Ryder Cuppers get back to business

By Doug FergusonOctober 10, 2014, 3:19 am

NAPA, Calif. - The new PGA Tour season felt like an old one to a trio of Ryder Cup players Thursday at the Frys.com Open.

Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker met on the 10th tee at Silverado. With a morning chill in the air and beautiful scenery of Napa Valley, it was vaguely similar to the rolling hills of Gleneagles just two weeks ago at the Ryder Cup.

Except that no one was singing. There was hardly anyone in the grandstand, or on the golf course.

''It's a little strange off the tee when no one is really here at 7:45,'' Mahan said after opening with a 2-under 70, leaving him four shots out of the lead. ''And out there at 7, everyone is singing along and the party is already started.''

It was back to normal for those three Americans, along with Lee Westwood of England, who made two late birdies to salvage a 73.

And it was another chance for Andres Gonzales, who made it back to the PGA Tour for the third time. He has yet to keep his card, and while this was only the first round of the new wraparound season, he was plenty happy with no bogeys on his card and a 6-under 66.

Sang-Moon Bae made seven birdies in the afternoon and joined Gonzales at 66. They were a shot ahead of Martin Laird. Brooks Koepka was in a large group at 68.

The star attraction at the Frys.com Open was the Ryder Cup trio, and there were about 500 people tagging along by the end of their round. The par-5 ninth summed up the round for each of them.

Mahan lagged perfectly from 75 feet for a two-putt birdie. Kuchar showed off a sharp short game, and his pitch from short of the green struck the pin and settled about a foot away. He shot 71. Walker thought his full wedge was perfect until it took a hard hop and landed in a gnarly spot in the rough, leading to a bogey and a 75.

Most of them would have preferred at least another week off. 

Walker is defending a title for the first time in his career. Mahan and Kuchar are at the Frys.com Open as part of a deal with the PGA Tour for letting them play an exhibition in Turkey two years ago. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy also were supposed to play this year until they deferred, McIlroy because he was wiped out from a busy summer of winning back-to-back majors, Woods while he tries to regain his explosiveness from back surgery earlier in the year.

The Tour is in its second year of a wraparound season that starts in October and ends with the Tour Championship in September, and it's still hard to digest that everyone is starting over at Silverado.

''It's already a new year and Santa hasn't even come yet,'' Stuart Appleby said after a 69. ''I've just had a month off. I don't know what happened to it, where it went.''

Mahan knows the feeling better than anyone. This is his 10th event in the last 13 weeks, dating to the British Open. He did not play the Wyndham Championship, and he had a week off before and after the Ryder Cup.


Frys.com Open: Articles, videos and photos


''I haven't taken more than five days off,'' Mahan said. ''It's always weird to say, 'Five days off' because people work for a living. I thought I was going to play really, really good. And then I was playing yesterday and it was like, 'Oh my god, I can't read another putt. I'm so tired of it.' But I feel good about coming in here and putting my energy in the right place.''

The Tour put the three American Ryder Cup players together, and it felt like old times when Andy Sanders, Walker's caddie, wore a Ryder Cup jacket to fight the chill.

''We were giving him a hard time for not letting it go,'' Kuchar said.

In some ways, it was therapeutic to get back on the course, even though it was a change from playing before a gallery that stood 10-deep along the fairways to a gallery that could see across several fairways.

Kuchar compared it with going from the Masters to Hilton Head.

He played his first Ryder Cup in 2010 at Wales, and he teed it up at the McGladrey Classic three days after he got home.

''I found it nice to get back out and play and be able to move on,'' he said.

It was a little easier to move on considering that the Ryder Cup wasn't terribly close. Europe built a 10-6 lead going into the final day at Gleneagles, and while there was an early surge of American red on the board, the outcome was never really in doubt.

Walker kept pace with his teammates until he missed a variety of putts - a 5-footer for birdie that he barely tapped, a 15-footer that defied gravity on the right edge of the cup and a 3-foot par putt that he missed on No. 5, perhaps distracted by the sound of the group ahead teeing off on the next hole when he struck his putt.

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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.