You Oughta Know: Valspar Championship

By Will GrayMarch 15, 2014, 11:42 pm

After three days on the Copperhead Course where low scores were hard to come by, Robert Garrigus tops the leaderboard in Tampa. Here's what You Oughta Know heading into the final round of the Valspar Championship, where Garrigus leads by one as he looks to win for the second time on the PGA Tour:

  • Garrigus captured the season-ending event at Disney in 2010, but also has had a series of near-misses, including three playoff losses. The most recent of those extra-hole defeats came at Innisbrook in 2012, when he lost to Luke Donald in a four-man playoff that also included Jim Furyk and Sang-Moon Bae.
  • While the position of 54-hole leader is often advantageous on the PGA Tour, that hasn't been the case for Garrigus. Sunday will mark the fourth time he has taken a lead into the final round; in each of the other three instances, he finished second.
  • One of the longer hitters on Tour, this week Garrigus has taken advantage of Innisbrook's par-5 holes, playing the four of them collectively in 10 under through the first three rounds. He's a combined 2 over on the other 42 holes.
  • While his slow play created some controversy Saturday, Kevin Na remained in contention for yet another strong result this season. After missing much of 2013 because of injury, Na has rebounded with three top-10 finishes in nine '13-14 starts. He appears to be in position to add to that total, as Na will tee off in the final group with Garrigus, trailing by a shot.
  • After a Saturday 64, Retief Goosen is firmly in contention as he looks to end a lengthy winless drought. The two-time major champ has missed a significant amount of time over the past two years because of injury issues, but he'll tee off Sunday just four shots off the pace. While he has seven PGA Tour wins, Goosen hasn't hoisted a trophy since he won at Innisbrook in 2009.
  • Having already missed three starts this year with shoulder tendinitis, Justin Rose has shown no signs of discomfort this week. Rose has shot par or better in each of his first three rounds at Innisbrook, and he will begin the final round just three shots off the pace, in search of his first win since capturing the U.S. Open at Merion last summer.
  • Luke Donald trails by five shots through 54 holes, but it's a position from which the Englishman has had past success on the Copperhead Course. Donald trailed by three shots heading into the final round here in 2012, but fired a 5-under 66 to gain entry into a four-man playoff that he eventually won with a birdie on the first extra hole.
  • With the year's first major less than four weeks away, the players near the lead may show some nerves Sunday as each looks to punch a ticket to Augusta National. None of the top three players on the leaderboard - Garrigus, Na and John Senden - are in the field for the Masters, and only Rose currently has a tee time at Augusta among the seven players within four shots of the lead through 54 holes.
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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 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."

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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.


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.