Garwood rides hot putter to first Champions title

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2016, 11:12 pm

CARY, N.C. – Doug Garwood ran away with the SAS Championship on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions title, closing with an 8-under 64 for a four-stroke victory.

The 53-year-old Garwood won in his 44th start on the 50-and-over tour . He finished at 16-under 200 in the regular-season finale at Prestonwood Country Club.

''It hasn't really settled in yet,'' Garwood said. ''Someone asked me last week when my last tournament win was and I blanked, I couldn't think of one, so now I won't have so much trouble. Feels great. It was a great day, played well. Beat a champion in Bernhard Langer, and Larry Mize in my group.''

Langer, two strokes ahead of Garwood and Mize entering the day, had a 70 to finish second.

''Doug just played phenomenal,'' Langer said. ''His putter was hot. He just hit it and went in, hit it and went in. He started walking after it and it dropped. He was like 9 under after 16 holes. That's pretty amazing golf.''

Garwood birdied the last three holes on the front nine for a 6-under 30, made it four in a row on the par-4 10th, added birdies on the par-5 13th and 16th and closed with a bogey.

''The putter was obviously hot today,'' Garwood said. ''I made a little adjustment. I was aiming a little bit right yesterday and I worked on that and rolled in the 12-footer on 1, rolled in the 40-footer on 3 from the fringe, a short putt, about 4-footer on 4 for a two-putt birdie.



''I guess they were saying I was walking them in. The first one at 7 I was walking because it was short. I just played it off like I thought it was going in. Then same thing on 8 and same thing on 9. I knew I had made those when I was walking.''

Garwood earned $315,000 to jump to 19th on the money list with $798,744. He also got a two-year exemption to the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii.

''I didn't figure it would ever happen really,'' Garwood said. ''I never anticipated winning. I've never been goal oriented, you know, projecting the future. I like to take it a day at a time, just live in the now. I just enjoy playing golf.''

Langer had four birdies and two bogeys. The 59-year-old German star leads the tour with four victories and $2,697,459. He won the 2012 event.

''I just didn't have my A-game today,'' Langer said. ''I missed a few shortish putts from eight to 10 feet, three of four of them that I made the last few days. Then missed a few fairways as well. And this course out of the rough, it's a very tough golf course because you don't know how far that ball's going, whether you get a flyer or not. And when it hits the green, it doesn't stop.''

Mize shot a 69 to tie for third with Tom Byrum (65) and Jeff Sluman (68) at 11 under. Miguel Angel Jimenez (65) was 10 under, and Colin Montgomerie (67) topped the group at 9 under.

The top 72 players on the money list earned spots in the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener, the PowerShares QQQ Championship at Sherwood in California on Oct. 28-30.

Corey Pavin finished 72nd with $183,192, but is sidelined by a right elbow injury and won't play at Sherwood. Michael Bradley was 73rd, $2,388 behind Pavin. Bradley closed with a 69 to tie for 13th at 6 under. John Daly got in at 70th with $191,261 after skipping the event.

A spot also was available for the top finisher in the top 10 in the tournament who ended up outside the top 72 for the season, but all the top-10 finishers were in the top 72.

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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."


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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."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."


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Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."