Tight Leaderboard at Disney

By Associated PressNovember 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - J.P. Hayes is feeling much better about his health than the last time he was in these parts on the PGA TOUR. And thanks to a 7-under 65 on Thursday at Disney, his prospects for keeping his card are looking good, too.
 
Hayes turned a sloppy hole into a birdie on the par-5 10th at Magnolia, then ran off four more birdies in wet and windy conditions to build a one-shot lead in the Children's Miracle Network Classic.
 
Hayes is No. 123 on the money list with a $16,599 cushion. This is the final event of the PGA TOUR season, and the way the Fall Series has gone, no one feels safe. Already, nine players have cracked into the top 125.
 
'I wouldn't say I was worried about it,' Hayes said. 'I'd really like to finish in the top 125. Everybody would like to perform better and play less, like Tiger. Unfortunately, not all of us can.'
 
Cameron Beckman, who secured his card last week, played with a sore back but virtually no stress and raced out to a bogey-free 66 in the morning on the longer, tougher Magnolia course. He was joined by Scott Verplank and Ryuji Imada, who played the Palm Course.
 
Justin Leonard, Woody Austin and Tim Clark, three guys who have no worries about next year, were in a large group at 65 with a couple of guys still sweating it out -- Dicky Pride, who is at No. 159, and Tag Ridings, who at No. 210 can only keep his card with a victory.
 
Such concerns now seem but small details to someone like Hayes, 42, who was far more worried about his heart this spring.
 
He was about an hour down Interstate 4 outside Tampa in March when he felt heart palpitations during the PODS Championship, then dropped to his knees with a light head while walking down the first fairway of the final round.
 
He was taken to the hospital overnight, wondering if he had suffered a stroke. After seven days of tests at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, doctors diagnosed him with vaso-vagal syncope, in which his blood pressure drops when it should be rising.
 
If that wasn't enough to shape his perspective on golf, his pro-am partner in the first round did the trick. Hayes was paired with a Zak Russell, a 19-year-old from Toronto who was born two months premature with a bad connection between the trachea and esophagus, meaning it could allow food or stomach acid into his lungs.
 
Russell has gone through 14 surgeries, and has survived to sport a good game in golf, snowboarding and football.
 
'You look at that and say, 'Wow!' Hayes said.
 
Another wow factor for Hayes might be collecting his first victory in five years, although there's still three days to go on rain-soaked resort courses and a leaderboard that is as bunched as ever at Disney.
 
Seventy players were within five shots of the lead.
 
Tadd Fujikawa, the 16-year-old from Hawaii playing on a sponsor's exemption, birdied three straight holes early in his round before a couple of three-putts slowed his momentum. He settled for a 71, leaving him a chance to make his first cut as a pro. With the Magic Kingdom across the street, he picked the perfect metaphor for his round.
 
'It was a roller coaster out there,' he said.
 
It has been that way for most players in the Fall Series, many of whom are trying to secure their positions inside the top 125 for next year, with a few of them -- Leonard, for one -- hopeful of cracking the top 30 to get into the Masters.
 
Beckman has already gone through the drill.
 
He was 149th in the FedExCup standings, missing the playoffs by a mere 153 points. That gave him a four-week vacation, enough time for him to take stock of his position and realize he'd better to get to work. He had seven weeks to avoid another trip to Q-school.
 
'I got ready to go,' he said. 'I knew my position coming into the Fall Series. I don't want to go to tour school. And with the FedExCup, you don't want to be in the TOUR school.'
 
No need to worry now. Beckman tied for third in Las Vegas to get on the cusp of that magic No. 125, then broke through last week in south Florida with a tie for fifth that moved him up to No. 118, essentially securing his card for next year.
 
'Compared to the stress level I've had the last six weeks, this was nothing,' Beckman said. 'I felt like I was playing a practice round.'
 
DIVOTS
MacKinzie Kline, the 15-year-old with a congenital heart defect who played on the LPGA Tour this season, was in the pro-am pairing with Fujikawa, although they were not partners. It was a huge day for Kline because she walked the last 16 holes. Kline was given permission to use a cart at the Ginn Tribute on the LPGA Tour because she was recovering from recent surgery to fix a hole in her heart. 'I haven't done that in a long time,' Kline said. 'It was very exciting. The one thing I really want to do is walk all 18 holes.' Fujikawa loved having her along. 'I haven't played with someone my age in a long time,' he said. ... John Daly, who has walked out of six tournaments this year, said he was disappointed not to get a sponsor's exemption to Disney. Lo and behold, Daly could have made it as an alternate based on his status as a past champion, but he wasn't at Disney to claim the spot and the tour took the next guy in line. ... The Canadian Open finally got a title sponsor Wednesday when the Royal Bank of Canada agreed to a deal.
 
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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.


    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.

    @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.