Hahn, Castro lead Humana Challenge second round

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2013, 1:15 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – James Hahn and Roberto Castro remained atop the Humana Challenge leaderboard Friday, shooting 5-under 67s in the pro-am tournament.

Hahn and Castro were 14 under after another day of perfect conditions in the Coachella Valley. They began the round tied for the lead with Jason Kokrak at 63.

Hahn had four birdies, an eagle and a bogey at La Quinta Country Club. He played a three-hole stretch in 4 under on his back nine, birdieing the par-4 fourth, holing a 30-foot eagle chip on the par-5 fifth and making another birdie on the par-5 sixth.

''Any time you have back-to-back par 5s that are reachable, it's definitely something to look forward to,'' Hahn said. ''Especially if the round's not going well.''

Castro had the lead alone at 16 under, but bogeyed two of his last three holes – three-putting the par-4 ninth – on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course.

''A couple slipped away there at the end, but yesterday I made a 50-footer on the last,'' Castro said. ''Today, I felt like I hit a good putt and three-putted. So, that's stuff over 72 holes that's going to even out.''

Hahn opened his rookie season on the tour last week in Hawaii with a tie for 67th in the Sony Open. The 31-year-old South Korean-born American played briefly at the University of California and won the Web.com Tour's Rex Hospital Open last year in a playoff.

''I'm just soaking it in, having a good time,'' Hahn said. ''Any time that I play a good round, it feels good and makes me cherish the momentum a little bit more, because I know they're few and far between.''

Castro missed the cut last week in Hawaii. The 27-year-old former Georgia Tech player is in his second season on the tour.

''They had a lot of Sunday pins today,'' Castro said. ''I only played here one time, but the pins they used today were a lot of the ones they used Sunday last year. So I think Palmer was playing pretty tough. There were a lot of tucked pins.''

The stats agreed with the Palmer course having the highest scoring average in the first two rounds at 69.596. La Quinta was next at 69.529, and the Nicklaus course the lowest at 67.923.

Darron Stiles, Scott Stallings and Richard H. Lee were 13 under, all shooting 65. Stiles and Stallings played at La Quinta, and Lee was on the Palmer course.

Kokrak had a 69 on the Nicklaus course to drop into a tie for sixth at 12 under.

Phil Mickelson shot a 67 on the Nicklaus course after opening with a 72 at La Quinta. The tournament winner in 2002 and 2004, he was nine strokes behind the leaders and two strokes off the projected cut Saturday.

''The last two holes were the first time that I actually hit solid shots and my rhythm felt good and I made good swings,'' Mickelson said. ''I've been quick from the top. My rhythm has been off and I've hit a bunch of squirrelly shots. I made a lot of rusty mistakes.''

The tournament is his first since tying for second in early November in the HSBC Champions in China, the only event he played after the Ryder Cup. He plans to play five or six straight events, a run that will end at Riviera or the Match Play Championship.

''I really want to build some momentum here on the West Coast,'' Mickelson said.

Russell Henley, the Sony Open winner Sunday in his first start as a PGA Tour member, had a 69 at the Palmer course to reach 11 under. He shot a 64 on Thursday at the Nicklaus course, and is 35 under in his first six rounds this year.

Matt Kuchar, paired with Mickelson, had a 64 – matching the best round of the day – to get to 10 under. He's playing for the third straight week.

''It certainly helps playing the last couple of weeks,'' Kuchar said. ''My first week out at the Tournament of Champions there was definitely some rust and lack of scoring. Even if you have been practicing, which I was, tournament play is just a little bit different.''

DIVOTS: Mike Weir, the 2003 champion, followed his opening 67 at La Quinta with a 75 at the Nicklaus course to drop into a tie for 130th in the 156-man field at 2 under. The Canadian has missed 16 consecutive cuts and finished only one tournament – a tie for 70th in the AT&T National in July 2011 – in his last 28 events. The top 70 and ties after the third round Saturday will play Sunday at the Palmer course. ... FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker shot a 68 on the Nicklaus course to reach 9 under. He's the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 8. ... Defending champion Mark Wilson was tied for 138th at 1 under after a 66 on the Nicklaus course. He opened with a 77 at La Quinta.


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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.

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.

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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."

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."