. Garcia leaned over to Teater and gave him free rein.
"He said, 'Feel free to sign my name if you'd like.'" Teater said with a grin. Not that he ever has -- even though sometimes tempted.
"I haven't felt like I've known him well enough to," Teater said. "I never want to upset a fan or anything by not signing something, but I always say, I'm glad to sign it but I'm not Sergio, and they still don't believe it."
Let there be no confusion this week at the Memorial Tournament. Garcia isn't playing and Teater is. In fact, that's the Kantuckian's name at the top of the leaderboard at 5 under, one stroke behind Chris Riley.
Teater set the tone for the day with a 22-footer for eagle at the 11th hole, his second of the day. He was 5 under through seven holes before giving a couple back with bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17.
Teater bounced back well on the front nine, making birdies on Nos. 2, 5 and 7 to briefly tie for the lead. He gave one shot back when he missed a 5-footer for par at the eighth hole but has put himself in great position.
The 67 was Teater's sixth sub-70 score in the first round of his last seven tournaments -- and eight of his last 11. That said, he's still looking for his first top-10 of the season after posting two in his rookie campaign last year. So putting four rounds together is key.
Teater, who went to school at Morehead State, has plenty of support with him this week at Muirfield Village, and many of the 40 or so people he got tickets for have t-shirts that say; Teater's Troops.
"That came about in '09 in Utah when I won the Utah Championship (on the Nationwide Tour)," Teater said. "A guy I went to high school with was living out there. He and his friends showed up with white t shirts, 'Teater's Troops,' Sharpie, on the front. Ended up winning the tournament, they got on TV.
"My stepbrother and my mom kind of saw that as an opportunity to make up a few shirts for some good friends and family. I think they made like two or three orders of them, and there was some people, I think, asking for them for this week, but we don't really have them in stock. It might be time for a new design, too."
DUBLIN, Ohio – Chris Riley played in the first group off the tee on Thursday at the Memorial Tournament. That 66 he shot held up as the lead after the morning wave, too.
Riley is one stroke ahead of Chris DiMarco and Josh Teater as the second wave begins in earnest. Rickie Fowler, who finished second here a year ago, heads a group of four shooting 68s that includes Matt Bettencourt and the veterans Steve Stricker and Rocco Mediate.
Another four players shot 68s in the morning, including Matt Kuchar, who finished second in the FedExCup last year. Meanwhile, the top two players in this year’s FedExCup had very different days -- No. 1 Bubba Watson shot 75 while Luke Donald turned things around with a string of four straight birdies on the way to a 70.
“The greens are soft and if you drive it in the fairway, the course is in such great shape you can make cuts,” Riley said. “I imagine there’s going to be a 6 or 7 under, another one. Par 5s are reachable.”
DUBLIN, Ohio – Josh Teater just two-putted from 62 feet at the par-5 fifth hole, his 14th of the day, to move to within a shot of the clubhouse lead held by Chris Riley.
Teater, who missed the cut in his first appearance at the Memorial last year, got Thursday going in the right direction when he rolled in a 28-footer for eagle at the 11th hole. Birdie putts of 17, 3 and 21 feet followed before he stumbled briefly with bogeys on the 17th and 18th.
The Morehead State grad shook those off quickly, though, when he drained a 34-footer at the second hole before making the birdie at No. 5. Teater’s been very steady, missing just two fairways and three greens in his first 14 holes at Muirfield Village.
Teater had a solid rookie season that saw him finish 76th in the FedExCup and top the $1 million mark in earnings. His sophomore season has been more of a challenge – Teater is still looking for his first top-10.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM Site Producer
The biggest jump in the FedExCup standings this week could come from Josh Teater, who entered the week 171st. Should he go on to win -- he’s currently one shot back of leader Bubba Watson -- he’d move inside the top 30.
How did Teater, who has just one finish in the top 50 this season, play his way into Saturday’s final group? Simple: Putting.
In Round 2, Teater converted eight putts of 8 feet or longer, including a career long 72-foot, 11-inch bomb on the third hole.
For the week, he’s converted nine putts from outside 10 feet -- second-most in the field.
Given some of the numbers popping up on the leaderboard, conditions appear to be ripe for scoring at TPC Louisiana, where Josh Teater is putting together easily the day’s best round at 8 under through 15 holes.
Teater, whose best career finish was a tie for third at last year’s Turning Stone Resort Championship, has birdied six of his last 10 holes and has eight birdies in all.
