Garcia (65) leads by two through 54 in Boston

By Doug FergusonSeptember 1, 2013, 11:55 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Sergio Garcia started with the lead in the Deutsche Bank Championship and shot 65. And he needed just about every birdie.

On a TPC Boston softened by so much rain that the third round Sunday had to be started over, Garcia kept his nose in front and gave himself a two-shot cushion with a birdie on the final hole as darkness settled over New England.

Nothing is close to being settled at this FedEx Cup playoff event.

Garcia was at 19-under 194 and had a two-shot lead over Henrik Stenson, perhaps the hottest player in golf with two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes in his last five events. The Swede went birdie for birdie with Garcia for much of the overcast day until a three-putt bogey on the 17th caused him to settle for a 66.

Graham DeLaet of Canada all but locked up a spot on the Presidents Cup team with a 62 that left him three shots behind with Steve Stricker, who had a 63 and took a big step toward making the U.S. team for the matches next month at Muirfield Village.

PGA champion Jason Dufner had a share of the lead until cooling off on the back nine. He had a 66 and was tied for fifth at 15-under 198 with Robert Castro (68).


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The scoring was simply relentless on a course that is long and wide with pristine conditions. The TPC Boston became a pushover with such soft conditions, and it became even easier because players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls through the green.

About the only ones who couldn't keep up were the star attractions at the start of the week - Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson, who started the third round five shots out of the lead, had his second straight 71, and this one wasn't exciting at all. He had three birdies, three bogeys and 12 pars and wound up 12 shots behind.

Woods didn't get anything going early and fell apart on the back nine, starting with a tee shot into a hazard well right of the 10th fairway. He began the back nine with three straight bogeys and ended with a three-putt par on the 18th for a 1-over 72. It ended six straight rounds in the 60s in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and much worse, left him with no chance of winning going into the off week. He was 13 shots back.

''I just didn't have it today,'' Woods said. ''I just didn't hit it well. I didn't make anything. I had a bad day at the wrong time.''

The average score was 68.2, and anything higher than that meant losing ground.

Going into the Labor Day final round, 25 players have posted all three rounds in the 60s, and most of them don't have a chance. There were 332 birdies and 10 eagles Sunday, meaning players had sub-par holes a whopping 32 percent of the time.

''We can't control the weather,'' Garcia said. ''And you've just got to go out there and try to play the best you can. And I was very happy to see that my best was 6 under.''

Monday is filled with plenty of ramifications.

Garcia is trying to end a troublesome season with his first PGA Tour win, trying to move past his humbling moment this spring when a public spat with Woods led to Garcia making a racially insensitive ''fried chicken'' comment at a London dinner. Stenson has done everything but win in the last two months – third at the Scottish Open and PGA Championship, runner-up at the British Open and a World Golf Championship.

Stricker's goal when he showed up at the Deutsche Bank was to make the Presidents Cup team so that U.S. captain Fred Couples wouldn't have to consider using a pick, if Stricker even wants to be picked. Now only three shots behind, Stricker is thinking more about a chance to win for the first time this year, go to the Presidents Cup and set up a family working vacation at Kapalua next year.

The top 70 in the FedEx Cup advance to the third playoff event in two weeks north of Chicago. Ernie Els is among those on the cusp. Ian Poulter, despite a pair of late bogeys, had a 66 and was six shots out of the lead He appears safe for Chicago, and now can try to think about qualifying for the Tour Championship for the first time.

Rory McIlroy made the cut on the number and still was lingering at the bottom of the pack after a double bogey. Then, he ran off eight birdies over his last 13 holes, with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki showing up for the last two hours. McIlroy is too far back to win, but he can make his bid for the Tour Championship a lot easier.

The third round was barely an hour old when rain caused not only a three-hour delay, but forced officials to scrap the round and start over. That took two birdies away from Webb Simpson and two bogeys away from Zach Johnson. It didn't really matter. Both were at the bottom of the pack, and one of them looked likely to miss out on a spot on the Presidents Cup team.


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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."