Spieth shares lead at Hero World Challenge

By Doug FergusonDecember 4, 2015, 10:18 pm

NASSAU, Bahamas – Jordan Spieth feels like he's on vacation in the Bahamas. On the golf course, he's all business.

Spieth rallied from a rugged start Friday with three straight birdies, and then a surge on the back nine carried him to a 6-under 66 and a share of the lead with Jimmy Walker and Bill Haas going into the weekend at the Hero World Challenge.

''The grind is still there,'' Spieth said.

He had to work hard just to keep pace on a calm, muggy afternoon is the islands, where the wind wasn't strong enough to blow out a match and it showed in the scoring. Rarely has this holiday event with an 18-man field featured so many players near the lead.

For one brief moment on the back nine, there was an eight-way tie for the lead.

Walker, who began working on a new move in his swing just over a week ago, drove the ball as well as he has all year on his way to a 67. Haas, who received one of the two sponsor exemptions to the tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, had a 66.

They were at 11-under 133.


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Patrick Reed (65), Chris Kirk (65) and Bubba Watson (67) were one shot behind.

Spieth is wrapping up a big year, and he seems intent on going out in style. He traveled from Sydney to the Bahamas (with a brief stop at home in Dallas to do laundry) and began his push up the leaderboard with an eagle on the par-5 11th hole from about 30 feet. He followed with two more birdies to get a share of the lead.

''It's still all about rest,'' Spieth said. ''Coming off how much golf we've been playing, I'm still going to be about making sure I'm resting. ... But on the golf course, I'm still getting as intense and upset and highs and lows that I experience at a normal PGA Tour event.''

Spieth also was at 11-under 133 a year ago in the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth in Florida. That was good for a two-shot lead, and a 63-66 weekend allowed him to win by 10 shots. This is far different. Half of the field was separated by only three shots.

''The scores are just really good, which makes for an exciting weekend, and I'm just happy to hold my own weight for two days,'' Haas said. ''I think if I shoot 11 under on the weekend, then I'll have a really good shot. Simple as that sounds, that's the way you've got to keep it. If I play well, I think I'll have a chance. But if I don't, there are so many players that are playing well, the best players in the world, I'll fall back pretty quickly if I don't.''

Walker went to see Butch Harmon at the start of last week in Las Vegas to start working on a move where his head moves at impact, which keeps him from having to rely so much on timing. It's coming together nicely - and quickly.

''Driving the golf ball today, I haven't had that much fun in a long time, to be honest,'' Walker said.

No one has been playing more than Reed, or more places. And he's been playing well. He has recorded top 10 finishes in five tournaments since the Tour Championship in Hong Kong, Malaysia, twice in Shanghai and Dubai. He's happy with his performance, though far from satisfied.

''I know to get to all my goals I need to get Ws,'' he said. ''Top 10s, top 5s aren't going to cut it where I need to get to. Those are good fill-in weeks, but we need to get in contention a little more. We need to close some tournaments off.''

Not everyone took advantage. Billy Horschel had eight birdies and no bogeys on his card, which ordinary would please him greatly - except that he took a double bogey on the par-3 second hole, and a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 11th hole without hitting into the water. He had a plugged lie under the lip of a bunker that he shanked into a bush, and his troubles ended with what he called a ''good putt for a 9.''

''This round today is very much how my year went,'' Horschel said with a grin.

Anirban Lahiri of India, who also received a sponsor exemption, was a little more exasperated. Lahiri felt as though he hit the ball well enough to be double digits under par. Instead, a double bogey on the 18th hole gave him a 70 and he was six shots behind. It felt worse.

''If my mom had putted, she would have shot 65,'' Lahiri said.

Justin Rose couldn't get home fast enough after his round of 72, which didn't take long because Albany is now his primary residence. That made it even more frustrating.

''You'd think I had never seen these greens before,'' Rose said.

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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.