Stanford Get Back On Track, Defeat USC 79-60

By: Joe Lami

The Stanford Cardinal got back into the win column on Friday night with a win over the USC Trojans 79-60. It’s a huge recovery from last weekend, where the Cardinal were swept by the two teams in Arizona.

Lili Thompson led the way for the Cardinal off the bench with 14 points. Friday marked the first time of the season where Thompson wasn’t in the starting line-up. Briana Roberson also was put on the bench to try and shake things up, she finished the night with 13 points. Erica Payne and Jasmine Camp were their replacements, getting their first career starts. Payne and Camp played a combined 14 minutes and finished with two points each.

Stanford shot for a combined 55% from the field, including 35% from beyond the arc. Bonnie Samuelson was the Cardinal’s only answer from three-point land, as she finished with 12 points going 4 of 9.

Alexyz Valoetama led the way for USC with 14 points. Four total Trojans were able to get into double digits. Courtney Jaco contributed 11, Briana Barrett and Kaneisha Horn each added ten. Horn brought down 11 rebounds to get the double double.

Day, Snedeker make jumps in AT&T leaderboard

By Jeremy Harness

Jason Day channeled his inner Michael Jordan on Friday.

Day, who beat J.B Holmes in a playoff in last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, made a big charge on Friday, in spite of being in a less-than-optimal condition.

Just as Jordan once led his team to victory in the NBA Finals with the flu, Day woke up Friday morning with a flu that had him seriously thinking about not playing at all. However, he said that once he hit the course, he began to feel better but still did not eat anything until well after the round out of fear that it would not stay down.

And much like the case in Jordan’s leading the Chicago Bulls over the Utah Jazz in 1997, Day’s performance completely masked how he was feeling, as he turned in a nine-under 62 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club to vault him right back into the thick of things.

“I didn’t think I was going to play, especially 30 minutes before my round because I was feeling pretty awful,” said Day, who is currently tied for 14th and is only three shots behind after struggling to an even-par opening round on Thursday. “(But) just once I got out there, I started feeling a little bit better. (But) now my goal is to really try and rest up and get some energy and have a good one (Saturday).

“My putter was hot today. I hit a lot of good shots off the tee and into the greens, and then holed a lot of putts.”

Brandt Snedeker, who is known for his deft putting touch, made his own surge, hitting all 18 of his greens on his way to a bogey-free 67 and found himself tied for the lead as the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am heads into the weekend.

“For me, everything revolves around my short game and putting,” Snedeker said. “I’m putting well, and that bleeds into every part of my game. I worked really hard on that, because the end of last year, I was playing great and putting terrible, and not getting the results I felt like I deserved.”

However, while Snedeker and Day are obviously trending in the right way, John Daly took a considerable step back on Friday.

The long-hitter, these days known better for his colorful golf attire than his game on the course, bogeyed two of his first three holes at Monterey Peninsula. He fought back on the back nine with a pair of birdies, but a damaging bogey at the 17th hole sent him into the clubhouse with a one-over 72, one day after shooting a seven-under 65 at Pebble Beach.

Just as the score indicated, Daly’s statistics in each of the two rounds this week have been completely different. Although he hit more fairways Friday than was the case in the opening round, his distance was significantly shorter off the tee, resulting in fewer greens hit and, thus, creating fewer birdie opportunities.

Daly is still in the hunt, but he is now six shots off the lead and is currently tied with 12 other players for 37th in the tournament.

Sharks Beat Coyotes for McLellan’s 300th Win

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 Friday. It was the Sharks’ 300th win with Todd McLellan as head coach, making him the second-fastest NHL coach to reach that mark. It was also the first time the Sharks beat the Coyotes in regulation in Glendale with Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in net.

Joe Pavelski brings a lot to the San Jose Sharks in terms of consistency and leadership, but he has not scored very many NHL hat tricks. He is not someone you see wearing a lot of plaid either. He isn’t that kind of flashy. On Friday he scored three goals, one at even strength, one on a power play and one into an empty net. Joe Thornton had assists on all three goals. Barclay Goodrow scored the other Sharks goal, the game winner.

Speaking about the Sharks’ recovery from a poor first period, Pavelski said: “The first just can’t happen, happen again. I think we’re understanding, this time of year, the soft stuff just isn’t going to cut it for us. I think that’s kind of what was said in between the first and second.”

