Jones nips Spieth, Scott for Australian Open title

By Associated PressNovember 29, 2015, 6:51 am

SYDNEY - Matt Jones talked about the ''stress and anxious moments'' during his final round at the Australian Open on Sunday.

He wasn't exaggerating.

Jones overcame a bogey, a double bogey and a triple bogey on the front nine Sunday to escape with a one-stroke victory in the 100th Australian Open after shooting a 2-over 73. Jones, who led defending champion Jordan Spieth by three strokes to begin the day, finished with a 72-hole total of 8-under 276. 

Adam Scott, who shot 65 on The Australian Golf Club course Sunday, and Spieth, who had a 71 and missed an eagle attempt on the 18th that could have forced a playoff, were tied for second.

Australian veteran Rod Pampling, who had a course-record 61, was fourth, two strokes behind Jones.

Jones, Pampling, Scott and Spieth were frequently tied for the lead over the final hour, but a birdie on the 16th put the Australian a stroke clear.

Jones' round included holing a bunker shot on the 12th hole for par. There was even drama at the end for the Australian, who dropped his club after hitting his third shot on the par-5 18th, thinking it had gone in the water.

The ball landed safely on the green, however, and after being too cautious with his first putt, he holed a 3-footer for par that nearly lipped out.



Amazingly, he never fell out of the lead, or a share of the lead, all day.

''I got the job done, but there was a lot of stress and anxious moments,'' Jones said. ''A lip-in putt on the last to get the win. That bunker shot on 12 was probably the biggest thing because I knew I had some birdies left.''

Jones double-bogeyed the par-3 second hole when it took him two shots to get out of a bunker, then triple-bogeyed the ninth when his approach shot from the rough went into the middle of a lake. He made the turn in 4-over 39 and was tied with Pampling for the lead, with Scott and Spieth one behind.

He shot 2-under 34 on the back nine, while Scott and Spieth came up short in their attempts to overtake him.

Spieth was impressed with Jones' resilience.

''I just told him that was one of the best-fought wins I've ever seen, to come through what he did on 2, 9 and then that par he made on 12,'' Spieth said. ''Twelve was by far the tipping point in the round.

''We're the ones who had the most holes remaining so we control it, and for him to go back to whatever he was, 1 or 2 up on me at the time there, was really kind of a game changer.''

Scott, who trailed Jones by nine strokes at the start of the day, stayed tied for the lead when he made a 15-foot putt for par on the 17th, then pulled back into a tie with Jones when he birdied the last - before Jones' clinching birdie.

''I left myself with a little bit of work to do there on 17, but anytime you want to put yourself in a position to win, you've got to make some putts,'' Scott said. 

Scott is winless this year and his streak of capturing at least one tournament every year since 2001 could end if he doesn't win his final tournament of the year in early December - the Hero World Challenge at his home base of the Bahamas.

Lee Westwood closed with a 69 and finished at 2 over, 10 strokes back. U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau shot 72 and finished at 4 over, as did European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke after a 76.

Spieth set the previous course record of 63 during the final round last year to win the tournament by six strokes, with Pampling finishing runner-up. It was the first time the Jack Nicklaus-designed course had played at a par-71.

Pampling opened with a bogey but then recorded nine birdies - including 2s on three of the four par-3s on the course - and an eagle.

Jones, Pampling and Australian Nick Cullen, who finished tied for fifth, qualified for next year's British Open as the three highest finishers at the Australian Open who are not already exempt for Royal Troon next July.

More importantly for Jones, he joins seven-time champion Gary Player, six-time winner Jack Nicklaus and five-time winner Greg Norman with his name on the Stonehaven Cup.

''I battled away today,'' Jones said. ''I could have let it slip and let it get away easily, but I fought it out.''

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.