Watney Wins First in New Orleans

By Associated PressApril 22, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Nick Watney won the Zurich Classic for his first PGA TOUR title, closing with a 3-under 69 on Sunday for a three-stroke victory over Ken Duke.
 
Watney, the 25-year-old Californian in his third year on the TOUR, had a 15-under 273 total at the TPC Louisiana. Duke, who also was seeking his first victory, shot a 70.
 
Nick Watney
Nick Watney is the fifth first-time winner on TOUR this season. (WireImage)
'I'm living a dream right now,' Watney said, wearing Mardi Gras beads as winners in New Orleans traditionally do. 'I've played in close to the last group sometimes, and I've seen guys go through it. But it's definitely more fun to actually do it. I'm trying to soak it all in.'
 
Watney, fifth in two tournaments last year, lost the lead when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the par-4 10th. He bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 11th and went in front for good with a birdie on the par-3 14th.
 
On the 14th, Duke's tee shot landed short and left of the green, his chip went 7 feet past the pin and he missed the par putt coming back to fall two shots behind.
 
Watney parred the final four holes, missing the fairway only once off the tee and hitting every green in regulation.
 
'I knew if I could get it to one coming to 18 I thought I had a chance, but he had two on me, and he played smart, and that's what you've got to do,' Duke said.
 
After Watney tapped in to seal the victory, his celebration was subdued. He held aloft both arms and hugged his caddie before clapping above his head in appreciation of the crowd.
 
Watney had never before teed off with the lead in the final round of a PGA TOUR event, and he hadn't slept as well as he usually does, waking up around 5:30 a.m.
 
He bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, but then holed the shot of the tournament -- a 132-yard approach shot for an eagle on the par-4 fifth -- to pull back into a tie for the lead.
 
'I was definitely nervous to start out, but it's a good thing,' Watney said. 'I mean, any time you hole a shot there's a little luck involved, so it was definitely my week. I'm proud that I was able to handle it.'
 
Watney became the fifth first-time winner in the last six years at New Orleans' annual PGA TOUR event, joining Chris Couch (2006), Tim Petrovic (2005), Steve Flesch (2003) and K.J. Choi (2002). All of them won at English Turn except Watney and Petrovic, the only other winner at the TPC Louisiana, which hosted its first PGA TOUR event in 2005, only months before it was severely damage by Hurricane Katrina.
 
The course, its fairways flooded because of drain clogging debris that included 2,000 fallen trees, was closed for 10 months for $2 million in repairs to 30 acres of damaged turf.
 
But New Orleans seems to be kind to players who've never won, regardless of the course, in part because some the TOUR's top players often skip it.
 
Heading into the final round, 13-time winner Mark Calcavecchia was the only player in the top five with a previous victory. He started the day only three shots back, and appeared primed to close in on the lead when his second shot on the par-5 seventh hole landed just off the fringe. He botched his chip, however, leaving himself a 35-foot birdie putt that he narrowly missed.
 
While the other players in his group putted out, Calcavecchia stood on the front edge of the green, staring back at the seventh fairway and shaking his head.
 
He missed another birdie putt on No. 8 and two bogeys on the back nine put him out of contention. He shot a 71 to tie for fifth with Bubba Watson and Chris Stroud at 10 under.
 
TOUR rookie Anthony Kim had the best round of the day, a 65 -- one shot off the course record that fellow rookie Kyle Reifers set Thursday. The round of nine birdies and two bogeys left the 21-year-old Californian tied for third with John Mallinger at 11 under.
 
'I was so far back I really didn't have anything to lose, and I just fired at some pins and it worked out,' Kim said. 'My goal is to win out here, and until I do that, I'm just going to keep plugging away.'
 
Divots:
Reifers, who led after the first round and began the final round only four shots back, shot a 75 to tie for 24th. ... Officials estimated the final-round crowd at about 40,000. Recent tournaments, including the last one prior to Hurricane Katrina in the spring of 2005, were closer to 35,000.
 
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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.