Spieth, Kaymer share Players lead after 54 holes

By Doug FergusonMay 10, 2014, 10:19 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Jordan Spieth repeatedly pumped his fist when his 12-foot par putt dropped into cup on the final hole, a clutch moment worthy of celebration for two reasons. It gave him a third straight bogey-free round at The Players Championship and a share of the lead Saturday with Martin Kaymer.

Spieth was even more impressive when he got into trouble off the tee late in a demanding round. The 20-year-old Texan missed his last four fairways and saved par each time, giving him a 1-under 71 in increasingly tougher conditions at the TPC Sawgrass.

Not since Greg Norman won The Players in 1994 has anyone played the opening three rounds without a bogey.

Kaymer held his own for much of the warm, blustery afternoon. He had a two-shot lead at the turn, but failed to take advantage of the par 5s on the back nine. He missed a par putt from just inside 10 feet on the 18th hole for an even-par 72.

They were at 12-under 204, three shots ahead of former Players winner Sergio Garcia (69) and John Senden (68).


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The final twosome of Spieth and Kaymer combined for two bogeys, three birdies and 31 pars, not the kind of golf one expects to see on a course that provides so much theater. In firmer conditions, it was a solid brand of golf by both.

Spieth has shown no letdown since his runner-up finish at the Masters a month ago. He will have a chance to become the youngest winner of The Players, and it won't be unfamiliar territory. Along with his strong play at Augusta National, he has been in the hunt at three other tournaments this year.

But the final hour was the most challenging for him.

Spieth was so far right on the 14th hole that he was closer to the 12th fairway. Unable to see the last 200 yards of the 14th hole, he ripped a hybrid off a slope and sprinted up the hill to find it about pin-high in a bunker. He feared for the worst when his wedge sailed over the green on the par-5 16th, but it bounced softly enough that it didn't go in the water, and he hit a superb chip to about 4 feet.

And on the 18th, he punched out of the rough between two trees to about 55 yards, played a pitch that ran through the green and just onto the fringe, and holed it for par.

''I was all over the place,'' Spieth said. ''In order to win, I'm going to have to drive the ball better. Today I got the breaks, got the bounces, and made the 3- and 4-footers to stay alive. I'm not going to be able to keep doing that.''

Kaymer three-putted from the fringe on No. 4 on a difficult putt from 30 feet. He bounced back with a 15-foot birdie on No. 7 and an up-and-down from the back bunker to a back pin on the par-5 ninth to build a two-shot lead.

But the 29-year-old German missed two birdie chances on the par 5s. He was on the back of the green, 80 feet away, for eagle on No. 11 and left his putt some 10 feet short. He three-putted for par. From a collection area just left of the 16th green, he tried a full flop shot over a pot bunker and it came out too soft and into the shaggy grass framing the sand. Kaymer did well to save par.

Even so, he was tied for the lead. For a former world No. 1 who has gone winless for more than two years, the view wasn't too bad.

Sizing up Sunday, he figured it would be important to take advantage of the par 5s ''and then stay cool and calm on 17 and 18th.''

''It's very important that you enjoy the day,'' Kaymer said. ''It's a rare opportunity that you're in the leading group one of the biggest tournaments we play all year.''

At stake is a $1.8 million payoff, a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and a three-year exemption to the Masters and British Open.

This course gets tougher on the weekend, though, especially on Sunday. And there were still plenty of players poised to either make a run or be waiting if either of the leaders slips up.

Garcia turned a birdie chance into a bogey on the 17th hole by missing a short putt. He did enough right in his round of 69 that he will have another chance to experience the thrills on the back nine of Sawgrass. Along with winning in 2008, he was tied for the lead going to the 17th hole last year until hitting three balls in the water the rest of the way as Tiger Woods went on to win.

Senden won at Innisbrook earlier in the year and played the par 5s in 5 under, including an eagle at No. 9.

Justin Rose was in the group at 7-under 209 until it was determined after his round that his ball moved slightly before he chipped it on the 18th. That turned his par into a double bogey and he wound up seven shots behind.

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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

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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.