Poulter stumbles, still shares Honda lead with Casey

By Doug FergusonMarch 1, 2015, 11:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Ian Poulter didn't realize he had a three-shot lead in the Honda Classic, only that he was playing well enough to feel like he was in control of his game and the tournament.

One shank changed everything Sunday.

"That just came out of left field," Poulter said.

His next tee shot, which splashed down in the water left of the fairway, made it even worse.

"It was a bit of a body blow," he said.

What had been a marathon day at soggy PGA National suddenly turned into a sprint-to-the-finish on Monday morning when the final round was to resume. Poulter lost command of the Honda Classic, but he didn't lose his place atop the leaderboard.

He was at 7 under par through seven holes, tied with Paul Casey, who went out in 31 and was in the left rough on the 10th hole when the final round was halted at sunset.


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Patrick Reed, in the final group with Poulter, was one shot behind.

Phil Mickelson was among four players who were three shots behind at 4 under par. That group included Daniel Berger, the PGA Tour rookie from West Palm Beach whose final shot Sunday was a 35-foot chip-in for birdie on the 11th hole.

"I'm pretty pleased with the golf I've played throughout the whole of today," Poulter said. "I haven't really made many mistakes at all. I've put it in position an awful lot, which is encouraging right now. And If I do that tomorrow, then I'm going to be in a good position."

His two mistakes were big ones.

Leading by three shots, he tried to take a little off an 8-iron on the par-3 fifth hole, where the green is guarded by water on the left. Poulter hit a shank that went so far to the right it bounced into water on the sixth hole. He made double bogey and lost the lead.

On his next tee shot, he pulled his drive into the water down the left side of the sixth fairway and had to two-putt from 65 feet to escape with bogey.

"You take your foot off the accelerator for one second, all of a sudden you find yourself completely out of position," Poulter said.

For a day of plodding across the rain-softened fairways, the Honda Classic suddenly was full of energy, not to mention possibilities. There was a three-shot swing at No. 5 when Reed holed a 35-foot birdie putt from a swale right of the fifth green and Poulter made his double bogey. Reed took the lead on No. 6 when Poulter made bogey.

And then Poulter was on the right end of a two-shot swing at their final hole of the long day, the par-3 seventh. His eyes a little wider, his blood boiling, Poulter drilled a 6-iron to 3 feet for birdie, while Reed missed the green to the left and failed to get up and down.

No longer forgotten was Casey, who made four birdies on the front nine, all from no more than 12 feet. His birdie on No. 9 moved him into a share of the lead.

The Monday finish was caused by nearly 5 inches of rain and 50 mph gusts that washed out the third round on Saturday and took a 78-member grounds crew until 10 a.m. Sunday just to get the course ready. It had so much water that the crew had to chase off an alligator from the bunkers. Players finished the third round and went right back out to squeeze in as many holes as possible. The final round was to resume at 8 a.m.

"This sort of situation is going to be difficult for everybody, and it just breaks up momentum," said Casey, who had more than anyone. "Some guys will carry it through tomorrow. Others won't, and that's very difficult to predict. ...You just hope you wake up tomorrow and you feel like you've got the same kind of golf swing and putts are going in the hole. You just don't know. Hope the golfing gods are nice to us tomorrow."

That's what Mickelson was thinking.

He opened with two quick birdies and was getting closer to the lead until pushing a 4-foot par putt on the sixth hole. Mickelson had 10-foot par putt on the ninth hole when he returned Monday morning.

"I'm looking forward to just having a minute to regroup and take a look at what's going on," Mickelson said.

Jeff Overton, Brendan Steele and Russell Knox, who lost in a four-man playoff last year at PGA National, also were at 4 under.

Poulter was right about one thing. He did play some good golf, except for those two holes. He was bogey-free for a 66 in the third round, taking him from a two-shot deficit to a three-shot lead over Reed and Padraig Harrington going into the final round. It was his first 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

Harrington twice missed short putts - making bogey on No. 4 and double bogey on No. 6 - and was at 3 under.

Poulter at least was pleased with how he left the course with that 6-iron for birdie. He will try to end more than two years without a victory.

"Silly things happen," he said. "Tiring, and made a couple of really bad swings on 5 and 6. But that kind of angered me inside enough to spark a little bit of energy there to hit a good shot on 7."

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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.