Kisner leads RSM through 54, eyes first win yet again

By Associated PressNovember 21, 2015, 9:10 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Kevin Kisner has a score in mind that he hopes will be enough to win the RSM Classic.

This time, everyone has to catch him.

The hard-luck player on the PGA Tour this year, Kisner pulled away Saturday afternoon with three shots that all led to birdies - a tough tee shot on the 16th, a 6-iron that nearly went in for an ace on the par-3 17th and a 30-foot putt on the 18th. That gave him a 6-under 64 and a three-shot lead over Kevin Chappell.

Already a runner-up four times this year - three of them in playoffs - Kisner has never had a better chance than now.

''What I've learned is you just can't hold back on this Tour,'' Kisner said. ''Any time you think you're doing great, somebody else is, too. I'm just going to try to keep making birdies. I'll put a number of 20, 21 (under) in my head and see if they can catch that one.''

Closing with three straight birdies not only gave Kisner the lead, he set the 54-hole record at Sea Island at 16-under 196.

Kevin Chappell, tied for the lead when he made birdie on the par-5 15th, closed with three pars for a 68.

Graeme McDowell had a 65 - that's 64 strokes with his clubs and one mental blunder. McDowell has spent so much time in soggy conditions that allowed for preferred lies that when he got to his ball in the first fairway, he instinctively reached for a tee to mark his ball, picked up and quickly realized there was a problem.

Lift, clean and place was not allowed Saturday. That's a one-shot penalty.

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''I literally just got into automatic pilot mode in the first fairway,'' he said. ''Before I realized that, Michael Kim is looking at me funny. I'm like, 'OK, I just picked this ball up.' What an idiot.''

And what a recovery.

He hit wedge into 10 feet and made the putt - for par, not birdie - which helped clear his head. McDowell made a few key par saves, poured in five birdies and wound up with a 65 to get within four shots of the lead. Coming off his playoff win in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba on Monday in Mexico, McDowell feels like he's playing with house money.

''That would be special,'' he said of a chance to end his year with back-to-back wins.

Kisner really hasn't done much wrong in any of his close calls.

He was three shots behind going into the final round at Hilton Head, closed with a 64 to get into a playoff, birdied the first extra hole and lost on Jim Furyk's birdie on the second playoff hole. He was one behind at The Players Championship, closed with a 69 and matched Rickie Fowler shot-for-shot in the three-hole playoff. He just couldn't match Fowler's third birdie on the island-green 17th and lost in sudden death.

He was four behind at The Greenbrier, closed with a 64 and lost in a four-man playoff. And two weeks ago in Shanghai, he was tied for the lead with Russell Knox and closed with a 2-under 70 to finish two shots behind Knox.

What he gained in all those losses was a small measure of belief that he was doing most everything right, and that someone else simply was better.

This time, he is equipped with a lead and brings the experience of coping with nerves.

''Just getting more and more comfortable in that situation,'' Kisner said. ''In China I was feeling as good as ever in that position. Hopefully, that's how it is tomorrow. Hopefully, the weather is pretty good for us and I just keep playing the way I'm playing.''

Chappell, winless in his 142 previous starts on the PGA Tour, has been in weekend contention three times in the last four years at Sea Island, though he has slipped in the third round. He thought that might be the case again Saturday when he three-putted from 60 feet for bogey on the second hole, and then missed the green left on the par-3 third hole and missed a 10-foot par putt.

He steadied himself with five birdies the rest of the way and is within striking distance of his first win.

''I couldn't be happier with the way I bounced back and handled a little adversity early in the round,'' Chappell said. ''Just really fought hard and tried to give myself as many opportunities as I could. Made some birdies, which was nice. Didn't play my way out of it, which looked like I could early in the round.''

Alex Cejka had his third straight 67 and at 11-under 201 was the only other player within five shots of Kisner.

DIVOTS: Kyle Reifers also was guilty of picking up his ball in the fairway thinking conditions were lift, clean and place. The difference? Reifers did it on his ninth hole of the day. ... Fifteen players missed the 54-hole cut, including British Open champion Zach Johnson. ... Tournament host Davis Love III shot a 69 and was 13 shots behind.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.