Kirk, Horschel share Rd. 1 Tour Championship lead

By Doug FergusonSeptember 11, 2014, 10:50 pm

ATLANTA - Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel have little in common except a clean card of 4-under 66 at the Tour Championship and their chances at the biggest payoff in golf.

Kirk and Horschel, the top two seeds going into the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake, played in the final group and traded birdies - neither of them made a bogey - over four hours in steamy weather to share the lead.

They need only to win the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

''Billy has obviously been playing some pretty incredible golf with winning last week and finishing second the week before,'' Kirk said. ''And I've been doing all right myself.''

Kirk is a 29-year-old who went to Georgia and plays golf without a pulse. Even when he chipped in from 80 feet on the 17th hole, he simply smiled and bowed his head before slapping hands with his caddie.


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Horschel is a 27-year-old who went to Florida, brash enough to wear octopus prints on his pants in the final round at a U.S. Open, to flip his cap around backward and to pump his fist for routine pars.

They grew up playing amateur golf against each other. They were teammates in the Walker Cup.

And they are leading the race to the FedEx Cup.

''We're probably two completely opposite people in the sense that he just looks like he's moving very slow and nothing affects him,'' Horschel said. ''I look like I'm running around the golf course - literally last Sunday. But Chris and I get along very well. We seem to always play well when we're paired together.''

Horschel won the BMW Championship last week and was seen sprinting off the fairway toward a portable toilet because he couldn't hold it anymore. Kirk won the Deutsche Bank Championship the previous week, and he surprised even himself when twice - a career high - he pumped his fist after making a putt.

They didn't have the course to themselves.

Masters champion Bubba Watson made seven birdies to offset a few mistakes, such as trying to hit a shot through a gap in the trees. It worked at Augusta National two years ago. His ball clipped a branch Thursday, leading to double bogey.

A bogey from the bunker on the par-3 18th hole gave him a 67, leaving him in reasonable shape. Watson was tied with Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk and Jason Day.

The top five seeds need only to win the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup. Watson is third.

Rory McIlroy is at No. 4, and he didn't hurt himself. McIlroy wasn't at his best, though he made enough birdies and key par saves for a 69 that kept him very much in the hunt.

''You can really shoot yourself out of it,'' McIlroy said. ''Even though I didn't play great, I kept it together.''

Hunter Mahan might have shot himself out of it. Mahan is seeded fifth and opened with a 74. Only one other player in the 29-man field - Geoff Ogilvy, who is just happy to have made it to the Tour Championship - had a worse score.

Mahan, one of three captain's picks for the Ryder Cup, has broken par once in his last nine rounds since winning The Barclays.

Kirk was left off the Ryder Cup team, even though he has two wins this season and had just won a FedEx Cup playoff event the day before U.S. captain Tom Watson announced his three picks. Horschel might be the hottest in golf at the moment. He is prone to go on big streaks like this.

They have only one cup in mind, and they took a big step toward it Thursday.

''This is my sixth week in a row. I haven't played more than three events in a row this year,'' Horschel said. ''But I have no issues with that. Listen, this is the FedEx Cup playoffs. If you can't get yourself in shape and get up for it on a daily basis, they why are you playing this game?

''It's our playoffs. It's like the World Series or the NBA championships and NFL playoffs. And we're all tired and we've just got to figure how to put it out of our mind and go out and play golf.''

Horschel has more on his mind than just a $10 million bonus. His wife is expecting their first child in two weeks. He said even if she were to go into labor early, they agreed that he should stay in Atlanta and try to win the FedEx Cup.

DIVOTS: Jason Day's coach and caddie, Colin Swatton, had to stop after eight holes when his back locked up on him. Day's mental coach caddied the rest of the way. ... Cameron Tringale made his debut in the Tour Championship with a 68, but it wasn't his first time at East Lake. He played at Georgia Tech, which has a corporate membership at East Lake. ... The average score was 69.8.

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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.


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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.


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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.