Notes: Moore's 61 spurred by caddie change
LA QUINTA, Calif. - The Humana Challenge yielded a 61 on the Nicklaus course, a three-way tie for the lead with Ben Crane, Mark Wilson and David Toms at 16 under and rookie Harris English potentially poised to make a run at his first PGA Tour title.
But it's only Friday, and there are two rounds remaining.
Here are some interesting tidbits from Friday's second round:
• IMMEDIATE DIVIDENDS: Beautiful scenery, a new season and a new caddie. All of that may or may not have had something to do with Ryan Moore’s 61 on the Nicklaus PGA West course on Friday.
Moore, after an even-par 72 Thursday in his 2012 debut, found his form Friday. He recorded 11 birdies, an eagle and two bogeys to tie the lowest round at the Nicklaus course in Humana Challenge history. Charlie Wi shot the same score in 2009.
Moore credits his new caddie, Tony Navarro, for the breakthrough.
“He's a great guy with a ton of experience,” Moore said. “I thought that could really help me take that next jump in my career and start winning a little bit more, so I'm excited to have him on the bag and excited for this year.”
Navarro’s experience in the desert is limited. He last caddied at La Quinta Country Club - Moore’s course on Thursday - in 1983, for winner Keith Fergus.
“Geez, it's more than hard to believe,” Fergus said of how long it’s been for him and Navarro.
Fergus said he had Navarro on the bag for two or three years before Navarro moved on to Raymond Floyd and then Greg Norman.
“I guess he upgraded,” Fergus said.
The question now is, will Moore be the next beneficiary of Fergus’ teachings?
• WE'RE NOT IN HAWAII ANYMORE: Palm Springs is no Honolulu. Just look at the 36-hole scores to see that the three courses - La Quinta Country Club, Nicklaus at PGA West and Palmer at PGA West - are just a tad easier than Waialae Country Club.
Last week at the Sony Open, Matt Every had the 36-hole lead, at 10 under, and the cut was 1 under. The 36-hole stroke average was 69.764.
At this week's Humana Challenge, 128 of the 143 players are under par, with 30 at 10 under or better. That includes co-leaders Ben Crane, David Toms and Mark Wilson at 16 under.
With a scoring average of 69.202 this week, this much is certain: Despite changes in the name and the tournament format, players have to go low to compete.
• PAIN IN THE NECK: Kevin Sutherland was feeling all of his 47 years and then some last year. A stiff neck forced the northern California native was to stop playing after the Players Championship.
In fact, the injury was diagnosed as a bruised spinal cord.
Two bone spurs pinched Sutherland’s spinal cord in his neck area, causing him to lose feeling and strength in his right arm – leaving him unable to swing a club before months of rest and then rehab.
“In October, I still wasn't able to play, and I could putt, like, five minutes and wasn't able to play,” Sutherland said. “When I played, it always felt worse when I got done, so I couldn't even play the next day. So I was a little concerned like this isn't going to work, but it just kept getting stronger in November and December and just feels really good right now.”
Nearing 100 percent health-wise, Sutherland has to practice smarter, limiting his time and being more efficient in his work.
“In the beginning, I did some light rehab, but mostly just rest," he said. "Then I started feeling a little better and started doing some rehab."
“To try to get it stronger, it took a long time, (and) a lot longer than I thought. But it feels good now.”
• • •
Short shots: Dustin Johnson withdrew with lower-back pain after nine holes at La Quinta. Johnson shot 72 Thursday, his first competitive round since surgery after the Presidents Cup. . . . Scott Stallings also WD’d on Friday, with a rib injury, after opening with a 74.