Snedeker, Choi share lead; Woods 3 back

By Doug FergusonJanuary 25, 2013, 2:56 am

SAN DIEGO – One week after he began his year by missing the cut, Tiger Woods didn't notice a big difference in his game.

It was everything else about the opening round at Torrey Pines that changed. Relatively calm conditions. Rough that didn't cover the top of his shoes. A course that has been good to him since he was a teenager. And despite his putter not cooperating at the end of his round, a 4-under 68 on his scorecard.

Woods was on the verge of joining defending champion Brandt Snedeker and K.J. Choi atop the leaderboard Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open until missing three straight putts inside 12 feet late in his round.


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Snedeker was bogey-free on the North Course for a 65. Choi birdied three of his last four holes on the tougher South Course for his 65.

Woods, a seven-time champion at Torrey Pines, at least got off the South Course without further damage when he had to lay up on the par-5 18th hole, hit wedge over the green and into a bunker and made a 6-foot putt for par.

''Last week's conditions were a lot more difficult and the fairways were narrow and the wind was howling,'' Woods said. ''I felt like I was doing a lot of good things right last week - unfortunately, only for a few days, but doing a lot of good things right. And I came out here today and basically did the same thing.''

Woods three-putted for double bogey on the fourth hole, though he knew he had a pair of par 5s to make up ground. He did that, and more. He made a 12-footer for birdie, an eagle by holing a bunker shot on the par-5 sixth, and birdie putts on the eighth and ninth holes to get back into the game.

''I made a few mistakes out there, but I made some nice plays as well,'' Woods said.

Phil Mickelson had quite the taxing day with a 72 on the North, which played about 1 1/2 strokes easier than the course that hosted the U.S. Open in 2008.

Snedeker already is developing quite the love affair with this municipal course along the Pacific Bluffs. As a rookie, he was 10 under through 10 holes and had to settle for a 61 on the North Course. He finished third that year. Then, he rallied from seven shots behind in the final round, got into a playoff when Kyle Stanley made triple bogey on the 18th and won on the second playoff hole.

One year later, he was right back at it.

''It's funny, you look at all the golf courses I should play well on, this should not be one of them,'' Snedeker said. ''This is a long, difficult golf course with lots of rough and hitting a lot of iron shots. My strength is driving and putting, so it doesn't really add up well around here. But for some reason, it's been good to me.''

It was even more of a mystery for Choi.

He is not a regular at Torrey Pines and decided not to come last year until he heard from his host family in San Diego that the South Korean community wanted to see him play. Choi put on quite a show. He finally got some height and spin into shots while warming up on the range, and he converted that into the best round on the South.

He ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine - he started on No. 10 - and no shot was more pleasing than a wedge into a light crosswind on the 15th hole that settled inches from the cup.

''Best shot ever on the South Course – ever,'' he said, grinning.

Of the eight players at 66, only Josh Teater posted his on the South Course. Of the PGA Tour events that use multiple courses, few of them are as different as the South and North at Torrey Pines, although the difference in scoring average has been greater in recent years.

Charles Howell III summed it up best after his 66 on the North.

''The real one is tomorrow,'' Howell said.

Howell lost in a playoff last week in the Humana Challenge, and he started his season with a tie for third at the Sony Open. Whatever disappointment he felt in the California desert, he was able to shake off quickly. And he wasn't alone.

Scott Stallings lost a five-shot lead in the Humana Challenge and bogeyed the par-5 closing hole to miss the playoff. He bounced back with a 66.

And there was Woods.

He started his season by missing the cut in Abu Dhabi when he was docked two shots at the end of his round for a rules violation on the fifth hole. He was on more comfortable territory at Torrey Pines, though he says he didn't hit the ball much differently.

He missed birdie putts of 8, 15 and 12 feet on the back nine, along with two par putts from inside 8 feet.

Woods now goes to the North Course to figure out where he is before anyone can get a true sense of how this tournament is shaping up.

''I think he's won here more times than I've won on Tour, so I think he knows the place pretty well,'' Snedeker said. ''I think he's very similar to me. He loves putting on these greens. ... We've got three more days to go. There's 155 guys I'm still worried about besides him, so we have a lot more guys to worry about.''

Woods played with Rickie Fowler, who had a 77 and was tied for last place.

Mike Weir was among those who had a 66 on the North Course and appeared to be in great shape to make his first cut since 2011.

Mickelson's 72 felt even higher considering he was playing with Snedeker, who was firing at flags and holing his putts. A three-time winner at Torrey Pines, his week began with comments about the amount of taxes he is paying in California, followed by two rounds of apologies for not keeping his opinions to himself.

That wasn't a problem for him Thursday.

''I've been playing better than this, and there's no excuses,'' Mickelson said. ''I've got to get my head a little bit more focused on the shots, and I haven't been as focused starting out. Hopefully, I'll be able to turn that around tomorrow and start a little bit more effectively in the future.''


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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.