Lewis returns to Arkansas; still uncertain for Olympics

By Randall MellJune 23, 2016, 7:03 pm

Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko and No. 2 Brooke Henderson are in the field this week at the LPGA’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, but Stacy Lewis is the headliner.

A University of Arkansas graduate, Lewis won the NCAA individual championship in 2007 and will be the overwhelming fan favorite at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark. The course is just 20 miles north of the Arkansas campus.

The last of Lewis’ 11 LPGA victories came in this event two years ago, and she’s hoping the atmosphere helps her break her winless spell.

“I would love for it to be here,” Lewis said. “More than anything, I would just love to be in those last few groups coming up the last couple holes, because I think that's to my advantage. I get a little bit of the home-crowd advantage coming in.

“I love this place. I love this golf tournament. The win here two years ago, other than the British Open at St. Andrews, I don't know how else you top that. I can still remember making that putt on 18 and how loud it was. And the putts on 15 and 16, I mean it was so loud coming in, it was just one of the coolest experiences I've ever had on the golf course. I would love, definitely love, to repeat again.”

Lewis will be busy this week. Her duties include being host to the KPMG Junior All Star Invitational, which ends Thursday. With her wedding just six weeks away, Lewis has been balancing personal and professional challenges all season long.

How is it affecting her game?

“I would definitely say the golf itself is not where it needs to be, but I feel like, personally, I'm in a great place,” Lewis said. “A lot of good balance going on in my life. I mean, the golf is what it is. Your golf is going to be in cycles. You're going to have peaks where you're going to win, and then you're kind of going to play bad for a little bit, and then you're going to win again. That little valley just happens to be a little longer right now, and I feel like I'm working on the right things, and we're moving in the right direction, and that's all you can really do.

“Wins just don't happen by snapping your fingers. You've got to work on it, and we'll get there.”

Lewis’ marriage to University of Houston women’s golf coach Gerrod Chadwell is scheduled Aug. 6, 11 days before the Olympic women’s golf event begins in Rio de Janeiro. Lewis dropped another spot in the Rolex World Rankings this week, falling to No. 10, but she remains a favorite to make the American team. She just isn’t certain yet whether she would go because of the Zika virus threat.

“The Olympics would be a great honor,” Lewis said. “I think the way I've worked it out in my head is that we have 20 opportunities to win a major championship every four years. You have one opportunity to win an Olympic medal in four years. So, if that doesn't make it special, then I don't know what does.

“To me, it's a big deal. It’s an opportunity to showcase our sport, take it around the world and just to be a part of being around the other athletes and going to the other events and seeing what they're doing and cheering them on because they're part of Team USA. I think that’s going to be the coolest part about it.”

But ...

“Zika is definitely a concern to me,” she said. “I would like to have a family, and while it's not in the immediate future, but definitely down the line ... I'm still researching [Zika] and still trying to figure things out. I don't want to pull my name out of the list or anything prior to figuring out who is going. Until I see my name officially on that list, I'm going to continue to talk to some of the different organizations. The tour’s been great about giving us resources. So, my decision hasn't been made, but I would like to go. I hope that everything's OK enough that I can go.”

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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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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.