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Thomas leads Tour Championship, FedExCup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 22, 2017, 10:20 pm

Halfway through the final event of the season, we have a three-way tie atop the Tour Championship, led by Player of the Year front-runner Justin Thomas. Here's how things look after 36 holes at East Lake, where all eyes are on Thomas as he looks to lock down the FedExCup:

Leaderboard: Justin Thomas (-7), Paul Casey (-7), Webb Simpson (-7), Patrick Reed (-6), Justin Rose (-6), Gary Woodland (-6), Jon Rahm (-6), Xander Schauffele (-5), Jason Dufner (-5), Brooks Koepka (-5)

What it means: The top five players in the season-long points race coming into the week (Jordan Spieth, Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm)  can win the FedExCup with a tournament victory. But suddenly, they have some company as they battle for the season-long trophy. Paul Casey, Webb Simpson, Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka all shot under par on Friday and could jump up and steal the title and the $10 million in prize money if the top 5 - namely Thomas - should falter. 

Round of the day: Hard to argue with Thomas’ 4-under 66. The 24-year-old showed the same resolve down the stretch Friday as he did winning his first major title just last month, eagling the 18th hole to pull into a share of the lead and overall FedExCup lead. Thomas made back-to-back birdies at Nos. 6 and 7 to go out in 33, and then made another birdie at 13 before giving a shot back on the next hole. On the par-5 finishing hole, JT nuked a 5-iron from 229 yards to 5 ½ feet and sank the putt for the eagle 3.

Best of the rest: Rose and rookie Xander Schauffele matched Thomas' Friday 66, but one man bested it with a Friday-best 65 ... Patrick Reed. Captain America skyrocketed up the leaderboad with six birdies and just one bogey to sit only a shot off the lead. Simpson (67) also shares the lead and, at No. 16 entering the week, is trying to become the lowest-ranked player to win the FedExCup since Bill Haas (25) won it in 2011.

Biggest disappointment: A case could be made here for Jordan Spieth (the pre-tournament FedExCup No. 1) after following up a 3-under 67 with an even-par 70, but the three-time major champ can still get himself back in the mix with a low weekend. The same cannot be said for Rickie Fowler, who is 7 over after rounds of 73-74. Fowler is one shot in front of last place and will be in the first group out on Moving Day with fellow Presidents Cup teammate, Kevin Chappell.

Main storyline heading into Saturday: Thomas is the man to beat. Not only did he come in to East Lake in the driver’s seat for PGA Tour Player of the Year, but the PGA champ eagled his final hole of the day to grab a share of the tournament lead and the No. 1 spot in the race for the FedExCup with just 36 holes to play. Thomas’ challengers for the FedExCup title and $10 million prize include a couple of guys who haven’t won this year in Casey and Simpson, as well as Spieth, Johnson, Rahm and Leishman.

Shot of the day: Pat Perez was having a rather pedestrian Friday at East Lake until his approach shot at the par-4 16th hole from 173 yards away that took a couple of bounces before hitting the pin and dropping in for an eagle. Perez capped it off with an epic club flip before finishing with a 2-under 68 on the day.

Quote of the day: "I’m just trying to play the best I can, just trying to win the tournament … the rest comes with it." – Thomas, on how he keeps the event and the FedExCup title in perspective.

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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

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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 played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.