Notes: Mahan's schedule depends on baby No. 2

By Doug FergusonJanuary 7, 2015, 2:04 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Hunter Mahan is a Californian and predictable when it comes to his PGA Tour schedule on the West Coast. He has played Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and Riviera every year dating to 2007, a streak that probably will end.

Mahan's wife, Kandi, is expecting their second child in the middle of that stretch. He knew he could count on the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. After that, it's up in the air. His plan is to not have one.

''I'm just going to play my schedule and make adjustments from there,'' Mahan said. ''It's too hard to figure out.''

He is scheduled to play the Phoenix Open, Farmers Insurance Open, AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open. He is not expecting to play them all.

''Whenever the baby falls is where he's going to fall,'' Mahan said.

Give him a choice, and the one tournament he would hate to miss is Riviera.

''I love that place. I love that golf course,'' Mahan said. ''It's the end of a four-week stretch. It's the one tournament I want to be in good shape. I enjoy it and really want to win there.''

But baby comes first. Remember, Mahan was leading the Canadian Open when he left after 36 holes because his wife went into labor.


POINT TAKEN: As more players join the PGA Tour, the gap in the ranking points swings even more toward America.

The average points awarded to PGA Tour winners in 2014 was 56.42, compared with 42.13 for winners on the European Tour. That includes the four majors, where the winners automatically get 100 points, and the four World Golf Championships, which averaged 73 points for the winner. Remove those eight events from the equation and the average PGA Tour winner received 49.54 points, compared with 32.54 points in Europe.

The PGA Tour points were a slight increase from 2013, while Europe had a slight decrease.

Throw out the BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event in Europe which is guaranteed 64 points to the winner, and four final events in the Race to Dubai, and the Scottish Open had the strongest field for a regular European Tour event. It offered 52 points.

The PGA Tour had eight regular events that offered 52 points or more. The strongest field for a regular event was the Memorial with 64 points to the winner.

As for the playoffs.

The four FedEx Cup playoff events offered an average of 67.5 points to the winner. The Final Series in the Race to Dubai offered an average of 54.5 points, and that includes the HSBC Champions, a WGC event.


GWAA AWARDS: Rory McIlroy and Bernhard Langer were runaway winners as the top male and senior player of the year by the Golf Writers Association of America. Stacy Lewis won a tighter race in a more crowded field of contestants for female player of the year.

McIlroy received 94 percent of the vote after a year in which he returned to No. 1 with emphasis by capturing two majors at the British Open and PGA Championship, a World Golf Championship and the European Tour flagship event at Wentworth. It's the second time in three years he has won the GWAA award.

''This award is testimony to my best year as a professional golfer and something I can aim toward winning again as I go into next season,'' he said.

Langer received 90 percent of the vote as the senior player of the year. He had five wins, two majors and captured the Schwab Cup at age 57.

Lewis swept the biggest awards on the LPGA Tour - the money title, Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and points-based player of the year. She received 57 percent of the GWAA voting over Lydia Ko and U.S. Women's Open champion Michelle Wie.

They will be honored at the GWAA Annual Awards Dinner on April 8 in Augusta, Georgia.


BAE'S DILEMMA: Bae Sang-Moon smiled as he loaded his golf bag onto a cart at Kapalua on Tuesday.

''I make big news, huh?'' he said.

Bae might be making more headlines now than when he won the Frys.com Open in October to start the 2014-15 season. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the South Korean faces ''military conscription'' after being denied an extension on his overseas travel permit.

Bae said he has hired a legal firm to help him sort out the matter with South Korean government, which has to do with how much time he spent at home while being granted an overseas travel permit. He has been in Honolulu over the holidays and practicing at Waialae Country Club. Bae said he does not expect his PGA Tour schedule to be interrupted early in the season and that he has no immediate plans to return to South Korea.

But he smiled again when reminded that getting back to South Korea at the end of the PGA Tour is the ultimate goal. The Presidents Cup is going to South Korea for the first time, and there currently are no South Koreans on the International team. Bae is the highest-ranked player from Korea.


WALKER'S AFFINITY: Jimmy Walker was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. But his favorite courses are far from home.

Two of his three victories last year were in California - CordeValle for the Frys.com Open and Pebble Beach. Walker says Pebble Beach and Riviera are two his most favorite courses of the year.

He just doesn't know why.

''It's so different from what I'm used to,'' he said. ''You get out there, and you're in a different world. You're out on the beach. Riviera is my favorite tournament of the year. The golf course is so good. And I don't mind poa greens. It kills some guys. But the ball rolls true if you hit it where you're supposed to.''


DIVOTS: Hideki Matsuyama, the 22-year-old Japanese star who already has six wins worldwide, has signed with IMG. ... The Westgate Las Vegas Sports Book has Rory McIlroy has the 6-1 favorite to win the Masters, followed by Tiger Woods at 12-1. More interesting are the odds to win multiple majors. Odds are 11-4 that Woods will win one major, 20-1 to win two majors, 100-1 to win three and 250-1 to win them all. Odds are 8-5 for McIlroy to win one major this year, 11-2 to win two, 25-1 to win three and 80-1 to win a calendar Grand Slam. ... Six players at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions are not eligible for the Masters yet - Scott Stallings, Matt Every, Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Chesson Hadley and Nick Taylor. Hadley and Taylor won opposite-field events. The other won their PGA Tour events prior to the Masters and played Augusta National last year.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Five players from the top 10 in the world ranking did not win on the PGA Tour last year.


FINAL WORD: ''Why can't it be both?'' - David Duval, when asked if his priority in 2015 would be his golf or his new role with Golf Channel.

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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.