After Further Review: Best LPGA rookie class ever?

By Nick Menta, Randall Mell, Rex HoggardApril 19, 2015, 11:13 pm

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on an amazingly gifted LPGA rookie class, the greatness of Harbour Town Golf Links, the monkey that is no longer on Jim Furyk's back, and Jordan Spieth's commendable keeping of a commitment.

The LPGA’s rookie class may end up being the story of the year in women’s golf. The South Korean rookies, in particular, make this potentially the best rookie class the LPGA has ever seen. If you don’t want to see South Koreans taking over the women’s game, and there’s a large contingent of you, judging by reader comments, then you probably missed one of the wildest finishes in the men’s or women’s game. Rookie Sei Young Kim’s dramatic winning finish Saturday night in Hawaii made viewers jump out of their seats. I know, I was one of them. Her chipping in for an all-world par at the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Inbee Park was a crazy turn. Her following it by holing out from 154 yards at the first extra hole was doubly stunning. With Kim, Hyo Joo Kim, Ha Na Jang and Q Baek leading these South Korean rookies, you better get used to seeing them. - Randall  Mell

One of the most enduring golf courses on the PGA Tour delivered again on Sunday. Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the Heritage since it joined the circuit in 1969, has a history of identifying the best player, whether that player is bomber or a plodder. Consider that in his day Davis Love III was one of the Tour’s longest and collected five tartan jackets from 1987 to 2003. In recent years, however, it has been players with more measured games that have excelled at Harbour Town, like this year’s champion, Jim Furyk. Defying stereotypes, it might be the true sign of a great golf course. Rex Hoggard

It’s funny how one putt can shape perception. Jim Furyk made that 12-footer on the second extra hole at Harbour Town, and now he’s being praised for his grittiness and his persistence, for how he put aside four and a half years of disappointment and won his 17th title. But what if he had missed? What if he had made 10 birdies and it still wasn’t enough for the long-awaited win? Here’s guessing that the conversation would be a lot different, that the C-word would get thrown around, that he’d still be a punch line, this time because he couldn’t beat the 257th-ranked player in the world. Furyk deserved this win – he’s far too talented a player to go 100 starts between titles – but there is an added bonus here: Now he won’t have to deal with all of the here-we-go-again drama the next time he grabs the lead. Good for him. – Ryan Lavner

Jordan Spieth could have skipped out on the RBC Heritage this week and no one would have held it against him. He didn't. Once he showed up, he could have packed it in after an opening 74, gone home, and spent the weekend watching TV in his green jacket. He didn't. Instead, he closed with rounds of 62-68-70 to finish T-11. It's an admittedly low bar to judge character - asking a 21-year-old to go play Harbour Town knowing he can win money so long as he can tap into even 50 percent of his world-beating talent. But the new No. 2 honored his commitment, becoming the first Masters champ to play the following week since 2007, and then fought his way to a higher finish than anyone would've expected after Round 1. Again, it’s a low bar, but Spieth sailed over it when he could have easily, understandably, snuck under it. – Nick Menta

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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 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.


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.