Henry captures Reno-Tahoe; Daly finishes T-5

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2012, 1:32 am

RENO, Nev. – J.J. Henry figured he'd fight altitude with attitude at the Reno-Tahoe Open on the edge of the Sierra Nevada. It worked.

Thanks to some help from his veteran caddie calculating yardages at the higher elevation, Henry claimed his second PGA Tour victory by holding on Sunday to beat Alexandre Rocha by a point in the modified Stableford scoring format.

''A lot of it is attitude – wanting to be here, wanting to play, wanting to try to figure out how long a shot is playing,'' said the 37-year-old Henry, who was a member of the 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

''You have elevation, you have wind, you have uphill, downhill. The greens get firm and fast,'' he said.

But Henry said he'd been playing well the past six weeks and has a good track record at Reno where he had had three previous top-10 finishes – a tie for ninth in 2009, tie for fourth in 205 and tie for third in 2002.

''I even said to some friends and my caddie (Pete Jordan) – not to sound cocky or full of yourself, but I really thought I was going to have a great week,'' Henry said. ''Sometimes when you believe it, good things happen. And that's exactly what happened this week for me.''

Henry had 7 points with four birdies and a bogey Sunday to finish with 43 for the tournament. Players received 8 points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie and zero for par. They were docked a point for bogey and 3 points for anything worse.

Argentina's Andres Romero was third with 37 points, followed by John Mallinger with 34.

John Daly and Justin Leonard tied for fifth at 33. It was Daly's best finish since 2005.

Henry had three birdies during a four-hole stretch on the front nine, then mostly stayed out of trouble on the more difficult back nine as the wind picked up late in the day at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf & Country Club course on the edge of the Sierra.

Rocha, who led after the second round, needed to eagle the par-5 18th to have a chance to become the first Brazilian winner on the PGA Tour, but had to scramble for birdie after his approach bounced into the gallery left of the green.

Henry two-putted for par from 12 feet to secure the victory, which also secures his Tour card for another two years.

''Alex played great and really kept the pressure on down the stretch to make it interesting out there,'' Henry said. ''To be honest, those are some stressful holes coming in – 16, 17, 18. There's a lot of drama and a lot of things that kind of go through your mind, good, bad and indifferent on those last couple of holes.''

Henry had played in 176 tournaments on the PGA Tour before he claimed his first victory at the 2006 Buick Open and then played in another 178 events without winning before Sunday.

''It's been a long time coming,'' said Henry, who picked up the $540,000 winner's check to boost his career earnings to $12.7 million and earn a spot next week in the PGA Championship.

''I've been out here 12 straight years, so I've done something right,'' he said. ''But it's been six years since I've won. To finally get over that hump again means a lot. ... Hopefully, I don't have to wait another 176 starts.''

Henry's best finish this year had been a tie for third at the Byron Nelson Championship, where he led by a shot with two holes to go and said he probably should have won.

This week, he had precious eagles in each of the first three rounds in the scoring system that rewards aggressive play. The format hadn't been used on the PGA Tour since the 2006 International in Colorado.

A reporter pointed out that under traditional medal play, Henry and Rocha would have tied at 17 under.

''Well, it's not stroke play, though,'' Henry answered, smiling. ''It is what it is.''

Henry parred his first four holes Sunday, then made birdies from 24 feet on the par-4 fifth and 15 feet on the sixth. He added a third when he hit his drive 380 yards on the 636-yard eighth, hit his third shot to 6 feet and made the putt.

He opened a 6-point lead when he made a 3-foot birdie on the 15th, but bogeyed the 16th and watched his lead shrink to 3 when Rocha answered with a 6-foot birdie putt.

That left Rocha trailing 43-40 but still in the tourney headed to the 597-yard downhill closing hole guarded by a pond on the right.

Rocha drove left in the waste area, but it kicked out into the fairway about 315 yards from the green. His approach hit a cart path and bounced into the gallery left of the green.

He was able to get up and down for birdie, but Henry hit his 12-foot birdie attempt inside a foot and tapped in for par.

The 34-year-old Rocha has won nine times around the world since 2000 when he was an All-American at Mississippi State but still in search of his first PGA Tour win in his second full year on Tour.

''This is a whole new level for me,'' Rocha said. ''I've never been in this position before. In fact, I've never been anywhere near this position before,'' he said.

His previous best finish was a tie for 20th at the 2011 Children's Miracle Network Classic in Las Vegas.

''Having been under the gun for three days now, playing in the last group for the last two days, which is also a first for me – I thought I did pretty good,'' said Rocha, who had a birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle start on Friday. ''I couldn't be any happier with the performance week.''

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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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