Dahmen, Straka share early lead at Innisbrook
PThat’s a childhood nickname for Joel Dahmen, who took advantage of gentle, morning conditions Thursday on a tough Copperhead course for a 5under 66 and a share of the lead with Austrian-born Sepp Straka in the Valspar Championship.
The tournament, trying to have a little fun during Spring Break in Florida, allowed players to put whatever name they wanted on the back of their caddie’s bib. Dahmen, a cancer survivor who keeps golf and life in perspective, went with the name he was given as a boy in Washington state when he was part of a scouts group. Dahmen doesn’t leap. “I’ve never seen a cougar,” he said.
His father brought some childhood memorabilia to the Phoenix Open. Dahmen saw the “Leaping Cougar” label, a tour friend got hold of it and the cat was out of the bag.
“I figured the rest of the world should see it this week,” Dahmen said.
Dahmen is playing a course he had never seen for the third straight week. But he has been playing well of late and considers himself a streaky player. Coming off a tie for 12th at The Players Championship, he handled Innisbrook with six birdies and a strong finish — a 6-iron to 4 feet for birdie on No. 3, a 7-iron to 5 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 9.
The lead stood when the wind picked up in the afternoon. Of the 28 rounds in the 60s, only eight were in the afternoon. One of them belonged to Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, who had not seen Innisbrook in nine years. He had a 69, with one birdie coming on the 578-yard 14th hole with a big drive and a 3-wood dead into the wind to 30 feet.
LABAN NG NORTE. (L-R) NLEX Road Warrior Team Captain Larry Fonacier, NLEX Road Warrior Head Coach Joseller 'Yeng' Guiao, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, Brangay Ginebra Head Coach Tim Cone and Barangay Ginebra Team Captain Joe Devance join hands during Thursday's Laban ng Norte press conference for the game today, March 23, Saturday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym, Angeles City. -