Moynihan leaving Alabama due to homesickness

By Ryan LavnerOctober 20, 2014, 3:17 pm

Alabama coach Jay Seawell said Monday that sophomore Gavin Moynihan has left the team because of homesickness, dealing the two-time defending NCAA champions a significant blow as they look to become the first team in nearly 50 years to win three consecutive titles.

Though Moynihan told Global Golf Post’s Brian Keogh that “no decision has been made yet,” Seawell said the 20-year-old Irishman informed him of his decision in a meeting last week.

Moynihan, who won the 2012 Irish Amateur, represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 2013 Walker Cup and captured this year’s Scottish Amateur, participated in the team’s championship ceremony at Alabama’s home football game on Saturday. Seawell said Moynihan was crying on the field, in part, the coach said, “because he knew that was his last moment with the team.”

“That’ll do it,” Seawell said by phone Monday. “We’ll take a little bit of a hit there, but it’s a good thing that it’s happening now. We can digest it and put it back together.”

Alabama is ranked No. 19 in the country after completing its fall slate, but the Tide is coming off a victory in its final event, the Jerry Pate Invitational, where Moynihan finished 12th individually. Despite the uneven start, Alabama was trending upward as it looked to become the first team since Houston in the mid-1960s to win three consecutive NCAA titles.

Alabama doesn’t play again until Feb. 22-24 Puerto Rico Classic, giving Moynihan four months to change his mind. That’s an eternity for a 20-year-old, of course, but he’d likely fall too far behind in his schoolwork if he waits until the spring semester.

Individually, Moynihan is No. 222 in Golfstat's rankings, but that’s mostly a product of a limited schedule. Playing as Alabama's No. 3 man, he had top-20 finishes in both events this season and also finished 15th in the World Amateur Team Championship for Team Ireland. He played in only two official events last season, struggling to crack the starting five because of the quality of players ahead of him on Alabama’s NCAA-winning team.

Moynihan told GGP’s Keogh that homesickness was affecting his performance. “I feel more comfortable and happier on the course back in Europe, which leads to better golf,” he said.

The 39th-ranked amateur in the world, Moynihan is not expected to turn pro and instead has his sights on making the 2015 Walker Cup team. 

“I’m surprised but not floored,” Seawell said. “I knew he was struggling being so far from home. You have to have a serious commitment, to know you’re going to be away from home for a long time and away from your comfort zone. For some guys it’s just harder.”

Seven Alabama players have seen playing time this fall, with Robby Shelton and Tom Lovelady teeing it up in all four events. In Moynihan’s absence the Tide will have to rely on Dru Love – the son of 20-time PGA Tour winner Davis Love III – and freshmen Jonathan Hardee and Tyler Hitchner, among others.

“We’ve got a bunch of scrappers,” Seawell said. “With the golf that Gavin was playing, we can replace the score, but it’s his experience in (international) championships that we’ll miss.

“But we don’t feel sorry for ourselves. I have the utmost confidence in our guys or they wouldn’t be here.”

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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.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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.