Golf Talk Live - Freddie Haas Transcript Segment 1
FREDDIE HAAS JR. WAS A WALKER CUPPER.
A RYDER CUPPER.... AND THE MAN WHO STOPPED BYRON NELSON'S STREAK AT ELEVEN WINS IN 1945 BY WINNING THE MEMPHIS OPEN. MEET FREDDIE HAAS JR. NOW ON GOLF TALK LIVE.
THE FOLLOWING IS AN ENCORE PRESENTATION OF GOLF TALK LIVE.
WHEN 29 YEAR OLD AMATEUR FREDDIE HAAS JR. JOINED THE TOUR IN THE SUMMER OF '45 HE DID SO TO GET CLOSE TO THE PROS IN ORDER TO SELL THEM LIFE INSURANCE. IT WAS THE YEAR OF THE BYRON NELSON STREAK AND FROM
MARCH THROUGH EARLY AUGUST, NELSON WON ELEVEN TIMES IN ELEVEN STARTS. ON AUGUST 19TH, FIVE DAYS AFTER PRESIDENT TRUMAN ANNOUNCED JAPAN SURRENDERED WHICH ENDED WORLD WAR II, FREDDIE HAAS JR. STOPPED
THE NELSON STREAK AT ELEVEN BY WINNING THE MEMPHIS OPEN WHILE PAIRED WITH BYRON IN THE FINAL ROUND. HE'S SEEN OR PLAYED WITH ALMOST EVERY GREAT PLAYER OF THE 20TH CENTURY INCLUDING JONES, SNEAD,
NELSON AND HOGAN. HE REMEMBERS THE HIGH DRAW OF BOBBY JONES AND THE DANCE JONES' BALL DID WHEN IT LANDED ON THE GREEN. HE ALSO REMEMBERS THE SNAP HOOK THAT HOGAN HAD IN THE 1930'S BEFORE BEN FIGURED OUT HOW TO
HIT A CONTROLLED FADE. FREDDIE HAAS JR. TURNED PRO MONTHS AFTER WINNING THE 1945 MEMPHIS OPEN AND EVERY YEAR SINCE 1946 HE HAS CASHED A TOURNAMENT CHECK AND JUST LIKE THE
REST OF US, FREDDIE'S BIGGEST CONCERN RIGHT NOW IS PLAYING WELL ENOUGH TO BREAK 80 AGAIN.
WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE I'M PETER KESSLER. GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO ONE OF THE GAME'S GREAT TREASURES, FREDDIE HAAS JR.
WHAT A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU HERE, SIR.
PETER IT'S SO NICE TO BE HERE. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW WE LOOK FORWARD TO THIS IN NEW ORLEANS.
ARE YOU BREAKING 80?
OH YEAH, I CAN DO THAT EVERY NOW AND THEN.
WHEN YOUR DAD FIRST STARTED TO PLAY GOLF, ALMOST A HUNDRED YEARS AGO IN THE EARLY 1900'S, THE GAME WAS IN IT'S INFANCY IN AMERICA. VERY FEW PEOPLE PLAYED. THE PGA OF AMERICA HAD NOT YET BEEN ESTABLISHED AND LONG
BEFORE HE BECAME A CLUB PROFESSIONAL AND BEFORE HE EVER PLAYED GOLF, HE TOOK 25 GOLF LESSONS BEFORE HE ACTUALLY TEED IT UP AND PLAYED 18 HOLES. WHAT GOT HIM SO EXCITED ABOUT GOLF?
I THINK IT WAS FRANCIS QUIMET WHEN HE BEAT TED WRIGHT AND HARRY VARDON AND HE WON THE NATIONAL OPEN AND THEY HAD TOLD HIM ABOUT THAT TIME HE SHOULD QUIT PLAYING
TENNIS. HE WAS A RANKED TENNIS PLAYER. VERY GOOD, BUT HE SAID I THINK I'LL TAKE UP GOLF AND HE HAD JACK REDMAN, TRICK SHOT ARTIST, WAS AT ONE OF THE CLUB'S THERE IN CAROLINAS, SO DAD TOOK 25 STRAIGHT
LESSONS. DIDN'T PLAY BUT HE BROKE 90 THE FIRST TIME HE PLAYED WHICH IS RATHER GOOD.
AND MAYBE GOOD ADVICE FOR OTHER PEOPLE AT HOME.
IT DOES HELP YOU TO GO OUT WITH A LITTLE BIT OF SKILL, A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE AND A LITTLE DESIRE AND MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE MONEY AND A LITTLE TIME.