So far, he’s hit eight of a dozen fairways and 13 of 15 greens on his way to what looks to be the best round of his career. As such, he currently has the lead at 11 under.
Teater is hardly the only one going low, however. John Senden is already in with a 5-under 67, while David Hearn is 5 under through his first 11 holes. Even Chris DiMarco, who for the most part has had an abysmal season, is trending up at 4 under with a couple of holes left in his round.
Second-year TOUR player Josh Teater already knows it -- to survive on the PGA TOUR, one must make his share of 15-footers. His round on Friday was a good example why.
Teater missed just one green in the second round ... and didn't make a single putt over 11 feet. He ended up with 35 putts en route to a very frustrating 72. His 65 on Thursday had put him among the leaders for the first time all year.
This was shaping up to be a big week for Teater, who hasn't finished better than a tie for 63rd this year. He'd had a solid rookie campaign in 2010 -- two top-fives -- but putting has held him back in 2011.
Teater through two rounds at the Shell Houston Open:
|Category||Round 1||Round 2|
|Longest putt made||40 feet||11 feet|
In the opening round from Redstone Golf Club, Jimmy Walker ties the course record of 63 and has a two shot lead at 9-under par.
Second-year PGA TOUR player Josh Teater, who has made only four cuts in 10 tries this year, is on fire at Redstone: He's birdied two of his last three holes to get to 7 under through 15.
With one more birdie, Teater would break his career low round, set last year at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (Round 4) and Wyndham Championship (Round 4).
Two of the top five finishers at The Honda Classic -- winner Rory Sabbatini and Tommy Gainey, who claimed solo fifth -- were playing for the eighth consecutive week on the PGA TOUR.
They weren't alone. Among players who have earned FedExCup points, seven have played in every full-field event this season. Joining Sabbatini and Gainey are Spencer Levin, William McGirt, Jarrod Lyle, Chad Collins and Josh Teater.
Call them the Ironmen of 2011.
An eighth player, Matt Bettencourt, also has made eight starts. But unlike the other seven, he qualified for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions in early January. Bettencourt took the week off two weeks ago before returning to play the Honda Classic.
Sabbatini said Sunday night after his one-stroke win at PGA National that he will actually be playing 10 consecutive weeks. He plans to play at this week's World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship and then the following week at the Transitions Championship.
"I think we might have to do a little conversing as to whether or not we are going to continue on to Bay Hill," he said. "My wife made me promise her that when I won, I'd take some time off."
Players usually don't play that many consecutive weeks for fear of getting worn out -- both physically and emotionally. But Sabbatini said he felt like his game was headed in the right direction and he wanted to continue building on the momentum rather than take a week off to rest.
"I felt like something good was going to happen," he said. "I guess if you flip a coin enough times, you are eventually going to end on the right side."
Gainey has two top-10 finishes in his last five starts and seems to be much closer in claiming the first TOUR win of his career. He was originally scheduled in the field at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com but withdrew late Monday morning.
Teater is scheduled to compete in Puerto Rico this week, leaving he and Sabbatini as the last Ironmen standing.
PLAYING EIGHT CONSECUTIVE WEEKS
These players have played every week on TOUR starting with the Sony Open in Hawaii, the first full-field event of 2011:
|Player||FedExCup rank||FedExCup points||Best finish in 2011|
|Rory Sabbatini||3||724||Winner, The Honda Classic|
|Spencer Levin||15||487||Playoff runner-up, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Tommy Gainey||34||268||Fifth, The Honda Classic|
|William McGirt||72||136||Tied for 19th, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Jarrod Lyle||75||132||Tied for fifth, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Chad Collins||142||50||Tied for 42nd, Mayakoba Golf Classic|
|Josh Teater||207||10||Tied for 63rd, Farmers Insurance Open|
Only one rookie has made it to THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola each of the last three years – Brandt Snedeker in 2007, Andres Romero in 2008 and Marc Leishman in 2009. Each went on to win PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors.
If another first-year player gets to Atlanta this year, it just might be Josh Teater. The Nationwide Tour grad is the only rookie among the current top 31 players on the leaderboard.
The Kentuckian has made two birdies in his first five holes to move to 5 under for the tournament. His best finish in 25 starts this year is a tie for third at the Turning Stone Resort Championship and followed by a tie for 18th a week ago in Greensboro.
As a result, Teater came to New Jersey ranked 88th in the FedExCup but is currently projected at No. 57. Of course, a lot can happen, but he’s certainly moving in the right direction.