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February 05, 2010

Daily Flogging: Couples plays controversial wedge at Riv

Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press caught up with Fred Couples, who talked about why he decided to put the square-grooved, pre-1990 Ping wedge in play at Riviera. Couples said he was inspired by Phil Mickelson's example and his willingness to take criticism.

“I said, ‘I think that’s strong, and I’m going to use one next week,’” Couples said. “He said, ‘Man, I think that’s great.’ I get out here and he’s not using it.”

Ferguson also had a great nugget about leader Dustin Johnson's round of 64:

Dustin Johnson was determined to get off to a good start in the Northern Trust Open, so for the first time, he decided against trying to drive the 10th green at Riviera and instead laid up with a 4-iron. He made par, which never hurts. And then he took off. Johnson birdied three of his next four holes, one of them with a 65-foot putt, and he kept bogeys off his card during a cool, gentle morning for a 7-under 64 to build a one-shot lead Thursday over Andres Romero and Kevin Stadler.

“Had good vibes going all day, and just hit the ball really good all day long,” Johnson said.

Youth was served in the Middle East as well. In Dubai, 20-year-old Rory McIlroy shot a four-under-par 68 to share the Omega Dubai Desert Classic lead with four others, including new father Jeev Milkha Singh and South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who had back-to-back wins last month on the European Tour.

Karl MacGinty had the story for The Irish Independent and supplied this Rory story, which proves the young Northern Irishman knows his golf history:

McIlroy's knowledge of golf is also impressive. For example, he was able to give a quick-fire biographic note yesterday on each of the four Ryder Cup vice-captains chosen by U.S. skipper Corey Pavin for Celtic Manor.

"Well, Paul Goydos was beaten by Sergio Garcia at the Players in 2008," he said. "Tom Lehman won the Open at Lytham in '96; Jeff Sluman won a few times on the PGA Tour, along with the PGA in '88; and Davis Love III was PGA champion at Winged Foot in '97-- that rainbow came out over the course, which was touching, as his father had recently died." Wow

In Australia, Jim Herman shot a course-record 10-under-par 62 at the Moonah Links to lead the Nationwide Tour's Moonah Classic. Herman's claim to fame is that he once worked for Donald Trump in New Jersey and has played with Trump, Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Brady. The 32-year-old Herman is a native of Ohio, and had been the third alternate among the Americans on the tour's two-week swing to New Zealand and Australia.

Mark Hayes had the story in The Herald Sun, although he never explained just what Herman's job was in the Trump organization.

"Sometimes it just happens," [Herman] said modestly. "You just want to get out of your own way at that point, just keep hitting fairways and greens and just get the putter in your hands and see what happens."

He said Trump would be delighted to learn of his score and that playing regularly with the multimillionaire had helped him handle pressure. "He's a good guy, a lot of people feel nervous around him but all he wants to see is just good golf."

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