Taylor leads Reno-Tahoe after 36 holes

By Associated PressAugust 6, 2011, 2:48 am

RENO, Nev. - Vaughn Taylor’s only two career wins on the PGA tour have come at the Reno-Tahoe Open, where he’s making a bid to claim a third after a 6-under-par 66 on Friday gave him a one-shot lead over Will MacKenzie.

Taylor had an eagle and four birdies, then parred the last five holes to move to 9-under 135 at Montreux Golf & Country Club, where his victories in 2004 and 2005 make him the 13-year-old tourney’s only two-time winner.

“It’s good to come back to a place you’ve played well,” said Taylor, 35, who grew up and still lives near Augusta, Ga.

“I’m sure those other guys would say the same thing,” he said. “A lot of good memories, a lot of good vibes, and you almost feel like you kind of pick up where you left off.”

Steve Flesch, the 2007 champion, shot a 69 and is tied for third with Hunter Haas and first-round leader Nick O’Hern at 7-under 137. Haas had a 67, O’Hern a 72.

“It’s fun to just get back in contention,” said Flesch, who also won at Turning Stone in 2007 for his fourth career victory but hasn’t won since. “I’ve been playing so poorly for three years now. It was fun too actually see my name up there.”

Steve Elkington birdied four of his last five holes for a 65 to get to 6-under 138 in a group that includes 2002 Reno champ Chris Riley, who shot a 72 Friday, and Notah Begay III, the winner of the inaugural tourney in 1999. Begay carded a 67 to make his first cut since 2009 at the AT&T National.

“I’m usually going home after the first two rounds,” Begay said. “But it feels good. I played great. My putting has been fabulous.”

“You come back, good memories, past champion, people remember you and they cheer for you and it kind of gives you good energy,” he said.

His group at 6-under also includes Roland Thatcher, who shot a 67 Friday, along with Michael Thompson (68) and Robert Garrigus, Jay Williamson and Rod Pampling, who all shot 70.

Taylor holed out from a greenside bunker on the first hole, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 second hole and added a 25-foot birdie on the par-3 11th. He drove the ball 302 yards on the 518-yard 13th, then hit a 5-iron stiff from about 210 yards to set up the short eagle putt.

“It ended up about three or four feet from the hole and those are always nice to have for eagle,” Taylor said.

He credited a switch to a “spinnier ball” for part of his success on the 7,472-yard mountain course where the ball typically travels about 10 percent farther than at sea level.

“You need it to stay in the air in the altitude,” he said about one of the many calculations required to determine yardages often in swirling wind. “The caddie does all the math, and we decide on clubs together. It’s too difficult to do on your own.”

MacKenzie, who followed an opening 67 with a 69, said even a little bit of wind can make the course play much harder.

“You’re judging so much - 10 percent air quality, elevation changes and then we’ll throw in the wind and the greens dry out. It’s really difficult to get close to the hole,” he said.

Garrigus ranks third on tour averaging 310 yards per drive but even he’s getting a kick out of the added length.

“I know I hit it far already, but it’s extra special when you can hit a tee shot 400 yards and you don’t really have to do much,” he said. “I can hit 3 wood off the tees on the par 5s and still get to them in two and some of them are 600 yards.”

Elkington birdied three of the four par 5s, settling for par when he missed a 20-footer on the 620-yard 18th.

“You’ve got to play those holes well if you want to shoot low,” he said.

Haas birdied all four of the longest holes and had looks at eagle putts on three of them, including the 18th when he drove the ball 311 yards then hit his approach 310 yards to inside 28 feet.

“It makes the round a little easier when you’re hitting good approach shots from 270, 280, 300 yards,” Haas said. He said the problem is “trusting that distance.”

“You’re hitting a pitching wedge from 175 yards or something like that. You’re used to hitting a pitching wedge 140. That’s kind of hard to trust,” Haas said.

“It’s a guessing game sometimes.”

 

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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.