Rose wins Quicken Loans in playoff over Stefani

By Doug FergusonJune 29, 2014, 11:04 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Justin Rose has won enough times on the strongest golf courses to appreciate how one mistake can make a difference.

He got away with one Sunday at Congressional to win the Quicken Loans National.

Shawn Stefani did not.

With the poise and the putting touch of a U.S. Open champion, Rose atoned for a 4-iron he hit into the water on the 18th hole to make a 15-foot bogey putt that got him into a playoff and gave him new life. On the 18th hole in the playoff, Stefani hit the same type of shot that rolled into the same pond left of the green.

There are no second chances in a sudden-death playoff.

Rose won with a par on the first extra hole for his first victory since the U.S. Open last summer at Merion. This one required about as much work, with Congressional far more difficult and unrelenting than when it hosted a soggy U.S. Open three years ago.

''Congressional got its reputation back after the U.S. Open,'' Rose said. ''I really enjoy this type of golf and this type of test. I think it tested all of us. I'm delighted.''


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The Englishman was far from delighted after thinking he had thrown this one away.

Tied for the lead as he played the 18th, Rose tried to squeeze a 4-iron through a tiny gap in the trees from 209 yards away, playing toward the right side of the green for a chance at par. Instead, he turned it over and realized when he jogged toward the fairway that it was headed for the water.

His caddie, Mark Fulcher, told Rose that Stefani had just made bogey behind them on the 17th.

''Everything else was forgotten at that point,'' Rose said. ''I wiped the slate clean and just focused on my putt on 18. An amazing feeling in any sort of championship when you make a putt like that. That means something. That's special.

''And then the playoff, it was just up to me to not do what I did the first time around.''

He left that to Stefani, who had drilled his tee shot in regulation and narrowly missed a 20-foot birdie putt for his first PGA Tour victory. In the playoff, Stefani pulled his tee shot in the trees and got relief from grandstands blocking his view of the green. He chose a 6-iron to punch it around the trees.

''The grass closed the club down,'' Stefani said, ''and it went left into the water. I was trying to play it down the right side and have a chance at a putt, two putts for a par. That's the way it goes. It was great to have a chance to win.''

Both closed with a 1-under 70 and finished at 4-under 280 on a course that looked like a U.S. Open, and played like one the way so many contenders - seven players had at least a share of the lead at one point - tumbled down the leaderboard.

Only six players broke par in the final round. And it was only the second time this year that the winning score was higher than the 36-hole lead (6 under). That also happened at Torrey Pines, which like Congressional, previously hosted a U.S. Open.

No one crashed harder than Patrick Reed, who had a two-shot lead to start the final round, still had a two-shot lead at the turn and didn't even finish in the top 10. He made back-to-back double bogeys, shot 41 on the back and closed with a 77 to tie for 11th.

''This definitely burns and definitely gets me more fired up for more events coming up,'' Reed said.

Even though he got a reprieve with the clutch bogey putt, Rose looked like a U.S. Open champion the way he put himself into position. He hit 5-iron to 5 feet for one of only four birdies on the 11th hole Sunday. Staring at potential bogey from deep rough on the 14th, he boldly hit 3-wood up the hill and between the deep bunkers to the middle of the green. It was a par, but Rose called the 3-wood his ''shot of the day.''

And before his blunder on the 18th, he holed an 8-foot sliding par putt on the 17th.

''I felt like all aspects of my game were tested this week, and it's really nice to win in that fashion,'' Rose said.

Stefani, whose only major experience was at Merion last year, plodded along like a U.S. Open veteran with one par after another. He joined Rose in the lead with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th.

So many others fell back.

Brendon Todd was tied for the lead until a double bogey in the water on the 10th. Marc Leishman three-putted for bogey on No. 7 and made bogey on the easiest par 4 at Congressional. Brendan Steele made a late rally, only to take on too much from the rough on the 18th and find the water for double bogey.

This was the first British Open qualifier on the PGA Tour - the leading four players not already exempt from the top 12 at Congressional get into Royal Liverpool next month.

Stefani earned one spot as the runner-up. Charley Hoffman (69) and Ben Martin (71) each birdied two of the last three holes to tie for third. Steele got the last spot with a 71 that put him in a three-way tie for third with Andres Romero and Todd, who already is exempt. Steele earned the spot over Romero because he has a higher world ranking. Romero closed with a 68, the low score in a final round when the scoring average was 73.7.

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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

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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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."