Woods opens 7-shot lead with 61

By Associated PressAugust 2, 2013, 10:11 pm

AKRON, Ohio – Tiger Woods had a shot at making history with a magical 59.

He swore he wasn't disappointed to come up short.

''Disappointed? Absolutely not,'' he said.

Then he cracked, ''A 61's pretty good. I'm not bummed.''

Like a pitcher having to settle for a shutout instead of a perfect game, Woods could console himself by tying his career best and building a seven-shot lead Friday through 36 holes at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.


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Pursuing his eighth victory at Firestone Country Club, Woods opened birdie-eagle – stuffing an approach to 3 feet at the first hole and holing a 20-footer for 3 at the par-5 second. He had two more birdies on the front nine, and had four in a row to start the back nine in a light rain.

Needing to go only 2 under over his last five holes, he missed birdie putts inside 10 feet at 15 and 17. He saved par on the last with a 25-footer after an errant drive and a shot that hit into the trees and ended up in a bare spot short and right of the green.

''How about just pleased?'' he said, when asked to rate the round. ''I'm very happy I was able to post that. I just kept thinking, whatever lead I had, 'Let's just keep increasing it.' It's at seven now, I believe. So that's not too bad after two days.''

The 61 – matching his career best at the 1999 Byron Nelson, 2005 Buick Open and on the same Firestone course back in 2000 – left him at 13-under 127.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley and Chris Wood, playing the tournament for the first time, were tied for second. They each shot 68.

Bradley finished well before Woods, but was asked if it was disheartening to take the lead and then have Woods retake it after the opening two holes.

''Tiger, those first couple holes out there are definitely birdie holes, so I'd expect him to do that,'' Bradley said. ''You know, I hope he doesn't go too low.''

Sorry, Keegan.

Woods, a four-time winner this year, needed only 22 putts, eight fewer than he had Thursday in an opening 66. He hit 10 of 14 fairways and was on in regulation on 16 of 18 greens.

The next best score on a threatening day with a slate-gray sky and precipitation was a 66.

It seemed every fan on the course took notice as Woods started stacking up birdies. The magic number 59 – shot five times on the PGA Tour – dominated conversations.

''Oh, they were excited,'' Woods said. ''You could hear it more than feel it. You definitely could hear it. They were into it.''

Asked if that kind of electricity helps out a player, he joked, ''It's nice to be playing in front of people who are excited like that, especially people who aren't yelling just because your ball gets in the air. You know, we are pros.''

How good were things going for him? He yanked a drive into the trees at 13, but it ricocheted into the middle of the fairway. From there he hit an iron to 15 feet and drilled the putt.

At the 14th, Woods hit his drive on the other side of the cart path beneath a canopy of huge trees to the right. He hit a low, hard, slicing shot to the green that ran to the back fringe. From there, he chipped 10 feet past but rolled in the par putt.

The gallery seemed to swell with each hole, the crowds growing in hopes of seeing history.

He backed off his shot into the 216-yard, par-3 15th because he was bothered by a bug, then hit an iron 10 feet short of the pin. After playing partner Hideki Matsuyama of Japan putted out, Woods missed his birdie putt on the right side.

The 667-yard 16th, dubbed ''The Monster'' by Arnold Palmer, resulted in another par. Woods hit a long drive that dribbled into the first cut of rough on the left side of the fairway, then laid up to about 100 yards. His wedge carried too far, however, spinning back to 30 feet. With a light sprinkle turning into a steady drizzle, he two-putted, leaving the birdie attempt short and right of the hole by 2 feet.

A huge throng, several deep around the lengthy hole, responded with polite applause as he tapped in.

He still had a chance for a 59. He hit a long drive along the left side at 17, but misread a 7-footer for birdie that missed on the low side of the break.

''I had opportunities to make putts there at 15 and 17,'' he said.

With the rain now falling hard, and Woods needing to hole his second shot on the par-4 18th for a 59, he drove far to the right on the slight dogleg to the left. He muscled a shot out of a difficult lie to a bare spot near a huge scoreboard right and short of the green. From there, he chipped to the back fringe – and made the 25-footer coming back for par.

He pumped his fist as the crowd roared.

Matsuyama, a 21-year-old who was sixth at the British Open, got a close-up view.

''It was great looking at great play at the top of the world,'' he said.

The last player to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour event was Stuart Appleby in the final round of The Greenbrier Classic in 2010. Al Geiberger was the first in 1977, and Chip Beck, David Duval and Paul Goydos also accomplished the feat.

Bill Haas shot a 68 and was tied for fourth at 5 under with Henrik Stenson, who had a 70. Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Jason Duffner and Bubba Watson were 4 under.

There have been 27 rounds of 60 in Tour events, including Phil Mickelson this year in the Phoenix Open.

In a remarkable career spent in the spotlight, a 59 would have been just another check mark on Woods' to-do list. Instead, he didn't think it was even anything special.

''(One of my) top 10 rounds?'' he said, repeating the question. ''I don't know about that.''

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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.