Am Tour: Brasfield steals Championship flight with final-round 66

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 23, 2015, 3:12 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – It's been an epic few days on the Championship fight, full of 36-hole and single-day records.

So it comes with little surprise that the finish would be one for the ages.

When 54-hole leader Jordan Massey holed a long putt for bogey on the 18th hole of the Nicklaus Tournament course for an even-par 72, his group thought he'd held on for the victory over defending champion Paul Erdman, who began the day two shots back and shot 71.

But, little did they know, in the group ahead, Cullen Brasfield had gone low. Really low, a final-round 66, to steal the Championship flight by one shot over Massey.

His 66 tied an Am Tour National Championship record that was set by Paul Erdman just a day earlier.

While Erdman and Massey had both gone low in earlier rounds, they also had a round in the high-70s. Brasfield, meanwhile, had three steady rounds of 74-73-73 to quietly creep behind them. In the final round, he birdied the first two holes, and then alteranated between bogeys and birdies the rest of the front nine to turn in 1-under on the day.

But four birdies in a row between Nos. 14-17 (including a near ace on 17) put Brasfield in the driver's seat. A par on the 18th gave him a chance. Massey, meanwhile, bogeyed 17 and 18 and slipped into second place.

"I got it going today," said Brasfield, who scored nine birdies on the round. "I got the flatstick rolling, and that's what you need to do to win out here."

It's common for champions to thank their families, but Brasfield truly owes a special debt to his wife Athena. When they moved to La Quinta last year to be closer to family, she encouraged her husband, a former collegiate golfer at San Diego University and University of Nevada, to play more golf. It had been over 12 years since his last tournament when he teed it up in an event last June.

This year, she prompted him to join the Golf Channel Am Tour, where he played in six events, and that's not all. 

"She came home the day before the Q-School application was due and said 'sign up for this.'"

So Brasfield signed up. And in the event at the Yolo Friers Club a couple weeks ago, he qualified, and will compete in Stage 1 of Q-School next month at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in Arizona. But first, it's a night out on the town to celebrate with his better half. She had gotten off work and made it to PGA West just in time for the winner's announcement.

"I'm very lucky," said Brasfield. 

"And, she's a doctor."

A long time coming for Palmer flight champion


The sweetest victories are often those that take the longest to accomplish. For Kelly Moore, it took 12 years between joining the Golf Channel Am Tour in 2003 to finally win the National Championship.

Moore, from El Cajon, Calif., entered the final round in the lead by two shots over David Jonas, from Hermosa Beach, Calif. Throughout the round, he knew he had a slight cushion. Playing with the lead for the full 18 holes proved to be a tough spot. He double bogeyed the first hole and had two triple-bogeys on the outward nine, but managed three birdies, too.

"It was nerve-wracking," said Moore. "I had some holes I wish I could take back. I did my best to keep my head in it."

Turns out, playing the 18th of the Stadium Course safe backfired. His approach shot, a draw to the right side and away from the water hazard, hit a cart path and catapulted into deep rough. He ultimately made a double bogey, but still prevailed by two shots over Kim Shek, from Bellevue, Wash.

Moore took four years off Am Tour between 2008-11 to focus on his daughters' softball teams. He came back in 2012 a little older and wiser.

"I felt stronger this year," said Moore, who in earlier years had had some back trouble. "This year I'd been shooting a lot better than past years."

Now, Moore, finally a National Champion, will move out of the Palmer flight, where he has been since he joined Am Tour. The 50-year-old will enter the 2015-16 season in the Senior Championship flight.

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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.


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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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."