Daly Dunlop Both Big Winners

By Adam BarrFebruary 18, 2004, 5:00 pm
As if you could handicap such a thing: Who could have guessed that in the 2004 Golf Equipment Endorsement Extravaganza - which is by definition more of a crap shoot that a craps game - Dunlop would roll a seven?
At Torrey Pines last weekend, thats exactly what happened. John Dalys prototype Dunlop golf ball rolling toward the hole on 18, just lofted out of a greenside bunker, may as well have been a pair of dice. Up they came, 3 + 4 = 7 = birdie. Bye-bye, Chris Riley and Luke Donald. Heck, even hometown hero Riley couldnt move the applause meter half as much as Daly, a worldwide perennial favorite who fans happily allow to get under their skin and into their hearts.
Doing back flips somewhere in the background were Dan Murphy and Shane Duffy, director and VP of marketing, respectively, for Dunlop Golf. Dunlop, a value-priced brand that has at various times been allied with Slazenger and Maxfli, just last month signed Daly to a three-year endorsement deal.
This feels pretty good, Murphy said in the afterglow. My wife said I should go out and buy a lottery ticket.
We tried to go about this as strategically as we could, Duffy said. We wanted someone who fit the brand, someone with the right personality.
For that, Daly was a lock from the start, said the Dunlop team. Their brand is meant to lure the golfer who is looking for quality gear, but who must or would rather be price-conscious. The company offers a titanium driver in the $149 range, and has value offerings across the board. And its new pitchman has a sense of humor, proudly joining in the joke when he told me for a Golf Central story that hes playing Dunlops new Redneck model putter.
The Dunlop-Daly deal is said to be long on incentive and short on up-front cash. (Compare that with a deal with one of the premium companies, such as Callaway, Nike or TaylorMade-adidas, where big dollars are likely to be the centerpiece of the transaction.) But even with those safeguards in place, industry watchers shook their heads and wondered if bringing on Daly was perhaps too much of a risk. Daly himself is the first to admit he has had a roller coaster ride of a life, although he feels he hasnt had any more trouble than anyone else ' its just been on display more.
Therein lies a serious rub. Endorsement is about display, and about chances, and when they come in the right way, everyone involved profits from the lightning-in-a-bottle moment. But when they go bad, whatever goodwill remains in the equity bank gets devalued and spent in a similarly brief lightning flash.
But how sweet it is when the thunder rolls and the flash illuminates success. Daly has said publicly and privately that he is ready to forget images in the past that dog him (largely due to the medias long memory), images of improvident slaps with the putter and uncontrollable, emotional tremors. He is looking past blown endorsement deals, such as the one with Callaway, which he lost in 2000 when he did not honor a clause prohibiting drinking and gambling.
He is looking ahead, and so is his new endorsement partner. And expectations remain in line.
You have to think of this as a bonus, Murphy said. We never went into this thinking he would be a certain lock to win anyway. The appeal to our customer base was the real reason.
Of course, for John Daly, winning might mean something different, something bigger than just a golf tournament. No matter what his ups and downs, the fans have remained constant, somehow feeling a kinship with the less-than-perfect, eminently human golfer in a world of properly creased, buttoned-down (and sometimes aloof) pros. The question is, what now?
Another win soon? Or in nine years? For Daly, and for Dunlop, it may not matter. Every day he shows up, logo in tow, brand philosophy worn on his sleeve and in his heart, and he tees it up. And keeps on walking.
Just keep showing up, and theres no need to handicap anything.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.