Capricious Winds Blow Lietzkes Way Again
Lietzke battled the tricky zephyrs for a 3-under-par 69, giving him a 13-under score for the tournament at 204. He leads by one stroke over Bob Gilder at 11-under and by four over Gil Morgan at 8-under. At 7-under are Tom Kite, Doug Tewell and Walter Hall.
Today was a little different golf course, said Gilder. There was a little more wind coming from a different direction, and the holes play different from what we have seen this week. It was a whole new look. Some of them played real tough.
Lietzke started at 10-under and quickly got to 12-under with birdies at Nos. 2 and 4. He eventually bogeyed his way back to 10-under with a couple of miscues in the hard-to-fathom winds, but righted himself with three more birdies over the last five holes.
He felt that 69 was a bad score, though, compared to what he should have shot. But the fact remains that only three players shot a lower score Saturday.
More than anything, Im disappointed at some of the greens I missed, said Lietzke. Especially because I was coming out of the fairways most of the times. I still think I could have scored pretty well today if I had hit my irons better. I think I should have been hitting it in not only on the green, but a lot closer.
I think 5-under was a realistic score today. With the good start that I got off to (two birdies on the first four holes), that was certainly within reason. But also I didnt quite have my putting touch today. I missed three or four of my putts when they lost their speed as they got close to the hole and broke away.
Lietzke did birdie the difficult 16th when he smoked a 3-iron to within three feet and sank the putt. He then birdied the par-5 18th by hitting the green in two shots and then two-putting.
Gilder refused to go away for the third consecutive day, eventually pulling to within one shot of the lead when he birded 17 and wound up with an eagle on the par-5 No. 18.
I hit a real good shot and a real good putt on 17, he said. And then I figured I could close the gap on 18 a little more, if he (Lietzke) didnt go nuts the way he did on 16, knocking that 3-iron in there stiff.
Gilder hit driver and a 5-iron on the par-5 final hole. He had 232 yards on the shot, but, I thought it might fly, so I didnt want to hit a 4. If it came up a little short, that would be okay. And if it caught the bunker, that would be okay. But it got on the green and rolled all the way up to 12 feet behind the hole.
A one-putt would give him the eagle and leave him just one behind Lietke.
Lietzkes lead makes it more-or-less a two-man race between him and Gilder, with Morgan still hanging around in case either stumbles.
He (Lietzke) has been a pretty good player for a long time, said Morgan. He doesnt try to do things that he cant do.
But maybe the winds will blow again tomorrow and the long putter (of Lietzkes) will wear him out.
Gilder faces the prospect, too, of making up a shot.
I just wanted to give Bruce a little competition tomorrow, he said. I wanted to make him work a little bit. Whoever wins will have to work really hard.
Full-field scores from the Senior Tour Championship
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.