Trio Share Futures Tour Lead Heading into Sunday
The native of Mackay, Australia, carded a 2-under-par round of 70 today to move into a three-way tie at 137 (-7) with Jamie Stevenson of Mayfield, Utah, and compatriot Dana Lacey of North Beach, W. Australia. Stevenson and Lacey each posted a 5-under-par second-round score of 67 in the 21st annual event at Hickory Point Golf Course.
'I had it going today and I got it to eight under twice,' said Pratt, who played college golf at Campbell University (N.C.). 'I'm rolling it well and making good reads. I'm not sure what's triggered this over the last two days, but I'll take it.'
Pratt birdied her first two holes, saved par from 12 feet on the third hole, and birdied the fifth to signal to the field that she wasn't planning to hand over the tournament. But the fourth-year Futures Tour member slammed into a birdie drought after the eighth hole and was forced to save par three times on the back nine, including the final hole where she drove into a bunker, 'fluffed it out' to 80 yards and got up and down for par with a 4-footer.
'You've still got to make the putts and hit your wedges close,' said Pratt, who used 28 putts in her second round. 'This is the kind of course where someone could come from four or five under and lap the field.'
The 6,456-yard course, with its generous fairways and large greens, still warranted caution as a light wind played with club selection and the greens, firming up in the warm sunshine, sometimes kicked approach shots through the green.
Stevenson toured Hickory Point with a bogey-free, five-birdie round, leaning on her length off the tee. The former Brigham Young University player effectively utilized her wedges to hit 17 greens in regulation to set up birdie chances -- two from tap-in range.
'I had to make a three footer for par on the 13th hole, but that was the biggest stress of the day,' said Stevenson.
Lacey eased her stress by using only 25 putts in her second round -- a hurdle she has attempted to climb over all season, along with the trend of saving her worst round for her final round.
'I've been in the top 5 three times going into the last round,' said Lacey, who hopes to change that trend on Sunday. 'I figure bad things come in threes, so my run is over.'
Lisa Fernandes (69) of Jacksonville, Fla., and rookie Sun Young Yoo (70) of Seoul, Korea, climbed into a tie one shot back at 6-under-par 138, while rookie Hye Jung Choi (69) of Seoul, Korea is two off the lead at 5-under-par 139.
But Fernandes, who lost in a playoff at the 2003 Decatur tournament, still believes she has some unfinished business on the big-hitter's course. She even scrambled for a par save from the grandstand when her approach shot rolled through the green, through the player's walkway between the stands. The former Ohio State University player was awarded a free drop, got up and down for par from 20 yards and 6 feet, and still managed to laugh about it.
'I couldn't hit that opening again if I tried,' she said. 'But it's always good to make a par putt on the last hole. The vibes are there. The bounces are there. It will take some birdies tomorrow, but this course sets up well for me. I'm just happy to get back into contention.'
Seventy players made the 36-hole cut at 147 (+3), tying the season's low cut.
Sunday's final round of the 54-hole event, presented by Ameren and Miles Chevrolet, will begin at 8 a.m., off the first tee only. The leaders will tee off at 11:27 a.m.
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.