Willis unlikely leader in Florida
Little-known American Garrett Willis leads the Transitions Championship after the opening round in Florida.
Little-known American Garrett Willis, ranked 251st in the world and playing on a sponsor invitation, led the Transitions Championship after an opening 65 at Palm Harbour in Florida on Thursday.
Told two weeks ago there was a place for him in the event, the 36-year-old Nationwide Tour graduate hit back from a third-hole bogey with seven birdies on the par-71 Innisbrook course.
Willis ended the day two strokes in front of Swede Carl Pettersson, defending champion Retief Goosen and home quartet Jim Furyk, Jonathan Byrd, Jeff Maggert and rising star Rickie Fowler.
Maggert came into the field when Vijay Singh pulled out with a back injury.
England’s Ross Fisher, playing only his fifth tournament this year, was in a share of second place with two to play, but failed to get up and down from a bunker at the short 17th and finished with a 68.
“I’ve been playing really well all year,” said Willis, whose only PGA Tour victory came in Tucson nine years ago.
“I’ve made four out of five cuts and I really haven’t capitalised on my play. I put myself in position a couple of times and slipped back.”
His round included a chip-in three on the 10th which provided the spark for a back nine 30.
Padraig Harrington, back from a St Patrick’s Day dinner with President Obama at the White House on Wednesday evening, had an eventful end to his two-under 69.
After opening with 10 successive pars Harrington made a 38-foot putt for eagle on the next and chipped in from 50 feet at the 12th.
A six on the long 13th and another bogey at the 215-yard 17th sent him tumbling down the leaderboard, but he then holed a bunker shot for a closing birdie.
Scot Martin Laird had a one-under 71 and English pair Luke Donald and Brian Davis both signed for 71s too, but Ian Poulter and Justin Rose had disappointing rounds of 73.
Poulter, winner of the WGC Match Play in Arizona last month, is playing his last Tour event before next month’s Masters, while former European number one Rose is hoping to climb into the world’s top 50 in time for Augusta. He is currently 59th.
As for Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa, he crashed to a 12-over-par 83 on his return to America from his high school graduation.
Q&A: EDGA president Tony Bennett on twin priorities of disability golf
The organisation, formerly the European Disabled Golf Association, is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year.
Valspar Championship: Casey has eyes on unique threepeat
The Englishman has won the last two editions of the Florida event and will bid to land a hat-trick of triumphs this week.
Bountiful weekend for South African golf – can the players ride the wave into the Majors?
It was a great weekend for South African golfers – but can they repeat the kind of success they enjoyed in the early 2000s?
Garrick Higgo set for US PGA Championship debut after winning in Spain
The 21-year-old held off Germany’s Max Kieffer.
Garrick Higgo wins Gran Canaria Lopesan Open after seeing off Max Kieffer
The 21-year-old left-hander carded a flawless closing 63 to finish 25 under par.
Tiger Woods appears in high spirits as he shares update on his recovery
Woods suffered major injuries following a crash in Los Angeles in February.
Thorbjorn Olesen exceeds expectations to lead in Las Palmas
A round of 61 saw the former Ryder Cup player set the clubhouse target on day two.
Host Rafa Cabrera-Bello makes promising start on Gran Canaria
The 36-year-old ended the first round at Meloneras Golf just two shots off the lead.
What they said: The leading pairs at the Zurich Classic talk chemistry ahead of the first round
Ahead of the opening shots at TPC Louisiana, teams discuss their potential for success in the PGA Tour’s unique event.
Rafa Cabrera-Bello hopes birdies in Gran Canaria stop his slide down rankings
Las Palmas-born Cabrera-Bello is hosting the inaugural Gran Canaria Lopesan Open.