Austins Career Gets a Boost

By Associated PressJanuary 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Woody Austin figures he would be in paradise this week no matter what the location.
He is in sporty company at the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship after a summer that gave him a tiny taste of celebrity. He won in Memphis with a final-round 62, put up a valiant fight with his clubs and his mouth against Tiger Woods in the PGA Championship, then stole the show at the Presidents Cup by falling face-first into the water trying to play out of a hazard.
That was the highlight of a career that has been anything but smooth.
'Not everybody has things go their way,' Austin said.
Austin wonders how good he could have been if he had joined the PGA TOUR out of college at Miami. But he tore up his knee, and it was struggle for a guy who had more resolve than money. He had to work as a bank teller, as a bartender, in the supplies department of a drug store, and he almost ran out of money before he could prove himself.
And he needed help from a friend.
No telling how his career would have turned out if not for a tiny gift from Doug Dunakey when Austin was down to his last dime.
Dunakey, best known for three-putting for 59 on the Nationwide Tour, first met Austin at a mini-tour event in Florida, and they soon became traveling companions on the road to uncertainty. It was Dunakey who suggested he play the Dakotas Tour in the summer of '93, and Austin had to take out a loan to pay the entry fees up front.
'I won a tournament in Orlando. It was called the Florida Coast Golf Tour, and I got $1,200 for that,' Austin recalled. 'That was my spending money for those eight weeks on the road.'
He and Dunakey got in the car and began their journey to the Dakotas, making two detours. One was to try to Monday qualify in a Nike Tour event, and the other was the Waterloo Open in Iowa.
Austin almost didn't make it past the first stop.
'My wife called me up and said, 'We've got problems,'' Austin said. 'That tour (in Florida) went under, so that check bounced and I had no money. Like I said, I had borrowed the money from the bank, so I had nothing. That was my last gasp. I borrowed the $300 from the guy there to get in the Waterloo Open that next week, and if I didn't make any money, I was done.'
That's where Dunakey entered the picture.
He lived in Iowa and had been runner-up in the Waterloo Open the last two years. So when Austin fell on hard times, Dunakey offered to pay the entry fee. They stayed with Dunakey's parents. One of Dunakey's brother caddied for Austin to save even more money, and Austin milked this opportunity for all he could.
'Woody shot 60 the first day,' Dunakey said. 'He ended up winning $10,000. That was the most money he'd ever seen in a long time.'
Austin still has the cardboard check from the Waterloo Open, perhaps as important as any golf memento in a collection that includes PGA TOUR rookie of the year in 1995, three trophies and a spot on the Presidents Cup team under captain Jack Nicklaus.
Then came the Dakotas Tour, with the first stop in Sioux Falls, S.D.
'The tournament was Friday through Sunday,' Dunakey said. 'Monday was practice, Tuesday was the Junior Pro-Am, Wednesday was the Ladies Pro-Am. He took every dime. He made as much as one guy possibly could.'
The money wasn't anything like the seven figures for winning on the PGA TOUR, or even last place money of $51,000 this week at Kapalua. But it was enough for Austin to go home and pay his entry fee for Q-school.
'If I don't do well at Waterloo, I'm done, period,' Austin said. 'Because I've got no money to even keep going to the Dakotas to play.'
Where would he be now? Hard to say. Austin only knows he would not have been at Q-school in 1993, where he did well enough to earn full status on the Nike Tour and stop working at the bank and tending bar in Tampa.
He won Q-school the following year when it was held in Florida, then he broke through as a PGA TOUR rookie by winning the Buick Open in a playoff and qualifying for the Tour Championship, where he tied for fourth.
In between, he repaid a favor.
Having qualified for the PGA TOUR for the first time, Austin and a group of other Americans decided to travel to South America to play a couple of tournaments. Austin asked Dunakey if he wanted to tag along. The cost was $3,000.
'I told him, 'Woody, I don't have any money,'' Dunakey recalled. 'He said, 'I'll give you the money.' I told him I didn't know if I could pay him back and he said, 'Don't worry. You'll do fine.''
Dunakey did better than that. He won the first tournament they played and earned $15,000.
'They paid me in cash, in $100 bills,' Dunakey recalled. 'We're staying in this resort where they've got guards with machine guns. I was paid in the back room of the pro shop, thinking I was going to get my throat slit. I was a nervous wreck. I paid him $3,000 right there, stayed one more week and went back a week early. He never let me live that down.
Dunakey could not help but notice the coincidence of friends helping each other out. He gave Austin $300 with no strings attached, and Austin won his next two tournaments to jump-start his career.
'When he had a chance to help me, he did,' Dunakey said. 'It took me a couple of more years to get on TOUR, but that was the start.'
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.