Eger still content even after losing in playoff

By Associated PressMay 29, 2011, 11:38 pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—It would have been the greatest victory of DavidEger ’s life.

But he wasn’t surprised that Tom Watson —a man he had watched win majorchampionships for years—had what it took to ruin Eger’s dream Sunday.

Watson rolled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hold to beatEager in the Senior PGA Championship.

“It’s amazing,” said Eger, a longtime PGA Tour and U.S. Golf Associationrules official who worked closely with Watson and other superstars for a coupleof decades. “Tom hasn’t played well this year until this week and suddenly,bam, it clicked on. I don’t know what he does out there in Kansas City, orHawaii, or wherever in the world he goes. But whatever he does, it’s been theright formula.”

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Eger had great jobs as a rules official, and now finds himself traveling theworld playing the game he loves. Sure, he would have done anything to win onSunday. But he’s not going to jump off a bridge, either.

“I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people haveapplied or have wanted the jobs that I’ve had with those organizations. When Iturned 48 or so I decided, well, I might as well get in shape and try at thattime what was called the Senior Tour. I got lucky and qualified and I’ve beenout here for 10 years now.”

He has had a close-up of the greatest golf imaginable.

“It’s the ultimate mulligan in life for a golfer to be able to come outhere and play and play reasonably well at time and compete with the likes of TomWatson and Hale Irwin and wonderful, great players who I watched from a golfcart for years and years. It’s not a bad feeling. I’m comfortable in my ownskin.”

Eger collected $216,000 for his runner-up finish. His best previous finishin a Senior PGA Championship was a tie for 16th in 2008. His 67 in the finalround was the lowest of the day.

ECSTASY AND AGONY: Jeff Sluman came out firing at pins in the final round.He birdied the first four holes to get to 4 under for the tournament—thenpromptly threw it all away with a triple-bogey 7 on the fifth hole.

His triple included four putts.

But that wasn’t the end of his trauma. He double-bogeyed the next hole, thenbirdied holes 7, 9 and 10 for seven birdies in 10 holes—and a score of just 2under. He made three more bogeys before birdieing the closing hole for a 72 thatleft him at 286 and eight shots out of the playoff.

He had just five pars in the round.

FIRST MAJOR: Ken Martin , a club pro from Wellington, Fla., finally got toplay in his first major golf championship at the age of 52. He barely made thecut after rounds of 73 and 75, then shot 81 and 76 on the weekend. But thescores were secondary to the emotion of making it to the pinnacle of the sport.

“If there’s a bucket list, this is it, to get in a major championship,” hesaid. “I’ve been playing since I was 13. So it’s 40 years, basically, and myfirst major championship. So thrilling.”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The world’s top pros make golf look easy on TV. It’s rarewhen someone gets the opportunity to actually test themselves under the sameconditions as elite athletes.

Keith Reese is a teaching pro at Valhalla Golf Club, host of the Senior PGAChampionship. He played as a marker so Tim Parun would not have to play byhimself in the first tee time of Sunday’s final round.

It was a revelation.

“Probably through the sixth hole I was so nervous it was hard to swing theclub,” said Reese, who was greeted by applause on most holes. “But it was alot of fun. So I can see what these guys go through now. I can’t imagine beingin the lead in a major, but I guess these guys have done it and that’s what theydo.”

Reese, who is 46, knows the course. He’s a terrific golfer. And he stillstruggled, shooting an 80.

Even though he’s roughly in the same career field as the Hale Irwins, TomWatsons and Nick Prices of the world, he got a new appreciation for theirnerves, guile and ability.

“Wow, how difficult is that? I’ve seen how difficult it is now, to keepyour composure and be able to hit shots,” he said. “You’ve got people watchingevery shot, so you feel like you have to hit a good shot. When the fans startclapping for your shots, it gives you such an unbelievable feeling.”

SHOT OF THE DAY: Eduardo Romero miss-hit his second shot to theelevated-on-rocks 13th hole, the ball glancing midway up the wall of stone andbouncing high onto the green. From there, he turned what would have been a bogeyinto a birdie by hitting a 10-foot putt and remain in contention.

“I hit a very fat shot and I put my head down thinking it’s coming down inthe water,” he said later. “And then I hear screaming people over there behindthe green and I thought, ‘What?”’

He later chipped in for a birdie, stretching his string of luck evenfurther.

He finished with a 69 that left him tied for fifth at 281.

“Sometimes you get lucky,” he said with a grin. “Sometimes it happens andsometimes not, but I’m very happy.”

DIVOTS: The low club pro was Sonny Skinner from Sylvester, Ga., also theonly player in the field who attended Baldwin Agricultural College. … Nextyear’s Senior PGA will be at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor,Mich., on May 24-27. The 2013 site is Bellerive in St. Louis. … A total of 21players finished under par, three more than the last time the Senior PGAChampionship was held at Valhalla in 2004. … It was the second year in a rowthat the tournament ended in a playoff. A year ago, Tom Lehman beat David Frost and Fred Couples on the first extra hole at Colorado Golf Club.

Rusty Miller can be reached at http://twitter.com/rustymillerap

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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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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.