Curtis One Up on Coceres

By Associated PressJune 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 Booz Allen ClassicPOTOMAC, Md. -- Ben Curtis wore the burgundy and gold of the Washington Redskins. Jose Coceres wore the blue and white of Argentina's soccer team.
 
The American football fan took the lead over World Cup football fan Friday when Curtis made a 5-foot birdie putt on his final hole, giving him a one-stroke edge over the only Argentine on the PGA Tour at the midway point of the Booz Allen Classic.
 
Jose Coceres
Jose Coceres is looking for his first PGA TOUR win since 2001.
Curtis followed his first-round 62 with a 65 at the TPC at Avenel, putting him at 15 under par and setting a tournament record for best score after 36 holes. The 2003 British Open champion saved par from greenside traps on back-to-back holes before his final birdie.
 
'I got off to a little shaky start. I didn't feel real comfortable with the swing at the beginning,' Curtis said. 'I hit one out of bounds at 13, but after that, I got the putter going.'
 
Curtis and Coceres will play together in the final group Saturday, and Coceres will no doubt be thankful that threatening weather has prompted officials to send the leaders out in the morning. Barring a storm delay, Coceres should finish in time to watch Argentina play Mexico for a spot in the World Cup quarterfinals.
 
'Big moment,' said Coceres, whose blue-and-white horizontal stripes on his golf shirt were just enough to evoke thoughts of the famous blue-and-white vertical stripes on Argentina's soccer uniforms. 'That is my team, my country.'
 
Curtis' attire was more about money. He has a deal with a sponsor that requires him to wear the colors and logos of the local NFL teams at every tournament. He wasn't thrilled about wearing Baltimore Ravens purple on Thursday because he's a Cleveland Browns fan from Ohio, so the Redskins colors were a better fit all around.
 
'I heard a few comments yesterday, 'Where's the Redskins?' and all that good stuff,' said Curtis, who plans to wear Redskins gear again Saturday and Sunday. 'And it's easier to wear for me as well.'
 
Coceres shot a second consecutive 64 as he seeks his first PGA TOUR victory in five years. Jeff Gove was four shots off the lead, with John Huston and Brett Quigley another stroke behind as low scores continue to dominate on a course that looks relatively easy following last week's U.S. Open.
 
'At the U.S. Open, a guy wins a tournament at 5 over par,' said Quigley, whose 63 was the best round of the day. 'And to be honest, the greens were terrible. When we get good greens, it's like going from putting out of the rough last week to putting on a marble tile. Perfect. The greens are that good.'
 
Coceres doesn't come close to crushing the ball off the green but he didn't miss a single fairway Friday and made all 16 of his putts from less than 10 feet.
 
'If Jose continues on that pace, it's pretty hard to catch him,' Gove said.
 
Unless he gets distracted by the World Cup. After all, soccer nearly cost Coceres his golf career four years ago, when he broke his arm playing in a pickup game in Argentina.
 
'I go in too strong,' said Coceres, going back and forth from English to Spanish with the help of two interpreters. 'I just collided with another player.'
 
It took months to recover, and the injury cost him some 40 yards off his tee shot. The promising career that included two PGA TOUR victories in 2001 was fading, and he dropped to 182 on the money list last year.
 
This year, Coceres has split time between the United States and Argentina. This is only his fourth tournament of the year, and he got in only because so many other players dropped out. He's been frustrated over his inability to secure a single sponsor's exemption, and he spoke enthusiastically of merely finishing in the top 10 this week so that he can automatically qualify for next week's Buick Championship.
 
Of course, he could also go ahead and win, which would secure his place on the tour for another 2 1/2 years. It would also give more resources to support his large family and community back home. Three months ago, for example, he raised money for a family whose house had burned down.
 
How? With soccer, of course.
 
'I organized a charity soccer event,' he said. 'We brought in professional soccer players, and we helped rebuild the house.'
 
Divots:
Tom Kite failed in his bid to move back into a tie with Jay Haas for most career cuts made on the PGA TOUR. Playing with a sponsor's exemption in his first tour event of the year, the 56-year-old Kite shot rounds of 75 and 74 to miss the cut by nine strokes. Haas overtook Kite by making the cut at the U.S. Open last week. Haas has made 591 career cuts; Kite has 590. ... Padraig Harrington, the highest ranked golfer in the field, followed Thursday's 70 with a 65, but he trailed the leader by eight strokes.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry