Notes: Pinehurst only the start of men's, women's doubles

By Doug FergusonMarch 12, 2014, 2:11 am

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – NCAA and Olympic officials might want to pay close attention to two weeks at Pinehurst No. 2 this summer, when the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open are held on the same course.

It could be a blueprint for the next two years in how to set up a golf course.

The NCAA men's and women's golf championships in 2015 are being held at The Concession in Bradenton in back-to-back weeks, the first time they are being played on the same course in the same year. And then in 2016 at the Olympics in Rio, the men's competition will be held ahead of the women.

''I believe we were in the middle of the bid process when it was announced by the USGA that they were planning to do back-to-back weeks for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open,'' said Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour executive overseeing golf's return to the Olympics.

''The issues that present themselves in that, whether it's obviously tee boxes, landing areas, even the positioning of grandstands in relation to tee boxes from a fan perspective, are all things that we are going to be following and looking at and learning from,'' he said.

Votaw said the idea is to ''make it a fair and good test'' for men and women.

Meanwhile, the International Golf Federation is waiting for approval on eligibility for the Olympics. The IGF has proposed a 60-person field for 72 holes of stroke play, with the field determined by the world ranking. The top 15 in the world ranking at the cutoff would be guaranteed a spot, with a maximum of four from one country, and then no more than two from any country.

Votaw said the idea was to get the most number of nations involved, which would be 34 countries for the men and 33 for the women. He also said the proposal would include a golfer from the host nation if none is eligible from the ranking, and that athletes be represented from every Olympic continent.

Still to be determined is how the worldwide golf schedule will come together around the Olympics, which will run from Aug. 5-21.

The British Open and PGA Championship are likely to be played in July, with the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour and the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine to be held after the Olympics. That could lead to a scenario where a player who wins the PGA Championship - and perhaps even the British Open - is not eligible for the Olympics, depending on the qualifying cutoff for making an Olympic team.


GRADUATION DAY: Even though he is coming up on the one-year anniversary of turning pro, Hideki Matsuyama of Japan already has played in all four majors and every World Golf Championship. As a PGA Tour member, one tournament he looked forward to playing was the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

That will have to wait.

The 22-year-old Matsuyama headed home after Doral for a big occasion. He's graduating from college.

Unlike Ryo Ishikawa, who turned pro as a teenager and played big events while working on a high school diploma, Matsuyama went to college and pursued his degree while competing against the world's best. His field of study was social welfare.

Asked if he was excited to graduate, Matsuyama smiled and said, ''I'm more excited about playing here in America.''

He won't play again until Augusta National, which makes him unusual in one respect. It takes most people at least one full year to go from a college degree to a Masters. For Matsuyama, it will only be a few weeks.


NEW SPONSOR: The LPGA is off to a good start even before it starts its domestic schedule next week. JTBC, a leading broadcasting company in South Korea, has agreed to be the title sponsor of what now will be the JTBC Founders Cup in Phoenix.

The tournament starts next week at Wildfire Golf Club.

JTBC is an affiliate of J Golf, which recently signed a contract extension with the LPGA. Along with being a title sponsor in Phoenix, JTBC will be presenting sponsor at three other LPGA events this year. Those four events will be shown on JTBC's network, which is distributed to more than 21 million households in Korea.

Its first order of business for the Founders Cup was to give sponsor exemptions to Cheyenne Woods and former U.S Women's Open champion Birdie Kim.


OOSTHUIZEN BACK: Louis Oosthuizen was worried about his back after losing in the quarterfinals of the Match Play Championship to eventual winner Jason Day.

He's not out of the woods yet, though he was pleasantly surprised by how he felt at Doral last week.

Oosthuizen, whose back injury caused him to withdraw from two majors and not play a third one last season, said tests have revealed disk problems in the L-5 and S-1. He had two cortisone injections during his week off between Match Play and Doral.

Of greater concern is practice.

Oosthuizen said he has only been able to warm up for about 30 minutes before each round. Even with arguably the sweetest swing in golf, ''You can't be consistent with your swing if you only do that,'' he said.

''But it's a lot better,'' he said. ''And that's a good sign.''

Oosthuizen is playing this week in the Valspar Championship.


MASTER PLAN: Roberto Castro, who went to Georgia Tech, played four rounds at Augusta National before he qualified for his first Masters this year.

He already has played twice in the fall, and plans two more rounds during the week of the Texas Open.

How many times can he go before the Masters?

''Within reason,'' he said with a smile. ''They have been very nice to host me.''

He last went with Chris Kirk, who also lives in Atlanta, the week of Thanksgiving. The Eisenhower Tree was still standing, which Castro said presented a problem because he tends to hit a fade off the tee. What he remembers more is playing the championship tees on a cold, soft day.

''When the ball backs up in the fairway, it's like the longest course in the world,'' he said.


DIVOTS: Patrick Reed (twice) and Ryan Moore are the only players to go wire-to-wire, including ties, in 16 stroke-play events on the PGA Tour this year. ... Derek Fathauer, who missed the cut last week in Chile, shot a 59 during a practice round for the Web.com Tour event in Brazil on Tuesday. ... Minjee Lee of Australia, the No. 1 amateur in the world, was among nine amateurs awarded exemptions to the Kraft Nabisco Championship on April 3-6, the first LPGA major of the year.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods earned $82,194 in his first three PGA Tour events as a pro in 1996. He has earned $86,919 in his first three PGA Tour events this year.


FINAL WORD: ''There are pretenders on Sunday, contenders and closers. The rarest of all golfers are closers that can actually win tournaments, not win by accident because of other people falling apart.'' - Johnny Miller.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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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 hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked 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.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

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 the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

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 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. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

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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Phil 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.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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.