Langer ties Jack with 8th PGA Tour Champs. major

By Associated PressMay 21, 2017, 9:14 pm

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Bernhard Langer pulled away from the other contenders - and pulled even with Jack Nicklaus.

Langer cruised to his second straight Regions Tradition victory, shooting an 8-under-64 on Sunday to match Nicklaus' record of eight PGA Tour Champions major titles.

''Yeah, that's pretty neat,'' Langer said. ''Not many people can say they match Jack Nicklaus in anything. To have won as many majors on this tour as he has is outstanding obviously and a thrill for me.

''I'm still way behind on the regular tour, though, in majors.''

The 59-year-old German star was way behind at times in this one, too.

He wiped out a six-stroke deficit over the weekend and entered the final round two strokes behind Fred Funk, but once again made sure there was no drama. He finished at 20-under 268 for a five-stroke victory over Scott McCarron (69) and Scott Parel (70), after winning last year by six.

It's the first time Langer has won a major after coming from behind on the final day.

He wasn't challenged after a birdie on the 12th, when Funk had a triple bogey. Suddenly, Langer led by three strokes over Parel and four over Funk.

''Obviously, it was huge for me and terrible for Fred because up until then, it was neck to neck,'' Langer said. ''Even Scott Parel was right in there as well. There were plenty of holes to be played, so nobody really had their nose in front by a great deal.

''When I made birdie and Fred made triple bogey, that was a big swing in my favor. At that point, I jumped ahead and then I never relented.''

Langer has eight straight rounds in the 60s since the tournament moved to Greystone. He took command on 12 and followed with two straight birdies and another with a tap-in on No. 17 after just missing an eagle.

It was his third par-3 birdie of the round.

Langer has 31 victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning the season-opening event in Hawaii in January. The Hall of Famer won the Masters twice for his lone regular majors, leaving him 16 behind Nicklaus.

Funk shot a 72 to tie for fourth with Marco Dawson (66). He lost a share of the lead with the messy 12th after his drive went out of bounds and Langer took his first solo lead.

Funk, who ranks as the tour's most accurate driver, said he was baffled by the mistake and that he was feeling relaxed at the time.

''Well, it was a close battle, but I hit it out of bounds so it was all over for me at that point,'' said the 60-year-old Funk, who was seeking his first individual title since 2012. ''He makes birdie, I make 7. I'm one back, now I'm way back so it's all over. I never hit it out of bounds even on the tightest holes.

''That hole, I don't know what happened. It was just a weird deal.''

Funk had been 2-for-2 in protecting 54-hole leads in PGA Tour Champions majors, and the third-round leader had won the Tradition five years running.

McCarron had a chance for a solo second but sent his approach on No. 18 sailing into the grandstands. He had banked in an eagle on that hole on Thursday.

''I had like 235 or something like that to the hole into the wind uphill and I absolutely just smashed a 3-wood,'' McCarron said. ''I don't know what happened. I think I blanked out or something and just killed it up in the grandstands, and then had a very fast putt there.''

Parel had seemed an unlikely contender after making the field with Fred Couples' withdrawal and his $184,000 payday was the biggest of his career. He qualified through Q-school in 2016 but couldn't hold off or ultimately catch up to Langer.

''Bernhard played unbelievable,'' Parel said. ''I mean what can you do? You shoot 64 and you're in the last group, you're probably going to win. Not much you can do about that.''

John Daly eagled the final hole for 65 to tie for 32nd at 5 under.

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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 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

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.