Notes: Irwin shoots his age, shoots up leaderboard at Senior Open

By Associated PressJuly 31, 2011, 12:28 am

TOLEDO, Ohio – A 66 is an impressive score, especially at a major championship, on a legendary course, and particularly when the player shooting it is a 66-year-old grandfather.

Hale Irwin, a winner of four majors on the PGA Tour and seven more on the Champions Tour, matched his age, shooting a 66 in the third round of the U.S. Senior Open. It marked the second time he had done it in a competitive round on the Champions Tour, including a 65 at the AT&T.

“Any time you can do that when you’re at any age, it’s pretty nice to do. I didn’t even realize it until I was reminded after we finished the round,” Irwin said after finishing up on Saturday. “I was more intent on trying to make that putt at the last hole than anything else.”

Returning to Inverness Club has been a nostalgic trip for Irwin, who won one of his two U.S. Open titles here in 1979.

“It was a little reminiscent of 32 years ago and how I played on Saturday of the Open week in '79,” he said. “I recall starting poorly and having two really, really good middle rounds. Today was similar to one of those rounds in '79. I hit a lot of really good shots. I played well.”

He now stands at 7-under 206 and, as usual, is right in the thick of things.

“I have to shoot this or better probably tomorrow to even have an outside chance,” said Irwin, who began this week with rounds of 69 and 71. “I think I just started a little too far back of a lot of guys– and there’s really a lot of really good players. Not every one of them is going to go out and shoot 74. So I’ve got to go out and play exceptionally well tomorrow.”

No one will be surprised if he shoots his age again.

THE COMMON MAN: The list of top-20 players at the U.S. Senior Open includes many of the most famous golfers of a generation. Their names are well known by even those who don’t follow the game: Mark O’Meara, Mark Calcavecchia, Hale Irwin, Hal Sutton, Bernhard Langer and Nick Price, just to name a few.

And then there was Jeff Roth.

A New Mexico club pro who was a legendary player in his salad days in Michigan, Roth has been the most stunning contender in the 156-player field. After rounds of 68, 72 and 66, he finds himself at 7-under 206, tied for seventh and eight shots back of leader Olin Browne.

He said he was cheered throughout Saturday’s third round by a large contingent of family and friends from Flushing, Mich., just over 90 minutes away from Toledo.

Funny, but he was in a similar situation a year ago. He played in the final group in the third round with Langer. But while Langer pulled away to the win, Roth wilted to a 75. He ended up finishing 17th.

“Everybody’s got that choking point and I managed it a lot better today,” he said. “The interesting thing about it is I really don’t feel any pressure, any nervousness, which is great because now I can go out and play right from the get-go instead of working into the round. I’m getting to that point in my career where, even though I haven’t won a Champions Tour event, I’ve kind of been there, done that on my level. So I’m just playing golf.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Olin Browne didn’t start playing golf until he was 19 but got hooked on the game while attending Occidental College in Los Angeles. He was asked if he had any idea that he’d make a living at the game: “Well, that was getting ahead of myself. I thought I could make out a living on the golf course, and it’s been really fun. You know, I gravitated toward it because I knew what I didn’t want to do and it was to have a regular gig. I just didn’t see myself in that role. I love the challenge of golf, I love how intimidating it is sometimes and how hard it is and how you just keep butting your head against the wall and there’s no reward and you look around for some sympathy from other people and you don’t get any. But I highly recommend it for anybody that wants to try it because for every failure that you get– and it’s 10 to 1 or 50 to 1 or whatever– the successes way outweigh the failures.”

TIMES THREE: Tim Jackson, a Tennessee real estate developer and CPA, has already locked up a three-peat at the U.S. Senior Open.

As the only amateur to make the cut, he locked up the low am title for the third year in a row to match the record held by Vinny Giles.

Jackson shot a 2-under 69 in the third round after two rounds of 72 and stands at even-par 213.

“I’m very honored,” said Jackson, who played at the University of Tennessee and lives in Germantown, Tenn. “Vinny’s obviously one of the all-time greats in all of golf. I have a lot of respect for Vinny and all he’s accomplished and I’m honored to have my name beside his. That’s awesome.”

Jackson has been low am every time he’s played in the tournament, finishing tied for 11th two years ago and tied for 32 in 2010.

“When I first played in this event two years ago, I really didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “When I got here, I saw that my game matched up pretty good with most of the guys as far as my overall game and particularly my short game and my putting, so that gave me some added confidence to compete.”

DIVOTS: At the 14th hole, Damon Green, among the leaders all tournament, grabbed a rake and cleaned up after playing partner Jeff Roth hit out of a greenside bunker. Green knows what he’s doing: He caddies on the PGA Tour for Zach Johnson. … A total of 21 players returned to the course on Saturday morning to complete their rounds because of the almost-3-hour-rain delay early on Friday. The cut was a tournament-record 2-over 144. … There were 39 subpar second rounds, another tournament record. … Hal Sutton had a triple-bogey 7 at the 17th hole in the first round while shooting a 74. Since then, he birdied the hole twice while shooting 67 and 66.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."

Getty Images

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.