Masters champ Spieth has 'no excuses' after 74 at RBC

By Associated PressApril 16, 2015, 11:26 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. It's been quite some time since Jordan Spieth had to explain a performance this poor.

The Masters champion had a post-Masters letdown in the opening round Thursday, shooting 3-over 74 to end his run of 16 straight rounds under par. He blamed it all on himself - and not the two-day celebratory media tour in New York this week.

''I didn't drive the ball well, didn't particularly strike my irons well. My chipping and putting weren't there,'' he said. ''It was just an off day.''

And the sort of performance that stands in stark contrast with how Spieth played the past month. He won the Valspar Championship, finished second at the Texas Open and lost a playoff in the Houston Open before capturing the green jacket and his first major championship at Augusta National.

It was a lot to ask of anyone to come back just as strong, let alone a 21-year-old who hadn't gone through it before.

''No excuses, I just didn't have it today,'' he said.

He better have it on Friday if he hopes to hang around for the weekend. Spieth stands eight shots behind Graeme McDowell and Matt Every, tied for the top at 5-under 66.

''Got a good feeling about tomorrow,'' Spieth said. ''Feel like I got some swings in, got in somewhat of a rhythm and can at least go out and feel the shots.''

Don't bet against the young Texan.

He got into Sea Pines Resort late Tuesday night after some 25 appearances and interviews in New York, including an appearance with David Letterman and seeing the view atop the Empire State Building. He acknowledged his preparation this week had suffered.

Spieth was greeted by a large gallery on the first tee, crowds five and six deep stretching cellphones to snap pictures and get video footage. ''Way to go, Jordan,'' someone shouted after his tee shot.


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The applause continued throughout the round and, while Spieth appreciated the sentiment, had difficulty concentrating on his game.

''I was upset about missing the green and then there was a standing ovation walking up,'' he said. ''It's like, 'Thank you. I just hit a terrible shot. Thanks.' So it was kind of tough to find the balance there.''

It was clear, though, this would not be the Spieth who tied the Masters' scoring mark of 18-under 270 set by Tiger Woods in 1997.

He was in perfect position on the par-5 second, which played the easiest in round one, when he left his approach shot short and in the bunker. Spieth could not make an 8-footer to save birdie. He was short of the green again on the par-4 sixth hole, leading to the first of three bogeys - Spieth had just one bogey in his first 36 holes at Augusta National.

The wheels truly came off at the par-3 14th when Spieth hit into the water and watched his third shot spin back about 15 feet from the cup. He made a double-bogey 5.

He hasn't had many days like this in 2015 - and neither had McDowell, who hadn't shot lower than 71 in his previous 12 rounds, including all four at last week's Masters when he tied for 52nd.

McDowell, though, found his game on the layout's tight fairways and small greens. He had six birdies after an opening bogey to move in front.

''It was great to feel comfortable out there today, see my lines, hit my speeds and make a few putts,'' said McDowell, who has not won on tour since taking this title in 2013.

It's been a strange season for Every, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month yet hadn't finished better than 27th in any of his 11 other events.

He had birdies on four of his final eight holes, including a 50-foot chip in on the sixth hole and a 20-foot chip in on the seventh, to tie McDowell. Every stayed in the lead when he chipped to a foot on the eighth hole to save par.

''I'll take it any way I can get it,'' he said.

After Bae, defending champion Matt Kuchar led a group of five another stroke back at 68. Ian Poulter and former British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen were in a group of 12 at 69.

DIVOTS: Luke Donald, who's had three seconds and two thirds in his past six trips to the RBC Heritage, opened with a 2-over 73. It was just his second round over par in his past 25 played here. ... U.S. Amateur champion Gunn Yang opened with a 3-over 74. The 21-year-old from South Korea has missed the cut in the three PGA Tour events he's played since winning his title, including the Masters where he shot 85-74 the first two rounds. ... Camilo Villegas withdrew after going 8-over par on his opening nine holes.

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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.