JL Learns Winning Fun at 40

By Brian HewittSeptember 22, 2003, 4:00 pm
J. L. Lewis is going to the Masters next April in Augusta. J.L. Lewis is going to the Mercedes Championships next January in Maui. J. L. Lewis is going to the Tour Championship in Houston in November.
 
J. L. Lewis is a 43-year-old journeyman who won the 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania Sunday near Pittsburgh by two shots when he blazed to a 62 on the final 18 holes. It was the lowest round shot by a winner in the last round of a PGA Tour event this year.
 
J. L. Lewis is proof positive of . . . exactly what?
 
That life at golf's highest level begins at the age of 40 these days? Lewis is the ninth player in his 40s to post a win on the PGA Tour this year. Clearly this is a trend many people are at a loss to explain.
 
'Training, experience,' Lewis said late Sunday. 'It's controlling your nerves, basically. I think the older players have done more of it.'
 
Even so, Lewis is the lone outsider in the group of 40-something winners that includes Vijay Singh, Peter Jacobsen, Kirk Triplett, Freddie Couples, Bob Tway, Craig Stadler and Scott Hoch. Lewis didn't even get his tour card until he was old enough to run for President of the United States.
 
So, he said, 'This is like the prime of my career.'
 
Last week at the John Deere Classic, the event that marked Lewis' only previous tour victory in 1999 after a prolonged and memorable playoff with Mike Brisky, Lewis putted poorly in the final round and finished second. When he got over the disappointment, he made a note of how easily the winner, Singh, made it look in capturing that tournament by four shots.
 
'Nobody put any heat on him,' Lewis said of Singh. 'But he didn't put any heat on himself.'
 
'I try to learn and I try to grow,' Lewis said. 'My ultimate goal is to become a better player.'
 
The Golf Gods smile on that kind of humility. Tiger Woods, a man who understands what the Golf Gods can taketh and giveth away , repeatedly talks about having the same goal. The problem Woods faces alone these days is trying to improve upon a 2000 season in which he, among other things, won the U.S. Open by 15 shots and the Britsih Open by eight.
 
Meanwhile the countdown begins for J. L. Lewis and what will now be the early preparations for his first pilgrimage to Augusta National as a contestant.
 
J.L. Lewis is a former all-state basketball player who has worked as a club pro and spent much of his life kicking around Texas and Kansas trying to keep the ball under the wind. In 1997 his wife, Dawn, caddied for him on the Nationwide Tour.
 
J. L. Lewis was not to the manor born when it comes to a golf pedigree. But he appreciates, more than most, what he has just achieved and what's still in front of him.
 
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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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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