Nirapathpongporn Atop Futures Leaderboard
The 2002 NCAA champion and 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur champion birdied the first hole, adding three more birdies and two bogeys en route to her 2-under-par round of 70 at Palm View Golf Course. At a cumulative 8-under-par 136, the native of Bangkok, Thailand admitted that she knew patience would be a key ingredient when she started today's second round.
'I knew today was going to be much different than yesterday because the wind was strong,' said Nirapathpongporn, a second-year member of the Futures Golf Tour still seeking her first professional win. 'It blew from the opposite direction than it blew in the previous round, so it teased us all day.'
Typically blowing from the Southeast, today's Northeast winds kept players guessing and shuffling clubs. First-round leader Nicole Castrale used a 6-iron on the 186-yard, par-3 17th hole in Friday's calm opening round, but was forced to use her TaylorMade Rescue Club today -- a club she normally pulls for 200-yard shots.
'You had to stay patient,' said Castrale, who played in the same final pairing with Nirapathpongporn and former University of Southern California roommate, Becky Lucidi of Poway, Calif. 'Today, it felt like a different golf course -- sometimes by as much as one to one and half clubs.'
Castrale, of Palm Desert, Calif., carded a second-round score of 1-over 73 to drop into second place at 6-under 138, while Lucidi posted a 1-under 71 today for a two-day total of 139 (-5).
'I had one [mental lapse] on No. 17, but other than that, I played really solid,' said Lucidi, winner of the 2002 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship who is competing this week in her first Futures Tour event. 'It's always fun to play with great players.'
Lucidi, Nirapathpongporn and Castrale were within smacking distance of each other throughout Saturday's second round. Castrale held the lead for the first three holes, but Nirapathpongporn birdied the third hole and Castrale bogeyed the fourth for the two players to draw even at 7 under par. When Castrale bogeyed the fifth hole, Nirapathpongporn grabbed a one-shot lead until the Californian rolled in a birdie on the 12th for a tie once again.
But Castrale knew the former four-time All-American from Duke wasn't going to coast.
'Good players will never give up,' said Castrale, who hit 15 greens, but struggled with 34 putts today. 'You know you have to go out firing because they're going to keep fighting.'
And Nirapathpongporn certainly put up her dukes. While the Thai player birdied the 13th hole, Castrale bogeyed, giving NP3 (as she is often called) a two-shot lead over Castrale and Lucidi, who also birdied the 13th. NP3 rolled in another birdie from 19 feet on the 14th for a two-shot lead over Lucidi, who again matched birdies with Nirapathpongporn.
But just as it appeared that Lucidi was picking up momentum heading into the final four holes, the Californian pushed her 5-wood tee shot far right on the 17th hole and fumbled two chip shots in recovery attempt. With a double-bogey 5 on the par-3, Lucidi fell three shots behind the leader on the day's toughest-playing hole.
'I really don't get too mad on the golf course,' she said. 'I just told myself that I have 19 holes left in this tournament.'
Rookie professional Mollie Fankhauser of Columbus, Ohio, playing in her third tournament as a pro, carded her second consecutive round of 70 and pulled into a tie for fourth with Su A Kim of Seoul, Korea at 140 (-4).
The day's best rounds came from three players now tied for sixth at 141 (-3). Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario fired today's low round of 67, while Meredith Ward of Crystal Lake, Ill., carded a 68, and Libby Smith posted a 69 in the second round.
Seventy-three players made the 36-hole cut at 151 (+7).
Sunday's final round will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at 11:36 a.m.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
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.
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.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
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.”
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.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
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.
''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.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
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.
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.