It would be unfair to say that only a continent-wide natural disaster, one that spared no NHL franchise outside Arizona, for the Coyotes to get into the playoffs this season. It is just very unlikely as they are having one stinker of a season. Anyone who has been following the Sharks this season knows that such an opponent has a pretty good chance of beating the Sharks.

The Sharks did not start the game well. Outshot and outscored, it was one San Jose’s worst first periods of the year, against a lackluster opponent. During the first intermission, Tommy Wingels summed it up: “That was about as bad of a first period as we can play. No emotion, getting beat in one on one battles, poor defensive play. I could go on and on, but it’s got to be better in the second period.”

The Sharks were better in the second period, and the third.

Less than two minutes into the first period, Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Arizona’s newly acquired Mark Arcobello took advantage of that and shot at an unscreened Niemi to give the Coyotes the lead.

Arcobello also took the first penalty of the game, which gave the Sharks a chance to pull themselves together. They had one good chance off a Tomas Hertl shot that found Matt Irwin, Tommy Wingels and Matt Tennyson all near the net. None of them could put the puck around Smith, and after that the Sharks turned the puck over in their zone. the puck found its way back into the Coyotes’ zone but neither team could do anything productive with that. The only player who seemed able to put the puck where he wanted it was Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith.

The Sharks took the next penalty, an interference penalty to Matt Tennyson at 13:08. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi made a number of good saves before the Coyotes’ Sam Gagner intercepted a failed clear from Brent Burns. Gagner sent the puck back to the corner, where Keith Yandle passed it out to Martin Erat in the slot. 2-0 Coyotes. Assists to Yandle and Sam Gagner.

By period’s end, the Sharks had been outscored 2-0 and outshot 12-7.

Joe Pavelski opened the second period with a goal 27 seconds in. From behind the goal line, he attempted a pass to Melker Karlsson in front of the net. The puck didn’t reach Karlsson, but bounced off a defenseman and into the net. Assists went to Joe Thornton and Scott Hannan. Half way through the period, the Sharks took another penalty but kill it off.

Todd McLellan moved Tomas Hertl to the fourth line and Chris Tierney up to the third not long after that penalty kill. The move paid off as Hertl drew penalty at 10:57.

The Sharks had some trouble getting their power play going, as a couple of bounces near the blue line kept them out of the Coyotes’ zone. With 11 seconds left in the power play, a check from Tommy Wingels drew retaliation from Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This second power play looked to be in trouble again as Patrick Marleau fanned on a pass at the blue line. A quick recovery turned the tide and a couple of passes later, Joe Pavelski scored again to tie the game. Assists on the power play goal went to Logan Couture and Joe Thornton.

The third period began with promise for the Sharks. An early chance came off a pass from Mirco Mueller that found Matt Nieto up the ice. Nieto did not score but it was a good sign that the Sharks were going in the right direction. It took them just over six minutes of playing time to get there, and Barclay Goodrow was the lucky shooter.

Goodrow came into the zone at speed in a two on one with Andrew Desjardins against Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy. After convincing Murphy and his goaltender that a pass was a good possibility, Goodrow shot instead and gave the Sharks the lead. Assists went to Brent Burns and Antti Niemi. Desjardins made the play possible despite falling in the neutral zone and having to get back to his feet quickly enough to catch up and protect the two on one.

With the win, the Sharks remain in the second spot in the Pacific Division with 66 points. The Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks are right behind them with 63 points each and several games in hand.

Joe Pavelski led the Sharks in shots with five. Tommy Wingels led in hits with four. Mirco Mueller led the team in blocked shots with four. Antti Niemi made 34 saves on 36 shots for the win.

Five different Coyotes had three shots apiece: Sam Gagne, Kyle Chipchura, Michael Stone, Lauri Korpikoski and Brendan Shinnimin. Jordan Martinook led the Coyotes in hits with four. Mike Smith made 22 saves on 25 shots faced.

On the injury front, some updates on absent Sharks came out. Kevin Kurz of CSNCA reported that defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, currently on injured reserve, skated Friday in San Jose and does not have a concussion. Additionally, defenseman Justin Braun could be close to returning, if the initial recovery time of 4-6 weeks was accurate.

The Sharks next play on Sunday at 5:00 PT against the Tampa Bay Lightning in San Jose.

