Hardy leads U.S. Amateur stroke play after Day 1

By Associated PressAugust 13, 2013, 3:00 am

BROOKLINE, Mass. – You'll excuse Neil Raymond if he doesn't view The Country Club in quite the same way as many of the Americans teeing it up in the U.S. Amateur this week.

For the 27-year-old Englishman, the course isn't the place where Justin Leonard sank a 45-foot putt to clinch the 1999 Ryder Cup, it's the one where ''the U.S. guys (were) running on the green on 17 across Ollie's line'' to celebrate. And Raymond didn't know much at all about Francis Ouimet's victory in the 1913 U.S. Open – against two British golf pros – until he arrived in Brookline this week.

''Hearing stories about it, it sounds pretty cool,'' Raymond said on Monday after shooting 67 in the first round of the Amateur at the 7,310-yard, par-70 course. ''It's about as good as my golf memories can have.''

Raymond's 3-under score makes him one of the early favorites for the 113th U.S. Amateur, which consists of two days of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play. Half of the 312 golfers played the first round at The Country Club on Monday; they will switch places on Tuesday with the half that opened up at the Charles River Country Club a few miles away.

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Nick Hardy, of Northbrook, Ill., shot a 65 at Charles River to take the first-round lead, and Richy Werenski of South Hadley, Mass., had a 66, thanks to a double-eagle on the par-5, 558-yard 16th. Three others came in at 3-under at the 6,547-yard, par-70 companion course.

''It feels great to be competing against the best,'' Hardy said. ''I'm going to stay aggressive at T.C.C.''

But they still have the more difficult round ahead of them at a course that Raymond called ''scary.''

''If you hang back, you can't reach some of these holes, and you're fighting a losing battle,'' said Raymond, who won this year's St. Andrews Links Trophy at the historic Scottish course. ''As soon as I got under par, I was just thinking keep my head, see what I could do.''

It's the 16th USGA championship and the sixth U.S. Amateur at The Country Club, which also hosted the '99 Ryder Cup, when Leonard's putt on No. 17 essentially clinched the victory against Jose Maria Olazabal and the Europeans. But no event has had such a hold on golf history as the 1913 U.S. Open, when local caddie Ouimet beat British superstars Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff.

The victory by the American amateur is credited with encouraging millions to take up the sport, including Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones. And The Country Club became the sport's American birthplace – the Plymouth Rock of putting.

''Just to know that he lived across the street and he won 100 years ago, it doesn't get any better than that,'' said Mike Miller, a Brewster, N.Y., native who is playing in his fourth U.S. Amateur and shot a 69. ''I just wanted to come here and enjoy the whole experience and take it all in. The clubhouse, the whole setting ... we've never had an amateur that had something like this. It's pretty cool.''

The U.S. Open returned to Brookline for the 50th anniversary of Ouimet's win in 1963, when Julius Boros beat Arnold Palmer and Jacky Cupit in a playoff, and 1988, when Curtis Strange beat Nick Faldo in an extra round. The Amateur was last played here in 1982, when Jay Sigel won.

Defending Amateur champion Steven Fox was 2 over at The Country Club on Monday, and runner-up Michael Weaver - who lost on the first hole of sudden death last year - was also in the field.

''A 72 out here is not bad,'' Fox said. ''You've got to play well at Charles River, but you can either to make it or break it here.''

At The Country Club, the tiny greens and skinny fairways are bounded by roughs so deep that Raymond decided to carry his own bag instead of trying to pull a handcart. ''This is the toughest golf course I've ever played,'' said Raymond, who is hoping to make the Walker Cup team and then turn pro.

Miller, whose best finish in three previous U.S. Amateurs was a loss in the round of 32 last year, said he had plenty of time during the practice round to reflect on the course's history.

''The stroke play, it's all about surviving. It's miserable out there. It's really tough,'' he said. ''Today I wasn't thinking about Francis and how he played. I was trying to focus.''

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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.


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.