Kent Jones Suprising Leader at Pebble Beach

By Associated PressFebruary 7, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. --The celebrity watch at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am took place everywhere but the top of the leaderboard Thursday.
 
Kent Jones birdied the two most famous par 3s at Pebble Beach and kept bogeys off his card for a 6-under 66 and a one-shot lead, an encouraging start for someone who has played 270 tournaments on the PGA TOUR without finishing in the top five.
 
Nationwide Tour grad Roland Thatcher was a shot back along with Q-school grad Brad Adamonis and John Mallinger, third at Pebble Beach last year as a rookie.
 
The star gazing took place at Poppy Hills, and while it didnt always produce great golf to match the spectacular sunshine on the Monterey Peninsula, it was entertaining.
 
Defending champion Phil Mickelson was on the verge of shooting himself out of the tournament until a birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie burst enabled him to recover with a 71.
 
Greg Norman, playing on the PGA TOUR for the first time in 18 months, was holding steady until a four-putt on the 13th hole for a double bogey. He finished with a 76. His fiancee, tennis great Chris Evert, flew in from Florida and didnt make it out to the golf course until Norman was on the 16th.
 
Evert has no plans to take up golf, saying it was too time-consuming with three boys'Its like four boys with Greg, she said'and a tennis academy to run.
 
Tennis only takes one hour, she said, laughing.
 
These rounds take close to six hours with two pros and two amateurs in every group, and it was a slow, steady grind.
 
Norman struggled with that and the bumpy greens, but he had no complaints about how he hit the ball.
 
Its a long day of concentration, which Im not used to, Norman said. You get past four hours, you really have to stay locked in.
 
Jones, a 41-year-old from New Mexico who has yet to finish in the top 100 on the money list, has been around long enough to realize that one round is too early to get excited, especially in a format that uses three courses, and in a tournament where the leaderboard doesnt begin to sort itself out until Sunday.
 
I think Im just satisfied that I played well and putted well, Jones said. When everyone is playing different golf courses, being in the lead isnt every important. But its nice to be playing well, obviously.
 
J.B. Holmes, coming off a playoff victory over Mickelson last week in Phoenix, had a 68 at Spyglass Hill to join a group of 10 players that included Todd Demsey, who recently recovered from having a tumor removed from his brain.
 
The top 14 players on the leaderboard have combined for 10 career victories, and that doesnt include the California State Amateur that Demsey won in 1992.
 
Davis Love III, returning to the PGA TOUR for the first time in four months after a severe ankle injury, overcame an early gaffe on the par-5 14th at Spyglass with three birdies on his back nine for a 70. Vijay Singh also had a 70.
 
Mickelson was thrilled to even be remotely near the lead.
 
Lefty had big expectations for his week as he tries to become the first back-to-back winner at Pebble Beach since Mark OMeara in 1989-90. But he bogeyed his first two holes, had to save par from the fringe on the par-5 ninth, then clipped a tree and went into the water on the par-5 10th, taking another bogey, putting him at 4 over for the round.
 
Poppy Hills has five par 5s, and Mickelson played the first three in 2 over.
 
I was just trying to get back to even par, Mickelson said. If I shot 3 or 4 over, I would be shooting myself out of the tournament.
 
Instead, he shot himself back into it.
 
After holing a 30-foot birdie on the 11th, Mickelson hit a hybrid from 240 yards that covered the flag and settled 4 feet away for eagle. Then came a wedge that landed 10 feet beyond the flag and spun back slowly to a foot, followed by another approach to 3 feet on the 14th that put him 1 under for the tournament.
 
Standing on the 15th tee during another backup, Daniel Chopra looked at Mickelsons score and looked perplexed.
 
Werent you 4 over a minute ago? he said.
 
Chopra, who opened the season with a victory in the Mercedes-Benz Championship, had a 69 while playing with his twin. That would be comedian George Lopez, who broke out a visor-wig combination to mimic Chopras spiked, bleach-colored hair.
 
Ive seen those at Bay Hill, Chopra said, who decided his name would be Chopez the rest of the week.
 
Mickelson ended his streak with a bogey on the 15th, and he didnt make his first par until the 16th hole, when he missed a 6-footer. After another par on the 17th, caddie Jim Mackay said to no one in particular, Do we get a prize for back-to-back pars?
 
He ended with a birdie for a 71, and this was one time he could accept that at Poppy Hills.
 
Its not a great start, he said. But at least I put myself in position where if I shoot a low round tomorrow, I can get myself right back in the tournament.
 
He was only five shots behind a group of players without his pedigree, so it wasnt all that bad.
 
Divots: Natalie Gulbis was inside the ropes at Pebble Beach as a caddie for Ted Forstmann, who owns IMG. Tadd Fujikawa opened with a 72 at Spyglass Hill. The 17-year-old from Hawaii has not made the cut since he turned pro last summer. John Daly opened with a 78 while playing with actor Kevin James.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry