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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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Phil eyes Augusta after third straight top-6 finish

By Will GrayFebruary 18, 2018, 11:54 pm

LOS ANGELES – For the third straight Sunday, a valiant back-nine charge came up just short for Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson began the final round of the Genesis Open five shots off the lead, but after a chip-in birdie on No. 12 he got within a shot of Bubba Watson. With the leaders a few holes behind him, he continued to press and his aggressive approaches into Nos. 15 and 16 both led to bogeys that effectively ended his chances to win for the first time since 2013.

Mickelson’s closing 3-under 68 ultimately left him in a tie for sixth, four shots behind Watson. It comes on the heels of a runner-up finish last week at Pebble Beach and a T-5 finish the week before that in Phoenix, marking the first time since 2007 that Mickelson has strung together three straight top-6 finishes.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


“My game’s on the upswing,” Mickelson said. “I’m playing well enough to compete week in and week out now, and now it’s just a matter of a shot here or there, the difference between winning and not, as opposed to kind of finding my game. I’m not searching anymore.”

Mickelson added that he has seen “significant” progress in both putting and driving, two areas of concern he addressed in the offseason. But as the season’s first major continues to draw near, he believes that turning top-10s into a victory is critical to his chances at a fourth green jacket.

“I think it will be important for me, if I want to go into Augusta with the expectation of winning again, that I win before then,” Mickelson said. “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But I think that that would be a big thing for momentum, because you need to perform under the gun, in the clutch, and play well enough to win a tournament before you expect to win a major.”

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Watson wins at Riviera for third time

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 11:35 pm

Bubba Watson holed a bunker shot midway through the back nine Sunday on his way to a 2-under 69 and a two-stroke victory in the Genesis Open. Here's the plot lines of Watson's third victory in the PGA Tour's Los Angeles stop:

Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-12), Kevin Na (-10), Tony Finau (-10), Scott Stallings (-9), Patrick Cantlay (-9)

What it means: This is the third time Watson has won at Riviera Country Club, following victories in 2014 and 2016. It's his 10th PGA Tour win and his first since he won at Riviera two years ago. After a shaky, three-bogey, two-birdie front nine, he settled down - helped by his prodigious length - to make three birdies on the back with no dropped shots.


Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


Round of the day: Adam Hadwin shot his second consecutive 5-under-par 66. Only a second-round 74 kept him from being squarely in the mix.

Best of the rest: Jordan Spieth shot a final-round 67 to finish tied for ninth.

Biggest disappointment: Graeme McDowell was just two shots off the lead after 54 holes, seeking his first win since 2015, but he closed with a 77 and fell 23 spots.

Shot of the day: Watson's bunker hole-out from 16 yards at the par-3 14th. It gave him a two-stroke cushion over Cantlay.

Quote of the day: "It means a lot. My goal has always been to get 10 wins." - Bubba Watson

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Bubba holes birdie from bunker after caddie calls it

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 10:31 pm

Bubba Watson started the final round of the Genesis Open with the lead, but quickly squandered it with three bogeys on the front nine.

That didn't crush the two-time tournament champion's (or his caddie's) confidence though, as evidenced by his birdie on the par-3 14th hole, which he made from the greenside bunker.

Watson regained the final-round lead by finding the bottom of the cup with this splash-out from the sand, a shot his caddie, Ted Scott, apparently called before he hit it:

Hey, when you caddie for a guy who has two green jackets hanging in the closet at home, sometimes you just know.

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Watch: Daly makes an ace at the Chubb Classic

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 18, 2018, 9:01 pm

John Daly won't walk from the Chubb Classic with the trophy, but he certainly deserves recogition for his Sunday scorecard, which came complete with a hole-in-one.

Daly aced the 154-yard par-3 16th on the Talon Course at TwinEagles, when his ball carried the froont bunker and tracked right to the hole.

Two holes later, Daly signed for a final-round 67 that included four birdies, three bogeys and two eagles, which both in the span of four holes on the back nine.