Strickers costly mud ball Perrys collapse

By Doug FergusonSeptember 28, 2009, 4:27 am

THE TOUR Championship by Coke 2007 Logo

ATLANTA – Steve Stricker had a shot at $10 million. A muddy ball ruined his hopes.

Stricker was briefly atop the FedEx Cup standings Sunday during an ever-changing final round of the Tour Championship, but an unfortunate tee shot at the 16th hole led to a crushing bogey.

“Overall, it was a good day,” he said. “I gave it a good try until catching a mud ball.”

East Lake Golf Club was pounded by heavy rains shortly after the third round ended, and there were still plenty of damp spots on a warm, sunny final day. Stricker’s 280-yard tee shot at the 16th rolled through some mud, making his next shot difficult to control.

From 211 yards, he flew the ball far left of the hole, plopping down in a thick patch of rough. He failed to get up and-and-down from there, taking a bogey-5 that handed the FedEx Cup lead back to Tiger Woods. The world’s No. 1 player held it the rest of the way to capture the biggest payday in golf.

“I knew (the second shot) was going left, I just didn’t know how much and it’s tough to aim it over in the bleachers somewhere,” Stricker said. “It just took off and went over there.”

He pitched past the flag with his fourth shot, the ball rolling to a stop in the first cut of rough. His par save from 18 feet wasn’t even close, coming up about 3 feet short.

The bad break stymied Stricker’s momentum. Knowing he probably needed to close with a pair of birdies, he got too aggressive with a long putt at the next hole and ran it 9 feet past the cup. He missed the comebacker for his second straight bogey.

Stricker finished with a 1-under 69 that left him sixth in the tournament and third in the final FedEx Cup standings, good enough for a $2 million bonus.

Not bad, but not $10 million.

“It was a good run,” said Stricker, who won at Boston and tied for second in New York during the season-ending playoff. “I was confident. I was swinging aggressively at it, and things were going good.”

KENNY’S KOLLAPSE: The tee shot behind a tree. The next shot rolling up next to a fence. Not even holing out from the rough could save Kenny Perry’s final round at the Tour Championship.

The 49-year-old Kentuckian teed off Sunday at East Lake with a two-stroke lead, and it looked like it was going to be his day when he rolled in a 28-foot birdie putt at the second hole to extend his advantage.

It was all downhill from there.

Plagued by shaky iron play, Perry bogeyed four of the next nine holes and spent much of his time hitting from bunkers and rough. Any hope of pulling it together ended at the 13th, where Perry pushed his tee shot behind a tree, forcing him to take a drop and a one-stroke penalty.

He blasted his next shot over the green, the ball stopping against a fence. He was able to take relief, but still found himself hitting his fourth shot from a natural area almost 40 yards from the pin. Now in full freefall, he chunked his next swing and only made it to the rough.

OK, so he holed out from about 30 feet away, but that was of little consolation. On the scorecard, it was a double bogey.

Perry finished with a 4-over 74 and wound tied for fourth, five shots behind winner Phil Mickelson.

CREDIT TO THE CADDIE: Maybe Phil Mickelson should give a bigger chunk of his Tour Championship winnings to longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay.

Turns out, it was Mackay who urged Lefty to get a few putting tips last week from Dave Stockton, the former PGA champion renowned for his advice on the greens.

“I said, ‘Bones, I’ve been kind of floundering here, not having the right direction. I want you to think about it,”’ Mickelson said. “He came back the next day and he said, ‘I think you should call Dave Stockton. You guys putt the same. You’ve talked to him in the past and he had some great ideas.”’

Stockton was at Torrey Pines last week for an LPGA event, and Mickelson set up a meeting. The result: Lefty was persuaded to go back to a style he and Stockton both find more comfortable, in which the hands are pressed slightly forward ahead of the club and the stance is slightly wider than conventional wisdom.

“He was the first one to articulate (about) my hands getting ahead,” Mickelson said. “Other guys can putt other ways, but this is the best way to putt. Once he said that, I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right, I’ve always believed that.’ So I went back to it, and it’s been like a night and day difference for me.”

PADDY’S STRONG FINISH: Padraig Harrington came on strong at the end of the PGA Tour season, finishing in the top 10 at his last six events.

Not that he’s ready to celebrate.

“To be honest, I don’t count top 10s anymore,” said Harrington, a three-time major champion. “I’m only interested in wins.”

Still, the Irishman has reason to be hopeful for 2010. His tour year started dismally with six missed cuts and no finish higher than 11th. But he tied for second at Firestone, tied for 10th at the PGA Championship and finished no lower than sixth in the four FedEx Cup playoff events.

Harrington shot a 69 Sunday to tie for fourth.

DIVOTS: Ernie Els nearly made a hole-in-one at the sixth hole. He knocked his tee shot over the water, caught the left edge of the green and watched the ball funnel right down to the hole. It lipped out, leaving him with a tap-in birdie. … Tiger Woods wrapped up his eighth Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour. His season average is at 68.05 after a runner-up showing in the Tour Championship, leaving him with an unsurpassable lead over Steve Stricker (69.29).

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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 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.


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.