Presidents Cup goes the distance; U.S. prevails

By Doug FergusonOctober 11, 2015, 8:01 am

INCHEON, South Korea - Bill Haas delivered the winning point to his team and to his father Sunday in a Presidents Cup that ended with a familiar result amid tension not felt in years.

The Americans won for the sixth straight time, 15 ½ to 14 ½, only this one came down to the final match.

And the emotion was never stronger - on both sides.

U.S. captain Jay Haas made his son one of two wild-card selections, and he put him out in the last of 12 singles matches at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea against the local star, Sangmoon Bae, playing in his final event before he starts his mandatory military service in South Korea.

Bae did everything he could to give the International team a chance by holing a 10-foot putt on the 16th to stay 1 down and nearly holing a bunker shot on the 17th for par to extend the match. Needing to win the par-5 18th to share the cup, Bae stubbed his chip short of the green. As the ball rolled back down the slope, Bae sank to his knees and covered his eyes as caddie Matt Minister consoled him.

Haas blasted out of a bunker to 6 feet, and Bae conceded the birdie putt.

Haas choked back emotion and then chided himself for doing so. ''It's just golf,'' he said. Jay Haas couldn't even get started before his voice cracked during a TV interview. He treated his son like one of the 12 Americans all week, but this moment suddenly turned special.

''When we put him out 12th, I had no idea, obviously, that was going to happen,'' the captain said. ''But he played beautiful.''

Haas wasn't the only star.

The biggest putt belonged to Chris Kirk, the only American who had never played in a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup, especially because of the shocking turnaround in the match and in deciding who won the gold trophy. Kirk was all square with Anirban Lahiri of India, both just short of the 18th green. Kirk hit his pitch too hard and it went 15 feet by the cup, while Lahiri played his shot with perfect pace to 4 feet.

Given the status of the other matches on the course, it looked like an International victory. But only briefly.

Kirk, as stoic as they come on the PGA Tour, slammed his fist down when his putt took one last turn and dropped into the cup. It looked as though they would halve the match until Lahiri's birdie putt hit the right side of the cup and spun out, and he let his putter fall over his back in disbelief.

It was like that all day. Seven of the 12 matches went the distance.

Branden Grace joined Shigeki Maruyama (1998) as the only International player to go 5-0 by easily beating Matt Kuchar. Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson each completed unbeaten weeks for the Americans, and Adam Scott got his putter going in the shortest match of the day, 6 and 5, over Rickie Fowler.

The Americans never looked like they were going to lose for so much of the day. And when it looked like they were in trouble, it turned on two putts. The International team twice turned late deficits into victories on the 18th hole - Marc Leishman beat Jordan Spieth, and Hideki Matsuyama took down J.B. Holmes.

There also were two key half-points.

Louis Oosthuizen hit his approach to 12 feet for the only eagle on the 18th hole to halve with Patrick Reed. The biggest shot was Thongchai Jaidee, who hit into the water on the 18th hole and still halved the hole, and the match, when Bubba Watson missed a 5-foot putt.

But the Americans, who started the day with a one-point lead, won the two matches that mattered.

The International team still has won the gold trophy just one time, at Royal Melbourne in 1998, but a change to fewer matches (30 instead of 34) contributed to making this Presidents Cup the closest in 10 years.

''I don't think it could have got a whole lot more exciting than that,'' International captain Nick Price said. ''I can't tell you what it's like to bring eight countries together, six different languages, different cultures. ... They bonded, and I tell you what, I'm so proud.

''Irrelevant [sic] of the outcome - we obviously would have loved to have won - we put on a show of golf this week.''

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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.