Spieth returns to tournament that helped make him

By Associated PressMay 14, 2014, 10:27 pm

IRVING, Texas - Jordan Spieth was a 16-year-old amateur when he tied for 16th at the Byron Nelson Championship in 2010.

The following year, Spieth missed his high school graduation ceremony after making the cut again at TPC Four Seasons.

Now at the ripe young age of 20, Spieth is the eighth-ranked player in the world. He comes home to the Nelson as the Masters runner-up and only days after playing with champion Martin Kaymer in the final group at The Players Championship.

''I owe a lot in my career thus far for this golf tournament and those first couple of starts that I was given to gain the confidence of knowing that I can come out and make cuts and really compete, even at a young age,'' Spieth said Wednesday. ''I thought this is what I wanted to do for a living. .... The weeks when I was 16 and 17 here kind of put an exclamation point on it that this is possible.''

Since last year's Nelson, his first getting a paycheck, Spieth became the youngest PGA Tour winner since 1931, earned a captain's pick on the Presidents Cup team and was named the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

When he glanced up at the television during a workout Wednesday morning, Spieth caught a flashback video from his first Nelson.

''I looked like I was 9 years old. It was funny,'' he said. ''It seems like it was years and years and years ago, a different life almost.''

Kaymer, who tied for fifth at the Nelson last year after four rounds in the 60s, was delayed getting to North Texas because of a canceled flight Monday night. But he never considered withdrawing a week after winning at TPC Sawgrass.

''I played decent last year and I enjoyed the golf course. The whole tournament was comfortable and very confident,'' Kaymer said. ''I believe once you play well, you should continue, and I was committed to play. ... It was my plan, and I usually stick to my plan and my work.''

Plus, the German said this week is ''pretty much'' the last PGA Tour event this season except for the majors and the four straight weeks in the FedEx Cup later this year.

When the Nelson starts Thursday, Spieth will be paired with defending champion Sang-Moon Bae, the 27-year-old South Korean who in his last six tournaments has missed three cuts and finished no higher than 34th.

''I couldn't play well after this win. So I'm trying hard,'' said Bae, with no top 10s in 27 tournaments since last May at the Nelson. ''I had a little bit of pressure and a little stress too, because I worked really hard. ... Just playing, just practice, stay patient.''

While Bae has struggled for good results, Spieth has six top-10 finishes this season.

Spieth shared the 54-hole lead at the Masters and at The Players, last week going his first 58 holes without a bogey before five on the next 11 holes and tied for fourth.

''I'm happy that I've been in these positions, because I understand now and I'm getting more comfortable each and every time that I'm in a position of high intensity and a lot of pressure,'' he said. ''I get very lucky on the golf course normally, so one of these days it will happen on Sunday.''

Like Spieth in the past, another top-ranked junior player from Dallas has a sponsor exemption to play the Nelson. Scottie Scheffler, a 17-year-old senior at Highland Park High School, is committed to play at the University of Texas, where Spieth spent one season before turning pro.

''It's been mentioned for a while and I don't mind,'' Scheffler said of the comparisons to Spieth. ''It's a pretty good person to be compared to.''

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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 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.


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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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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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

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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."