Notes: Dufner returns, Woods satisfied for now

By Doug FergusonAugust 21, 2013, 11:02 pm

DUFNER RETURNS:Jason Dufner wasn't swamped with phone calls and text messages after winning his first major at the PGA Championship. But there's a reason for that. He changed the number on his cellphone about three weeks ago.

''Very limited people have access to my phone number,'' he said.

A couple of them are fellow Auburn athletes with a higher profile - Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley. Dufner otherwise was home in Alabama, living up to his pledge that winning the PGA Championship was not about to change his life. It didn't change his pulse, either. He was as flat-line as ever, and proud of it.

''I was excited. I was satisfied and gratified, because I knew how much sacrifice I made and what it took to win the major,'' he said. ''But I don't show it out emotionally outward too well, but that's just kind of who I am and how it's been. I don't want to try and change things. It's not like I have to put my game face on or have to hold back emotions out there on purpose. That's just kind of naturally who I am, so I think it's been working pretty good for me.''

Dufner was in New York on Tuesday after winning the PGA Championship for a media tour that included an appearance with Howard Stern.

Otherwise, it's as if nothing changed.

''I still took the trash out on Tuesday morning and we actually got a new puppy, so I was up at 3 in the morning every night taking him out to the bathroom and still going to my favorite breakfast spot in town,'' he said. ''So not too much has changed in my life. My wife hasn't treated me any differently and people around me are still treating me the same. So it's pretty easy when you've got good people around you.''


HAAS PERSPECTIVE:Bill Haas starts the FedEx Cup playoffs with the No. 5 seed, which has more to do with his tour-leading nine top 10s than his win at the AT&T National. With five career wins, he was told he was only four wins away from being among the top 10 in PGA Tour wins among active players.

Haas said he was a little surprised by that, but he took issue the word ''only four wins away.''

Getting to five wins was no picnic.

''It's so hard to win out here,'' he said.

That has made him appreciate even more the careers of Tiger Woods (79 career wins), Phil Mickelson (42), Vijay Singh (34), Davis Love III (20) and Ernie Els (19).

''Those guys are on another level because of how many times they have won,'' he said. ''It's pretty amazing, the level of competition nowadays. But ... you've got to think of about those to be positive. When things aren't going well, you have to say, 'Hey, wait a second, you can win out here.' Stats like that are fun to look at and only positive motivation for the future.''


SECOND PLACE:This is one time Tiger Woods doesn't think second place is all that bad.

Woods has 14 majors, putting him in second-place behind Jack Nicklaus (18). He has 79 wins on the PGA Tour, second only to Sam Snead at 82.

''That's not bad at my age,'' the 37-year-old Woods said Wednesday. ''Both of those guys took a lot longer to get to that point, and to do it where I'm at right now, it's pretty good.''

Nicklaus won his 15th major when he was 38. Snead won his 80th tour event when he was 47.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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."

Getty Images

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.