Notes: Jacklin giving British Open one final go

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2012, 8:50 pm

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Tony Jacklin chuckled when someone mentioned he was making a comeback.

''I'm past my sell-by date,'' the 68-year-old said Monday.

While Jacklin's days as a competitive force on the golf course have long since passed, he's planning to tee it up in next week's British Senior Open at Turnberry.

''We had this sort of spare week next week,'' Jacklin said. ''I looked at it and thought, 'Turnberry. Why not?''' Links golf, you never know what you're going to get, and I sure as hell never know what I am going to get when I walk on a golf course these days. I'm disappointed most of the time.''

The Englishman smiled at that critical self-assessment, which is easy to do since he knows his place in the game is secure.

Jacklin became a national hero in 1969 at Royal Lytham, where he became the first British player to win the British Open in nearly two decades. The following year, he took the U.S. Open at Hazeltine, becoming the first European winner of that event since 1926.

The Hall of Famer remains the last English player to win the British Open at an English course. All three of Nick Faldo's titles came in Scotland.

Jacklin was asked what he remembered most as he was coming down the stretch at Lytham on the way to claiming the claret jug.

''Being nervous,'' he said. ''I remember saying to Jack Nicklaus at the presentation, 'I didn't think I could be that nervous and play.' And he said, 'I know. Isn't it great?'''

Jacklin, who now lives in Florida, has essentially retired as a player but still competes a few times a year.

The chance to give it a go at Turnberry was too good to pass up.

''It was a week with nothing to do,'' Jacklin said. ''We were going to go over to Norway and mess around, and rather than do that, I thought, 'Why not go back to Turnberry?' It's a favorite place. I've done a lot of things there over the years, corporate (outings), and spent a lot of time there. I like it.''

He was hoping to be the oldest player in the field. Then he saw 76-year-old Gary Player had entered.

''I'm glad to see Gary is going to be playing,'' Jacklin said. ''It'll definitely be my last hurrah. I will not be performing on the golf course ... with my crutch as a putter and all of that. We won't go there.''

ALTERNATE DECISIONS: Ben Crane and Michael Thompson are the top two alternates for the British Open. Both were at the John Deere Classic on Sunday, but that's where the similarities end.

Crane, the first alternate, was headed to his summer home in Oregon.

Thompson, the second alternate, got on the charter flight for PGA Tour players and headed the other direction for England.

''I saw him in the airport,'' Thompson said Monday on the practice range. ''He was surprised I was coming.''

Crane has not given up on playing the British Open. He has booked flights the next two days. And while it seems like he's taking a big risk by staying in America, that's not necessarily the case. Because of a peculiar set of circumstances, the British Open already has more players than its 156-man field.

Even if someone withdraws, the alternate list will not be activated. Crane would need two players to WD before he gets in. Thompson needs three players to bail out. The third alternate is Matteo Manassero, who flew home to Italy.

For Thompson, it wasn't as big of a deal to make the long flight with little hope of getting in. He doesn't have a history of back pain, for one thing. And he has never played the British Open. This is different from the U.S. Open, which doesn't allow alternates to play the golf course until they officially are in the tournament.

At the British Open, Thompson can play the course as often as he likes.

''That's a big reason why I came,'' he said. ''I could prepare like everyone else. I had friends who were alternates at the U.S. Open, and they couldn't play at all.''

This is not the first time playing links golf for Thompson, a runner-up at the U.S. Open. He played in the Palmer Cup while at Alabama - matches between college players from the U.S. and Europe - and stayed a little longer to play Turnberry and Dundonald on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

''I have a good feeling about getting in,'' Thompson said. ''But I don't have any control over that. I'll be ready to go on Thursday. If I don't get in, my wife and I are going to tour the countryside.''

LEFTY HISTORY: Bubba Watson is clearly not much of a history buff.

The Masters champion had no idea that Bob Charles became the first left-hander to win a major title when he captured the British Open at Royal Lytham in 1963.

''I was 15 years away from being born,'' Watson said Monday. ''So no, I did not know.''

Watson became only the fourth lefty to capture a major with his stirring playoff win at Augusta National in April, joining Charles, Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir.

Charles remains the only lefty to win the British Open, which Watson quickly noted when a reporter asked if the course sets up better for a left-hander than it does for a majority of the players hitting from the opposite side.

''How many times has a lefty won here? Once?'' Watson asked. ''Obviously not as well as (it does for) a right-hander.''

ALLENBY SURPRISE: Robert Allenby was walking up the 15th fairway during a practice round when a television producer looked over and said, ''How did he get in the field?'' There was a time not even Allenby knew the answer.

He has slipped well beyond the top 50 in the world. He didn't finish among the top 10 a year ago in the British Open.

So in early May, he called his agent and asked him the dates of the International Final Qualifying for America, typically held in the Dallas area.

His agent replied, ''I've just finished renting you a house for the British Open.''

Allenby qualified as a player from the most recent Presidents Cup team. He wasn't alone. Retief Goosen, Ryo Ishikawa and K.T. Kim also qualified as Presidents Cup team members.

''I just thought I missed out on another one,'' Allenby said.

Allenby did not qualify for the Masters or U.S. Open this year, though he has not missed the British Open since 1999 when it was at Carnoustie.

It's unusual to have four players qualifying only through the last Cup team (next year it will be the Ryder Cup players who get in) because usually they already are in the top 50 in the world. That's one reason the field was over the 156-man limit.

It's not a problem for this major. With an extra player, it simply created an extra tee time. Allenby didn't know this when told about the overbooked field.

''They're not going to tell me to go home, are they?'' he said.

AP golf writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.

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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.