Thursday, September 23, 2010

Golf Magazine's Alan Bastable and SI's Rick Lipsey live blogged the first round of the Tour Championship. Leaderboard | Photos | Course Profile | TV Schedule 5:53 p.m. Tiger Woods smashes a six-iron, high and tight draw. Sean Foley smiles. The birds chirp in appreciation on the range at Isleworth. That's all, folks.  5:51 p.m. Kuchar bogies 18 after missing the gree; DJ two putts for par.  5:46 p.m. What do you think? Is there drama in this tournament? Do you sense a playoff vibe? What could be done to spice up the proceedings?  5:44 p.m. On 18th tee, last group, Kuchar and DJ, are a combined four over. Kuchar has no birdies, DJ has three. Leaders are disappointing today. There's always tomorrow.

5:38 p.m. At 17, Kuchar holes a lengthy par putt. Tour's top scrambler gets up and down again. 5:35 p.m. Shoshanna's Ryder Cup caddie travel comment is dead solid. Flightgate shows how unprofessional business dealings are even with the PGA of America and the Ryder Cup and the players. It's all about the $$$$. 5:28 p.m. A little problem with the Tour's TV ad, which says, dramatic voice, "Who will hoist the last major piece of hardware this season? The FedEx Cup." Uh, what about the Ryder Cup?  5:25 p.m. Mickelson parred 18. Finishes at minus one. What will Phil do next, i.e. tomorrow?  5:23 p.m. Charley Hoffman, Mr. Surfer Dude, flushes it from 165 yards to 10 feet at 17. He needs a birdie, because he's at plus two. 5:21 p.m. At 17, Day holes a 25-yard chip for birdie. Minus one. 5:10 p.m. Finally, something to smile about for Kuchar. He chips in from 30 feet, nested down in the rough, for eagle at 15. Now at plus-one. 5:04 p.m. Gotta say: Oh, how life for Tour caddies has changed. They used to take city busses, eat PBJ and sleep, occasionally, in bunkers (I've seen a Tour caddie wake up in a bunker at a tournament). 5:02 p.m. Gotta ask: Do you feel sorry for Steve Williams, Tiger's caddie, who got bumped from the Ryder Cup team charter and has to fly biz class on a commercial jet?  4:59 p.m. Casey muscles a 191-yard fairway bunker shot with a SEVEN iron to 30 feet at 16. Perfect balance, head down, body behind the ball at impact. Impeccable. 4:54 p.m. Speaking of 18, Ogilvy just hit a 5-iron at the 235-yard closer. 5-iron? Yes, and it was not a layup. He's 12 feet from the hole. 4:53 p.m. East Lake is a terrific track, no? Natural twists and turns, curvy but fair greens, good bunkering, just long enough, plus the strong par 3 18th for a finisher is fun. 4:50 p.m. As Nobilo said, "He pures it  on." Ogilvy is tied for the lead. 4:48 p.m. Ogilvy hits it close at 17. Birdie would tie him with Donald at -4. 4:44 p.m. Hunter Mahan taps in for par at 18, shoots one-under 69. With respect to other significant others, Mahan's fiancee, Candy, will be a popular figure at the Ryder Cup team functions. This isn't fact-checked, but I'll venture to guess that Candy will be the first Dallas Cowboys cheerleader to partake of the Ryder Cup team functions. 4:40 p.m. Donald birdies 15, alone in the lead at minus four. 4:36 p.m. Top FedEx players struggling. Kuchar at plus three, DJ at plus four, Stricker at plus two. 4:26 p.m. Jim Furyk gets up and down at 15, birdie, tied for the lead at minus three. TW aside, Furyk might be the world's most consisent contender over the last decade. Mr. Loop-itty-loop is ALWAYS lurking on the leaderboard. 4:22 p.m. Ogilvy more or less skulls his greenside flop from the rough at 15, the easy par five. Now misses a 15-footer for par. Ugh. 4:20 p.m. Frank Nobilo and Brad Faxon, doing Golf Channel commentary now, are two awesome announcers. Spunky but not trite, nice accents, compelling analysis and insights. 4:17 p.m. At 13, Jason Day holes a five-footer for par. He's one-under, strong showing. I love this kid. My favorite young gun. Since winning the Nelson, he's not missed a cut and won about $2.5 million. His brash confidence has talent to back it up.  4:14 p.m. Sure seems strange without TW in the field. It's a jarring loss to not have him playing. 