Langer takes lead into Schwab Cup finale

By Associated PressNovember 11, 2016, 12:45 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Bernhard Langer would have wrapped up the Charles Schwab Cup long ago under the old format. Instead, he has only a small lead and is one of five players who can take the season title with a victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions finale.

Still recovering from a left knee injury that forced him to withdraw from the playoff opener two weeks ago in California, Langer will open play in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Friday on Desert Mountain Club's Cochise Course. The 59-year-old German has a tour-high four victories and has wrapped up the season money title with $2,836,459.

''The season was fantastic,'' Langer said Thursday. ''Just to have four wins, two majors, and what's even more impressive to me is actually not finishing outside the top 13 all year. That was my worst finish, 13th, which I've never done in my whole career. So that's pretty incredible.''

He re-aggravated the knee injury at home doing routine spinning.

''It's better. It was pretty bad in L.A. when I pulled out,'' Langer said. ''I couldn't really post up any weight on my left leg and follow through the way I wanted to follow through. I couldn't have walked that hilly golf course, either, because downhill was impossible for me to walk downhill.

''Last week, I was extremely careful. I played and I could play, but I had my caddie do a lot of the marking the ball, replacing the ball, lining it up. When it was downhill I went serpentine this way so I wouldn't put as much pressure on the knee. Might have to do a little bit of that this week, too, just to make sure I can finish the tournament, but right now it's not bad.''

The season standings were reset after the event last week in Virginia, with Langer's lead over Richmond winner Scott McCarron reduced from 935,657 to 200. The top five - Colin Montgomerie is third, followed by Joe Durant and Miguel Angel Jimenez - would win the season title with a victory Sunday no matter where the other players finish. The tournament winner will receive $440,000 and 2,000 points.

Langer won season titles in 2010, 2014 and 2015, but has never won the season-ending event.

''I love Desert Mountain, everything about it,'' Langer said. ''The golf course is obviously in phenomenal shape. The people here are so kind and hospitable. Great sponsor with Schwab. Food is fantastic, locker room is great. Practice facility, it's all first class.''

He played a practice round Thursday.

''The rough's a little bit up and some of the greens are really firming up,'' Langer said. ''There were a few shots downwind that I couldn't stop on the green. It will be interesting to see what the wind does tomorrow, if it switches or how strong it is and all that. But it's a real test, no doubt about it.''

Montgomerie pointed to the rough on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

''The overseeding has come in very strongly,'' Montgomerie said. ''If you're trying to make birdies, you've got to hit the fairway. You can just about make a par if you're lucky from the rough, but you're not making birdies. So to win this, you've got to make birdies, which comes from the fairways.''

The top 36 players in the standings qualified for the event, with the field reduced to 35 on Thursday when Tom Lehman withdrew because of an elbow injury. He withdraw after two rounds in the playoff opener at Sherwood and missed the event last week in Richmond.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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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 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.


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.