Pavelski bags three goals, Sharks nip Coyotes

Sports Radio Service
Friday, February 13, 2015

GLENDALE, Arizona – After the first 20 minutes, the inspired Arizona Coyotes looked like they were primed to take two valuable standings points away from San Jose. But the Sharks asserted themselves in the second and third periods to get a much-needed road victory – and those two points.

Barclay Goodrow’s goal at 6:23 of the third period capped a three-goal comeback for San Jose, as the Sharks held on the edge Arizona 4-2 Friday night before an announced crowd of 16,713 at Gila River Arena.

San Jose (29-20-8, 66 points) kept its hold on second place in the NHL Pacific Division, while the Coyotes have lost three of their last four games, slipping to 20-29-7, 47 points. The win snapped a recent 1-3-2 skid for the Sharks in their last six games.

“All wins are important, and this one was a little bittersweet,” Sharks Coach Todd McLellan said after getting his 300th career NHL coaching victory. “We started out very poor, but were able to come back and bank some very important points. The key is getting back to playing with winning habits and we didn’t do that in the first period.”

Goodrow scooped up a bouncing puck and drove it from the right circle, beating Arizona goaltender Mike Smith just over his glove on the short side for his fourth goal of the season.

San Jose’s Joe Pavelski tacked on an empty net goal with 1:26 to play to seal the game, giving him a three-goal game and his 29th, 30th and 31st goals on the season. Joe Thornton assisted on each of Pavelski’s goals.

“Both Joe’s did a terrific job of demonstrating leadership,” McLellan said “When things are not going well, that’s when our leaders stepped up and straightened some things out. And when it comes from internal motivation where I don’t have to say much, we have a way better chance of succeeding like we did tonight.”

After a shaky first period, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi settled down to stop all 22 shots he faced over the last two periods, as the Coyotes outshot San Jose 34-25.

Showing improved puck control, the Coyotes took a 2-0 lead in the first period. The first Arizona goal came just 1:42 in, when Mark Arcobello, claimed off waivers two days ago from Pittsburgh, found an opening in the upper left corner, over the right shoulder of Niemi. It was Arcobello’s ninth goal of the season and first as a Coyote.

The second Coyotes goal came on a power play at 15:07, when Martin Erat popped in a one-timer from the slot off Sam Gagner’s feed from the left corner for his eighth goal of the season. Keith Yandle started the play from the point to get the second assist.

But while the first period belonged to Arizona, the second and third periods were all Sharks.

“It seemed like everybody was trying to do too much, and we’d overcommit in some areas,” Pavelski said. “Getting that first goal to start the second period really set the momentum for us.”

San Jose wasted little time cutting their deficit in half, when Pavelski took a feed from behind the net and beat Smith near the crease with a friendly ricochet off a skate blade 27 seconds into the second period. Thornton and Scott Hannan had the assists.

With Oliver Ekman-Larsson serving a roughing penalty (and, essentially, extending the Sharks’ power play to nearly four minutes), Pavelski notched his second goal of the night, converting a one-timer from just inside the right circle past Smith off a feed from Logan Couture at 13:09 of the second period. Thornton received the second assist on the equalizer.

Smith stopped 22 of 25 shots before leaving in favor of a sixth attacker with 1:23 remaining.

“That power play goal was unfortunate and it really hurt us,” Tippett said. “I didn’t like the call on Ekman-Larsson, and those goals in the second period put them (San Jose) back in the game and they had new life after that.

“But for the most part it was an even game,” he added. “(San Jose’s) first goal was a little flukey, but our guys battled hard and just couldn’t get that extra goal.”

SHARK BITES: Arcobello, who played with Edmonton and Nashville earlier this season, also became the first NHL player to pick up at least one point for four different teams in one season since Dennis O’Brien did it in 1977-78. Arcobello is the third player in NHL history to play for four teams in a season. … San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic was scratched for the fourth consecutive game due to an upper-body injury. … The Sharks return home for a Sunday night date with Tampa Bay before hitting the road again for games at Nashville (Feb. 17) and Dallas (Feb. 19).

