One Day Off Curtis Back to Work

By Associated PressJune 28, 2006, 4:00 pm
2005 Buick ChampionshipCROMWELL, Conn. -- Weary, and a bit bleary-eyed, Ben Curtis has had little time to savor his second career victory. Or dry out for that matter.
Hours after Curtis won the soggy, six-day Booz Allen Classic by five strokes, he arrived in Connecticut for the Buick Championship hoping to add onto his $900,000 payday from Tuesday.
'I just woke up, really. I was tired,' Curtis said Wednesday afternoon. 'It was four straight days of getting up right around 5 a.m. It was a very long week sleeping on the lead every night, so I think I was more tired mentally than physically.'
More rain, actually a few torrential downpours, awaited him Wednesday at the TPC at River Highlands. But by late afternoon, the sky brightened, the sun even peeked through and Curtis and rest of the players were hopeful they'd be able to wrap up all 72 holes by Sunday.
'I hope we can get out there and play four straight days, and go home. It could be rain for tomorrow, but it could end up being sunny and warm,' Curtis said. 'Who knows.'
The field also features defending champion Brad Faxon, the Rhode Island native who finally won it in his 22nd appearance. Other former champions teeing off Thursday are Stewart Cink, Olin Browne, Paul Azinger, Notah Begay III, David Frost, Woody Austin and Brent Geiberger.
Curtis has played well on the 6,820-yard course in his only appearance in 2005, finishing in a tie for fourth and earning $177,773. The winner this weekend gets $792,000. Curtis was scheduled to play the tournament in 2003, the week after he won the British Open. But the whirlwind of media and attention that followed, overwhelmed the then-rookie and opted to pass. He had no intention of skipping it this time, despite the elongated Booz Allen where more than 9 inches of rain fell in 1 1/2 days.
'It's ironic, both wins on Tour came before this tournament,' Curtis said. 'Maybe they'll move Hartford every other week and I'll all right.'
The tournament nearly got dropped from the heart of the PGA Tour schedule.
Buick is ending its sponsorship after this year and the 54-year-old tournament was in danger of being relegated to the fall for second-tier status. But it was brought back to life in April with a new title sponsor -- St. Paul Travelers -- and spot on the summer schedule starting next year. The tournament also will be part of the new FedEx Cup portion of the tour.
That will give top players an incentive to show up and earn points toward the Tour Championship. They also will be competing for a $5.5 million purse, up from $4.4 million this year.
'I for one am very excited about it,' said Zach Johnson, a third-place finisher here in 2003. 'Its great for us players because of the incentive playing well obviously toward late summer, early fall, is huge financially speaking.'
Johnson said the Cup also should bring many of the elite players out more often and that would help showcase those in the tour not of the household-name variety. Johnson is one of four players in the top 20 on the money list and is sixth in Ryder Cup points.
J.J. Henry, a member of the Player Advisory Council, acknowledges the race the Cup will likely need some tweaking as members and the fans adjust to it.
'We're still kind of in the learning process. Who knows really,' Henry said. 'It's still golf. It's still a golf tournament. It's not like we're playing tennis here. You're still going out trying to win a golf tournament.'
Henry, who's had two top 10 finishes this season, is still looking for his first win since turning pro six years ago and this is one he's been itching for a long time. The Fairfield, Conn., native knows the course well and would love get is first win before a home crowd.
'I love playing here. I've always said one of these years I will get this tournament,' Henry said. 'When you come close to home or come to place you've watched as a kid and you want it so bad, you sometimes try too hard. If I can go out and have a good time, I will probably play well.'
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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.

    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."

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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.

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    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."