McIlroy wins Bridgestone, returns to world No. 1

By Ryan LavnerAugust 3, 2014, 11:02 pm

Rory McIlroy won his second consecutive start and returned to world No. 1 Sunday with a two-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Here’s the skinny on the final round at Firestone Country Club:

The leaderboard: Rory McIlroy (-15); Sergio Garcia (-13); Marc Leishman (-12); Keegan Bradley, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed and Justin Rose at -9

What it means: After a trying 2013 season, McIlroy is back atop the world rankings after his third victory in his last seven starts. This was McIlroy’s eighth career PGA Tour title, and the 25-year-old matched Dustin Johnson for the most wins by a player age 30 or younger. The news wasn’t quite as cheery for Garcia, who had a chance to move to No. 2 in the world with a victory. Instead, he dropped to 0-for-5 (over the past decade) when holding at least a two-shot lead after 54 holes, and 3-for-12 overall.

Round of the day: After a wire-to-wire victory at the Open Championship, McIlroy had to work a little harder for his second win in a row. Trailing Garcia by three shots, McIlroy ripped off four birdies in his first five holes to take a one-shot lead. McIlroy and Garcia were all square at the turn, but McIlroy’s birdie on 11 gave him a one-shot lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. Garcia’s bogey on 15 gave McIlroy a two-shot cushion, and the Spaniard missed an 8-foot birdie on 17 that would have added a bit more drama to the proceedings. McIlroy shot 66.

Best of the rest: With a season-best, 8-under 62, Phil Mickelson vaulted 29 spots on the leaderboard, gave himself some much-needed momentum heading into next week’s PGA Championship and likely made U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson’s decision a bit easier. Though Lefty is still without a top 10 on Tour this season (finished T-15 here), his 10-birdie finale might be just the spark he needs to end this disappointing season on a high note. 

Biggest disappointment: After hitting a few bizarre shots on the front nine, Tiger Woods withdrew on the ninth hole Sunday because of lower-back spasms, a shocking development in just his third start since March 31 back surgery. His early exit prompts even more questions about both his immediate future (PGA, FedEx Cup playoffs, Ryder Cup) and his long-term prospects, if his injury proves serious. He needed to win next week’s PGA just to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, so it appears highly likely that Woods’ season is over. Honorable mention goes to Adam Scott, whose reign at No. 1 ended when he made three bogeys in his last five holes to shoot 71 and finish T-8.

Shot of the day: On a tough driving hole that two years ago produced a shocking finish, McIlroy instead smashed a 328-yard blast down the right side on 18 to leave himself only a sand wedge into the green. He two-putted from 40 feet to win. 

Quote of the day: “What I’m really proud of this week is just following up the Open with a performance like this. I said straight after that I didn’t want any letdown; I just wanted to keep going and keep performing until the end of the season. To perform like this, I’m pretty satisfied.” – McIlroy

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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.

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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.