Rahm builds two-shot lead; Phil three back in Boston

By Doug FergusonSeptember 2, 2017, 11:39 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Jon Rahm accomplished so much so quickly that he began to wonder what else was left for him to achieve in his first full year on the PGA Tour.

He now has 10 million reasons to play his best golf.

Already very much in the hunt for the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus, Rahm took another step Saturday when he made an eagle and five birdies over his last 10 holes for a 5-under 66 and a two-shot lead at the halfway point of the Dell Technologies Championship.

Rahm already has a short history of strong finishes in his first trip to the TPC Boston.

One day after he birdied four of his last five holes, he made a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th and then shot 31 on the front nine to reach 9-under 133.

No one could catch him in the afternoon, least of all Dustin Johnson.

Johnson, the world's No. 1 player who had a one-shot lead going into the second round, had a pair of double bogeys after a quick start and needed a birdie on the 18th hole to keep from falling further behind. Johnson shot a 72 and was five shots behind.

It's already been an amazing year for Rahm. The 22-year-old Spaniard was No. 137 at the start of the year. Now he's at No. 5. His two main goals were to get to East Lake for the Tour Championship and win a tournament.

Check. Check.


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But after a runner-up at Colonial, he has missed the cut twice and finished out of the top 25 in three other PGA Tour starts.

''It's probably because I got to the point where I had accomplished so much more than I had set myself to in the beginning of the year that I felt like there was nothing else to do,'' he said. ''It made me complacent of what I had accomplished all year. I didn't play with the same intensity. I really didn't have a goal.

''It's taken me two months to realize what I've done, and hopefully I can keep surprising myself.''

Paul Casey, who played in the final group last year until Rory McIlroy ran him down, had a 65 and was two shots off the lead along with Adam Hadwin (65), Kevin Streelman (65) and Kyle Stanley (68). Streelman is at No. 90 in the FedEx Cup, and only the top 70 after the Labor Day finish advance to the third playoff event in two weeks outside Chicago.

Rahm was only part of a cool, calm day that left a large crowd entertained, and at times surprised.

Lucas Glover (No. 16) and Grayson Murray (No. 8) each made a hole-in-one that the PGA Tour estimated were 65 seconds apart. Phil Mickelson dropped only one shot on his way to a 67. He was just three shots off the lead at 6-under 136, his best 36-hole score since the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. Jordan Spieth also turned around his fortunes. Despite missing a pair of birdies inside 7 feet, Spieth still shot a 65 and was in the group four shots behind.

Spieth attributed his slow start in the opening round Friday to waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

''For me, it was just a matter of just stop being cranky,'' Spieth said. ''I don't know what to tell you. I was getting more made at bad breaks than you should. It was a bad day at the office yesterday and a really good one today. I'm going to need two really good ones again. But to be within four shots after yesterday's round is a tremendous accomplishment.''

McIlroy, meanwhile, was headed home after missing the cut as the defending champion for only the second time in his career. McIlroy also missed the cut as defending champion in the 2012 U.S. Open.

McIlroy will still advance to the BMW Championship, though he will need a top finish to get to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

That's no longer a concern for Rahm. He is No. 5 in the FedEx Cup, already assured of going the distance. He won at Torrey Pines in January. He even won his first European Tour title at the Irish Open.

And he now has a very clear goal over the next few weeks.

''I think we all have the same goal in the next few weeks, which is the FedEx Cup,'' he said with a smile.

He still has a long way ahead of him at the TPC Boston. Twenty players were within five shots of the lead with two rounds to go, and players were bracing for a Sunday of wet weather. The tee times were moved back and will be played in threesomes because of the forecast.

The cut was at 3-over 145, which spared the likes of Bubba Watson, who is at No. 72 in the standings. Watson missed a 3-foot par putt on the par-5 18th hole and figured he would miss the cut until Patrick Rodgers hit into the junk on the 18th hole, had to take a penalty drop and made bogey.

Adam Scott wasn't so fortunate. He came up short of the 18th with a sand wedge and missed a 6-foot par putt, giving him a 75. He wound up missing the cut by one shot after flying in from Australia to try to extend his season.

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


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''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''