Stories Galore in Final Chapter

By Brian HewittNovember 10, 2008, 5:00 pm
There were more compelling story lines at the PGA Tours season-ending event than there were buses at Disney World, the theme park that hosted the Childrens Miracle Network Classic.
To wit, there was:
  • Davis Love III looking for his 20th Tour win and, perhaps a Comeback Player of the Year award, which could propel him to a berth on captain Fred Couples 2009 Presidents Cup team.
  • Jeff Overton, who underwent an emergency appendectomy late last month, trying to protect his No. 125 spot on the money list and secure his playing privileges for 2009.
  • Erik Compton, who underwent his second heart transplant ' just last May ' making the cut and trying to move up the leaderboard Sunday in the Land of the Mouse as he prepares for the grueling pressure cooker of Q-Schools second stage this week in nearby Brooksville, Fla.
  • Big Break alum Tommy Two Gloves Gainey, No. 228 on the money list, charging up that same leaderboard Sunday hunting an upset victory that would make him exempt on Tour through 2010 and an instant media darling.
    Just to name a few.
    And, actually, the one that caught my attention was Scott Verplank. Putting like the player that built a 4-1-0 record in Ryder Cup play, the 44-year-old Verplank cruised to a three-shot lead after 36 holes on the strength of a pair of opening 64s.
    A lot of people thought Verplank should have been one of U.S. captain Paul Azingers four discretionary picks for the team that would go on to thrash the Euros at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky earlier this year. But when I caught up to Verplank at Disney, he was having none of it.
    I would have liked to have been on that team, he said. And if I had putted better this year, I would have been on that team. No excuses.
    Interestingly, Verplank said his improved putting at Disney was a direct result of work he has been doing with one of his best friends, Bob Tway. Tway, who once won a PGA Championship, is leading the PGA Tour in putts per greens in regulation this year at the advanced age of 49. Verplank entered the week ranked an uncharacteristically low 72nd in the same category.
    Hes very analytical, Verplank said of Tway. And hes going to kick a lot of Champions Tour tail when he gets out there next year.
    Verplank burst onto golfs big stage way back in 1985 when he won the Western Open as an amateur at the difficult Butler National near Chicago. Verplank was the hot kid at the time. His future appeared limitless. But injuries and the burden of being a diabetic slowed his progress.
    Sunday at Disney Verplank began the day tied for the lead with Steve Marino, who cant help but remind you of a young Mark Calcavecchia, and found himself in the last grouping of the day with Marino and Love. He dropped three shots off the lead because he made the turn in a bloated 2-over 38. Birdies on 10 and 11 only matched the scores posted on those holes by both Marino and Love.
    The 2009 version of Scott Verplank is a little flintier than the confident kid who wowed everybody at the Western 23 years ago. But you will rarely hear him complain about all the physical setbacks he has had to fight through. And when his putter is right, he is positively fearless.
    Verplank birdied 12 and 13 to pull within two shots of Loves lead. But thats when DL III turned on the after-burners, finishing at 25 under after a second consecutive 64. He is now exempt for life on the PGA Tour because of his 20 wins.
    Gaineys matching final-round 64 shot him all the way up to sole second-place money and left him No. 148 in final money. That gets him conditional status on the Tour next year and entry into approximately 20 events.
    Overtons Sunday 69 produced a tie for 21st and moved him all the way up to No. 118 on the money list. Erik Comptons final round 72 earned a tie for 60th. He said he will seek an equipment guy to bend his irons more upright and lighten the weight in his driver before the 72 holes of second stage Q-School that begin Wednesday.
    Verplank and Marino tied for third, Marino bogeying two of his last six and Verplank bogeying No. 17 after missing a 5-footer on 14 that would have been his fifth straight birdie. The Fall Series is over now. Scott Verplank, and a lot of others will take time off.
    Verplank wound up a comfortable No. 77 on the money list. And the opinion here is he hasnt finished kicking some regular Tour tail.
    Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
  • Getty Images

    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

    Getty Images

    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

    Getty Images

    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

    Getty Images

    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.