Hoffmann makes 9 birdies in 65

By Doug FergusonMarch 20, 2015, 11:20 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Equipped with his first PGA Tour lead in 67 starts, Morgan Hoffmann played Friday like he wanted to keep it in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Hoffman made birdies on half of his holes for a 7-under 65, giving him a three-shot lead over Henrik Stenson, Harris English and defending champion Matt Every going into the weekend on soft and defenseless Bay Hill.

Stenson, English and Every each had a 66.

Rory McIlroy also got into the mix - finally - by making five straight birdies on his back nine for a 66, his first sub-70 score in three PGA Tour events this year. He was five shots behind and headed in the right direction in his final start before the Masters.

Bay Hill has greens that are so stressed that they will be replaced this summer. They are slow and receptive, a recipe for low scoring, and it shows.


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Hoffmann was at 13-under 131, one short of the 36-hole record at Bay Hill. The cut was at 142, matching the lowest score to make the cut in 27 years at Bay Hill. It was the first time the cut was under par, but only because the tournament changed par to 70 (instead of 72) in 2008.

''I'm trying to birdie every hole out there, so it was good,'' Hoffmann said. ''Just hitting great putts and good shots into the greens really helps. It's nice to hit some greens for a change. This year hasn't been that great, and it's a good change.''

The 25-year-old from Oklahoma State made six birdies on the front nine, including four in a row, and he finished with a 6-iron out of the rough and over the water - the ball landed just four paces onto the green - for a par that kept him in control.

Hoffmann came into the week at No. 158 in the ''strokes gained'' statistic from tee-to-green. He leads the field at Bay Hill.

Next up is how well he holds up on the weekend.

Stenson, who has finished fourth in his two Florida events already, birdied his last four holes for a 30 on the back nine. He will be playing in the penultimate group with English, who is No. 52 in the world just outside qualifying for the Masters.

''Got to keep the pedal down and keep aggressive,'' English said.

He is coming off a top 10 at Innisbrook in which he closed with a 65, which moved him up eight spots in the ranking.

McIlroy had dinner with Palmer on Thursday night and was treading water Friday morning until an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-3 second hold got him going. He birdied the next four holes, though he lost some momentum at the end with a bogey on No. 8 and a scrambling par on his final hole.

''It would be nice to finish the round off a little better, but still a good score and sets me up well for the weekend,'' McIlroy said. ''I think each and every day I'm feeling a little more comfortable, especially on the greens. Obviously, we played in the morning so we got the best of the greens, and it's easier to trust the lines you pick for yourself. But happy with how I putted today, and putt like that over the weekend, I'll have a chance.''

A lot of that depends on Hoffmann, who is coming off a pair of 12-hour range sessions this weekend to try to rely on a slight fade.

Every has only one top-10 since he won at Bay Hill a year ago, and he has not finished in the top 25 in his last 17 tournaments. But he is confident he is headed in the right direction with his swing, and it showed for two days. He ran off four straight birdies at the end of his round for a 66 and was at 134.

''I'm really excited to play golf because I know I have good stuff coming really, really soon,'' Every said. ''And I said before, you can lie to yourself. I've done it before all the time where I think I can win at the start of weeks. It's like probably how Rory feels every week.''

McIlroy, playing in Palmer's tournament for the first time, had dinner with the King on Thursday night after his opening round (and a drug test). They chatted more about commercial possibilities and old-time golf stories than McIlroy's bid to win the Masters and complete the career Grand Slam.

Palmer also insisted the 25-year-old McIlroy have a banana split. 

''I'll be going to the gym this afternoon,'' McIlroy said. ''It was fantastic, it really was. He's telling stories of the old days and talking about a few of the things he's done more from a commercial standpoint, the drink and golf courses and all this sort of stuff - stuff that I could potentially be getting into in the future.''

He said Palmer also told him how close he was to his father. 

''It was just great to be in his presence, and great to be in his company, and I had a good time,'' McIlroy said. 

DIVOTS: Sam Saunders, the 27-year-old grandson of Palmer, made four birdies on the back nine to make the cut by two shots. ... With a breeze at his back, Gary Woodland hit a 358-yard drive on the par-4 fifth hole to short of the green, 50 feet from the hole. He still made par. ... Adam Scott had a 73 and was nine shots behind.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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.

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Mickelson 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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.