Notes: Norman slights Donald as world's best

By Doug FergusonNovember 8, 2011, 7:35 pm

SYDNEY – Luke Donald has been No. 1 in the world since the end of May. He has won four times around the world, and he likely will be voted PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Apparently that’s still not enough to get on Greg Norman’s radar screen.

Norman was asked Monday who he thought was the best player in the world regardless of the world ranking.

“I’m going through three or four players right now. That’s how tough it is,” Norman said. “I don’t think there is one guy out there like Tiger used to be out there, and that’s again a testament of the validation of why I think the game of golf is so good right now.”

He mentioned Martin KaymerAdam ScottJason DayRory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa.

“I’m going down the list and I’m missing out on guys,” Norman said before going on to mention the swing of PGA champion Keegan Bradley. “You go down this list and all of a sudden now I’m at 10 players.”

He never once mentioned the guy at the top – Donald.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS: The only two continents where the Presidents Cup has not been played are Asia and South America, which is likely to change when the next one goes overseas in 2015. And while Asia appears to have more appeal, South America might be more critical.

A record four Asian players are on this year’s International team – K.J. Choi, Y.E. Yang, K.T. Kim and Ishikawa – and PGA Tour commissioner said Asia is “becoming a bigger part of what the Presidents Cup is all about.”

“We are looking hard at Asia,” he said.

But when pressed about which Asian country might be best suited to host the Presidents Cup, Finchem had his eyes on another event – the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.

“When you look at the Olympic date sitting there in ’16, and everybody is gearing toward that, you’ve sort of got to draw some conclusions as to where we’ll be in 2015,” he said.

Golf’s return to the Olympics is not guaranteed to be for long. The sport gets only one chance to shine before the next International Olympic Committee vote on whether to keep golf in the Games, so it’s important that it is received well in Brazil.

There had been some discussion about taking a World Golf Championship to South America ahead of the Olympics, such as the Cadillac Championship at Doral.

“We’ve discussed that a little bit as a possibility,” Finchem said. “There are some other things we could do down there as well. We were hopeful we’ll see some daylight here in terms of when the golf course will be ready so we know we’ll have a place to play, and by ’15. Once we know that’s going to happen, then we can start to work on real options.”

Finchem said if the golf course – the architect is to be chosen in late December – is not ready before 2016, then the first event would be the Olympics. Ideally, it could be ready in time for another event.

“We need it ready by ’15, which means it needs to get going,” he said.


WORLD-CLASS WINNERS: Perhaps no other tournaments in the world offer better odds of getting a high-ranked winner than the World Golf Championships. They usually invited the top 50 in the world, although three of them also have lesser-known players from other tours. Even so, Kaymer strengthened the trend by winning the HSBC Champions.

In the 13-year history of the series, only four players ranked outside the top 50 have won a World Golf Championship.

Steve Stricker was No. 91 when he won the Match Play Championship in 2001 in Australia, the event where some two-dozen top players stayed home. Kevin Sutherland was No. 65 when he won the Match Play a year later at La Costa. Craig Parry is the only player outside the top 100 to win a WGC, at No. 118 when he captured the 2002 NEC Invitational at Sahalee.

The other was Geoff Ogilvy, who was No. 53 when he won the Match Play in 2006 at La Costa.


MATCH PLAY CROWD: The Match Play Championship is trying to give fans a better view of the final match in Arizona by allowing fans to walk in the fairway behind the players.

It’s a practice often seen at the U.S. Amateur, Walker Cup and Curtis Cup matches. When Woods played the Australian Masters, officials allowed the overflow of fans to line the fairways some 75 yards from each green, creating a stadium feeling.

At Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., marshals will hold ropes that keep the fans 40 feet behind the players down the fairway, though they will be kept away from greenside bunkers.


DIVOTS: The Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, held opposite the Match Play Championship, has extended its title sponsorship through 2018. … Mark Calcavecchia has his own special “cocktail” to deal with an ailing hip. He takes one Celebrex before he leaves his hotel room and one Vicodin on the practice range. That gets him through 15 holes, and he just toughs out the last three. “That’s only on tournament days,” he said. “Pro-ams and practice rounds I tough it out because I don’t want to waste good painkillers.” … With so much success by European players this year, the cover of its media guide will stick to the major champions. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and British Open champion Darren Clarke recently posed for a photo. Left out is Donald, the No. 1 player in the world.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Europeans will have held the No. 1 ranking for an entire season for the first time since Nick Faldo in 1993. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Donald all have been at No. 1 in the world this year.


FINAL WORD: “Maybe it’s just I’m so used to hitting so many bad shots.” – Tiger Woods, when asked about controlling his temper on the golf course.

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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.