Capitals

Johnson in tie for lead after 1 round at Kapalua

201301071532559784008-p2.jpeg

Johnson in tie for lead after 1 round at Kapalua

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Dustin Johnson got off to a good start Monday in the Tournament of Champions. Then again, just starting was good.

Three days behind schedule because of high wind, the PGA Tour finally got its 2013 season started on the day its first tournament was supposed to finish. Johnson, who showed up on Maui a week before the tournament and played just about every day, three-putted three times in five holes and still had a 4-under 69. That gave him a share of the lead with Mark Wilson and Nick Watney, who rolled in a long eagle putt on his last hole.

The 69s matched the highest score to lead after one round in 15 years this tournament has been held on the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

But there were no complaints. At least they were playing.

As long as Johnson has been at Kapalua, this was his first time playing a full round in five days. He was among four players who had not even teed off when the first round was scuttled on Friday and Sunday. It was too windy to even try to start on Saturday.

``Today was the first day I got on the course, but definitely felt good,'' Johnson said.

Rickie Fowler made history as the first player to hit the opening tee shot of the PGA Tour season three times. He was in the group at 3-under 70 that included Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker and Carl Pettersson. Defending champion Steve Stricker was another shot behind.

The players had about 30 minutes for lunch before going out for 18 more holes Monday afternoon, followed by a Tuesday finish of 18 holes. It would be the first time the Tournament of Champions was reduced to 54 holes since 1997 at rainy La Costa Resort.

The tournament finally caught a break when the wind subsided just enough as players were on the practice green under floodlights before sunrise. The greens were slowed to 8 1/2 on the Stimpmeter - compared with 10 1/2 on Friday - to help keep the balls from blowing off the green.

It still was plenty windy, though this mountainous course was built for that. Only six players in the 30-man field failed to break par.

But the green speed, combined with the wind, made it difficult.

Johnson's chip on the second hole came up 10 feet short, and he made that for par. He left his 20-foot birdie putt on the third hole about 4 feet short and missed that one, but answered by rolling in a 20-foot birdie that looked as if it would miss on the right side until the wind blew it back toward the hole.

Johnson walked off the green with a smile.

``Ride the wind, baby,'' he said. Johnson turned to see Watson hit an identical putt that stayed out to the right.

He didn't think it was that much of an advantage to have played the course so much in the days leading up to the tournament because the wind didn't arrive until Friday.

``But the greens were about this slow when I got here,'' Johnson said. ``I still can't get it to the hole.''

He also three-putted the fifth green from 70 feet for par, and he three-putted the seventh green from 15 feet.

``The ball is really not moving,'' Johnson said. ``But it's the gusts of wind that kind of blow you off balance. So you're oscillating quite a bit.''

There was plenty of trouble at Kapalua even in slightly less wind. Tommy Gainey was tied for the lead playing his 17th hole, the par-3 eighth, when the wind knocked it short of the green and the ball rolled into a hazard. His next shot went into the grassy bank of a bunker and stayed there, and he made triple bogey.

Keegan Bradley also had a trio of three-putts in his round of 71. Pettersson's lone regret was missing a 2-foot putt on the 16th because of the wind. ``That's going to happen,'' Pettersson said.

Wilson played bogey-free, a remarkable effort with so many holes into the wind playing much longer.

Then again, the tour made accommodations for the wind - and the pace of play trying to squeeze in 36 holes - by moving the tees forward. In several cases, the players were on tees reserved for resort guests. The course played 438 yards shorter than what it shows on the scorecard.

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Players to watch

It doesn't take an expert to tell you players like Alex Ovechkin or Marc-Andre Fleury will play a big role in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights will need their best players to be at their best to take home the Cup. But who will be the unexpected heroes? Who are the players no one is talking about who will have a big hand in their team's success or defeat in this series?

Here are five players you should be watching in the Stanley Cup:

1. Devante Smith-Pelly: Smith-Pelly had seven goals in 79 games in the regular season. Now he has four goals in just 19 playoff games.

Smith-Pelly has been one of those unlikely playoff heroes for the Caps this postseason with very timely performances such as scoring the series-clinching goal in Game 6 against the Columbus Blue and scoring the goal that put the game away in Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The physical play has really stood out as well for him, which fits well on the fourth line role he has settled back into now that the team is healthy again. Barry Trotz tried moving him to the top line in the absence of Tom Wilson and the results weren't great. He is best suited for the role he currently has and that will allow him to thrive.

2. James Neal: Neal came up just short of the Stanley Cup last season as a member of the Nashville Predators. He totaled nine points in 22 games during that run, a number he has already matched in just 15 games this postseason.

