Louisville, Oklahoma advance via new tiebreaker

By Ryan LavnerMay 30, 2016, 3:08 am

EUGENE, Ore. – There is a new way to sort out the 54-hole cut at the NCAA Championship, and not every coach left Eugene Country Club on Sunday night pleased with the outcome.

The top 15 teams after three rounds of stroke play advanced to Monday’s final round, after which the individual champion will be crowned and the field cut to eight teams for the match-play bracket.

After 54 holes, five teams tied for 14th place at 27-over 867 – Louisville, Oklahoma, TCU, Clemson and Georgia – but only two are moving on.

In a new format tweak this year, the NCAA said that the tiebreaker for the top 15 teams would not be decided by a team playoff, as it often the case. Instead, the cumulative throw-out score for the three rounds would be used to determine which teams advanced. In college golf, teams send out five players and count only the four best scores each round.

And so, in this scenario, the cumulative throw-out scores of Louisville (20 over) and Oklahoma (24) were slightly better than TCU (25), Clemson (27) and Georgia (27).

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“Gosh, these kids come all this way, when they found out it was a card playoff, basically it was like, ‘What?’” Georgia coach Chris Haack said. “But it is what it is, you have to deal with it, and it’s our fault for not shaving off one more shot.”

The NCAA said Sunday night that coaches were notified of the format change last summer in the Division I Men's Golf Committee annual report, at the GCAA National Convention in December and were reminded again during the coaches meeting on Thursday. The decision also appeared in the NCAA handbook.

Asked why the decision was made to use the fifth-man score instead of a team playoff, Eric Sexton, chairman of the NCAA men’s golf committee, said there were three reasons: It is important to use the entire five-man team when determining which squad advances; it helps avoid the scenario of a multi-team playoff (such as this year); and the plan is not for individual years but a series of championships, and many times the circumstances (weather, amount of daylight) are different from year to year.

Said TCU coach Bill Montigel, whose team did not advance under the new system: “It puts a little incentive on your fifth man to go out there and keep fighting and not give up. If your fifth man didn’t play well, you don’t make it. I kind of like it.”

TCU’s Paul Barjon missed a 5-footer on the final hole that would have put the Horned Frogs inside the number at 26 over par. On the same hole, Florida State’s Josh Lee burned the edge on an 8-footer that would have tied the Seminoles at 27 over; they would have advanced via the tiebreaking formula.

Houston finished one shot off the cut line, in a tie for 19th, but coach Jonathan Dismuke said he still wasn’t a fan of the format change. 

“These guys play a lot of golf over the course of the year,” he said, “and anybody that is 15th place or better, you deserve a chance to play the final round. It’s a shame.”

Only nine shots separate the all-important eighth spot and a tie for 14th, meaning that one of those teams that missed out could have posted a low round Monday and reached match play.

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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.

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.