Notes Faldo decries changes at Augusta National

By Associated PressDecember 9, 2008, 5:00 pm
Three-time champion Nick Faldo stopped playing the Masters when he took over as lead golf analyst for CBS Sports. After watching the last two from the booth, he doesnt have any doubt he made the right choice.
Its a fear factor, that place, Faldo said.
In comments that probably wont be repeated from the CBS tower during the Masters, Faldo lamented how difficult Augusta National has become, suggesting that it has caused even the most skilled players to become conservative with a smaller chance of being rewarded.
If you dont have an opportunity to reward yourself, it switches off the best players, he said last week at the Father-Son Championship in Orlando, Fla. Theyve got the flair and the skills to go for it, but going for it is suicide.
Faldo won in consecutive playoffs in 1989 and 1990, but his third green jacket was the most memorable. Trailing by six shots to Greg Norman, he closed with a 5-under 67 and won by five shots when Norman shot 78.
That was the best of the weekend, Faldo said of his 67. Yeah, thats what you really are looking for. Augusta was always the one where you can shoot your 65. If you play really well, youre shooting 3 and 4 under. You get rewarded. Thats what you got to be careful of. Bottom line is you got to reward the guys. Youve got to be given the opportunity to hit career shots.
The Masters record book shows Faldo withdrew in his final Masters in 2006, although he recalls a second-round score of about 77. What he remembers most is standing on the ninth fairway and trying to figure out how to land it on the green with a 3-iron.
When youre standing there thinking, I cant hit that green. Where do I now look? Thats when I thought, Im more than happy now to be a CBS man, he said.
KRAFT RETURN: Stacy Lewis tied for fifth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, two shots behind winner Morgan Pressel, when she played in 2005 as an amateur. That earned her a trip back to the LPGAs first major, but she turned it down because she didnt want it to count against her six exemptions if she turned pro this summer.
Turns out she still gets to go back.
The LPGA confirmed to Lewis after she won Q-School that she is eligible for the Kraft Nabisco because she finished in the top five at a major this year. Lewis tied for third at the U.S. Womens Open.
Michelle Wie missed a 10-foot birdie putt to force a playoff in her last Kraft appearance in 2006. She will have a couple of options to get into the field next year.
She would qualify by winning a tournament or ranking among the top 30 on the money list after the Phoenix LPGA International. If that doesnt work, the Kraft Nabisco hands out four sponsor exemptions.
EUROPEAN PLAYER: Padraig Harrington is the European Tours golfer of the year, an award that comes with far less suspense than the one for the PGA Tour. Harrington became the first European in more than a century to win back-to-back in the British Open, and his PGA Championship victory made him the first European to win successive majors in the same season.
Harrington and Tiger Woods are the favorites for the PGA Tour award. Woods played only six times because of knee surgery, but won four times and finished second and first in the two majors he played.
The winner is expected to be announced next week.
The European award is a vote by a panel of golf writers, broadcasters and golf dignitaries. Since it began in 1985, Harrington is the fourth player to win in consecutive years. The others were Faldo (1989-90), Ernie Els (2002-03), and Colin Montgomerie, the only European to win it three straight times.
It is very pleasing to be considered alongside these great players and also a great honor to have been voted ahead of some very fine contenders, not just this year, but last year as well, Harrington said. It has been a very strong couple of years for European golf, which makes this achievement all the more memorable.
ROOKIE RACE: During the final few holes of LPGA qualifying, one observer noted that the final group ' Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie and Amy Yang ' would be considered marquee if this had been a regular LPGA event.
It was evidence that the LPGAs rookie class next year might be the strongest in decades.
Lewis is a rarity in womens golf, having not only gone to college but earned a degree from Arkansas (along with an NCAA title). She was good enough to be the 54-hole leader at the U.S. Womens Open, where she tied for third. Yang has won on four tours, including a victory in the Australian Ladies Masters when she was 16. Wie already has seven top 10s in the majors.
Yang was listed as a rookie in this years media guide, although she played only seven times.
And that final group might not have included the front-runners. Joining the rookie class will be Ji-Yai Shin, whose three victories this year include the Ricoh Womens British Open and the ADT Championship; and Vicky Hurst, the 18-year-old who won the Duramed Futures Tour money title by winning five times.
Along with contending for rookie of the year, three of them are Americans, which could put a young face on the Solheim Cup team if they live up to the expectations.
NATIONWIDE: The Nationwide Tour will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year by playing for a record $19 million in prize money.
Four of the original tournaments are still on the schedule and also will enjoy a 20th anniversary ' Knoxville, Tenn., Springfield, Mo., Wichita, Kan., and Boise, Idaho.
It was called the Ben Hogan Tour in 1990, a 30-tournament schedule with total prize money of $3.05 million. Jeff Maggert was the player of the year. Among the winners that inaugural season were a pair of future British Open champions ' Tom Lehman and John Daly.
DIVOTS: Over the last five years, 20 different Americans and 20 different South Koreans have won on the LPGA Tour. Rod Pampling won the Australian Masters and tied for third in the Australian PGA Championship the last two weeks, moving him from No. 71 to No. 56. Jimmy Walker was the only player with all six rounds in the 60s at Q-school. Three players who earned their LPGA cards at Q-school already are among the top 100 in the world ranking, led by Shiho Oyama at No. 41.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Seven of the 21 rookies on the LPGA for the 2009 season are Americans.
FINAL WORD: It is a lot easier to go into these things with a little less profile and stay patient for two or three days under the radar, and finish it off on Sunday. But I wont have that luxury at Augusta. ' Harrington, who will be going for his third straight major at the Masters.
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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.