Casey builds 3-shot lead; McIlroy tumbles

By Doug FergusonMay 30, 2014, 10:24 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio - Paul Casey expected to be chasing someone Friday in the Memorial, figuring it would be Rory McIlroy.

After two holes, Casey had the lead to himself at Muirfield Village, and that was only the start of another big day. He took advantage of the par 5s for another 6-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead over Masters champion Bubba Watson going into the weekend.

McIlroy, whose 63 was the lowest first round in the 39-year history of the tournament, was barely in the picture. He was 15 shots worse with a 78, courtesy of three straight double bogeys and his fourth straight PGA Tour event with a nine-hole score of 40 or higher. McIlroy went from a three-shot lead to nine shots behind.

''To be honest, I thought I was going to be playing a round to try and maybe catch a couple of guys,'' Casey said. ''I woke up checking the scores to see what Rory was going to be. That's really what I was going to be doing -- see how many under I was going to have to try to shoot to chase. Obviously, that didn't happen.''

Casey, taking another step on a long road back from injuries that nearly derailed his career, was at 12-under 132.


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He made his first birdie with his best drive of the day on the par-5 11th, setting up a 4-iron onto the green for a two-putt birdie. He made eagle on the par-5 15th hole for the second straight day, and he stuffed it close around the turn for birdies to start pulling away from the field.

Watson gave him a good run in an active round that featured six birdies, five bogeys and an eagle. He only was angry at a few shots where he failed to concentrate. Even so, a bogey-bogey finish wasn't enough to entirely ruin his day. Watson has never finished better than 23rd in eight previous appearances.

''I can't look at the bogeys,'' Watson said. ''I've got to look at where I'm at. If you told me it's my best two days around this golf course, I'd take it.''

Chris Kirk (70) was four shots behind. Hideki Matsuyama (67) and Martin Flores (68) were five back.

Adam Scott, who won Colonial in his debut at No. 1 in the world, shot 70 and was at 5-under 139, still in the mix depending on how Casey fares on the weekend. Phil Mickelson was happy to get in two more rounds. He shot a 70, though he was 10 shots back.

Casey, once a Ryder Cup regular who reached as high as No. 3 in the world, is slowly getting his game and his life back in the right place. He endured injuries to his shoulder and his toe that kept him winless for more than two years. He went through a divorce. He wondered if he would ever return to the brand of golf he was capable of playing.

Weeks like this offer promise.

Casey won the Irish Open a year ago with what he called ''spectacular'' golf. The game is still there.

''It's slowly crawling along and making progress, climbing back up the ladder, however you want to phrase it,'' Casey said. ''It's very difficult when you've played to a certain level and then ... I genuinely had no clue how to play to that level.

''Luckily, I didn't think about that too long.''

His life is back in order. Casey is married to British television presenter Pollyanna Woodward. They are expecting their first child (a boy) in September. He talks about having perspective, knowing where golf fits on his list of what's important.

His golf has looked familiar over the last two days.

McIlroy could say the same. Except for last week at the BMW PGA Championship in England, which he won with birdies on the last two holes, McIlroy's good golf has been stalled by bad patches, and Friday was no exception.

In fact, it nearly has become the rule.

He shot a 43 on the back nine - he started the round at No. 10 - making this the fourth consecutive PGA Tour event where he shot at least 40 over nine holes. All of them have been in the second round.

McIlroy twice hit the trees on the 13th hole and made double bogey. He hit into the water on the 14th for double bogey. And then he double-hit a wedge on the 15th to make it three straight double bogeys.

''These little runs I'm getting on where it gets away from me, I was able to avoid that last week,'' McIlroy said. ''Not so much this week. Even though I had such a bad day, I'm still in with a chance depending on what the guys do this afternoon. So going into the weekend, not exactly where I want to be. But it could be worse.''

Casey simple made it a lot harder.

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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.