After Further Review: finale oozes drama

By Jason Crook, Jason Sobel, Rex HoggardSeptember 21, 2014, 11:17 pm

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on the agony of coming up a few dollars short of a PGA Tour card, the difficulty of describing what it feels like to NOT come up short of said card, and some tweaks still needed in the overall process of determining who gets PGA Tour cards.

Thirty-two dollars.

About the same amount as a box of a dozen mid-level golf balls at the local golf superstore. That was the differential that kept Roberto Castro from retaining his PGA Tour playing privileges after the four-tournament Finals.

If that sounds brutal, it should. After I tweeted about Castro's misfortunate, multiple people responded with some version of the same solution: Can't we all just chip in a few bucks?

Ah, if it were only that easy. For as many stories of perseverance and potential among the 50 players who earned their cards, there are also nearly as many heartbreakers. Castro is a guy who played in last year's Tour Championship and all four majors this year. And while he certainly didn't have a terrific season, it wasn't terrible, either, with five top-25 results.

For now, though, he will be relegated to golf's minor leagues, yet another in a long line of tales about players coming so close and yet finishing so far away.

The worst part? That final differential. Thirty-two measly dollars. - Jason Sobel

It’s fitting that the guy who played the best golf throughout the Finals gave the best answer when asked what it feels like to earn a PGA Tour card. “I’ve been asked to put it into words and I can’t,” said Adam Hadwin, who finished Sunday atop the priority list, fully exempt for next year on the PGA Tour. We can debate until the end of time whether the switch from traditional Q-School was the right move for the Tour. It doesn’t matter. Guys are still playing for their livelihood, to reach a goal they’ve dreamt about since they were little kids. And if the man who came in first can’t find the words to describe it, then I don’t have any about the process. It must still feel pretty good. - Jason Crook

Two turns into the new PGA Tour qualifying system, a process that solved the timing issues created by the circuit’s new wraparound schedule, it’s clear there is still tinkering to be done. A loophole that allows exempt Tour players to participate in the Finals – an awkward criteria that left D.A. Points, an exempt player who mistakenly thought he should play the finale this week at TPC Sawgrass, in a difficult position – needs to be corrected. There is also the issue of how a player can have an outstanding regular season on the Tour but still have his Tour aspirations dashed by a poor performance in the Finals. Even the FedEx Cup needed adjusting. - Rex Hoggard

In a Ryder Cup media teleconference this past week, Tom Watson was asked if the captains get too much blame when their teams lose.

He said he was prepared for that. He better be as he takes his U.S. squad to Scotland this week, because if the Americans lose for the sixth time in their last seven tries, the autopsy over what went wrong won’t be pretty.

Fairly or unfairly, it never is for Ryder Cup captains.

Watson is set up to be a conquering hero if the Americans win, but there’s a troubling flipside to that if they don’t.

The PGA of America broke tradition bringing the 65-year-old Hall of Famer back as captain 21 years after he led the Americans to victory at The Belfry. They’re sending him to Scotland, no less, where he is worshipped as the winner of five British Opens.

He was brought aboard to rescue the foundering American effort. All of this would seem to heap even more pressure on Watson than most Ryder Cup captains, and that’s saying something.

He’s set up to look like a savior of the American Ryder Cup effort if they win, but he’s set up to be sacrificed in the public square of opinion if they don’t. There’s so much more expected of this icon going to Scotland than most captains are saddled with, and the only beauty in that is how he seems to be relishing it. – Randall Mell

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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.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.