Stadler Anxious to Play Alongside Legends

By Associated PressFebruary 5, 2005, 5:00 pm
2005 WendyMAUI, Hawaii -- Craig Stadler has wanted to play alongside Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in the Champions Skins Game for a long time. But getting a spot in the exclusive four-man event isn't easy.
 
Stadler made sure he received an invitation to Saturday's made-for-TV event by winning five times and taking the money title on the Champions Tour last year.
 
'I think that was the reason I played the last seven events last year, to make sure I stayed on and won the money title and got an invite over here,' Stadler said. 'Playing with those three guys, it's something where if you have the opportunity to, you certainly don't want to miss.'
 
Defending champion Tom Watson, who has had a fast start in Hawaii this year by earning $262,000 in two events, will attempt to defend his title. Last year, he won at Wailea with a par on the third playoff hole worth five skins and $260,000, for a winning total of 10 skins and $400,000.
 
Palmer was second with five skins and $140,000, Jack Nicklaus made $60,000 with three skins and Lee Trevino was shut out.
 
The 55-year-old Watson said he feels relaxed and comfortable playing in the islands.
 
The 39-time PGA Tour winner finished second in the season-opening MasterCard Championship on the Big Island and tied for third at last week's Turtle Bay Championship, the Champions Tour's first full-field event of the season.
 
'You can't get any better than playing in Hawaii,' he said. 'Where I live in Kansas, it could be 5-below zero. It's not 5-below zero, but you have to wear a couple turtlenecks and a rain suit and maybe use some orange golf balls to find the ball in the snow.'
 
At Friday's pro-am, Watson jokingly bet Nicklaus $10 in a driving contest on the first tee. But Nicklaus wanted to up the ante to dinner.
 
Watson decline, explaining he would have to pick up the tab for Nicklaus' entire family.
 
This is the 17th Skins appearance in 18 years for Palmer, who won the event in 1990, '92 and '93. Nicklaus, who won in 1991, is playing for the 15th time.
 
Watson is playing his third Skins event, while the 51-year-old Stadler, the youngest in the group, is making his debut.
 
'Craig Stadler is a youngster as far as I'm concerned,' the 75-year-old Palmer said.
 
Stadler has had a busy year. He tied for seventh at the MasterCard and played two events on the PGA Tour. He tied for ninth at the Sony Open and tied for 14th at last weekend's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
 
'He's playing great and obviously, he's making a lot of birdies,' Watson said. 'He'll be the man to beat.'
 
The foursome has combined to win 290 events, including 18 majors and more than $43 million.
 
'It doesn't get any better playing with Jack and Arnold and Tom,' said Stadler, the Champions Tour player of the year in 2004. 'It's going to be a wonderful day. Make some putts, you'll make a little cash and if you don't, you don't.'
 
Palmer said he hopes to play better, but is still in honeymoon-mode after being married last week on Oahu.
 
'My game has been terrible,' Palmer said. 'But there are some encouraging moments now, and I'm feeling a little bit better about my game now. It will take some time to work that all out and, hopefully, we'll see some results this Skins Game.'
 
Nicklaus, who turned 65 last month, said he hasn't played a competitive round of golf since his back surgery on Nov. 23.
 
His schedule includes the Skins Game, and 'see after that,' he said.
 
The first six holes are worth $20,000, Nos. 7-12 $30,000, the next five $40,000 and No. 18 $100,000.
 
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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

    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

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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."