3:59 p.m. Stricker holes a super slick, massive breaking left-to-right 36-footer for birdie at 11. The ball makes a hard right turn at the hole to drop over the edge. 3:51 p.m. Paul Casey birdies 10 to reach minus-three, join Ogilvy and Donald atop the leaderboard. How the heck is Casey NOT playing in the Ryder Cup? A travesty. 3:44 p.m. Kevin Streelman drains a 35-footer at 18. Shoots even-par 70 (four birdies, four bogies). Low man in the clubhouse. 3:40 p.m. Whoopee for Mickelson. At 12, 109 yards away from the hole on the par 4, he holes out for eagle. The ball lands about 10 feet short and trickles into the cup. Mr. Up-n-Down is Up for now. 3:35 p.m. Back to golf, Obama's favorite pastime. Luke Donald birdies 10 to reach minus three, tied for the lead with Ogilvy. Donald is so darn consistent, his swing so smooth, going slow, slow, slow until it accelerates massively at impact for a super-solid smash. 3:31 p.m. In case you want to know where your taxes are going: I'm in NYC near the Natural History Museum, and about 10 blocks are closed off around the museum and filled with 1,001 cop vehicles. Obama is visiting the museum this afternoon. Must cost, oh, $500,000 for him to see dinosaur bones.  3:31 p.m. DJ (Dustin Johnson) holes a 20-footer for birdie at the 8th to reach plus-three.  3:28 p.m. Forgive my bluntness, but watching the TC doesn't give me playoff goose-bumps. Maybe I'm missing something, but the telecast doesn't have a playoff vibe. More like the Quad Cities Open. 3:25 p.m. Mickelson drains a 15-footer for par. Ho hum: drive off the OB fence, punch short of the green, pinch a 30-yard wedge, drain the par putt. The man sure earns his stripes. 3:22 p.m. Jeff Overton drains a 30-footer, slightly left to right, for eagle at the par 5 16th. Nice because he was plus-five for the day. Our Ryder Cup rookie needs some good vibes. 3:19 p.m. Can't help but notice the small galleries at East Lake. Tiger effect? 3:17 p.m. Kuchar lips out a 20-yard chip for birdie at the par -4 seventh hole. Tough day-kooch is plus two. 3:13 p.m. Mickelson hits a banana slice drive at his 10th hole, bounces off the fence or it would've been OB.  3:07 p.m. Mickelson makes the turn at one-over. Save for one week, it's been a hugely disappointing season for Mickelson. But that one week-Augusta-could make him player of the year. 2:59 p.m.  Also at 2-under are Ogilvy and Furyk, both of whom have had success on old-school courses like East Lake. If Ogilvy wins, he'll have bookended the PGA Tour season with Ws. Last player to do that? I'll leave that piece of trivia for Rick Lipsey to sort out. Rick, take it away... 2:54 p.m.  Mahan drops a shot at the par-4 10th after missing a 15-footer for par. He's now 2-under.2:51 p.m.  Course is playing firm and fast under the warm Georgia sun, good news for the short-knockers. More sun and 80-degree temps forecast for Friday and Saturday. Sunday could turn wet. 2:44 p.m.  Rose, by the way, is 3-over through 8. 2:43 p.m.  One guy who's quietly hoping both Casey and Justin Rose have bad weeks at East Lake: Colin Montgomerie. The Euro captain left both of them off his squad, drawing criticism from fans and media alike. A win here by either of them followed by poor play at the Ryder Cup by any of Monty's picks and you can expect pitchfork-toting mobs in Wales.  2:37 p.m.  Casey dunks his tee ball at the par-3 6th. That's the seventh water ball on the 6th today, and the green is the size of Rhode Island. Tough hole.2:33 p.m.  Thanks to a couple of sharp-eyed readers for noticing a mistake in an earlier post. Tiger Woods is indeed among the U.S. Ryder Cuppers not in the Tour Championship field. Sorry, I'm still getting used to the new reality.2:29 p.m.  There's a birdie! Bubba makes a 4 at the par-5 ninth. We won't mention that he had a five-footer for eagle and never sniffed the hole.2:26 p.m.  Your cellar-dwellers: Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton, who are both at 4-over. (Don't tell Corey!)2:23 p.m.  Na is on the rebound; he birdied his last three holes (7, 8 and 9) to get to 1-under. 2:21 p.m.  Mahan's off to a nice start -- three birdies though eight holes. At 3-under, he's your solo leader.  