NCAA match play seeds set after uneventful Monday

By Ryan LavnerJune 2, 2015, 1:58 am

BRADENTON, Fla. – The Race to the Eight was more like a procession Monday. On the most stressful day on the college golf calendar, no team played its way inside the top-8 bubble.

The top seven seeds la-di-da’d their way through the final round of stroke play at the NCAA Championship. The only semblance of drama – if you can even call it that – was with UCLA and Georgia Tech, the two teams vying for the all-important eighth spot.

The Bruins, who shot a championship-best 8 under in the third round to make the initial cut, edged the Yellow Jackets by three shots. They will face top-seeded Illinois in Tuesday’s morning quarterfinals.

“This was a stepping stone for our bigger goals,” UCLA coach Derek Freeman said, “but it was a really hard step.”

Georgia Tech’s two seniors were in shock afterward.

Ollie Schniederjans, who began this season as the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, shot 78 Monday and didn’t count toward the team total. All he would have needed was a 74 to send the Yellow Jackets on to match play.

Anders Albertson, the ACC champion, thought he had birdied the last two holes of his college career, but he was assessed the only slow-play penalty of the day after officials deemed that he didn’t make a concerted effort to speed up. It wound up being a moot point anyway, as Tech finished three shots back.

“Just in shock with how my final college day went down,” Schniederjans said. “It couldn’t have been more of a disaster, really.”

It was business as usual for the other top teams, though.

Illinois didn’t count worse than a bogey for the second time this week as it locked up the No. 1 overall seed. The Illini will look to break a recent trend, because the top seed has never gone on to win the national title since the switch to match play in 2009.

“Guess we’ll have to try and disprove that,” coach Mike Small said.

Georgia was the lone team outside the top 20 that advanced. The Bulldogs, even with a pedestrian effort from four-time winner Lee McCoy (T-33), earned the No. 3 seed and will face host South Florida in the quarterfinals.

Among those missing out were No. 1-ranked Florida State, which was nine shots off the cut line, and No. 6 South Carolina, another six behind.

Though there wasn’t the usual volatility during the final day of stroke-play qualifying, that didn’t make the round any less stressful.

“Every coach was grinding his way around this golf course,” Texas coach John Fields said. “Anything can happen out there. There are just catastrophic mistakes out there.”

But all of those big numbers will result in merely a lost hole beginning Tuesday morning. It’s on to match play at the NCAA Championship.

“You can throw the seeds out the window,” Small said. “All eight teams are dead equal now.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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 Web.com 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."

Getty Images

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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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.