My 2014 moment: Grill Room goes to the PGA

By Jason CrookDecember 22, 2014, 1:00 pm

(Editor's note: This is part of a series in which staff reveal their favorite or personal moments of 2014.)

It was a humid night in August when the crew and I stepped off the media bus and began the walk back to our hotel after a long day at Valhalla Golf Club. Just before we made it to the lobby, a hulking ogre of a man came barreling in our direction, hurling obscenities at us with the fervor of a sailor driving a truck through an episode of “South Park.”

I sensed a street fight coming on, so I trusted my instincts and cowered, hoping the man would move along. He didn’t. No punches were thrown, but if his words were singles and we were in a gentleman’s club, he would’ve put Floyd Mayweather and “Pacman” Jones to shame. He made it rain.

Who this man was, why he was so angry, his exact words – none of that is important. Let’s call it a big misunderstanding. All that mattered was, I was there. This was the PGA Championship. This is major. And I had a front-row seat.

To quote the great philosopher Cosmo Kramer: “I’m out there, Jerry, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it!”

The tournament was fine, I guess. There was some really good golf and an exciting finish with the game’s newest superstar ending the final day on top, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But the experience of covering a major with the team is something that will last a lifetime. The inside jokes, the witty banter, putting my finger on the pulse of Loiusville, Ky., and of course, getting cursed out - these are things I don't get quite as often at my small desk at Golf Channel's studios. I'll cherish them.

I’m now the butt of a running gag at work because I didn’t see the problem with two bros sharing a hotel room. Again, my bad, Rex.

My other friends make fun of me because I met American hockey legend T.J. Oshie and didn’t recognize him. Damn you, the distraction that is Amanda Dufner.

I got to see Rudy Giuliani just chillaxin’ at a Starbucks like he wasn’t Rudy ‘effin Giuliani.

I witnessed the antithesis of everything good in the world when some animal seated next to me in a restaurant ordered a gluten-free “Hot Brown.” Seriously, she wanted this monstrosity, but please hold the gluten, that's the unhealthy part. People are the worst.

I’ve been asked to do some pretty awesome things for the Grill Room this year.

Take a golf ball directly to my to eye socket while chasing Golfnados. Check.

Channel my inner Charlie Kelly for a mom jeans commercial. Check.

Embarrass myself while reenacting Talyor Swift’s “Blank Spaces” music video – complete with a blonde wig – in the Golf Channel parking lot, while my co-workers looked on in horror. Check.

Somehow this trip to the PGA Championship edged them all out for my favorite moment. My virgin eyes have been opened to all the cool stuff that goes on outside of the office, and I can never unsee it. I hope they send me again next year. I’ve been practicing my cowering.

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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.

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.