Grand Slam Still Alive - for Immelman

By Associated PressApril 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Tiger Woods can forget about the Grand Slam for another year. And dont even bother bringing it up to the only guy at the moment with a chance.
So, Trevor Immelman, think you can win the next three majors?
No, probably not, the South African replied, breaking into a toothy grin that blended quite nicely with that green jacket he was wearing Sunday evening.
Immelman could be forgiven for wanting to soak up his first major title before he worries about winning another. Besides, on a day when the wind howled and par was a good score at imposing Augusta National, even the newest Masters champion looked more relieved than joyous.
After tapping in at No. 18 to win with a closing 75'thats 3 over par' Immelman leaned over to retrieve his ball and wearily raised his arms. As victory celebrations go, this hardly compared to a defiant Woods fist pump or Phil Mickelson leaping joyously in the air.
The course was the real winner. Already facing a 7,445-yard behemoth and those devious greens, the worlds best players didnt stand a chance when gusts up to 30 mph shook the trees, rattled the flagsticks and played havoc with those little white balls.
Heck, Paul Casey lost a stroke standing over a putt. The Englishman was forced to call a penalty on himself when his ball rocked ever so slightly in the breeze whipping across the sixth green. He waved the white flag in the form of a 79. Steve Flesch hung on a little longer, going down for the count when he dunked his ball in Raes Creek at No. 12.
If you were looking for someone who best epitomized a final round that turned into an episode of Survivor, skip the guy wearing the green jacket. Look to Brandt Snedeker, bawling his eyes out after shooting 77 in the final group with Immelman.
It was just a rough day out there, the 27-year-old Tennessean said, sounding as though he has just listened to a tearjerker of a country song. You know, its hard to put that much effort into something and get so little out of it.
Not even Woods could mount the sort of back-nine charge that used to make this place so special on a Sunday afternoon.
Sure, he rolled in a 70-foot birdie putt at No. 11, the patrons erupting with a passion that was missing most of the week. It didnt last long. Woods missed a 5-footer at No. 13, took bogey at the next hole and that was it. When he did sink a birdie with his final stroke of the tournament, he simply waved his hand in disgust as if to say, Thanks for nothing.
I just didnt make any putts all week, Woods said. I hit the ball well enough to contend. I hit the ball definitely well enough to put pressure on Trevor back there, but I just didnt make any putts.
He regrets that confident assessment of his Grand Slam chances, which he described earlier this year as easily within reason. Sure, he finished second to Immelman, three strokes away from the winners 8-under 280, but there was no serious challenge from the guy with 13 major titles'none of them won from behind in the final round.
For 2008, Woods hopes of doing something grand are one and done. From now on, his lips are sealed.
I learned my lesson, he said. Im not going to say anything.
Immelmans final-round score was the highest for a winner since Arnold Palmer won with the same number in 1962. There was precious little drama, even when the leader inexplicably dumped his tee shot into the drink at No. 16 and took double-bogey.
He still went to the final two holes needing only to avoid a Van de Velde of a collapse, and those only happen once a lifetime. Immelman made an up-and-down par from the bunker at 17, then got safely down at the 18th despite driving into a massive divot in the middle of the fairway.
I didnt hear many roars out there, Immelman said. Its just so damn difficult.
Maybe the green jackets at Augusta National went a little overboard with their redesign a few years ago, which was called a Tiger proofing but has basically turned this into an U.S. Open wannabe. Forget about shooting 31 on the back side to win, as Jack Nicklaus did in 1986. Now, its just a matter of who makes the most pars and avoids the calamitous mistake.
While the tournament itself provided few compelling storylines, Immelmans journey to the major championship club was a rather interesting one.
He fell in love with golf at an early age, and his parents gave liberally of their time and resources to make sure the boys obvious talent was nurtured. The icon of South African golf, three-time Masters champion Gary Player, took an interest as the youngster was coming up through the ranks, telling anyone who would listen that this kid had the purest swing since Ben Hogan.
Player stuck to his guns, even when criticized for taking Immelman with a questionable captains pick for the 2005 Presidents Cup. The two played a practice round at Augusta, and Player called with encouraging words when Immelman went to the final round with a two-stroke lead.
Take your time, Player said in a voice mail message that his protegee got late Saturday. Keep your eyes on the ball an extra second on the putts. There will be bad breaks, but I know youre going to win.
Aside from Players rah-rahs, Immelman didnt look like much of a contender when he got to Augusta. He had a good excuse, though.
Back in December, shortly after winning a tournament in his native country, he had trouble breathing and felt a severe pain in his ribcage. He went to see his doctor, who noticed a tumor on his diaphragm. He waited five frightening days to undergo surgery'it was a holiday weekend in South Africa'but the growth turned out to be benign.
He was left with a 7-inch scar across his lower back and a game that needed a lot of work. He missed the cut in half of his first eight events this year, and hadnt finished higher than 40th in stroke play on those rare times he make the weekend.
This has probably been the ultimate roller-coaster ride, and I hate roller coasters, Immelman said. Here I am after missing the cut last week, and Im the Masters champion. Its the craziest thing Ive ever heard of.
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.