5 Things: English fixes driver woes, fires 62
HONOLULU - On a day when Scott Langley and Russell Henley managed to stay atop the leaderboard at the Sony Open (see how that happened here), there still were the likes of Harris English and Dicky Pride who worked their way back into contention behind stellar Saturday rounds.
But then there was Chris Kirk's trouble on No. 9 and John Daly's injured shoulder.
We take a look at 5 Things to take away from the third round in the PGA Tour's first full-field event of the season:
For Your Game: Harris English
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1. MOVING DAY: Harris English cobbled together two rounds of 1-under 69 to make the cut on the number, but after Friday’s second round, he was fed up with how he was driving the ball.
In the first two rounds, English hit a total of 10 of 24 fairways. Even with a lack of deep rough, playing from beyond the fairway is a difficult task at Waialae.
So English spent 30 minutes with his teacher, Mike Taylor, on the range after Friday's round to get the driver figured out.
Taylor told English to keep the ball down and not flight it above the palm trees that line the fairways at Waialae. Rather, hit the ball in the middle of the fairway and let it roll out.
“You can fly the ball 250 out here and get it going and it'll roll to 300,” Taylor said.
English listened and it worked on Saturday. The University of Georgia product hit 8 of 14 fairways and made eight birdies, including a stretch of four consecutive birdies, from Nos. 15 to 18. He improved from T-58 (12 strokes back) to T-14, seven back behind an 8-under 62.
“That's the name of the game out here is get it in the fairway,” English said. “I had to hit a low bullet shot off my driver and 3‑wood just to get it in play, and I started hitting greens.”
Now English has moved from playing out the string on the weekend to being in contention with a chance to win his first PGA Tour event.
“This course, you can really do anything,” English said of his Sunday chances. “You can shoot 60, 59 out here if you really get it going. I'm sure with weather like this you can aim it at the flag all day.”
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2. IT'S ALL IN THE HIPS: For the first time in a long while, Dicky Pride is starting on the PGA Tour from a position of strength. It's the first time since the beginning of the 2000 season that Pride has had full playing status on the PGA Tour, allowing him to set his schedule and make the trip to Sony this week.
After a 6-under 64 on Saturday, a round that included a double bogey and bogey, his sixth visit to Waialae is likely be his most profitable trip. He had made only two previous cuts, with his best finish a T-38 in 1999.
Pride is tied for 10th entering Sunday’s final round.
“I spent a lot of time in the gym and worked out and practiced and played,” Pride said of his offseason that didn’t include Q-School. “About the first of December, I really started hitting golf pretty hard and had a good offseason with the kids and the family.”
While the gym work is not new for the Pride, 43, the routine and the focus was. The Alabama native started working with Bryce Ready at his facility in Orlando, Fla.
Pride and Ready decided to give it 20 sessions to see if both were comfortable with each other.
Ready focused on Pride’s right hip, which was locked up. The early work done on the hip was humbling as Pride could not do the most basic exercises using only his right hip.
“If you put me on the full, the hard exercise that I can use my whole body to compensate, I could do it,” Pride said. “But I couldn't do a set with my right hip and my glutes, and I had to get those working properly, and once I did that, it made me turn a lot easier to get into.”
Pride hasn’t recorded a top-10 since a runner-up finish at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in May. He also knows he can end that streak on Sunday with another good round, but if it doesn’t happen, Pride knows he will have many other chances in 2013.
“The opportunities are going to be there to play,” Pride said. “And that's the big thing. But I also have to say, 'OK, look, I can't go play every week.' It's not like when I was 24, when I first got out here and I could go play 30-35 events. I mean, I'm 43. I just cannot play every week. . . . So I'm trying to really be intelligent, which is interesting for me, but I'm trying to be intelligent and schedule so I won't be able to – be ready to play when I do play.”
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3. TRIPLE TROUBLE: There are only two par 5s on Waialae for the Sony Open, the ninth and 18th. Consequently they generally play as the easiest each round - including Saturday.
But you couldn’t convince Chris Kirk of that after posting a triple bogey on the ninth hole that required a 20-foot bomb to be converted to stop the bloodshed.
Kirk hit his drive in the hazard right on the ninth and after a drop hit his third shot out of bounds. It would take him three more shots to find the green and then the putt.
“I've been kind of fighting that right shot a little bit all week,” Kirk said. “But obviously been fighting it really well. I think to be honest with you, I just was kind of tired. I've had (the) flu, been sick the last two weeks and haven't practiced a whole lot, so to be playing as well as I was through two days was a little bit of a surprise, and I still feel like I'm playing well. I really just got tired a little bit today.”
Kirk would chip in on the 18th hole for eagle to shoot a 2-under 68 for the round and still give him an outside shot on Sunday, five shots behind co-leading rookies Russell Henley and Scott Langley.
“I hit a draw, and sort of right-to-right is the bad miss, which I hit a couple of those today – on the same hole, unfortunately,” Kirk said. “It's something I can go do a few drills on the range, and then, like I said, get some rest and should be good to go tomorrow.”
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4. HURT AGAIN: John Daly struggled to break 80 in Saturday’s third round, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying.
The two-time major winner again injured his right shoulder, the same shoulder he originally separated in 2007 and has separated at least twice since.
“I hit my third shot on six, and I hit a rock and just – I don't think it popped back,” Daly said of his shoulder not popping back into place. “I don't know. I've got to let them look at it, but it dropped.”
Daly’s right shoulder was noticeably hanging lower than his left, and he could barely sign his scorecard after shooting a 9-over 79.
Deciding not to withdraw after a triple bogey on the sixth hole, Daly said he chipped the ball around with little success, doubling the par-3 seventh hole and tripling the par-4 eighth before making a 52-footer for birdie on the par-5 ninth to break 80.
“I'll see; well, hopefully it's not separated again,” Daly said about the possibility of playing in Sunday’s final round. “If it's separated again, I won't be able to. This is a weird feeling. Before when it separated, you could still turn. I can't even move it. It's like locked in.”
After seeing a physio on site, Daly left and returned to his hotel and tweeted the following:
“Tendon in the AC on my right shoulder popped out on #6 hitting a rock - thought I separated my shoulder again! Got it popped back in at the physio! Hopefully better tomorrow! Nothing worse than your shoulder locked up!”
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5. NO CONTEST: Devoid of wind, the par-70 Waialae Country Club course was not a pitch-and-putt, but it did give up a lot of low numbers Saturday.
The third-round scoring average of 68.162 was the lowest for the week and was over a stroke better than Thursday's first-round 69.785 and more than a half-stroke better than Friday’s 68.718.
Of the 74 players who made the cut, 52 recorded rounds below 70, and 61 were at par or better.
The hardest hole was the par-4 sixth, where Daly hurt his shoulder and Pride made a double bogey in shooting a 64.