OHair And Oh Wow

By Brian HewittMay 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSExcuse me, Jimi Hendrix sang to us from a Purple Haze, while I kiss the sky.
 
Excuse the players at THE PLAYERS while they light up the sky.
 
Saturday was a wildly entertaining display of golf pyrotechnics at the Stadium Course of TPC Sawgrass.
 
It was raining birdies in the third round and precious few of them were carded by Tiger Woods, golfs answer to the M-80. Nor was there much noise at the end of the fuse of Rory Sabbatini, the first round co-leader and self-appointed big game Tiger hunter.
 
But no matter. Former U.S. Amateur champion Jeff Quinney exploded with eight birdies en route to an 8-under 64 that was one shot off the course record of 63 set by Freddie Boom Boom Couples back in 1992 and matched by Greg Norman two years later.
 
Brit Luke Donald, looking to become the first European to win this event since Scot Sandy Lyle way back in 1987, raced home with a Saturday 65. Which would have been matched by Spains Sergio Garcia if El Nino had launched a dud into the water on 18 that resulted in a fizzling double bogey.
 
Aussie Peter Lonard flashed a double eagle two into the hole with a 5-iron on the second hole from 229 yards that temporarily tied him for the lead with Phil Mickelson and Carl Pettersen. Later, Sean OHair climbed into a four-way tie for the lead after going out in a sizzling 32 that moved him from 3 under to 7-under in the seeming blink of eye. And if you did blink, you probably missed Jose Maria Olazabal fashioning sparkling birdies on the ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th. Henrik Stenson, the leading candidate for Rookie-Of-The-Year, added a tidy 66.
 
OHair is the third round leader at 9-under thanks to even more fireworks'birdies on 16, 17 and 18. His playing competitor Sunday will be Mickelson, who stacked his approach to kick in range on the final hole to finish at 8-under. Lonard and Quinney will comprise the penultimate pairing.
 
Still learning, said the 24-year-old OHair afterward. Still feeling like a rookie out here.
 
I feel like were just getting started, Mickelson said of the work he and new instructor Butch Harmon have done in just three weeks.
 
Much of the low scoring was made possible by relatively tame scoring conditions. By mid-day the average 18-hole score for the third round was almost four and a half strokes lower than the corresponding number for Thursday when the wind howled all day long.
 
Hole locations were benign on the two tough par 3s, Nos. 8 and 17. That will almost certainly change for what promises to be an intriguing Sunday. Quinney and Lonard both trail OHair by two.
 
Woods shot 73 and is 14 back of OHair. It turns out he WAS beatable this week, mostly because of his difficulty with the speed of the greens that infected his putter. Sabbatini, the man who observed that Woods was beatable, was even more so. His third round 71 was respectable but rendered unimportant by his Friday 79.
 
Mickelson, at the moment, may not look unbeatable. But he looks awfully good. His first two events under Harmons tutelage produced top fives. Now he is poised to win an event in which he has played 13 times previously with just two top 10s to show for his efforts.
 
Prior to the weekend Mickelson, who shot 69 Saturday, had hit just 11 of 28 fairways. But he offset those strays by converting 34 of 34 putts from inside 10 feet. On Friday alone he collected 13 one putts.
 
He will have a huge edge in experience over OHair in the final round. But Adam Scott was just 23 when he won THE PLAYERS three years ago.
 
Sunday likely will produce more drama than Saturday. But its hard to imagine it will serve up more excitement.
 
The most amazing day, broadcaster Johnny Miller called it.
 
As observations go, it was spot on.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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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.