Chalmers takes 2-point lead in Barracuda

By Associated PressJuly 2, 2016, 2:13 am

RENO, Nev. - Greg Chalmers birdied five of his last eight holes Friday to take a two-point lead in the Barracuda Championship, the PGA Tour's only modified Stableford scoring event.

The 42-year-old Australian had a 10-point round to reach 24 points at Montreux in the scoring system that awards eight points for double eagle, five points for an eagle, two points for a birdie and deducts a point for a bogey and three points for a double bogey or worse.

''I played OK,'' Chalmers said. ''It wasn't as good as yesterday ball-striking-wise, but then I ran in a lot of really nice putts. ... I stayed out of trouble on the holes I needed to and picked up some really good birdies where I needed to.''

Chalmers has only conditional tour status. He has made six starts this season on the PGA Tour, tying for 58th in the first in China in November and missing the cut in the last five. The two-time Australian Open and Australian PGA champion also has played in nine Web.com Tour events.

First-round leader Martin Laird of Scotland bogeyed three of his last six holes - finishing with a three-putt on the par-4 ninth - to drop into a tie for second with 2013 winner Gary Woodland. Laird also had five birdies in a seven-point round. Woodland had eight points with five birdies and two bogeys.

''Yesterday morning the greens were immaculate. If you hit a good putt, it was pretty much going in,'' Laird said. ''This afternoon, I hit two or three putts from 6 to 10 feet, felt like I hit good putts, and they wiggle around and miss. Same for everyone that plays in the afternoon. It's just kind of the nature of these greens. Hopefully, I can have some wiggle in the next couple of days.''

Chalmers, Laird and most of the players are fighting for a spot in the British Open in two weeks at Royal Troon in Scotland. Because of the West Virginia floods that led to The Greenbrier Classic being canceled next week, a spot was transferred to the leading player not already eligible at Montreux.

''Obviously, it would be great,'' Laird said. ''It's always nice for me to go back to Scotland. The Open's my favorite golf tournament in the year. .. But it's not really on my mind right now. I'm just trying to play good golf and keep firing away at flags and, hopefully, make some birdies.''

Woodland was one of five players already in the Open to advance to the weekend.

Colt Knost was fourth at 21 after an eight-point round.

''A lot of good and a lot of bad, honestly,'' Knost said. ''Yesterday, I really wasn't happy with my ball-striking. And today, I thought I found something on the range. I hit some better ones, but kind of still a little sloppy. But it definitely plays tougher here in the afternoon and the greens get a little bumpy.''

He recently moved from Dallas to Scottsdale, Arizona.

''I was out there all winter just working on my game out at Whisper Rock and decided to make the move permanent,'' Knost said. ''It just really allows me to focus on golf and everything. I think it's a big reason why I'm playing so well this year.''

Brendan Steele eagled the par-5 18th to reach 20 points. He hit a 210-yard shot to 12 feet.

''It's always good to have an eagle anywhere in your round, but definitely nice to finish with one,'' said Steele, already in the British Open. ''It's nice that they gave us a hole like 18 to finish on. It really makes it exciting for the fans and fun for us.''

Former Illinois player Charlie Danielson had 11 points in his professional debut. He eagled the 18th for the second straight day.

Graham DeLaet struggled to follow his nine-point opening round in his return from a five-week break to sort out anxiety issues with his putting. The bearded Canadian closed with a double bogey, leaving him with eight points heading into the weekend.

Camilo Villegas, tied for second with 14 points Thursday, lost seven points with two double bogeys and a bogey to make the cut on the number.

Jon Rahm and 2014 winner Geoff Ogilvy also had seven points. Rahm tied for third last week at Congressional in his pro debut to earn a British Open spot. The former Arizona State player is from Spain.

J.J. Henry, the 2012 and 2015 winner, missed the cut with three points.

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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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."