Bae, Jacobson lead Northern Trust at halfway point

By Doug FergusonFebruary 16, 2013, 1:45 am

LOS ANGELES – A move down the California coast hasn't changed a thing for Fredrik Jacobson.

One week after his best finish in more than a year, Jacobson birdied the two toughest holes at Riviera on his way to a 6-under 65 on Friday and a share of the lead with Sang-Moon Bae going into the weekend at the Northern Trust Open.

The Swede did just about everything well, from his tee shots to his iron play, just what it takes to get around the classic design of Riviera. And it helps to get a little luck, such as a 55-foot birdie putt from just off the green at No. 9 that bumped along until disappearing for an unlikely birdie.

''That was probably the biggest bonus of the day,'' Jacobson said.


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Bae played in the morning and began with four straight birdies, all of them from tap-in range until holing a 25-foot putt on the 13th. He wound up making birdies on half of his holes in his round of 65.

They were at 9-under 133, one shot clear of John Merrick (66) and John Rollins (65).

Still very much in the picture was Luke Donald, who chipped in twice for birdie and worked his short-game magic around the course for a 66. Playing for the first time in two months, Donald didn't look as if he had much rust. He was two shots behind.

Lee Westwood birdied the last hole for a 68 to join the group at 6-under 136 that includes a pair of major champions, Charl Schwartzel (67) and Webb Simpson (66).

Phil Mickelson was lurking, despite a sloppy double bogey on the 10th hole. Mickelson still managed a 67 and was five shots back.

''I had a little hiccup on the 10th,'' Mickelson said. ''I was just trying to make 4 and I couldn't even do that. But 4 under is not a bad round, with the exception of No. 10. That took a great round and turned it into a pretty good round.''

It sets up for a wide-open weekend along Sunset Boulevard.

Twenty players were separated by five shots. That included defending champion Bill Haas (67) and Matt Kuchar, who had a pair of double bogeys in a 73. They were four shots behind. Sergio Garcia bogeyed three of his last five holes for a 73 and was in the group at 4-under 138 that included Mickelson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott.

Jacobson has chronic back issues, and he has them under control at the moment.

Since his lone win at the Travelers Championship in the summer of 2011, he has only two top 10s in official PGA Tour events – a tie for eighth in Hartford as the defending champion, and his tie for seventh last week at Pebble Beach.

''I obviously take a lot out of that, just being in contention again,'' he said. ''I've had some good practice sessions before, but to bring it on the course and play under pressure, that's what it's about. And the sooner I can get back and put myself in this position where I can get some pressure, that's the best practice you can get.''

The shocker was that everyone finished the second round, a rarity at Riviera with a 144-man field. Robert Streb had to make par on his last hole for 70 players to make the cut. Instead, he missed a 5-foot putt and took double bogey. That not only allowed 10 players into the weekend at 2-over 144, but Streb wasn't one of them. His double bogey dropped him to 3 over.

Ryo Ishikawa, who made bogey on the 18th from the middle of the fairway, wound up making his first cut of the year.

Donald, the No. 3 player in the world, was one of three players from the top 20 who had yet to play a tournament this year, and they all played in the same group. Scott is still in the mix, while Graeme McDowell had a 72 and missed the cut by one shot.

Donald doesn't have the well-rounded game that took him to No. 1 in the world as recently as six months ago. His short game has carried him, a product of how much work he spent during his break from tournament golf over the last two months.

He holed a tough chip for eagle on the 10th hole Thursday, knocked in a chip just short of the 15th green Friday, and chipped in from about 70 feet short of the green on the par-3 fourth hole for his last birdie of the day.

''Tee to Green, I'm getting closer,'' he said. ''I'm very excited being sharp with my short game. It's nice to be in the mix this early. It's never easy to come off a long break and get straight back into the thick of things. A lot of my score comes from a good short game.''

Donald began his rise to No. 1 in the world two years ago by working with Dave Alred, a performance guru from Britain who is famous for working with rugby players such as Johnny Wilkinson. The latest influence is none other than Michael Jordan, though Donald says it's nothing more than spending time with the NBA great.

Donald spends half the year in south Florida, where Jordan is building a home.

Jordan loves to play golf. Donald loves to take his money.

''I usually give him six (shots) a side,'' Donald said. ''And that's usually not enough for him.''

Donald won an NCAA title at Northwestern and he first met Jordan in Chicago. He says they are simply friends – ''In no way am I working with Michael at all'' – although it doesn't hurt to be around someone with such a winning pedigree.

''It's great just to be around someone that was arguably the greatest of all time in his sport, just to see how he reacts, his demeanor, see his attitude toward things,'' Donald said. ''It's been nice just to spend a little bit of time with him.

''I try to pick up things from just watching him,'' he said. ''I ask him some questions and he gives me answers sometimes. Certainly, it's not like a working relationship. It's just nice to have access to someone that was that great at his sport.''

Donald still doesn't understand how he has played the 10th hole so well this week. That hasn't been the case for others.

Dustin Johnson started Friday morning on the 10th hole and went over the green, and then his next shot plugged slightly in the back bunker. His third shot popped onto the green, just barely, and rolled back into his big footprint in the sand. It took him two more shots to get out, and he was happy to leave with a double bogey. Another short-game error late in his round led to a double bogey, and Johnson had a 69, to miss the cut by one shot.

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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

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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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."