SPEAKING OF SKILL, IN 1930 BOBBY JONES HAD HIS GRAND SLAM YEAR. ONE, WHAT WERE FOR HIM, THE FOUR MAJORS, THE U.S. AND BRITISH OPENS THE U.S. AND BRITISH AMATEURS.
BUT YEARS LATER HE WOULD POINT TO AUGUSTA, AUGUSTA COUNTRY CLUB FROM AUGUSTA NATIONAL WHICH HE DESIGNED AND WHERE OF COURSE THE MASTERS IS HELD AND HE WOULD SAY, IN 1930, THAT'S WHERE I PLAYED MY BEST
GOLF. NOW OF COURSE HE WAS REFERRING TO NOT ONLY AUGUSTA COUNTRY CLUB BUT FORREST HILLS COUNTRY CLUB WHERE THE SOUTH EASTERN OPEN WAS HELD
IN THE WINTER OF 1930.
YOU WERE 14 YEARS OLD. YOU PLAYED IN THE TOURNAMENT. JONES WON BY 13. HE HAD LED BY 18 WITH THREE HOLES TO PLAY
BEFORE THERE WAS A BIG DELAY AND HE DIDN'T CARE HOW HE FINISHED BECAUSE HE LED BY SO MANY.
SO HE WAS PLAYING THEN WHAT WAS ARGUABLY THE BEST GOLF THAT ANYBODY HAS EVER PLAYED BEFORE OR SINCE. WHAT DID YOU SEE WHEN YOU WATCHED HIM THAT MADE HIS SWING
AND HIS INTELLECT SET HIM APART FROM EVERYBODY ELSE?
WELL HE, HE JUST HAD A, AN AIR ABOUT HIM THAT WHEN YOU SAW JONES GRAB HOLD OF A GOLF CLUB YOU KNEW SOMETHING GOOD WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. AND JONES HAD THE ABILITY TO SWING THE GOLF CLUB SO BEAUTIFULLY, SO GRACEFULLY, HE WAS ON THE, OH HE WAS
JUST WITH IT ALL THE TIME AND HE STARTED OUT THAT LAST ROUND IN THE SOUTHEAST, THE PGA THREE, THREE, THREE, THREE, THREE. THAT'S AN EAGLE, FOUR BIRDIES, AND IT WAS CLOSE, KIND
OF UP TO THAT TIME, BUT I SAW GENE SARAZEN SAY WAIT A MINUTE, THERE'S NO WAY WE CAN BEAT THIS GUY, AND SURE ENOUGH HE BUILT UP A RATHER SUBSTANTIAL LEAD.
AND OF COURSE 1930 WAS THE YEAR THAT GENE SARAZEN WON EIGHT PROFESSIONAL GOLF TOURNAMENTS JUST THAT NONE OF THEM HAPPENED TO BE THE MAJORS AND THAT'S WHY JONES' YEAR WAS THOUGHT TO BE SIGNIFICANTLY GREATER THAN SARAZEN'S EIGHT WIN YEAR OF THE SAME SEASON.
WELL THEY WERE SO GOOD THAT IT, IT WAS JUST WONDERFUL TO WATCH THEM PLAY AND I THINK IF YOU HAVE A CHANCE YOU OUGHT TO CHECK THEIR, PEOPLE OUT THERE OR CHECK THEIR SWINGS AND FIND OUT. NOW JONES HAD A LITTLE HITCH IN
HIS SWING UP HERE AT THE BACK WHERE HE DID A LITTLE LOOP BUT THAT LOOP WAS PRETTY GOOD, THE WAY HE WAS ABLE TO CONTROL IT. ONE OF THE FEW GUYS I KNOW WHO WAS ABLE TO HIT A HIGH HOOK AND CONTROL IT AND MAKE
THE BALL KIND OF BOUNCE AROUND. THEY DON'T DO THAT NOW A DAYS AND I THINK THE MAIN REASON IS BECAUSE, LET'S GO BACK AND FIND OUT WHAT JONES REALLY WAS. JONES WAS A LEFT SIDE DOMINANT GUY. HE WROTE WITH HIS
LEFT HAND. HE DID EVERYTHING LEFT HANDED, AND WHEN HE STOOD UP TO THE BALL HIS CHIN WAS TO THE RIGHT OF THE BALL AND WHEN HE GOT BACK UP HERE TO THE TOP HE WAS STILL LOOKING AT THE BALL WITH HIS MASTER EYE. NOT ME, I'M RIGHT HANDED. I HAVE TO STAND UP
HERE THIS WAY AND I'D GET BACK HERE AND I'D PICK THE BALL BACK UP WITH MY RIGHT EYE ON THE WAY DOWN AND I FELT LIKE I WAS HITTING A MOVING OBJECT. IF YOU POINT YOUR FINGER AT SOMETHING
OVER HERE AND YOU CLOSE ONE EYE AND THEN THE OTHER, DON'T CHANGE YOUR EYE IF YOUR NOSE GETS IN THE WAY. YOU EITHER GOT TO CUT OFF THE NOSE (LAUGHING) OR YOU GOT TO MAKE SOME OTHER ARRANGEMENT.
