Uihlein's remarkable journey on European Tour

By Doug FergusonMay 21, 2013, 10:20 pm

The quotation from the proud father was a version of Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous words, ''Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.''

The path of Peter Uihlein took him inside a cage below the surface of the Indian Ocean, where a Great White Shark with jaws wide open approached while closing in on a tuna. The jagged, triangular teeth gnashed at the tuna's head against the cage, and the former U.S. Amateur champion could see black eyes roll over to white.

''That was the coolest,'' Uihlein said. ''When I knew I was going to South Africa, that's the thing I've always wanted to do. We were in Mossel Bay. I was told it was a good cage dive, so we did it. We were out there for five hours. They chum up the water, and there were six or seven of them. It was incredible.''

Uihlein spoke on his way from Gatwick to Wentworth, a familiar path for the best on the European Tour.

The 23-year-old out of Oklahoma State earned a spot in the BMW PGA Championship with his two-shot victory Sunday in the Madeira Islands Open in Portugal, his first win since he turned pro in December 2011 and set off on a course where few Americans venture.

It started with the Gujarat Kensville Challenge in India.

In the last 18 months, he has been to Korea and Kazakhstan, Finland and France, the Czech Republic and Copenhagen.

Uihlein tried Q-School on the PGA Tour as an amateur and didn't get out of the second stage, leaving him no status on any tour. Most young Americans, especially with his pedigree as a U.S. Amateur champion and two-time Walker Cup player, would try to make the most out of sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour, or even try to work their way up through the Web.com Tour.

Looking at golf through a wide lens, and with the advice of those who see golf on a global landscape, Uihlein headed to Europe and beyond.

His father is Wally Uihlein, chief executive of Acushnet, which makes Titleist golf equipment. His agent is Chubby Chandler of International Sports Management, whose stable began with Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke and now includes a couple of South African stars in Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. He began working with Butch Harmon and his son, Claude Harmon III.

There were times when travel, failures and solitude could have made him question what he was doing so far from home.

''Based on the guys I have around me – Butch, Chubs, my dad – they've been doing this a long, long time,'' Uihlein said. ''If they say it's the right thing to do, who am I to question what they say? I had no doubts.''

Frustrations?

''Name me one golfer that doesn't get frustrated,'' he said with a laugh.

He says he is not the least bit envious of Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old from Texas who started out trying to make it through sponsor exemptions. Spieth was closing in on Web.com Tour status when he tied for second in the Puerto Rico Open and tied for seventh in the Tampa Bay Championship, which earned him unlimited exemptions on the PGA Tour. He now has locked up his card for 2014.

Two years ago, Bud Cauley left Alabama and earned his card without ever going to Q-school.

''Those guys played well with the opportunity, and that's what it's about,'' Uihlein said. ''To do what Spieth did, you have to be a great player, and you have to be ready to come out and play well in a few events. They both played great. But for every one or two of those guys, there are 20 who don't pull that off.''

Before there was a Hogan Tour – now called the Web.com Tour – it made more sense for players without a PGA Tour card to travel the world in search of a game. That's what Payne Stewart did. Corey Pavin spent his first year out of UCLA on the European Tour and won the German Open by beating Seve Ballesteros.

These days, the options range from the Web.com Tour, the eGolf Tour in North Carolina, the Hooters Tour in the South. Uihlein chose to travel to obscure outposts in golf, and even in some down times, there have been few regrets.

''It helps you grow up as a player and a person,'' he said. ''There are so many different variables every week. It's all about becoming a more well-rounded player, and not a one-dimensional player. You might hear someone say, 'Hilton Head sets up well for them.' I don't want that stereotype.''

Uihlein started slowly. He made only one cut in the five European Tour events he played – a tie for 57th in the Avantha Masters in India – but at least secured status on the Challenge Tour, which is Europe's version of the minor leagues.

It sounds exotic traveling the world, yet there were times when his confidence took a beating, just like any golfer. He withdrew from the Hassan Trophy after opening with an 83 and didn't play for nine weeks. Part of that time was spent with Harmon in Las Vegas.

Harmon said the problems were his driving and confidence, and one was easier to fix than the other.

''He's worked his butt off,'' Harmon said. ''The kid always has been able to play, he just lost his way a little bit. I've talked to Wally. We thought the European Tour was the way to go. Young kids get spoiled over here. You get over there, you play in bad conditions on different courses, and you appreciate it more. He's doing the right thing, and I'm real happy for him.''

With his win in Portugal, Uihlein now has a full European Tour card, which can only help get him to where he eventually wants to be, back home in America.

Even now, Uihlein is in no hurry. He is seeing the world. He is learning. He takes nothing for granted.

''If you're OK with being a little lonely out there, it's definitely the route,'' Uihlein said. ''It's a different route for an American, but I think you'll see it more and more.''

Uihlein started this year by playing seven straight weeks that took him from India to South Africa to Kenya and back to South Africa for two weeks, and then to Puerto Rico and Florida before taking a five-week break. He shares a home in South Florida with Brooks Koepka, who plays the Challenge Tour in Europe, and Matt Broome, a childhood friend who is playing the PGA Tour Latinoamerica.

''We have a house rule that whoever wins a tournament has to buy a jet ski,'' Uihlein said. ''Brooks won a Challenge Tour event a few weeks ago. So now we're going to have two jet skis at the house when I get home.''

And then he'll be back on the road again, leaving a trail.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.