Great Weather and Course Conditions Result in Low Scores at the AT&T

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

By Jeff Hall


Excellent course conditions and perfect weather has resulted in several great scoring opportunities for some of the players. Matt Jones playing Spyglass Hill, the course that is is typically considered the toughest of the three courses, now finds himself on top of the leaderboard. Jones got off to a good start and was four-under par after completing the Front nine. And finished the round six under par for the round and 12-under par for the tournament. The 34-year-old Australian has one win on the PGA tour, last year at the Shell Houston Open, where he finished 15-under par. Jones spoke of his play at the AT&T. “I have played well here in the past. I like playing here.” Jones was not surprised at how well Spyglass is playing. “Spyglass was playing good, the courses this year are the best conditions I’ve seen them since I’ve started playing here seven years ago.”, Said Jones.

Brandt Snedeker finished his round 5-under par and also playing Spyglass today is tied with Jones for the lead heading into the third round on Saturday.

The round of the day belongs to Jason Day. Day is now just 3 shots from the lead. It turned out that Day was fighting a stomach virus that has been running through his family. Day said he had not eaten, but said he started feeling better once he go to the course. “So to be able to shoot 9-under out there with how sick I was, thinking about pulling out, was pretty special. I put myself back in the tournament and I got two more days left.

Charlie Beljan who joined the PGA Tour in 2012 and has yet to win on tour . Belgian had an 8-under day at the Monterey Peninsula course. Beljan is two shots off the lead and was very pleased with the way he played. “It was a great round. I’ve never shot 61 out here so I got a little aggressive on the final hole, hit a bad shot and made bogey. But Boy, if you would have old me I was going to shoot 8-under and put myself back in the thick of things, especially how the year’s been going, I would have been really happy.” Beljan plays Spyglass tomorrow, which he said, “Spyglass is one of my favorite courses to play so I’m looking forward to it.

John Daly coming off a great first round at Pebble Beach played the Monterey Peninsula course today and struggled. Daly began the day with a bogey on the first hole and finished one-over on the day and is six shots off the lead. Daly plays Spyglass on Saturday.

Another notable player is Vijay Singh. Singh was 2-under par at Pebble Beach and is currently five shots off the lead and 7-under for the tournament.

First round leader J.B Holmes had a collapse on the 17th  where he triple bogeyed the hole at the Monterey Peninsula course which was costly and pushed him to six shots back.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Are Cuban baseball players overrated?

by Amaury Pi Gonzalez

TEMPE–There is no doubt, for the past few years Cuban players have been the hottest commodity.There has been so much talk about the Cuban players and Cuba, that the Asian invasion of a few years ago has been all but forgotten. Remember when Japanese players were coming into the majors, and big press conferences were put together to announce the most recent import to the game? That has subsided, but at the same time the Cuban market has gone crazy.

The Oakland Athletics have shown interested, along with the Giants, Padres and Dodgers(among others)in 29-year old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, who many scouts believe could be a middle of the order hitter in the Athletics lineup, and in a totally different infield this season for the A’s. He could be a good deal for the bargain-hunting Oakland A’s if they can land the free-agent -the A’s would not have to pay a luxury tax.

Not long ago(last eight years or so) you could count with the fingers on one hand the Cuban players in the major leagues. In 2014, between 25 to 30 Cubans players were in the majors, and there will be more playing in 2015. Red Sox speedster-outfielder Rusney Castillo, could make a big difference on top of the Boston Red Sox lineup, a Boston team that could go from last to first in their division this year. Yoenis Céspedes is now on his third team since he first played with the A’s. He has played in Boston and this season will be playing for the Detroit Tigers, and is poised to have his best season at Comerica Park, a great place for a right handed power hitter.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the Rookie of The Year, first baseman José Abreu will be on his second season with the Chicago White Sox, one of the most improved teams in baseball this winter. Yasiel Puig who is the poster child for the crop of talented Cuban players of recent memory, now feels more comfortable with the Dodgers, as he plays with the enthusiasm and the talent that puts him in a class by himself, an MVP waiting to happen, but like a precious stone that needs to be polished,he will bet better, he is one of those special players that people pay just to see.

So are Cuban players overrated? I do not think so. These Cuban players arriving today, are ready to play,at least at the Triple A, level, but most are major league caliber. After defecting from Cuba, these players usually make it to the Big Show in an average of two years. That’s very good, they know that the contract is awaiting, that teams are sending scouts all over the world to give them a look. The Cuban players, know that they are a very hot commodity in today’s very wealthy Major League Baseball. It is good to see that the pioneer Latin country when it came to players in the major leagues is coming back. Recently the Cuban team won their first Caribbean Baseball Series as the beat México 3-2 in the final game. It was the first win for Cuba in the tournament that they used to dominate since 1960.(First Caribbean Series was in La Habana, Cuba in 1949)

The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum at the Athletics Fanfest.

