Tway Leads Impressive List of Past Champions
First of all, theres the leader, Bob Tway. Tway was the man who holed out from the bunker at No. 18 in the 1986 PGA Championship to beat Greg Norman. Tway hasnt done a lot in the intervening years, but he shot a 64 Thursday.
Next, theres the runner-up, Stewart Cink. Cink was one of those guys who missed a short putt at No. 18 in the U.S. Open to miss a playoff. Cink hasnt done much this year, but Thursday he shot a 65.
Then theres Stuart Appleby. Appleby won in three straight years ' the 1997 Honda, the 98 Kemper and the 99 Shell Houston Open. The last two years, he has sagged badly. At the Memorial, he fired a 67 in the first round. Thats the same score shot by Tom Lehman, the 1996 British Open champ who underwent surgery on his collarbone area in 1998. Lehman has never been the same since.
Even old warhorse Jack Nicklaus, the tournament host, enjoyed a day that was as outstanding as the beautiful weather. Nicklaus birdied four of the last five holes and got into the clubhouse with a 71.
Then the worlds No. 1 player, the guy who is trying to win the Memorial for the fourth straight time, struggled fitfully on opening day. Tiger Woods shot 74.
I hope there isnt a statute of limitations on confidence, said Tway. A lot has happened since (he won here in) 89. Theres no doubt about it in my career.
But the course itself makes coming to the Memorial a thrill, he said. There are not too many weeks in the year that the opportunity arises to think your way around the golf course. Its a great venue, Tway said, and even better when it dries out like it did Thursday.
I just wish that more often we got a chance to play a golf course like this, said Tway.
Experience is invaluable at Muirfield Village, said Cink, but only if youre smart enough to learn from your experiences.
This is one of the courses that teaches you a lot and it punishes you for being greedy and making bad decisions, he said. You just have to learn where your spots are where you can be aggressive.
Its like playing a major. You have to play to the center of the greens. Even if you feel like you can aim at it, sometimes you cant. And par is always good here.
Cink has gone back to the ABCs of golf, practicing a lot of late on the games fundamentals. He finished 10th on the money list in 2000, but dropped to 26th last year. This year hes down at 94.
Im just simplifying everything, Cink said. This year Ive been driving it pretty bad and I havent had a good year putting. And thats really the two things that you have to do, and I have not done either of them any good at all.
Appleby has missed five cuts this year after the promising early start to his career. But his last two tournaments have shown that he might have turned the corner. He finished in a tie for 14th at Greensboro and followed that with a tie for eighth at Colonial last week.
I drove the ball fantastically and I hit the irons fantastically and I putted pretty well, said Appleby. I really have to say it was a very clean round of golf and more what I feel I can play.
Appleby detailed what he believes it will take to get back to the norm. It takes a lot of practice. And it takes the proper mindset.
Usually its just confidence, and you just dont play to get confidence, you go and get it, he said. Youve got to practice for it ' basically, practice and play with confidence.
I have really been swinging the club well. If youre swinging the club well and not getting results, its something else thats wrong. Im swinging it well now and mentally Im much more relaxed, more positive, and much more into my shots. And then Im getting results.
For sheer surprises, though, there was none more dramatic than Nicklaus. He was uncertain whether he was even going to play until Wednesday evening.
Good gracious, I told Vijay (Singh), I shot three or four shots below my handicap, laughed Nicklaus. Ive been carrying a 2- or 3-handicap at home all year. I shot a 69 about a month ago and ruined my handicap. I went down to a 1. So I shortened my handicap by several shots today.
Nicklaus is still hurting. But hes not hurting enough to keep from swinging a club. And ' hes obviously having a good time.
I really enjoyed that, Nicklaus said. It was fun. I am obviously glad I played. I dont know what will happen tomorrow. Doesnt make much difference what happens tomorrow. The way Im playing, if I play this way again, Ill play a good round. If I dont, I wont. But thats the way it goes.
Full-field scores from the Memorial Tournament
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.