Notes Tough Day for Lehman More Sad News

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Tom Lehman started his day with his head bowed, leading a prayer for Darren Clarke. He ended it in the rules trailer, confirming a double-hit with his wedge on the 15th hole that turned his 76 into a 77.
 
That likely ended any thoughts of Lehman being the first playing captain at the Ryder Cup since Arnold Palmer in 1963.

Even so, it was a day packed with emotion.
 
Clarke's wife, Heather, died Sunday of breast cancer at age 39. About an hour before the funeral in Portrush, Ireland, Lehman was asked to lead a brief memorial for her on the putting green behind the clubhouse at Medinah Country Club.
 
Lehman didn't know Heather, but he has become a spiritual leader on the PGA Tour and was asked to speak because some European players who were close to her didn't think they could get through it.
 
About 75 people attended the 10-minute memorial, including Thomas Bjorn, Colin Montgomerie, David Howell and Jose Maria Olazabal from the European tour, Robert Allenby of Australia with his wife, Sandy, and Lucas Glover.
 
Glover said he went to support Butch Harmon, Clarke's swing coach, and because Clarke 'plays our tour a lot and he's a top-ranked player and it's a pretty big tragedy.'
 
'It was the right thing to do,' he said. 'That was a great deal Tom did and the PGA did. It was good.'
 
Lehman lost in a playoff last week at the International -- a victory would have put him in the top 10 in the U.S. standings -- but he started slowly Thursday with three bogeys on the first four holes.
 
He was in the first cut, right of the green at No. 15, when his chip scooted a few inches and the blade of the wedge popped it in the air. Lehman immediately turned to his playing partners to suggest something wasn't right, and TV replays in the rules trailer confirmed it.
 
A QUAD OPENING
Brett Wetterich is 10th in the Ryder Cup standings, and he was eager to play well in the PGA Championship to secure his spot on the team. He got off to a great start Thursday, 4 under par through 11 holes and tied for the lead.
 
But it all came undone on two holes.
 
First, Wetterich made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 12th hole to slip back to even par. After trading a birdie and a bogey, he made another quadruple bogey on the par-3 17th and shot 76.
 
Barring a strong second round, chances of making the cut are slim.
 
His Ryder Cup chances are certainly less, too, especially after three players behind him in the standings -- Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Davis Love III -- made strong starts Thursday.
 
Still, Wetterich could make the team even without making the cut. The last time the PGA Championship was played at Medinah, Jeff Maggert was 10th in the standings and missed the cut, then narrowly made the team when Bob Estes stumbled on the closing holes.
 
MORE TRAGEDY
Ernie Els was the latest player to cope with a loss in the family this week.
 
Els learned that his father-in-law, Piet Wehmeyer, died in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday after a short illness at age 87.
 
His wife, Liezl, left Chicago for the 16-hour flight home.
 
Els shot 71 on Thursday and headed straight to the practice green. Spokesman Mark Bell kept a reporter away and said Els would speak on Friday.
 
BROTHERLY LOVE
Jerry Haas won round No. 1 of the Haas brother matchup.
 
The younger brother of tour veteran Jay Haas shot a 2-over 74 in the first round of the PGA Championship, beating his brother by a shot. The two were paired together Thursday, the first time brothers have competed together in the PGA Championship since Lanny and Bobby Wadkins in 1995.
 
Jay Haas is nearly 10 years older than Jerry and had to be the favorite in the matchup because he is playing in his 27th PGA Championship and is the reigning PGA Senior Champion. Jerry Haas is the golf coach at Wake Forest and earned a spot in the field by finishing in the top 20 in the Club Pro Championship.
 
The two putted out on the final hole and then gave each other a hug instead of the traditional handshake to end the round.
 
CLUB PROS
The PGA Championship is unique among the majors because club pros are playing, though it's rare for any of the 20 in the field to make the cut.
 
Gregory Bisconti hopes to change that. The assistant pro at The St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings on Hudson, N.Y., shot a 2-under 70 in the opening round to make a strong bid to play on the weekend.
 
With his 16-year-old stepson caddying for him, Bisconti overcame nerves to birdie the first hole and got it to 3-under before making a bogey on the par-4 12th hole.
 
'I saw my cousin out there and made sure that he snapped a picture of the leaderboard, because you never know if you're going to get back there,' Bisconti said.
 
Bisconti's bogey came after his group crossed paths with a group containing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson where the 12th and 15th tee boxes converge.
 
'That whole circus left the tee box, so I was a little bit nervous on that tee,' he said.
 
Bisconti said he had high hopes for making the cut, but conceded the whole experience was unique for him.
 
'The hardest part for a guy like me is blocking out the distractions,' he said. 'The easy part for these guys is that they do it week in and week out. They feel out here like I do back home -- comfortable and it's not a big deal.
 
PROVINCIAL PGA
The PGA Championship has a tradition of grouping the three major champions of the year for the first two rounds. But it can be quite provincial when announcing them.
 
Never mind that Phil Mickelson won the Masters. He was introduced as the winner of 2005 PGA Championship.
 
Tiger Woods won the British Open, but he was recognized only as the winner of the 1999 and 2000 PGA Championships.
 
And U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy?
 
He was introduced as being from Australia.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • 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 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.


    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.

    @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.

    Getty Images

    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."