Oakland Athletics Cuban-born right hander reliever Dan Otero, sat with yours truly at The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame table, during the Oakland A’S 2015 Fanfest. Around 15,000 A’S fans showed up, during a stormy day to see their heroes. Otero signed for approximately 30 minutes at our table and he seemed to really enjoy it as he signed autographs and have his picture taken with fans of all ages. He told me “estoy listo para el entrenamiento” trans: “I am ready for Spring Training”.

President’s Day and Baseball:

America’s affinity baseball made its way to the White House during the Taft administration. President William Howard Taft was the first American president to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in 1910. It was opening day for the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. Since Taft, every U.S. President has thrown out at least one first pitch inaugurating a season. Richard Nixon was probably the most savvy of US Presidents, when it came to baseball. The great New York baseball writer Dick Young once wrote about President Nixon: “Richard Nixon would have to top the list of presidential baseball fans. “This isn’t a guy that shows up at season openers to take bows and get his picture in the paper and has to have his secretary of state tell him where first base is. This man knows baseball.”

Have a happy and safe President’s Day weekend.

Amaury Pi-González is on his 38th season as major league broadcaster, Spanish Voice for the Oakland A’S radio network, and also play by play for the LA Angels on Anaheim on the Fox Sports West/Español in southern California. Amaury also does News and Commentary each week for

By the way it’s finally official … Karl in, Corbin out

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings have publicly announced an agreement in principle with George Karl to become the head coach of the team. The announcement was made by Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro who worked with Karl in Denver.

The contract is reported to be for $14.5 million over four years. A press conference to formally introduce Karl will be held after the contract is signed.

At the same time Karl was named head coach, the Kings announced that Tyrone Corbin has been relieved of his duties as head coach. Corbin, who was given a contract that runs through the end of the season, will move to the front office as an advisor to team management.

“I have the utmost respect for Tyrone as a coach and person,” said D’Alessandro. “He’s a man of great integrity, a consummate professional that managed a difficult situation with class and professionalism. I look forward to continuing to work with Tyrone moving forward.”

No dramatics for Cal this time, just a fifth-straight win at Colorado


By Morris Phillips

This time the Cal Bears didn’t seem particularly excited about summoning last second dramatics to pull out a win.  So instead, they ran their tried-and-true offensive look with leading scorer Tyrone Wallace attacking from his left between the circles facing the basket.

Wallace’s runner with 21 seconds left followed by Sam Singer’s steal iced the Bears 68-61 win at Colorado, their fifth straight.  Cal had dropped six in a row at Boulder–and never won at the Coors Event Center under Coach Mike Montgomery–a drought dating back to December 1974.

“To beat a team of this magnitude on their home floor with this energy and passion is a real credit to our guys,” Cuonzo Martin said.

The loss was a bitter one for the Buffs.  Colorado had their three top players—Askia Booker, Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson—available for the first time since early January, but they didn’t look healthy.  The 6’9” Scott struggled to run and missed eight of his 13 shots.  Booker wasn’t his  usual explosive self and did not shoot daggers through the Bears as he has in the past, and Johnson failed to make half his shots for the fourth straight game upon his return from injury.

“We knew that the energy and emotion would be there but like I said to our guys, ‘all we have to do is be sound’ because there is a chemistry that you are trying to get when so many guys have been out,” Martin said.

Colorado shot just 36 percent from the floor and lost consecutive conference home games for the first time since 2009.  Unless the Buffs can resurrect themselves from their 4-7 Pac-12 record, they’ll miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons.

“We’re down right now, but we’re not out,” CU Coach Tad Boyle said.

The Bears hurt Colorado with long range shooting, continuing the hot streak from distance that has been a constant during their win streak.  Cal was 10 of 22 against CU with Jordan Mathews and Dwight Tarwater combining for seven of the makes.  Cal led by one at the half, and extended their lead to double-digits early in the second half.  But when that comfortable lead evaporated to two in the final minute, the Bears seemed visually perturbed, and Martin called Wallace’s number.

