Stanford, O'Toole share LPGA lead in Japan

By Associated PressNovember 6, 2015, 8:02 am

SHIMA, Japan - Americans Angela Stanford and Ryann OToole shared the lead at 7-under 65 on Friday in the LPGA's Toto Japan Classic.

The 37-year-old Stanford had eight birdies and a bogey in perfect conditions at Kintetsu Kashikojima in the event also sanctioned by the Japan LPGA.

''My putter was hot. I think I had 24 total putts and that's pretty close to a career low,'' Stanford said. ''I was reading the putts really well. I was seeing the line better than I have all year.''

The 28-year-old O'Toole closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth after playing the previous seven holes in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies. She holed out from 108 yards from the rough for the eagle on the par-4 fourth.

''This tournament is about making a lot of birdies,'' said O'Toole, winless in her five-year tour career. ''It's very straight-forward off the tee and the greens roll great. My whole mindset into the week was make as many birdies as possible, but stay in the moment.''

Japan's Ai Suzuki was a stroke back along with South Koreans Ha-Neul Kim, Ilhee Lee, Jenny Shin and Mi-Jeong Jeon. Third-ranked Stacy Lewis and No. 4 Lexi Thompson topped the group at 67.

Michelle Wie had a double bogey in a 70. She's one of 21 women to play in all five events on the Asian Swing.

Stanford won the last of her five LPGA titles in 2012 and has only two top-10 finishes this season. She played a key role in the United States' Solheim Cup comeback with a victory over Suzann Pettersen.

''I haven't been in this position much this year,'' Stanford said. ''It's fun to go out and make birdies. I'm excited for the next two days.''

She played the first two Asian Swing events in Malaysia and South Korea, then skipped Taiwan and China.

''It's always good for me to have a couple of weeks off,'' Stanford said. ''It helped me go home and get motivated again. I did a lot of work in those two weeks. October in Texas is beautiful, so it was a really good time to work on my game.''

Lewis had six birdies and a late bogey.

''It's nice to play it calm because you can shoot a low number, but I would prefer it playing harder,'' Lewis said. ''I would prefer it windy. I think we're going to get that here later in the week, so I don't have to ask for it.''

Lewis won in 2012, overcoming a seven-stroke deficit with a final-round 64.

''I think the more you play this golf course the better you play it,'' Lewis said. ''You learn little things about it. It's a comfort level.''

The American tied for second last week in China, her sixth runner-up finish of the season and the 21st of her career. She won the last of her 11 LPGA titles in June 2014.

''The target is to go into Sunday near the lead,'' Lewis said. ''I want to be in that last group on Sunday.''

Thompson won three weeks ago in South Korea for her second victory of the year.

''I didn't hit it that great off the tee and got in the rough a little bit more than I wanted to, but I made some good putts,'' Thompson said. ''With 7 under leading after the first day, I know that I have to make more birdies and fire at pins.''

The American is making her first start in Japan.

''The Japanese fans have been great,'' Thompson said. ''They've been rooting me on after every hole.''

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

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.

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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.