Watson on 'the end' to his Opens, Phil's 'sour grapes'

By Joe PosnanskiJuly 15, 2015, 3:18 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Tom Watson doesn’t really do melancholy much. It’s too pensive an emotion. He prefers things on the surface, plain, where everyone understands each other. Ask him why he lost the 1984 Open at St. Andrews after hitting it on to the road at the 17th hole, he will say “I just hit a terrible shot.” Ask him why next year’s Masters will be his last, he will say, “The golf course is too big for me.”

Ask him about Phil Mickelson’s harsh words about him after last year’s Ryder Cup, he will say: “Disappointing. Phil was very disappointed about not being able to play. It was kind of sour grapes. That’s understandable, we just got waxed, the whole team, and the disappointment was just there. We let our hearts talk for us.”

This is Watson’s Midwestern way – direct, unadorned, plainspoken. He comes from Harry Truman’s state, and he carries Truman’s straightforward talk wherever he goes. 

But Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for what will be his final Open Championship he played in and won his first at Carnoustie back in 1975 – there were things he just could not say. He does not want this to be his last time around at the British Open. If he could miraculously play himself into the top 10 at age 66 – earning another five-year invitation based on an odd past champions exemption – he would come back again. But he knows, deep down, that a top-10 finish will not happen.

“The toolbox,” he says, “is kind of half empty.”



And so he was left talking about things he does not like talking about, like regret. He refused to feel regret in 2009 when he was in position to win the Open at age 59 but bogeyed the 18th hole. “You know, I had so many times when I hit a shot that cost me a tournament,” he says, “but I had so many times in my career where I hit the shot that won me the tournament. So that balanced out.”

He refuses to feel regret about last year’s Ryder Cup, where his captaining was called into question by Mickelson and others. He made several controversial decisions, including sitting down Mickelson for the entire Saturday session. This was the first time he has publicly said that Mickelson and others (he includes himself) were speaking rashly out of the frustration of losing to the European team again.

“I did everything I possibly could in my own mind, with the help of my captains and the PGA, to have us win,” he says. “And it just wouldn’t … the other team was better.”

But as he ponders his final go around at the tournament that has defined him – he is the only American to have won five Open Championships – he does feel something like regret. And it is not something that is easy for him talk about.

“The only regret I have,” he says emotionally, “is that it’s the end. It really is. It’s the end. It’s 40 years. It’s the end. And I regret that I don’t have the tools in the toolbox to be able to continue on.”

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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 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.


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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.

@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.