Calc an Unlikely Record Holder
This isnt an excuse, Calcavechia began, but all that pollen flying around almost killed me on the front nine. I mean, literally, snot was dripping down my nose. I dont know how you want to phrase that.
I sneezed like eight times on the seventh hole. My eyes were so fogged over from sneezing and watering and itching, I could hardly see and then, it would kind of fly down your throat and gag you. Everybody was coughing and hacking out there. It was tough. My eyes feel like Ive been awake all night.
Kind of like his experiments with the belly putter. You want debutant, you go to the cotillion. You want descriptions, you come on over to Calc.
More than anything else, its just not me, Calcavecchia began. I dont know whether my belly is too big to use it, or what. I mean, Ive got a big ol belly button. I plug it in there. It just aint me.
Actually, hes having a superb putting season, whatever style he uses. He is No. 3 on the tour in putting average, and at Greensboro he tied the record for fewest putts in a tournament. Hes used a standard grip, hes used this claw thing, and hes used something he called the belly claw with the butt of the putter jammed into his navel. Tthrough it all, hes stayed right there amongst the leaders.
But now its back to a straight claw, which really doesnt look so goofy anymore once youve seen that weird-looking long shaft stuck into your stomach.
Last week after I got done with the pro-am at Hilton Head, I just ' you know, the belly thing was ' I tried it two or three months ago, and it didnt feel great, he said. I tried it again at the TPC (Players) and I really opened my stance and I thought I was onto something and putted pretty good the first three days.
And then it all went south when my foot got hurt on Sunday (plantar fasciitis). And I took it to the Masters and I just couldnt deal with it on those greens.
So, that was the end of the famous belly claw. Now its just the claw. Are you into pretty? Neither one is close to pretty. The embarrassment of wielding a putter like a mechanic trying to get at a hidden screw is just too much for some people. Not Calc, no siree. He would putt standing on his head if he thought they would all go in the hole.
You know, it doesnt bother me, he said. Ive never been afraid to try things, whether its that or the long putter. Ill do whatever it takes to get the job done as best I can, no matter how it looks. Ive never been a fashion stud, you know. Im not worried about how I look.
Oh, about the record ' Calcavecchia says the reason for it is because he was missing the greens all week by an inch or two. It doesnt count as a putt when you roll it from off the green. A ball can be 20 feet from the hole, but if you stroke it and it was off the green, you only count the second putt as official.
I never thought about it all day, said Calcavecchia Sunday of the record 93 putts over four rounds. I was aware I didnt many have putts. I read in the paper or somebody told me I had only 67 putts though three days, and then I kind of went back and thought, How can that be? And I thought of all the greens and the fringes, and I must have putted 10 times in four days from an inch off the green.
Left unsaid is that of all the hundreds of thousands of rounds that have been played on tour, there have undoubtedly been tens of thousands that the golfer was barely missing the green. Calc set the record, and if it was partly due to the fact that a lot of the putts were not official putts, still it is an impressive figure.
Its luck, obviously, he said, then thought a second and stated the obvious: I did putt great all week. I wont deny that. But to miss as many greens as I did is almost impossible on top of that.
Hey ' a record is a record, right?
Right. And a description by Calcavecchia is a description unlike any other.
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.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."