When Summer Dwindles So Do the Stars

By George WhiteSeptember 5, 2003, 4:00 pm
The good neighbors up Canada way are a bit upset, as well they should be. Only three players among the worlds top 20 ' and one of those Canadian Mike Weir ' bothered to show up this weekend. This, in spite of a wonderful old course, in spite of a national championship full of history.
 
The fact is, though, that most of the golf greats put their clubs away after the WCG ' NEC, one tournament after the PGA. The rest of the year is meant for storing away memories of the season, giving themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for another season of excelling. Very seldom will they peek their heads out until the big-money circuses of the off-season start shelling out the enormous television booty.
 
They turn the PGA Tour over to those struggling to keep their cards for next season, or the young players who see this as the opportunity to maybe win a tournament. The Bell Canadian Open shouldnt be lumped into this category. But it is
 
You can hardly blame the big boys. Theyve played 20-25 tournaments, they won well over a million - or two or three. Its time to go the barn, gentlemen.
 
The PGA Tour is much to blame for this. The tour has jacked up the purses to such extremes that a player can make a small fortune by the end of August and well afford to take the rest of the year off. Fourteen guys have already made $2 million. Fifty-three had at least $1 million. Fifty-three! The last two months of the season can be spent sitting on the couch playing pinochle when youve got your million.
 
They will emerge to play the World Championship of Golf event in Atlanta the first week in October and the Tour Championship the first week in November. A few will go to the Presidents Cup later that month. Then comes the big-bucks season when EVERYONE gets a small fortune.
 
What happens to the John Deere Classic, the 84 Lumber Classic, the Valero Texas Open? The Southern Farm Bureau Classic, Las Vegas Invitational, Chrysler in Greensboro, the Chrysler near Tampa, or the Funai Classic at Disney? They will get by, as will the Bell Canadian, on two or three from the worlds top 20, plus a whole lot of fresh new faces.
 
Would the Canadian get more big names if it were played, say, three weeks earlier? Of course. Would it get more big names if the rest of the tournaments hadnt already tipped the wheelbarrels and the cash came flooding out? Probably. And are the stars to blame for this turn events? Absolutely not.
 
It, unfortunately, is just a fact of life of the end-of-summer tournaments. Undoubtedly some dont mind. The 84 Lumber and the Chrysler in the Tampa Bay area are just glad to have a tournament.
 
The others, like the Canadian and like Greensboro, are understandably a bit chafed. They wont complain ' complain too loud, they know, and the stars will NEVER come. But they obviously are a little annoyed. Football has started to butt into the sports psyche, the players have already stuffed their piggy banks, and golf is now an afterthought for much of the country.
 
And in Canada, a great old tournament on a fabulous old course goes begging. Is anybody listening?
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

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.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

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

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

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.


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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."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

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.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.