Walker (62) takes Sony Open lead

By Doug FergusonJanuary 18, 2015, 3:32 am

HONOLULU - Defending champion Jimmy Walker one-putted his last 11 holes Saturday on his way to an 8-under 62, giving him a two-shot lead in the Sony Open and a chance to become the first back-to-back winner since 2004.

On a day in which six players had at least a share of the lead at some point, Walker began his surge with a wedge to 5 feet on the eighth hole. He twice saved par, escaped with a bogey after two shots from a plugged lie in a bunker on the 17th and made birdie everywhere else.

It was reminiscent of his final round at Waialae a year ago when he raced past a crowded field with key putts. That gave him a victory. This only gave him a chance to become the first repeat winner of the Sony Open since Ernie Els.

Matt Kuchar, one of three players tied for the lead at the start of Saturday, birdied two of his last three holes for a 68 and was two shots behind.

Walker was at 16-under 194, and he knows as well as anyone that this tournament is just getting started.


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''Somebody is shooting a low round every day, and you never know where it's going to come from,'' Walker said. ''So you've got to go out with the expectation you've got to shoot a good score tomorrow.''

Without the strong wind typical of this tournament, there has been a score of at least 62 every round. That led Kuchar to say that anyone within six shots of the lead is still a threat.

If that's the case, this could very much be up for grabs.

Brian Harman (64) and Troy Merritt (67) were three shots behind, while Tim Clark (68) and Justin Thomas (70) were another shot behind.

Thomas, 21, playing in the final group on the weekend for the first time, twice made key putts to turn double bogeys into only bogeys. He was tied for the lead through 12 holes until going well long on the 13th and scratching out a bogey, then dropping another shot on the 16th before closing with a birdie.

Max Homa, a former NCAA champion from Cal, had a 63 and was five shots behind.

Walker, however, has been steady and good during his two-week stay in paradise. This was his 17th consecutive round in the 60s in the Aloha State, and he was tied for the 54-hole lead last week at Kapalua in the Tournament of Champions before losing to Patrick Reed in a playoff.

Walker said the loss stung, though he was helped by the short turnaround. And playing good golf puts last week even further in the past.

Even so, he thought he was losing ground when he was only 1 under par for the day going to the eighth hole. He made his birdie at No. 8 and turned to caddie Andy Sanders and said, ''Let's get going.'' And they did.

The key putt was a 12-footer at the par-5 ninth to keep his momentum, and a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th. Just like that, he was back in the game, and Walker poured it on from there. Only after a tap-in birdie at the 15th did it dawn on him that he had been making a lot of putts.

''I kind of went back through it and I counted eight (one-putts), and then when I hit it up on the green on 16 I thought, 'This is going to be a tough one to keep the streak going,''' Walker said.

From 30 feet, the putt was in the center of the cup.

Walker stretched his lead to as many as four shots until he caught a plugged lie in the bunker on the 17th, took two to get out, and then made a 5-foot bogey putt. He escaped trouble from a palm tree on the par-5 18th hole, hit his third shot from 210 yards into 10 feet and finished in style.

Webb Simpson, who joined Kuchar and Thomas atop the leaderboard through 36 holes, finally struggled to make putts and shot 72 to fall six shots behind.

Kuchar three-putted the seventh green for bogey to fall to 1 over on his round, and that was the last shot he dropped. He didn't make enough birdies to get back into the lead, but he made enough to at least give himself a chance.

DIVOTS: David Hearn made a 10-foot birdie putt on his last hole that knocked five players out of the 54-hole cut. Seventy players made the Saturday cut at 3-under 207, a group that did not include 16-year-old Kyle Suppa, a junior at Punahou School. Suppa shot 71 and missed by two shots. ... Justin Thomas was given relief from the out-of-bounds fence left of the ninth fairway. Because it's a temporary fence - large net that can blow into a player's swing - the tour staff allowed for relief this week. ... Thomas is the only player within four shots of the lead who has not broken par in every round.

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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.


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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.”


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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.


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''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.


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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.