Horschel builds two-shot lead at East Lake

By Doug FergusonSeptember 12, 2014, 7:26 pm

ATLANTA – Billy Horschel showed why he might be the hottest player in golf at the moment with another 4-under 66 on Friday in the Tour Championship. It was his 10th straight round in the 60s. He already has a victory and a runner-up finish in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

And now he gets to take on the best player in golf.

Rory McIlroy rode three big putts and one bizarre break - a tee shot landed in a spectator's pocket - on his way to a 65 that left him two shots behind and put him in the final group at East Lake going into the homestretch of the FedEx Cup.

At stake for both of them - along with Chris Kirk - is a shot at the $10 million bonus.

''I'm a guy that when I feel good about my game, I've got some confidence that I'm going to figure out some way to play well and post a number,'' Horschel said.

That he has done.


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Horschel is 35 under par in his last 10 rounds. He was runner-up at the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago, when he squandered a shot to at least get into a playoff by chunking a 6-iron into a hazard. And he followed that with a victory in the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills.

And now he has a pair of 66s, putting him at 8-under 132 at East Lake.

McIlroy made his only bogey with a buried lie at the face of a bunker on No. 4, causing him to blast out sideways. He bounced back with birdies, and poured it on at the end of his round with a 12-foot par save, a 20-foot birdie and a 25-foot birdie.

And then there was his par on the 14th, which looked ordinary only on paper. His tee shot drifted right into the pine trees, clattered around and dropped straight down. No one knew where it went until a fan realized it had fallen into the front pocket of his shorts.

PGA Tour rules official Robby Ware made sure the fan had not moved, and McIlroy was given a free drop under Rule 19-1-a.

Retrieving the ball? McIlroy wasn't going there.

''I know how sweaty my pockets are. I'm not going into anyone else's,'' McIlroy said. ''I need to stop hitting it off line. Things happen there.''

McIlroy was joined by Jason Day, who made bogey on his last hole for a 67; and Kirk, who made two bogeys on the back nine that offset a run of four straight birdies around the turn for a 68.

Kirk, Horschel and McIlroy are among the top five seeds in the FedEx Cup, meaning a victory would guarantee the $10 million bonus.

McIlroy seized the No. 1 ranking by winning the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship in successive starts. He was the top seed going into the FedEx Cup, though because the points are reset for East Lake, the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland always knew it would come down to the Tour Championship.

As much as he wants to end a great year on a high note, McIlroy appears to be playing with no concerns.

''Before coming into these FedEx Cup playoffs ... it was going to be a great season, anyway,'' he said. ''I wanted to cap it off in style, and I've given myself a chance to do that over the next two days. I'm going into this week with nothing to lose. I'm the one that's got the two majors this year. I'm the one that's had the great season. Those are the guys that are trying to cap off a great season for themselves.

''No matter what happens over the weekend, it's going to be OK,'' he said. ''But I still want to win this thing.''

McIlroy and Horschel first mixed it up seven years ago when they were amateurs at the Walker Cup. Horschel beat him in singles on the 18th hole, and the next morning teamed with Rickie Fowler in a foursomes win over McIlroy and Jonny Caldwell. Horschel was shouting and pumping fists, as he always does, and it rubbed McIlroy the wrong way. In the final singles session, McIlroy beat him 4 and 2.

That was a long time ago. Neither harbors a grudge.

McIlroy has gone on to win four majors at age 25 - only Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones have done that - while Horschel picked up his second career win last week. They last played together as pros at the Honda Classic this year, where McIlroy had rounds of 66-63 and Horschel missed the cut.

''He's a good buddy,'' Horschel said. ''If I happen to come out on top and we're battling out these next two rounds, that means a lot. The guy won three straight events in a row, and two of them happened to be majors. I think that's pretty impressive. He's at that stage where when you're able to go toe to toe with one of the best players and the No. 1 ranked player in the world and you're able to come out on top, that gives me a lot of confidence.''

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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.