Unsung But Not Untalented

By George WhiteJune 5, 2006, 4:00 pm
I tuned in to the last half of the Memorial Sunday and my wife, surprisingly enough, sat down for a few minutes to watch. She stunned me when she asked me an embarrassing question: who the heck is Carl Pettersson?
Well, I mumbled, hes from Norway - (wrong ' hes from Sweden.) He played in Europe for awhile ' (actually, he belonged to the European Tour for only two years, the last one 2002.) And hes already won once in the U.S. (righto ' last fall at the Chrysler Championship.)
If I were a little more up-to-date on my Carl Pettersson profile, I could have told her that he has played in the U.S. for four years now, since 2003. I could have told her that his father was an avid golfer and an executive for Volvo Trucks in Sweden. I should have noted that, because of his fathers occupation, the family first moved to England, then to Greensboro, N.C., for Carls final two years of high school. And, Pettersson attended North Carolina State University, where he was an All-American for four years.
In short ' European-born, yes, but now thoroughly American. He speaks thoroughly American English, not English with a Scandinavian accent. Today he lives in Raleigh, N.C., which, if I remember correctly, isnt that far from the hometown of Barney Fife and Aunt Bea.
How many more Carl Petterssons are there who have won on the PGA Tour this year? Several ' and just like Pettersson, these guys can really play. Its gotten to the point that if you are going to really be cognizant of who the possible winners are, you have to conversant with about 100 or so players.
Rod Pampling has won this year on the big tour. So has Aaron Oberholser. Rory Sabatini, Stephen Ames, Brett Wetterich, Geoff Ogilvy, J.B. Holmes, Chris Couch, Aaron Baddeley ' theyve all won this year. If youre still living in the tour of two or three years ago - and maybe I have been ' a lot of these guys will seem like Nationwide Tour players to you. But they arent ' theyre now PGA TOUR stalwarts, the backbone of the PGA TOUR of today. A win from any of them no longer ranks as a surprise.
OK, I went to the PGA TOUR media guide to find out an interesting tidbit on each of them. These are things you already know if you are a true golf nut. And these are things you SHOULD know if you are at least a casual golf fan:
Rod Pampling is an Australian who is married to a clinical psychologist. Oberholser has helped out as an assistant golf coach at Santa Clara University. Sabatini is a South African who travels around the tour in an RV and has helped contribute almost $200,000 last year to soldiers and their families.
Ames is the first native of Trinidad and Tobago to play on the tour, though his father is English, his mother Portuguese, and his wife a former flight attendant from Canada. Wetterich, whose father started him swinging a golf club at 2, was granted a major medical extension carryover from 2001 when he underwent wrist surgery in January. Ogilvy is an Australian who has quite an interesting family tree ' he is a distant relative of Sir Angus Ogilvy, a member of Britains royal family, and is kin to a former king of Scotland, Robert the Bruce.
Holmes, second on tour in driving distance, grew up playing baseball until he won the first junior tournament he played' then proceeded to win his next three junior tournaments. Couch is the ultimate grinder, an extremely gifted junior who made the field at age 16 in the Honda Classic, but who once had to borrow $3,000 from Brendan Pappas in 2003 to keep playing. Baddeley? Hes an Australian who won the first of two Australian Opens at age 18. Baddeley was actually born in New Hampshire ' his father was chief mechanic for Mario Andrettis racing team ' but his family moved back to Australia when Aaron was 2.
Note that theres no Vijay Singh, no Ernie Els, no Retief Goosen named here. They havent yet won. But these guys have. And I havent even mentioned Lucas Glover, who hasnt won yet but who has finished in the top 10 six times and who currently stands No. 9 on the Ryder Cup list; or Vaughn Taylor, who has five top-10s and is No. 8 on the Ryder Cup. Wetterich, incidentally, is No. 7 on the Ryder list.
Heres the bottom line to all this: the PGA TOUR is presently in the throes of a major upheaval which is bringing unsung players to the front, players that you probably know little about.
But Els was in this same situation in the early 90s, same with Singh and Mickelson. Goosen was here 10 years ago. Tiger Woods was well-known as a teen-ager, so he probably wouldnt fit in here.
So the long and short of it is, a confusing influx of outstanding unknowns is making their presence known on the PGA Tour. And just because you ' or I ' arent familiar with them doesnt mean that they arent excellent players. They are winners at the highest level. Get ready because you will be hearing from them time and time again.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

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.”

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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.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

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.

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''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.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

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.

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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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.