Els Unsure of Proper British Preparations

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Barclays Scottish OpenLUSS, Scotland -- Ernie Els knows better than to use the Scottish Open (begins Thurs. at 9:30 a.m. ET on TGC) as any kind of gauge for how his game stacks up for the British Open.
For starters, Loch Lomond will never be mistaken for a links course.
It was designed by Tom Weiskopf along a gorgeous lake north of Glasgow. The grass is lush and often soggy from rain, favoring players who hit the ball long and high.
The results certainly are no indication. Els won the Barclays Scottish Open a year ago, then went to Royal St. George's and stumbled to a 78 before recovering to tie for 18th in the British Open.
The year before, he tied for 50th at Loch Lomond, then won the British Open at Muirfield.
The British Open will be played down the coast at Royal Troon in Scotland next week, but Els is not looking at this event as any kind of tune up for golf's oldest championship.
'I don't know how you should prepare for it,' Els said Wednesday. 'You've got to take this tournament for what it is. It's the Scottish Open. It stands on its own, played on a great golf course.'
Els is the defending champion against a field that includes Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Tom Lehman. U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen was supposed to play, but withdrew last week after winning the European Open.
Mickelson is playing the Scottish Open for the second straight year. He was not at the course Wednesday, instead practicing at Royal Troon to get ready for next week.
Els, who made his British Open debut at Royal Troon in 1989, also played the links on the Ayrshire coast and gave it a favorable review.
'I think it's set up very well,' he said. 'The rough is a factor but it's not going to kill you. The greens have a beautiful surface and will get faster. It's set up very fair. I think if we have decent weather, the guys will score well.'
For now, however, Els wants to win a third title at Loch Lomond.
'I'd love to win it again and hopefully change that little rut in a major,' he said. 'I hope I have a good week and find some form going into Royal Troon for the Open.'
Els has played well in the majors this year, but not well enough.
Despite a 67 in the final round at Augusta National, he finished one shot behind when Mickelson holed an 18-foot birdie on the final hole for his first major. Els was in the final group with Goosen at Shinnecock Hills, two shots behind, until shooting an 80.
'I thought I did very well just to be in contention at Shinnecock,' he said. 'It was a six-week run. I won a tournament (The Memorial) and had a few top 10s and felt good about it. Just one round that I played bad.'
Montgomerie also won at Loch Lomond in 1999.
The Scot, who had to go through qualifying to get in the British Open, tried out several putters for Loch Lomond and settled on the one he used at the 2002 Ryder Cup, where he won 4 1/2 points in five matches.
'I would love to win here again and I am quite capable of doing so,' Montgomerie said. 'It's just a matter of getting off to a decent start.'
Related Links:
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Barclays Scottish Open
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.


    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.