Notes Tiger Impressed with Quail Hollow
Woods made it sound like the Wachovia Championship will be a regular on his tight tournament schedule.
'I can see myself playing consistently here,' he said Wednesday. 'It's such a great golf course. It's so challenging. We don't get a chance to play too many golf courses like this anymore - old school, a traditional-style golf course, tree-lined fairways. It's really rare and enjoyable to play.'
The Wachovia Championship is only in its second year, but it got rave reviews last year. A good field a year ago turned into a great one with the addition of Woods and Masters champion Phil Mickelson.
'I heard so many great things over this past year about what a wonderful event this is and how great it is run, and how phenomenal the golf course is,' Mickelson said.
Along with a great course (Quail Hollow), tournament officials take pampering to a new level. It began in January, when tournament director Kym Hougham left players a bottle of Dom Perignon in their lockers at the winners-only Mercedes Championships.
Players are given a Mercedes-Benz to drive for the week. There is a choice of three dining rooms. Even the caddies, who don't always get the best treatment, are allowed to valet park their cars.
Still, it starts with the grass between the ropes.
'You could hold a major here tomorrow,' Chris DiMarco said. 'The bottom line is, if you have a really good golf course, we will (play).'
Quail Hollow used to have the Kemper Open, but it was moved some 20 years ago to the Washington, D.C., area and first was played at Congressional. Eventually, it moved to the TPC at Avenel.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that tournament, now called the Booz Allen Classic, draws one of the weakest fields of the PGA Tour summer season.
The Booz Allen will be played next year at Congressional. Woods is among those said to be giving it consideration.
Chris DiMarco has made the Ryder Cup a major goal for the next four months.
DiMarco, who missed out on the last team when David Toms won the PGA Championship, got his first taste of team competition last year at the Presidents Cup in South Africa and he ranks that the most enjoyable time he has ever spent on a golf course.
'My main focus is to win a tournament. If I win a tournament, that's going to help me tremendously for the Ryder Cup points,' said DiMarco, who is 13th in the standings. 'I'm playing a lot of golf this summer to help myself hopefully get on that team.'
Toms, meanwhile, is trying not to think about the Ryder Cup.
He was the American star when they lost to Europe two years ago at The Belfry, and would be a leading choice to be a captain's pick if he doesn't finish in the top 10 on points.
Toms missed the first six weeks of the year recovering from wrist surgery. He is feeling better now, although the former PGA champion has slipped to No. 7 in the standings.
'Am I thinking about that? No,' he said. 'I'm thinking about just wanting to play good again. I think that will take care of itself, if I play like I'm capable of playing.'
Toms, who was in DiMarco's position during the 2001 season, found himself getting too wrapped up in the standings and putting too much pressure on himself.
'I got to the point where I was struggling that summer,' he said. 'I was missing cuts and not playing that great. All of a sudden, I felt like I just wanted to play good golf, and I did that and won the PGA Championship.'
David Toms has seen plenty of highlights of his 2001 victory in the PGA Championship, but only at various functions where he is introduced.
He doesn't keep that videotape handy, nor does he watch replays of any of his victories.
'The only time I watch is if my son wants to watch it, one of those days where he doesn't have the cartoons on that he wants, and we'll pull out the tapes,' Toms said. 'I don't like to watch myself on the nightly news. To me, I'm going to go do my job the next day and move on.'
The last time Vijay Singh was on a roll, he had 12 consecutive finishes in the top 10 and was closing in on the modern record of 14 set by Jack Nicklaus.
Then, he missed the cut at Torrey Pines.
'It got to me in a negative way,' Singh said. 'We talked about it so much, that my focus was more on the top 10 than winning the tournament. When your focus is away from the golf tournament, you have problems.'
Singh has won the last two weeks in a row. The last player to win three straight weeks was Tiger Woods, who ended the 1999 season with victories at Disney, the Tour Championship and the American Express in Spain.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.