Walker (65) leads by 1 at Baltusrol

By Doug FergusonJuly 29, 2016, 1:33 am

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. - A drab year for Jimmy Walker took a turn for the worse two weeks ago at The Open, when he stayed in what was dubbed the ''frat house'' at Royal Troon with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

Walker was the only one to miss the cut.

He still stayed the weekend. He just stayed away from the golf course, and his clubs. How does one kill time in such a small Scottish town?

''When the first guy comes back and he's ready for a cocktail, you have one,'' Walker said.

Thursday in the PGA Championship, the drinks were on Walker.

In the final major of the year, Walker finally saw enough putts to fall at Baltusrol that he matched his low score in a major with a 5-under 65 and wound up leading a major for the first time in his career.

Just like that, a stale year came to life.

Walker had a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, Emiliano Grillo and Ross Fisher.

And for Henrik Stenson, a great year might get even better. Coming off his record performance at The Open, the Swede had three birdies on the back nine as the sweltering heat gave way to dark clouds and 20 mph gusts. That gave him a 67, leaving him two shots behind. Stenson is trying to join Ben Hogan in 1953 as the only players to win back-to-back majors at age 40.

''It's going to be a great season for me,'' Stenson said. ''But at the same time, I want to give myself a chance to try to make it the best season.''

It wasn't the best of times for Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy.

Johnson, the U.S. Open champion with a chance to go to No. 1 in the world, was in the trees, in the water and couldn't get out of a bunker. He managed only one birdie in a round of 77 that wasn't enough to beat 15 of the club pros at Baltusrol.


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He wasn't alone in his misery. McIlroy took 35 putts and didn't make a single birdie in his round of 74 that left him so frustrated that he returned to Baltusrol late in the day with only his putter.

Walker's year has been so mediocre that he has finished within five shots of the winner only once this year, at Torrey Pines. He is on the verge of falling out of the top 50 in the world ranking and hasn't given as much thought to the Ryder Cup with qualifying a month away from ending.

''I feel like all year it's just been real stale and stagnant,'' Walker said. ''It's just ebbs and flows of golf. Just haven't been scoring. ... It's frustrating. I would have loved to have had a better year than I've had so far to this point, but I know there's always time to play well at the end of the year.''

Kaymer had the best score in the afternoon, when the blend of poa annua and bent grass on the Baltusrol greens became a little more difficult to navigate.

Baltusrol still allowed for good scoring. Twenty players were at 68 or better, a list that included defending champion Jason Day.

Day played in the morning group with McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, and he was the only player without much stress. Mickelson, just 11 days after that magnificent duel with Stenson at Royal Troon, was 4 over through 11 holes when he rallied with a trio of birdies late in his round to salvage a 71.

''It's not the start I wanted. It's not indicative of how I'm playing,'' he said. ''But I'm back to where tomorrow, if I play the way I've been playing, I should be OK.''

Jordan Spieth only regretted one hole, the par-4 seventh, when he lost his ball so far to the right he had to chip back into thick rough and wound up three-putting for a double bogey. That was his lone mistake. He rolled in big putts on the 15th for par and 16th for birdie and closed with a two-putt birdie to get back to even-par 70.

Grillo had a chance to at least join Walker in the lead when he was at 4 under with the final two holes, both par 5s. He made par on both. Fisher made birdie on the two closing par 5s for his 66. Kaymer started his afternoon round on the back nine and kept it together with two pars, including a 35-yard bunker shot on No. 8 to within 3 feet.

''There's nothing easy on the golf course today,'' Kaymer said. ''I just didn't miss many fairways and therefore, you can create some birdie chances. But at the end of the day you still need to make the putts.''

Walker kept the ball in play off the tee until late in his round, and he was particularly sharp with his scrambling out by getting up and down six times.

''I'm a good putter,'' Walker said. ''Like good shooters, just keep shooting. I'm just going to keep putting, and they're going to start going in.''

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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.