Johnson not surprising Woods with his solid play

By Associated PressJune 20, 2010, 3:28 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Tiger Woods isn’t the least bit surprised at the way U.S. Open leader Dustin Johnson is striking the ball to put himself in contention for an even bigger championship at Pebble Beach.

Woods watched the power-hitting Johnson, winner of the last two Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams played each February, during a practice round here earlier in the week in which Johnson pulled out a 4-iron at the tee on the challenging 17th and proceeded to hit it pin high on the 226-yard hole.

“He’s just stupid long,” Woods said at the time.

The compliments are still coming, and Woods realizes even after his sensational 5-under 66 round Saturday – which put him at 1-under for the tournament and right back in the hunt – that Johnson could be tough to catch in the final round Sunday.

Johnson also shot a sizzling 5-under 66 on Saturday and is 6-under 207 with a three-stroke lead over Graeme McDowell. Woods sits in third.

“I’ve played with long hitters who can play, but he hits it just for miles,” Woods said. “I told the story all week, we played a practice round and he had 226 on 17 and into the wind, and he just pulls out a 4-iron and hits it flag high in the air. … Dustin just pulls out 4 iron like it was nothing.”


HAVRET’S MISSION:
Gregory Havret finds himself in contention heading into the final day at his first U.S. Open – tied for fourth with Ernie Els.

Havret beat Phil Mickelson in a playoff to win the Scottish Open in 2007 –  and that’s his best win to date.

“It’s great to be there after three rounds. Obviously, it’s a fantastic feeling,” Havret said following his 2-under 69 Saturday that put him at even-par 213 going into Sunday.

The 33-year-old Frenchman rode his reliable short game Saturday into a strong position.

While in the past he has focused more of his energy on the British Open, Havret is thrilled to be playing so well in his U.S. Open debut. He birdied holes 5, 6, 10 and the tricky 14th, overcoming bogeys on Nos. 9 and 11.

And he wants to make sure he cherishes the experience of playing on Sunday in a major, and one played at a spot as special as Pebble Beach.

“Yeah, magical, that’s a good word,” Havret said. “I don’t know, I’ll have a nice evening with my lads and parents, and for sure it’s going to be something else I remember forever, but when you’re in the present you don’t really see and feel that. It’s more after.”


THAI ACE:
Thongchai Jaidee has hit 10 holes-in-one in his long golfing career – and he realizes it takes a lot of luck on top of pinpoint shot-making.

He did it on the par-3, 181-yard fifth hole during his U.S. Open round Saturday, a feat he ranks right up there with his best accomplishments in the game. It was his eighth ace in a tournament and first on a stage this big.

“I made it on the green and I was very happy with that,” said Jaidee, who turned pro in 1999. “It’s a very difficult hole. … Very tough course.”

It marked the first hole-in-one in the Open since 2006, seventh in an Open at Pebble Beach and the 41st known ace in Open history. Peter Hedblom had the last one in the third round at the 238-yard third at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Jaidee, a native of Thailand and among the last to make the cut, hit an 8-iron off the tee and the ball landed on the left side of the green then kicked right and rolled into the hole.

“A hole in one is not very easy,” said the 40-year-old Jaidee, playing his second Open. “You need some luck. Today I got lucky on that one.”

He watched some jaws drop in the gallery and, then, cheers from all directions.

All this after he eagled No. 3 on Friday. He once earned himself a new watch when he aced a hole during a stop in Taiwan on the Asian Tour.

“No prize. That’s OK – in a major, I’m very proud. I enjoyed it,” Jaidee said. “A very good memory for me. An eagle and hole-in-one in this tournament.


GOING SOLO:
Ty Tryon had the first tee time at 9 a.m. Saturday – all by himself.

While Tryon had the option of playing with a non-pro “marker” player, he opted to go solo with the guidance of longtime local Pebble Beach caddie Bob “Rocket” Lytle.

It was a tough round for Tryon, who was done in 3 1/2 hours but not at all happy with his game. Tryon had six bogeys and two double-bogeys – two each on the back nine – to finish 7 over for the day and go to 14-over 227 for the tournament.

“I felt really good and thought I’d do better. This is a weird feeling,” Tryon said.

He compared it to being “stepped on” but offered no excuses for his terrible day.

Tryon, the former teen star a decade ago who quickly flopped and is now 26 and married with a 3-year-old son, kept his wits about him. He smacked a high-five with Lytle as they walked down the 16th fairway. Tryon’s wife, Hanna, was just outside the ropes supporting him through the round.

While Tyron heard the crowd cheers all over the course, fans at the 18th were happy to see a golfer on a day tee times began 2 hours later than the previous two days.

“Nice to finally see someone!” one man yelled.


18TH BLISS:
Jason Gore walks up to the 18th green at Pebble Beach and instantly is brought back to his wedding day right here in 2003.

“How can you not?” he said.

He and his wife, Megan, were married in the spot where the grandstands now sit. A regular at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, the Southern Californian had long envisioned a wedding on the famous 18th – with spectacular oceanside views as a backdrop.

“I’ve always wanted to do it here. She just obliged me,” Gore said after his round Saturday. “This place is pretty special. Walking from 18 to 1 yesterday, those stairs are where she walked down.”

There was Megan on Saturday with a cold Diet Coke for her husband when he came out of the scorer’s trailer.

“Thank you, dear,” he said.

When it comes to his golf, Gore is eager to turn around what has been a rough year. He chipped in on his final hole Friday to make the cut and hopes to gain some momentum from reaching the weekend at the Open. Gore shot 3 over Saturday and was at 10-over 223 for the tournament heading into Sunday’s final round.

“I’m looking for anything to give me a glimmer of confidence,” he said.


BIRDIE ON 17:
Bobby Gates landed his tee shot on the par-3 17th within two feet of the pin on a hole that has been causing other players fits. Gates made the short putt for birdie.

That was the closest course marshal Larry Pesetski had seen anybody get in three days stationed at that hole.

After partner Kent Jones hit a 4-iron to the right-side sand trap, Gates thought the wind was helping so he went with a 6-iron.

“I just hit it perfect. It fell right toward the hole and landed soft,” Gates said. “It was a tough 2-footer, too. It was a relief to hit a good shot in there after the last two days.”

Jones nearly had his own birdie. His chip out of the bunker spun around the far lip of the cup and out.

“It looked pretty good,” Gates said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, two 2s on this hole is pretty strong.”’

Jones said the pin was easier than the previous two days, but when told he might have the best shot on 17 yet, he said: “It wouldn’t surprise me. It really takes a great shot to get it in there, and a little bit of luck, too.”


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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.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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."