Olazabal Down But Hes Not Yet Out
If Jose Maria Olazabal has done the merry-go-round for the final time, he is not going to give up without a fight. He is playing this weekend at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, he is 148th on the money list ' but he would dearly love to play with a U.S. card for another year.
The Spaniard was one of the brightest prospects on the European Tour as a 21-year-old when he first made a splash in America, playing in the '87 Ryder Cup at Muirfield with Seve Ballesteros as a partner. It was the first time in history that Europe had won in America, and Olazabal and Seve won three of their four partnership matches.
He won the Masters in 1994 before he was felled by a foot injury in 95 that almost ruined his career. Confined to bed for 18 months, he finally submitted in desperation to the radical theories of a German doctor. But ' it worked!
Instead of focusing on his feet for treatment, the doc went to work on his back. The homeopathic specialist discovered a lower back hernia. His therapy included small doses of vegetable matter to pump up the bodys immune system, and within a short time Olazabal was out of bed and winning golf tournaments again.
Another Masters green jacket was his reward in 1999. And in 2002, now as a member of the PGA Tour, Olazabal won the Buick Open in San Diego.
But this year, he didnt make the Ryder Cup team. And he appears lost on the golf course ' he's 172nd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, 182nd in driving accuracy, 177th in greens hit. Only his magnificent putter ' hes fifth in putts per round ' has keep him from completely going under.
The five-year Masters exemption runs out this year. He plans to get in this tournament after being obligated to play in Spain last weekend at a course he designed. And he will play in Tampa next weekend. That gives him two chances to make $200,000, or else the card goes out to window.
He opened with an impressive 65 the first round at Disney. He still doesnt know exactly what he was doing differently. But it doesnt matter. He may be beginning to find his way, even if it is only temporary. Golf has been a series of nothing but trials and tribulations this year.
It's pretty much been consistency, he sighed. I have to say that my iron play has been pretty bad all year long. I've missed a lot of greens, even from the fairway.
And then even a lot of the greens that I hit, I'm quite far away from the hole. So I'm not giving myself really birdie opportunities, and that has been the problem.
That means that too many times, his brilliant putting has been going for one-putt pars instead of one-putt birdies. And thats not the way to make big bucks.
The driver has always been so-so, even during the good times in Europe. But this year the irons have been added to his list of woes. Its a problem that has concerned him all year.
My driver has been on and off like the rest of the season, so I don't think that is any different to what it has been the last four, five years, said Olazabal.
But I'm thinking more about how I've hit the irons all year long.
He didnt look too kindly on his sparkling work Thursday at Disney, either. Its still a struggle, apparently. Hes still searching for answers.
Well, if you look at the scorecard, I hit all the par 5s, he said. And the iron play, I manage to give like four, five good iron shots, and I took advantage of those.
Then the rest was touch-and-go. I didn't put the ball that close to the hole on the rest of the holes. But that's what I'm fighting, anyway.
He shudders to think about what will happen if he doesnt make it. He definitely will not go through the rigors of Q-School, he says ' not at age 38. He will continue working in the off-season, trying to find that magic elixir that has been missing. He will play the European Tour next year where he has a guaranteed life membership. And ' he will rely on individual tournaments in America to come though with the seven sponsors invites. That will be the extent of his play in the U.S. until he regains his card.
I would have to rely on some invitations next year, obviously,' he said. 'I can play San Diego because I won it a couple years ago, and the Masters. But I would have to rely on invitations.
'We'll see what happens.'
It may be over. But if it is, Olazabal will go out like a true Spanish torreador - figthing all the way.
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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.