Kaufman fires 61, waits, and wins in Vegas

By Nick MentaOctober 26, 2015, 12:17 am

Smylie Kaufman went out early and fired a 10-under 61 to charge from seven shots back, outlast the field, and win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Here’s how Kaufman vaulted into the lead and then held on throughout the afternoon at TPC Summerlin:

Leaderboard: Kaufman (-16),  Patton Kizzire (-15), Cameron Tringale (-15), Jason Bohn (-15), Alex Cejka (-15), Kevin Na (-15), Brett Stegmaier (-15)

What it means: This is Kaufman’s first PGA Tour win in only his fifth start. Seven shots back to start the final round, Kaufman finished his round just as the leaders were making the turn and had to sit and watch as six different players over the next two hours challenged and ultimately fell one shot short of his 16-under total. His move from T-28th overnight to first is the second largest comeback by position in PGA Tour history, trailing only Tommy Gainey’s win from T-29 at the 2012 McGladrey. This marks the first time rookies have opened the season with back-to-back wins on Tour dating back to 1960, with Kaufman following Emiliano Grillo last week. With the win, Kaufman earns Tour membership through the 2017-18 season, wins 500 FedEx Cup points, and earns an invite to the Masters, Players Championship and PGA Championship.

Round of the day: Just 1 under through his first 7 holes, Kaufman played his final 11 holes 9 under, with seven birdies, including four in a row from Nos. 8-11, and an eagle at the short par-4 15th, when he hit his 287-yard tee shot to 13 feet. Kaufman closed his round in style with a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole that ultimately won him the championship.

Best of the rest: William McGirt, playing in front of Kaufman, turned in a 62 and held a share of the lead before Kaufman passed him. Patton Kizzire, who shared the same swing coach as Kaufman growing up, shot 63 and missed a birdie putt on the 18th green that would have gotten him to 16 under. He spent the rest of the day watching the action next to his friend, Kaufman.

Biggest disappointment: For the second week in a row, Na (67) came up just short. After losing a playoff to Grillo last week in Napa, Na again appeared headed for overtime and perhaps his second Shriners title when he drained a 26-footer for birdie on 16 to tie Kaufman. Unfortunately, after missing the green short at the par-3 17th, he chunked his chip shot and ended up making bogey. A missed birdie putt at 18 left him one shot shy. Similarly, the 36-hole and 54-hole leader Stegmaier (69) came to 18 needing birdie to force extra holes, but his try from the fringe wouldn’t go, ending Kaufman’s multiple-hour wait for his first win.

Shot of the day: Kaufman’s birdie putt on 18 that proved the difference after a long wait.

Quote of the day: “So much more stressful than on the course. … I felt like I was watching an LSU football game.” – Kaufman on having to sit and watch.

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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.


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.