Diaz shoots 63 to take early lead in China

By Associated PressOctober 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
Grand China Air LPGAHAIKOU, China ' Laura Diaz says shes had two main highlights in her golf career.
On Friday, she added another.
With her brother, Ron, carrying her bag, Diaz shot a 9-under 63 to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the 54-hole Grand China Air, the LPGAs first tournament in China.
The round matched the best of her career and was capped with a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th. Diaz finished third last week in the Kapalua Classic in Hawaii and is bidding for her first tournament victory since 2002.
Annika Sorenstam
Annika Sorenstam is nine back after an even-par 72. (Getty Images)
Ron Philo ' a well-known club pro in Vermont ' filled in for Diazs husband, Kevin, who normally works as her caddie. Instead, he was home babysitting their young son, Cooper.
Could the change be permanent?
I cant afford him. Hes too expensive, Diaz said, joking. My husband comes a lot cheaper.
South Korean Seon-Hwa Lee was three shots back after a 66, and Karen Stupples and H.J. Choi were four shots off the pace after rounds of 67.
Youve got to bring it every day, Stupples said. You cant sit back on your laurels and say, Oh, I had one good round. I think every time you go out, you have to feel like youre attacking on it. You have to be aggressive and attack the course.
Louise Friberg and Ji-Young Oh were five strokes back, and Taoli Yang had a 69, the best score of the day for a Chinese player.
The highlights of Diazs career, for whatever reason, all seem to revolve around either being pregnant or caddying.
She said her first highlight came in 2005 when, despite being 5 1/2 months pregnant, she caddied for her brother in the PGA Championship.
My brother was not in favor of me doing it because of my pregnancy, but after a lot of needling he finally agreed that it would be OK, she said. It was a fantastic week.
The second came just after that when she played the Solheim Cup ' while pregnant. Her husband carried the bag in that one.
Weve got two highlights and now weve got a third, she said.
Diaz said her brother helped her master the tough grain on the greens at the West Coast Golf Club. She rolled in 10 birdies and dropped only one shot.
We have a little different mojo going on out there, she said. My brother is a fantastic player and we did a lot of working together on every club selection and every putt.
Diaz also praised her absent husband, saying her brother simply added the perspective of a player. She also showed off a photo of her husband and her son that she carries in a plastic sleeve with her scorecard and yardage chart.
I carry this every week to calm me when Im upset, she said. I really use my son as my driving force out there. Hes what I think about to keep me calm and get me motivated.
Despite hefty credentials, Diaz has gone six years without winning a tournament.
Its just taken me time to get my body back in shape and to handle trying to be a mother, a player and a wife, she said. The passion that I had that was once only for golf has now been redistributed.
Add to this the burgeoning talent in womens golf.
All those things combined have made it challenging for me to get back into the winners circle again, she said.
Sultry conditions greeted the 63-player field at the West Coast Golf Club, a palm-lined course located on the northern edge of the mainland Chinese island of Hainan, situated between the South China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin.
Many of the top names in the tournament had mediocre rounds. No. 2-ranked Annika Sorenstam, No. 3 Yani Tseng and No. 4 Suzann Pettersen all shot even-par 72. Morgan Pressel, who won the Kapalua Classic last week in Hawaii, finished with a 75.
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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.


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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."

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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."