Twenty-One May be the Winning Number

By Associated PressOctober 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
  LAS VEGAS -- Garrett Willis arrived at the course behind schedule, cut short his time at the driving range and managed an abbreviated warmup workout in the fitness trailer before beginning play.
 
It didn't seem to matter much -- well, aside from that bogey on his second hole.
 
Willis shot a 10-under 62 on the TPC Summerlin course Friday for a share of the second-round lead in the Frys.com Open.
 
D.J. Trahan and rookie George McNeill matched Willis at 13-under 130. McNeill shot a 7-under 64 on the par-71 TPC The Canyons course and Trahan had a 64 on the same course in an event missing all of the world's top-20 players.
 
After playing the Canyons course Thursday, Willis went 7 under on his back nine in the second round to finish one stroke off the course record of 61 set by Davis Love III in 2001.
 
Not a bad showing in Sin City considering he had a late night at The Palms Hotel and Casino and then a 7:10 a.m. tee time after fighting his way through the morning commute traffic. Fellow player Jesper Parnevik even offered Willis a ride, noticing he'd been waiting a while outside the lobby.
 
Jason Gore and John Huston were tied for fourth at 12 under. Gore followed his 63 on The Canyons course Thursday with a 4-under 68 on Summerlin on a hazy, mostly cloudy day in the desert for the early groups before a sunny and breezy afternoon. Huston shot a 6-under 65 at The Canyons.
 
Gore had a bogey and only one birdie on the front nine, but made four birdies over his final nine holes.
 
'I think I was pressing a little bit too much on the front nine and just said, 'Heck with it,'' Gore said. 'After the way I played on the front nine, I'm glad to finish up with 4 under. It looked like I could have shot 5 over at one point.'
 
John Daly bounced back from a first-round 74 with a 9-under 63 on Summerlin -- shooting an 8-under 28 on the back nine -- to put him at 6 under for the tournament. He was 4 over for the tournament with 11 holes to play, but birdied Nos. 7 and 9 to reach the turn at 1-under 35. He then birdied 10 and 11, eagled 13 and birdied Nos. 14 through 17.
 
'Nothing's been going right in two years, and to do that, it's just a great feeling to get a decent round in for a change,' Daly said. 'It was a shock to me.'
 
Scott Verplank, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 24, and Charles Howell III missed the cut after being expected to contend. They were both at 3 under.
 
Willis made eagle on the third hole -- his 12th -- then birdied Nos. 4, 6, 7 and 9 on his sizzling back nine to shoot his second best round of his career, in just his 11th PGA TOUR event of 2007. He followed his bogey on No. 2 with a birdie, then also had three straight birdies on 14, 15 and 16.
 
Paired with Duffy Waldorf, who sported lilac slacks and his trademark Hawaiian shirt, it wasn't until his 17th hole that Willis noticed he was atop the leaderboard.
 
'When I made a bogey on the second hole, my first thought was, 'Great, you put yourself in a position where you'll have to grind it out for the cut,'' said Willis, who finally felt awake about halfway through his round. 'When I turned at 3 under, I was just more concerned with hitting good golf shots. And then I birdied No. 1, which was my 10th hole. After that I felt relaxed.'
 
Willis, who turns 34 next month, has made $85,682 on the tour this year and another $112,053 in 16 events on the second-tier Nationwide Tour. He won the Tucson Open in 2001 for his lone PGA TOUR victory, but has played more Nationwide tournaments over the past three years than PGA TOUR events. He missed three straight Nationwide cuts during one tough stretch earlier this year.
 
Willis' PGA TOUR season hasn't been a memorable one.
 
In his 10 previous starts this year, he withdrew once and missed five cuts.
 
The 32-year-old McNeill, who recently made a 'drastic change' to shallow out his swing, followed a bogey on No. 8 with an eagle into the wind on No. 9.
 
'That just carried me on for the next few holes,' he said. 'I kind of started off all boring and monotonous.'
 
While most players say they are able to focus despite the slow pace that comes with competing in a Pro-Am, they were ready to get to the final rounds this weekend with only pros.
 
'I've never been paired with a jerk,' Gore said. 'I think that would put a really bad taste in my or everybody's mouth.'
 
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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.

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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

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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."