Notes: Miller says game produced 'train wrecks'

By Doug FergusonJanuary 10, 2012, 8:09 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii - Johnny Miller was quick to point out how different he and Nick Faldo were as players, and he said this with some regret. Miller aimed at every flag he saw. Faldo was more of a strategist.

“Nick was the ultimate in restricting the temptation, playing a cautious game - middle of the green, swing easy, basically think his way around in a non-exciting way,” Miller said. “And that lent itself to winning majors.”

Miller won 25 times on the PGA Tour but had only two majors - the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont (lest anyone forget, he shot 63 in the final round) and the 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale over a rising teenage star named Seve Ballesteros.

Faldo won six majors, three times each in the Masters and British Open.

“I played just the opposite,” Miller said. “I hit it as hard as I could, fired at every flag stick, and that lends itself to having train wrecks in the majors. If I had to do it over again, I’d have two gas pedals - one of the majors, one for the regular tournaments. I never figured that out.”


HAT FOR SALE: Scott Piercy’s hat looks like a blank billboard, which is about what it is.

Piercy has Titleist on one side of the hat and FootJoy on the other. The front was supposed to be another corporate sponsor but the deal fell through. Piercy, the Reno-Tahoe Open winner, wasn’t going to give it away for free.

“We had a couple deals that looked like they were going to close, and they fell through at the last minute,” Piercy said. “As everyone knows, it’s tough out there right now. The deals that we did have weren’t the greatest, so we decided to keep it blank.”

Piercy said he had a few offers, but “we didn’t get anything that we felt was fair.”

The hat deal didn’t sour his mood - not in the least. Piercy made his first trip to the winners-only Tournament of Champions and tied for 12th after a rocky start.

Next up is the Sony Open, and Piercy already has noticed a change that comes with winning. He has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour and no longer feels he has to rush into the year.

“It’s nice not to play for three months and have the first tournament be one you can kind of work into it, instead of showing up at Sony and having a so-so day or two and you’re going home,” he said. “You have a so-so day or two here, you still have the weekend.”

At Waialae, the course will be filled with rookies eager to get going.

“They’re like, `Oh, man, I finally made it to the PGA Tour.’ We’ve all seen that. I’ve done it,” he said. “As a rookie, you’ve got to kick butt on the West Coast, and everybody but the rookies know it. So it’s nice to ease into the year.”


AMERICAN RICHES: The Race to Dubai was announced with great fanfare for 2009, which was to conclude with a $10 million purse at the Dubai World Championship and a $10 million bonus pool.

Because of the economic crisis, the prize fund for both was reduced to $7.5 million.

Going into its fourth year, the bonus pool for the top 10 players now is $3.75 million, with $1 million going to the winner - that compares with $10 million for the FedEx Cup champion on the PGA Tour from a $35 million bonus pool.

The good news for Europe is that it extended its agreement for the Race to Dubai through the end of 2014.

And while the bonus pool dwindled, the prize money for the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai has increased to $8 million, the same amount offered at The Tour Championship.


GOLF CHANNEL: The Golf Channel must wait a few days to see if that Monday finish at Kapalua helped the viewership. But it couldn’t complain about the start of the new season.

Coming off its biggest year, Golf Channel began 2012 with the highest-rated opening round at Kapalua since it began broadcasting the Tournament of Champions in 2007. Friday’s coverage averaged 705,000 viewers (0.7 household rating), up 27 percent over Round 1 at Kapalua last year, and 50 percent higher than any previous opening round Golf Channel has broadcast at Kapalua.


DIVOTS: Martha Lang has been appointed to another one-year term as chair of the USGA’s Women’s Committee. … Gaylord Sports Management, whose list of clients includes Phil Mickelson and Nick Watney, has been acquired by French-based Lagardere Unlimited. Steve Loy, who founded Gaylord in 2000, will be the president of Lagardere Unlimited Golf. … Ryo Ishikawa is beefing up his U.S. schedule. Along with playing in the Sony Open, the Japanese star has accepted a sponsor’s exemption to play the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. David Duval also received an exemption to Torrey Pines. … Of the last 20 winners of the Tournament of Champions, Daniel Chopra (2008) is the only player who failed to make it to the Tour Championship. … Hunter Mahan has renewed his equipment contract with Ping.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Fifty years ago, Jack Nicklaus tied for 50th at the Los Angeles Open and earned $33.33. A three-way tie for 50th at the Sony Open this week pays $13,530.


FINAL WORD: “This is really the first and only event that is kind of like a congratulations for winning.” - Scott Piercy, making his debut in the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua.

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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.