Look for him to have a monster Ryder Cup.2:18 p.m.  Kind of ironic that the finale of the FedEx Cup, golf's ultimate payday, is played on the old stomping grounds of Bob Jones, who played purely for the love of the game. Then again, for a chance at $10 million, even ol' Bobby might have traded in his amateur status. 2:09 p.m.  Most daring outfit of the day: the pink seersucker pants and matching pink saddle shoes donned by Ben Crane. Slow player, snappy dresser.2:06 p.m.  For all the talk about how many players are in the FedEx mix this week, here's a stat worth considering: in each of the last three years, the FedEx points leader heading into the Tour Championship has finished the week as the FedEx champ.2:03 p.m.  My pick this week: Steve Stricker, who has quietly gained momentum throughout the playoffs. That's good news for Tiger, Stricker's more-than-likely partner in Wales.  1:58 p.m.  Paul Casey makes a 2 from six feet at the par-3 second. Back at 1, FedEx leader Kuchar finds the fairway. He's playing with Dustin Johnson. Disparate pairing there. 1:48 p.m.  Kevin Na, coming off two bogeys, stuffs his approach at the par-4 7th. He'll have a tap-in birdie. Cue Bananarama.1:43 p.m.  Hall of Fame jinx. Els misses his 10-foot birdie try at the second and the resulting three-footer for par. An ugly 4. 1:40 p.m. Tough year for Stevie Williams. First Tiger calls him out for mis-clubbing Woods at Pebble, then he misses out on a big FedEx payday, now he gets bumped from the U.S. squad’s charter flight to Wales. Somewhere Fluff is grinning. 1:37 p.m. Ernie Els, care of a generous hop off the right fringe, nearly jars his tee shot at the par-3 2nd. A Hall of Fame caliber shot, to be sure.  1:34 p.m. Nice touch earlier today when Dr. Bob Jones—grandson of the Bob Jones—hit the ceremonial first tee shot. Piped it, too.     1:28 p.m. Quick primer: For the top 5 players in the FedEx standings—Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Charley Hoffman, Steve Stricker and Paul Casey—the math is simple: win this week and they win the Cup. For the 25 other players, keep Stephen Hawking on speed dial. Take Mickelson, for example, who is 10th in standings. According to the Tour, for Phil to bag the $10 mil, he’ll need to win at East Lake and have Kuchar finish fifth or worse, DJ finish fourth or worse, Hoffman and Stricker third or worse, and Casey second or worse. For guys even further down the ranking, the algebra gets even more complicated. 1:22 p.m. Splash! Clark finds the water right of the green at the par-3 6th. Odd start: three birdies, two bogeys and a water ball. Back at 1, Mickelson sticks his approach to five feet.  1:19 p.m. Clark dropped a shot at the par-4 5th. He slips to 1-under to share the early lead with Hunter Mahan.1:17 p.m. Just one European Ryder Cupper in the field this week: Luke Donald. And just two U.S. Ryder Cupper who are not: Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler. Speaking of Fowler, Golf Channel’s John Feinstein reported on the pre-game show that on the night before Corey Pavin announced his captain’s picks, Pavin was still torn over whether to pick Fowler or J.B. Holmes. He turned the decision over to his players, Feinstein said, and they selected Fowler. 1:15 p.m. Mickelson's on the tee at the first -- find the left side of the fairway. If he can finish in a three-way tie for second or better this week, he’s your new world No. 1. Phil, for one, likes his chances: “I feel like I'm playing the best I've played this year heading into this week,” he said yesterday. 1:05 p.m. One of the best perks of the Tour Championship:no
early tee times. With just 30 players in the field, the first group
didn’t go off until 11:35 this morning. Tim Clark, at 2-under through
four holes, is your leader.1 p.m. Welcome to the Tour Championship Live Blog. Lots up for grabs this week—$10 million to the FedEx Cup winner, player of the year honors, the top spot in the world ranking (talking to you, Lefty), and for any aces on the par-3 18th … a 2011 FedEx truck. Please join the conversation below...

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