Am Tour: Victors crowned in Championship, Snead flights

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 19, 2014, 3:32 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the Snead flight, where the 20-plus handicappers all strive to shave strokes off their game, Larry Harper improved his score all four days, culminating with a final round 88, to win the flight by eight shots.

The 57-year-old, from San Antonio, Tex., had a secret weapon: his son, Texas, who caddied for him all week. This was Harper's first nationals and Texas, a 20-year-old that recently turned pro and is competing in events in Texas, helped him navigate new waters.

"He helped in all aspects," said Harper. "He would tell me to club up on each hole. Reading the greens, there's no one that can help you like him. When he would see me nervous he would tell me to calm down."

What's most remarkable about them both is that neither picked up the game until they moved to San Antonio from Mexico three years ago. They found a home in the Dominion neighborhood in northern San Antonio, where upon their first day of living there they played their first round of golf.

"You get set of clubs with a membership," said Harper. "The next day I bought a golf cart."

Suffice to say, Larry and his son were hooked fast. Texas played on the Am Tour until he decided to turn pro this year. Larry, meanwhile, competed in 11 events this season leading up to nationals.

With the nationals victory, Harper will move up to the Jones flight next season on Am Tour, where he'll compete against 16-19.9 handicaps.

Championship flight goes to extra holes

There were fireworks in the Championship flight, where perennial contender K.C. Fox set out to upset defending champion Bob Brooks. The two entered the final day tied, and, down the stretch, Brooks was down two with two to play. But he rallied with a birdie on the par-5 17th hole and made a 3-footer for par on 18. Fox had a putt inside him to win, but missed it. Each shot 74 and headed to extra holes.

"It's just like they tell you, 'don't count your chickens before they hatch," said Fox. "I may have done that. [The putt] didn't even hit the hole."

In sudden death, they both parred the par-4 1st hole. Then, on the second, Brooks hit a hybrid from the fairway, 236 yards out. It took a bad bounce and trickled through the desert and settled an inch out of bounds. Fox prevailed with a bogey.

Brooks and Fox have been paired up a few times now in recent nationals, and Brooks is impressed by Fox's game.

"He's a great ball striker," said Brooks. "He hits the ball really close to the pin, real good touch out of the sand, and he has a good tee shot. He's a fun guy to compete against."

"This is a tournament that I set out to win at the beginning of the year," said Fox, who plans on using this tournament as a springboard into some of the top amateur events in the national like the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst.

"It's a big deal to play in this."

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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.