Pratts Opening 67 Gives Her Futures Tour Lead
'It's been really difficult not to play how I know I can play,' said Pratt of Mackay, Australia, now in her fourth season and still looking for her first professional win. 'I know I can shoot those numbers, but it's been about a year since I've done it.'
Pratt spent the early part of this week working on her wedges. That wedge work paid off in today's first round at Hickory Point Golf Course, where she hit her wedges close and converted seven birdie putts within 12 feet. Her short game, combined with a hot putter, rendered 24 putts and the first opening-round lead she has held since the first round of the Futures Tour's 2004 event in Albuquerque, N.M., last May.
'I made everything I looked at from 12 feet,' said Pratt, who tied for third at the 2004 ANZ Masters in Australia, topping fellow Aussies and LPGA stalwarts, Karrie Webb and Rachel Teske. 'Today was just one of those days when you know things are going to go right.'
And it also went right for Sun Young Yoo of Seoul, Korea and Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario, who tied one shot back at 4-under-par 68. Like Pratt, Yoo's putter was a pal with 25 putts on the day. The 18-year-old rookie carded a bogey-free round with four birdies and credited a new Titleist Scotty Cameron putter for getting her back on track with her flat stick.
And with three top-10 finishes in eight starts this season, the two-time member of the Korean National Golf Team said she has tried to remain patient in her attempt to win.
'It has been frustrating, but I try not to think about it,' said Yoo with the translation help of fellow Futures Tour member Aimee Cho of Seoul. 'I might be a rookie, but I'm ready to win.'
Sharp nearly notched her first Futures Tour win two weeks ago with her second-place finish in Kankakee , Ill. A non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour, Sharp could choose to divide her time between the Futures and the LPGA Tours, but instead, she has focused on the Futures Tour and has climbed into the No. 9 spot on the seasons money list.
Today, Sharp continued climbing up the leaderboard, opening her round with a birdie from 12 feet and an eagle-3 on the par-5 second hole from 6 feet. For the day, she hit 14 greens and rolled in 29 putts.
'I didn't make many mistakes and all of my birdie putts were inside 15 feet,' said the Canadian. 'I played here last year and I know the scores were low. I tried to hit it close and make some good putts.'
A pack of eight players tied at 69 (-3), including third-ranked Kyeong Bae of Seoul, Korea, second-week rookie Lisa Ferrero of Lodi, Calif., and Lisa Fernandes of Jacksonville, Fla., who tied for second at this tournament in 2003. Fernandes (who previously played as Lisa Strom), reached 6-under par after 11 holes in today's opening round, but bogeyed three of her final six holes on the 6,456-yard course.
'I know if I make putts here, I have a chance,' said Fernandes, a long hitter who reached 15 greens in regulation, but used 30 putts in her opening round. 'Still, I'm happy with my start. Tomorrow's another day.'
Joining Fernandes in that group at 3-under-par 69 were Katie Quinney of Jacksonville, Fla., Tamara Johns of Queensland, Australia, Meredith Duncan of Shreveport, La., Su A Kim of Seoul, Korea and Cristina Baena of Pereira, Colombia.
Eleven players are tied at 70 (-2), while 14 are tied at 1-under-par 71. All total, 38 players carded rounds of par-72 or better.
With that many players only a few shots off the lead, Pratt knows she'll have to produce some birdies to stay ahead of the pack -- and maybe even give her tennis-pro sister a little incentive to carry the family name high next week at Wimbledon .
Saturday's second round of the 54-hole event, presented by Ameren and Miles Chevrolet, will begin at 8 a.m., off the first and tenth tees. The leaders will tee off at 2 p.m.
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.
Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur
Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.
The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.
They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.
It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.
“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”
The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.
The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.