Punch Shot: Who has most to gain at BMW?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 7, 2016, 2:00 pm

Thirty players will carry on after this week's BMW Championship. And more than a hefty bonus is on the line with a Tour Championship appearance. Who has the most to gain with a trip to East Lake? Our writers weigh in:


This week’s BMW Championship will prove to be a tipping point for many players, as well as a few interested observers, vying to crack the top 30 on the points list and advance to the Tour Championship – but none more so than Daniel Berger and J.B. Holmes.

Although both are outside the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list and currently not qualified to play the finale at East Lake, the bigger picture goes beyond the normal perks of playing the Tour Championship.

Holmes is among a handful of players leading the way as a potential U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s pick, while Berger would currently be considered a long shot for a spot on Davis Love III’s team.

Berger, at 31st on the FedEx Cup points list, could secure his spot at East Lake and take the lead in the race to be Love’s final pick on Sept. 25 with a solid week in Indiana, while Holmes, who is 42nd on the points list, could possibly lock up a spot on the Ryder Cup team with just a decent week at Crooked Stick.

Both players could easily take advantage of the “Billy Horschel rule” by getting hot at the right time, and both could make Love’s job of selecting the rest of his team much easier.


Justin Rose. Save for the Olympics, it has been a quiet year for the Englishman, who battled a back injury in the spring and never found his form. Throw out the Games, where he outdueled Henrik Stenson for the gold medal, and Rose doesn’t have a top-10 worldwide since the Masters. He probably should already be in the top 30, however, if not for a disastrous back nine last week at TPC Boston. His closing 45 sent him crashing to a tie for 57th and leaves him in this current predicament: 50th in points, and likely in need of a top-3 at Crooked Stick to secure his spot in the Tour Championship.

If he does, he’ll be one of the few players currently outside the top 30 who still have a realistic chance to win at East Lake – in his last four starts there, he has finished no worse than sixth, with a pair of runners-up. That’s why he has the most to gain. 


J.B. Holmes probably seals his Ryder Cup fate if he doesn’t make it to East Lake.

Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler appear to be consensus frontrunners to grab two of the three captain’s picks American skipper Davis Love III will make on Monday for different reasons. Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson and Holmes are less certain and Holmes may be the least certain given he missed so many cuts with a spot on the line as pressure mounted this summer. Behind in the Ryder Cup race because of injury, Furyk still showed Love more than Holmes this summer, more consistent good play. Watson, at least, hasn’t eliminated himself by missing a batch of cuts and has the better overall championship level pedigree. Holmes has missed four of his last seven cuts. And if Holmes doesn’t make it to East Lake, he’s got no shot at being Love’s “hot-hand” fourth captain’s pick at the end of the Tour Championship.


At age 31, Jason Kokrak has never played in the Masters. He’s never booked a trans-Atlantic flight for The Open, and he’s never teed it up in a WGC event. In fact, this is only the second time that he’s even made it to the season’s penultimate event.

Kokrak is a bit of a late bloomer, sure, but he has everything to play for this week at Crooked Stick. He enters the BMW Championship at No. 34 in the points race, right on the cusp of the all-important top 30 and having found some form at just the right time. He chased a T-7 finish at Bethpage with a T-8 finish in Boston, making him one of only six players to open the postseason with back-to-back top-10s.

A Tour Championship berth would net Kokrak a huge bounty: spots in each of the first three majors next year, plus his first round of WGC invitations. What’s more, he could even sneak into the discussion for the fourth and final Ryder Cup pick before the month is over, just as he got a late invitation to that first task force dinner in February. It’s a tantalizing array of incentives for a player who could be poised to make a jump in class.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.