Westwood listens to mom, apologizes for profanity

By Associated PressFebruary 7, 2012, 1:45 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Lee Westwood knew he was in trouble when his mother gave him a call after his final round at the Qatar Masters.

He was caught on television swearing after his tee shot on the 16th and the first person to call him on it was his mother. After his 3-under 69 put him in a tie for 12th, he said his mother heard the profanity and suggested he apologize.

“My mum was the first person on the phone, and she said, you might want to apologize,” said Westwood, who went on to birdie the 16th. “I didn’t think it formed a part at that stage of being on TV. It’s amazing how sensitive these microphones are.”

Westwood promptly turned to Twitter to do just that.

“Sorry about swearing on the 16th tee. Came off like a rocket and thought it was going further! Wash my mouth out! Perils of live tv,” Westwood tweeted.

Westwood, who is in the Emirates for the Dubai Desert Classic, which starts Thursday, refused to repeat what he had said, only that “there are worse words, actually.”

The third-ranked Westwood is one of the favorites in Dubai, partly due to his past success at the Emirates Golf Club course, including a second-place finish in 2010.

The 38-year-old Englishman, however, has had a typical slow start to the season – finishing tied for 17th at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and 12th in Qatar. But he insisted his game is taking shape and that his performance so far this season was “decent, good for me” when compared to past years.

“I’ve normally missed a cut by now, and thrown in a 60th-place finish or something like that,” Westwood said. “I’d say if I was making an appraisal of the first couple of weeks, I’ve hit it a lot better than I normally do. Short game is a little bit sharper than normal. Putts are quite nice, starting to roll a few longer ones in.”

But Westwood admitted he has been a bit rusty at times and that his short game can use some work. Even his 69 on Sunday was far from perfect, since it included four bogeys to go along with seven birdies.

“Just been sloppy, just early season sloppiness really, making too many bogeys and not making birdie when I should,” he said. “Wedge shots haven’t been quite as sharp as they ought to have been, not as close. So that’s the reason I’ve been sort of in the position I’ve been in.”

This week, several other big names will be in Dubai along with Westwood, including U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer and defending champion Alvaro Quiros. So far, though, it has been the elder statesman and relative newcomers making a splash on the European Tour this season.

Brandon Grace, a 23-year-old South African, won two of the first three tournaments and then 117th-ranked Robert Rock outdid Tiger Woods to win the Abu Dhabi tournament. Paul Lawrie won the Qatar Masters, moving him into the top 50 after being 272nd a year ago.

“I think it shows the strength of the European Tour. We’re very strong right now,” Westwood said.

“Like Robert has always looked a good player. It’s just a case of knuckling down and putting his mind to it, it seems with him, and he’s got obviously a very good game,” he said. “And he seems like the kind of player that, once he gets the knack of winning will win quite a bit, and seems pretty fearless playing in the company that is around him, as there was in Abu Dhabi.”

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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.

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.


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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."

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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."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."