Kuchar leading as play suspended on Day 2

By Associated PressMay 25, 2013, 1:26 am

FORT WORTH, Texas – Matt Kuchar was hoping he would be able to finish his second round Friday night at Colonial. He ended up with the lead – and a very early wakeup call.

Kuchar had only three holes to complete in what so far was a bogey-free round, with his ball already on the 16th green. He was at 10 under and described the conditions as ''just perfect right now.''

But Kuchar was among 54 players still on the course when play was suspended at Hogan's Alley because of an impending storm system. The 18 groups that didn't finish are scheduled to resume the second round at 7:15 a.m. Saturday, just more than 12 1/2 hours after coming off the course.

''That's a bit of a bummer,'' said Kuchar, who opened with a 5-under 65. ''It's no fun to wake up at 4:30 to get out here and play three holes.''

At least Kuchar has the lead, by one stroke over Graham DeLaet, the Canadian who shot a 67 in a morning round completed before a 2-hour, 10-minute delay just after noon because of lightning. DeLaet was at 9-under 131.


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Kuchar, No. 13 in the world and the highest-ranked player in the field, took the lead with a 6-foot-birdie putt at 457-yard 14th hole, and recovered from a drive into a fairway bunker on the 15th for a par while clouds darkened and thunder could be heard in the distance.

Soon after Kuchar, the WGC-Accenture Match Play winner in February, teed off at the par-3 16th, and his ball landed about 40 feet from the cup, the horn sounded ending play. It was raining heavily about 30 minutes later.

First-round leader Ryan Palmer, the Colonial member who had an opening 62, was still at 8 under after an up-and-down 12 holes Friday that he managed to play at even par.

Steve Flesch (64), 19-year-old Jordan Spieth (67) from Dallas and Josh Teater (67) finished at 8 under.

Flesch's 64 matched the best completed round of the day and, more importantly, will end his string of 16 missed cuts on the PGA Tour since October 2011.

The 2004 Colonial champion missed the cut in all 12 of his PGA Tour starts last year before right shoulder surgery in August, and is playing only his third tour event this year. The 45-year-old Flesch is playing on a non-exempt major medical extension and has to make $647,510 between this weekend and his next three events to prolong that medical extension.

''I'm very comfortable here and just glad to actually play on the weekend now,'' Flesch said. ''I was actually cruising, then I got that rain delay and I kind of lost all of my rhythm. ... It's like starting your whole round over. My swing didn't feel very well on those last three (holes).''

Flesch was on the course trying to complete his morning round when play was stopped for the first time. He had just made a 33-foot birdie putt at the difficult par-4 fifth hole, his 14th hole of the day. The lefty finished with four pars in a row.

Palmer hit his opening drive way right at No. 1, a par 5 that is generally among Colonial's easiest holes, and started with a par. The former Texas A&M golfer with three PGA Tour wins sank an 11-foot birdie putt at No. 3, but hit his drive at No. 5 out of bounds and had to drop in the rough, leading a double bogey. He followed with a bogey at No. 6 after driving into a fairway bunker.

In his last three holes before the suspension of play, Palmer made an 8-foot birdied at No. 10 and rolled in a 27-footer at No. 12. He never teed off at the par-3 13th.

Kuchar matched DeLaet for the lead after four birdies his first seven holes. Kuchar had a 15-foot eagle chance at No. 1 that came up just short, then hit is approach at No. 2 that stopped inside 3 feet after ricocheting out of the cup.

''The front nine, I really got it going,'' Kuchar said. ''I jarred a shot on 2 that landed in the hole and came back out. ... I really got off to a great start. And then I kept playing some good golf.''

DeLaet was 10 under after his third consecutive birdie, a 6-footer at the 373-yard second hole that was his shortest putt in that stretch. Then he arrived at Colonial's famed ''horrible horseshoe'' as the Nos. 3-5 holes are known because of their layout and the difficulty of the stretch - a 239-yard par 3 sandwiched by the two longest par 4s on the course.

''It definitely got me today,'' said DeLaet, who bogeyed all three holes.

After DeLaet's tee shot at the 470-yard third hole went into a fairway bunker, the Canadian badly missed the green at the par 3 before his approach shot at the 475-yard fifth hole came up short of the green. But DeLaet finished strong, with consecutive birdies to finish after he had come up just short of a 31-foot birdie at No. 7.

''Always nice, and kind of got myself right back in it,'' said DeLaet, whose has never finished better than third on the PGA Tour in 69 events. ''The main thing for me, I feel more comfortable now if I see my name on the leaderboard. ... A few years ago, if I was in 15th going into the weekend, I knew if I could just maintain that position that that would be a 'good check' kind of thing. My mindset now is beyond that. I want to try to win golf tournaments.''

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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.


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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

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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."


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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."