There are very few players on either team that boast the kind of postseason experience Neal has. He will be leaned upon this series for his leadership.

Vegas is a young team and their unprecedented success in the playoffs may make this feel like the first run of many for the Golden Knights, but not for Neal who is on the last year of his contract and came tantalizingly close to the Cup last season. He will play like there is no tomorrow because, for him, there may not be in Vegas.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky was one of the heroes of Game 7 with two goals to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning. That marked just the latest peak in a career full of peaks and valleys for the young winger. Just two games before, Burakovsky was a healthy scratch and spoke to the media about his plans to speak with a sports psychologist in the offseason.

The talent is there and it certainly appears that the injury that kept him out earlier in the playoffs is largely behind him. Burakovsky’s issues have always been mainly between the ears. In a series against a fast team with strong depth, he can be an absolutely critical piece for the Caps. Hopefully, his Game 7 performance gave him the confidence he needs to continue to be effective.

4. Ryan Reaves: Vegas acquired both Reaves and Tomas Tatar around the trade deadline. If I were to tell you that through three rounds of the playoffs, both players were healthy, had played the same number of games (6) and had the same number of points (1), you’d think I was crazy. Yet, here we are.

Reaves was largely an afterthought in a complicated trade between Vegas, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, but he has carved a nice role for himself on the Golden Knights’ fourth line and even scored the goal that sent Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

Reaves is also an agitator on the ice, but what do the Caps do against a player like that when their normal fighter plays on the top line? We may see Reaves and Wilson come to blows this series, but it won't be very often because that is a bad tradeoff for the Caps.

5. Brooks Orpik: The elder statesman of the blue line, Orpik is the only player on the Caps with a Stanley Cup to his name and is the only one who has any idea what this experience is going to be like for the team.

Orpik is very diligent about keeping in shape which has allowed him to play in 81 games this season and all 19 playoff games despite being 37 years old, but you do have to wonder how much is left in the tank. Despite being the favorite whipping boy for the proponents of analytics, his physical play has been effective this postseason. The focus he placed on the skating in the offseason has paid dividends so far in matchups against the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Golden Knights will be the fastest team they have played yet. There is no denying Orpik is much more suited towards a physical style of game. Wil he continue to be effective or will Vegas exploit the Caps' third defensive pairing?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

  •  

Quick Links

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

usatsi_10570559.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Tim Frazier

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Tim Frazier's season...

Player: Tim Frazier

Position: Point guard

Age: 27

2017-18 salary: $2 million

2017-18 stats: 59 G, 14.2 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.5 FG%, 30.4 3P%, 76.7 FT%, 44.5 eFG%, 105 ORtg, 107 DRtg

Best game: 1/27 at Hawks - 4 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2-for-5 FG

Season review: The Wizards tabbed Tim Frazier to be their backup point guard nearly a year ago when they sent a second round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans on the eve of draft night. They viewed Frazier as the solution to their years-long search for a capable backup behind John Wall. Frazier had thrived as a replacement starter in New Orleans and the Wizards saw him as worth a draft pick, even though he had just one year left on his contract.

Frazier began the season as the primary backup point guard, but ultimately lost the job to Tomas Satoransky once Wall went out with a left knee injury. Frazier became the starter and Satoransky the backup, but through two weeks Satoransky outplayed him and became No. 2 on the depth chart once Wall returned. Then, when Wall went down for months late in the season, Satoransky started and Frazier backed him up.

Frazier never found consistency as he moved back and forth between roles. His minutes, points and assists averages were all career-lows.

The Wizards added competition to their roster for Frazier and Satoransky midseason, first by signing Ramon Sessions in March and then adding Ty Lawson just before the playoffs began. That led to Frazier being inactive for four of the Wizards' six postseason games.

All in all, it was a frustrating year for Frazier. He even had to deal with a broken nose and surgery to repair it after getting inadvertently kneed in the face by Bobby Portis in a game against the Bulls in February.

Frazier has been part of small group of Wizards players continuing to work out at the team facility this summer. He has been there along with Wall, Ian Mahinmi and Jason Smith. That said, it does seem likely Frazier returns given how the Wizards used him this season. He was completely out of the rotation for extended periods of time.

Helping his cause in that regard is that the Wizards have his Bird rights, meaning they can re-sign him while going above the salary cap. They currently have five open roster spots and not much money to spend. Frazier could represent a cheap option and help them fill out their roster.

Potential to improve: Shooting, on-ball defense, consistency

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!