My Favorite Round
The golf shrinks will tell you that answer is the very quintessence of what being in the zone is all about.
My favorite round of golf this year? Much tougher question.
The first one that comes to most peoples minds is Davis Loves closing 64 at The Players Championship in March where he won for the second time. Not much not to like about that 64. Love and his caddie, Cubby Burke, said he mis-hit only two shots all day on one of the toughest places to go low in the world. Those two shots were his tee balls on the short par 4 12th and the short par 5 16th. He wound up with birdie and eagle, respectively.
But what about the 66 Michelle Wies fashioned in the third round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, also in March? Were talking about a 13-year-old amateur here playing in her first major championship.
Many believe the years best round was Annika Sorenstams 71 in the first round of the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth last month. The pressure of being the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event in 58 years and under the white hot spotlight of the worldwide media glare, they say, ought to count for something even though her score was one over par. And they are right. So should the 13 fairways and 14 greens Sorenstam hit.
Justin Leonard and Kenny Perry both fired 61s at the Bank of America Colonial. Perrys came first'on Saturday. Leonards on Sunday was more of a threat to turn into a 59. Standing in the middle of the 18th fairway with a nine-iron in his hand needing birdie to break 60, Leonard caught it a hair heavy and finished with a disappointing bogey.
That same day Julie Inkster picked up on the Annika buzz and Fort Worth and carded a nifty 62 on her way to victory in the final round of the LPGA Corning Classic.
Last week at The Memorial, Perry fancied the Saturday 70 he shot in the chill and brutally swirling Ohio spring winds. After the round he said, given the adverse conditions, it was better than the 61 he had posted at Colonial. If thats the case, what are we to make of the 66 Jose Maria Olazabal shot the same day? By Perrys lights Ollies 66 was the equivalent of something in the 50s.
And lets not forget the 62 Annika fired in the first round of the Kellogg-Keebler Classic exactly one week after missing the cut against the men in Texas. She was facing a different kind of pressure on that day. And the potential for a letdown was anywhere she wanted to look.
So its tough to pick a best round from the above list. Forced to choose, I have to go with Olazabals 66 which included an otherworldly up-and-down for birdie from a fairway bunker on the difficult 18th hole.
But my favorite round of the year? Thats easy: John Dalys 83 Saturday at The Memorial. In it he carded a bogey, a double bogey, a triple bogey and a quadruple bogey. In baseball they call that hitting for the cycle. Makes you kind of wonder what was going through Long Johns mind that day.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.