Wallace’s unique ability to turn his hips, deceive with his eyes, and speed through a pair of pick-and-roll defenders on his way to the basket is quite simply world class.  Similar to how Dywane Wade operated in his prime, a bigger Cal teammate runs back from the free-throw line extended and sets a high screen for Wallace, forcing his defender to run away from the basket to meet the screen.   Wallace picks the precise moment to engage the screen, often circling his teammate with a head of steam almost always eliminating the primary defender.  Then with his eyes and hips, he navigates the bigger defender, who is at a disadvantage needing to quickly reverse ground to keep Wallace from getting into the paint.

The fact that Wallace is narrow, fast and can turn his hips and dribble ahead of his body with his dominant right hand makes the play deadly.  The path taken also leads the 6’5” guard directly to his sweet spot in the mid-lane area where he has a variety of shots and release points.

Up 63-61 with 21 seconds left, Wallace saw a pair of bigger screen defenders in the 6’7” Johnson and Scott and both retreated in tandem, seemingly stopping Wallace at the free throw line.  But Wallace proved resourceful, first hesitating, then penetrating into the lane with Johnson and Scott still retreating, and lofted a five-footer that was perfect.

The Bears have battled back from a 1-6 start in Pac-12 play to get to .500, but their NCAA hopes would still have to be considered a long shot.  A win over either ranked Arizona or ranked Utah would have to be a must, but Cal may also have to beat all four of their other remaining opponents—with a trip to better-positioned Stanford included.

The Bears (16-9, 6-6) get their opportunity to upset No. 11 Utah on Sunday afternoon in Salt Lake City.

No. 11 Utes roll past Cardinal

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Thursday, February 11, 2015

Utah continued its march toward its first-ever Pac-12 men’s basketball championship Thursday by routing Stanford 75-59 at a sold-out Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.

It was the Utes’ 16th consecutive home victory, paced by Delon Wright’s 15 points, five rebounds and four steals. Dallin Bachynski had 13 points and six rebounds, followed by 12 points each from Brekkott Chapman and Jordan Loveridge for Utah (19-4 overall, 9-2 Pac-12).

Anthony Brown led the Cardinal (16-8, 7-5) with 15 points, followed by Marcus Allen’s career-high 13 points – 10 of them in the first half.

Chasson Randle, Stanford’s leading scorer, was held to 10 points and didn’t hit his first basket until the 6:23 mark of the second half and was 0-for-4 behind the 3-point arc. Randle entered the game averaging 20.3 points per game.

Utah asserted itself with a 6-0 run to close out the first half, building a 33-27 lead at the break. The Utes opened the second half with a 15-2 run that included seven points from Loveridge and left Stanford in the dust.

Stanford travels to Boulder on Sunday to face Colorado.

Big-hitter Holmes continues great play

By Jeremy Harness

Apparently, the sting of losing in a playoff days earlier didn’t last very long at all for J.B Holmes.

The Kentucky native, who fell to Australia’s Jason Day on the second playoff hole of last weekend’s Farmers Insurance Open, is off to a blistering start at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He is tied with Justin Hicks for the lead after shooting an eight-under 64 at Pebble Beach on Thursday.

The good vibes started immediately for Holmes, who is only more than three years removed from brain surgery. He began his day at the 10th, holing out from the fairway for an eagle, and he was off and running from there.

Of course, the conditions are more than optimal for scoring, as the local temperature was around 75 degrees with little wind issues, and it is expected to be in the high 70s throughout the weekend, which is highly unusual for this time of year and had most – if not all – players almost in a state of shock.

“The weather was awesome, so it was a lot of fun to be able to play this golf course with not a lot of wind and nice temperature,” Holmes said. “It was just a good day all around.

“Any time you get great weather and be able to play a beautiful place like that all day, you’re thinking, ‘This is perfect,’ and even if you don’t hit a good shot, the weather and this view is pretty amazing.”

Another notable is John Daly, an immensely-popular player who had struggled with his game in recent years but has pulled it back together lately, is right behind Holmes and Hicks with a seven-under 65.

“I love plying this golf course,” Daly said. “It’s just great to be able to come out here and not have to survive the (usually bad) weather and survive the golf course.

“But we’ll just see what happens (from here).”

Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson, who made his season debut last week at the Farmers after a six-month hiatus from the PGA Tour, is two under par after the first day and has a real shot at making the cut, a week after missing the cut by one stroke in La Jolla.