Percentage increase in rounds played in January compared with the same month in 2018, according to Golf Datatech’s National Rounds Played Report. Much of the uptick was driven by milder winter weather in the Southeast. The monthly increase comes after two years of consecutive annual declines in rounds played: a 4.8-percent drop in 2018, which followed a 2.7-percent slide in 2017 (“Keeping score,” Feb. 1).
Number of top-5 finishes last season in as many starts on the Champions Tour last year for Steve Stricker, including three victories. One of those titles, the Cologuard Classic, Stricker will seek to defend beginning today at Omni Tucson (Ariz.) National. Stricker, 52, the 2020 Ryder Cup captain, is off to a slower start this year, with a T-29 and T-11 in his two appearances. He will be paired with Fred Couples and David Toms (tee times).
First-round score for Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas, who opened a two-stroke lead Thursday in the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Vegas, 34, a three-time Tour winner, made six birdies in a bogey-free round at PGA National Resort’s Champion Course. Major champions Ernie Els of South Africa and Americans Lucas Glover and Zach Johnson shared second with Canada’s Ben Silverman at 66. Germany’s Alex Cejka, who was even par through 14 holes, was disqualified for using green-reading material that did not conform to the new scale under the Rules of Golf (scores).
First-round score for American Kurt Kitayama, who led the European Tour’s Oman Open. Kitayama, 26, a Californian who played college golf at Nevada-Las Vegas, played a bogey-free game highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 12th hole at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat, Oman. Kitayama, a European Tour rookie, is seeking his second victory after having claimed the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in December. Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Japan’s Yusaku Miyazato shared second place at 67 (scores).
First-round score for five co-leaders at the LPGA’s HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. American Amy Olson and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn were back in the news, one week after their disputed backstopping incident at the Honda LPGA Thailand, but this time for their play rather than a potential rules breach. Olson and Jutanugarn shared the lead with France Celine Boutier, China’s Yu Liu and Australia’s Minjee Lee at 4 under at Sentosa Golf Club’s New Tanjong Course (scores).