WHEN YOU THINK OF JONES COMPARED TO THE OTHER GREAT SPORTS HEROES OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF SPORT AS IT WAS CALLED AT THE TIME, HOW DID HE COMPARE IN TERMS OF HIS POPULARITY TO, TO PEOPLE
LIKE BABE RUTH AND JACK DEMPSEY.
TWO OF THE OTHER GREAT HEROES OF THE 1920'S AND EARLY '30'S?
OH YOU GOT TO PUT THEM ON A LEVEL BECAUSE THEY'RE TOP, THAT'S REALLY TOP DOG. THEY WERE REALLY TOPS AND WONDERFUL GUYS. I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO KNOW THEM VERY LITTLE BUT IT WAS A GREAT PLEASURE. ALSO,
WALTER HAGAN WAS IN THAT GROUP AND WHAT HE DID FOR GOLF IN SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND IS UNREAL.
WERE HAGAN'S CONTRIBUTIONS IN TERMS OF POPULARIZING THE GAME IN YOUR VIEW SIMILAR TO THE ONES THAT ARNOLD PALMER MADE IN THE EARLY 1960'S?
(LAUGHS) TWO PEACHES IN A POD. ABSOLUTELY. I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO PLAY WITH WALTER HAGAN WHEN HE CAME TO NEW ORLEANS. WE PLAYED IN EVERY COUNTRY CLUB AND HE COMES
OUT WITH A SILK SHIRT. HE'S GOT A TIE ON. HE'S GOT A LITTLE GOLF CLUB HOLDING HIS TIE IN PLACE AND WE HAVE 92 DEGREE WEATHER DOWN THERE AND THE HUMIDITY OF A HUNDRED AND THIS FELLOW IS PLAYING JUST LIKE HE CAME OUT OF VANITY FAIR. JUST MAGNIFICENT.
HE HAD MORE OIL IN HIS HAIR THAN THERE WAS UNDER GROUND.
I'LL TELL YOU WHAT. WE GOT AN AWFUL LOT OF OIL ON THE FIRST TEE BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT WALTER HAGAN OUGHT TO GIVE US A STROKE OR TWO ON THE, ON THE NINE HOLES. HE SAID OH NO, THERE'S
NO WAY I COULD DO THAT, BUT HE SAID WE'LL PLAY FOR A DOLLAR AND BRAGGING RIGHTS. WELL, HE MADE A COUPLE OF BEAUTIFUL BIRDIES ON THAT FRONT NINE BUT I HAD A GOOD PARTNER (?). WE BROKE EVEN SO EVERYBODY CALLED IT A, A WIN WIN SITUATION.
WE WILL COME RIGHT BACK WITH FREDDIE HAAS JR. DON'T GO AWAY.
YOU BRIEFLY MENTIONED FRANCIS QUIMET AND HIS INFLUENCE ON YOUR DAD IN 1913 WHEN QUIMET BEAT VARDON AND RAY TO WIN THE NATIONAL OPEN AT BROOKLINE AT THE COUNTRY CLUB IN
THAT'S CALLED BROOKLINE.
PEOPLE DON'T APPRECIATE PERHAPS AS MUCH AS YOU DO, THE CONTRIBUTIONS THAT QUIMET MADE AND THAT JONES MADE TO GOLF BEYOND THEIR RESPECTIVE PLAYING RECORD. COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT IT.
WELL, FIRST PLACE, THEY WERE JUST GREAT GUYS AND EVERYBODY JUST LOVED THEM AND YOU COULDN'T, YOU COULDN'T BE WITH HIM WITHOUT
APPRECIATING ALL OF THE TIME AND EFFORT THAT THEY PUT INTO IT IN ADDITION TO MAINTAINING THE WORK ETHICS THAT THEY ACCUMULATED OVER THE YEARS.
JONES WAS A VERY OUTSTANDING ATTORNEY AND I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT FRANCIS QUIMET DID BUT I KNOW HE AND DAD DID SOME BUSINESS AND WE WERE SO DELIGHTED WHEN HE WON THE
NATIONAL AMATEUR BECAUSE IT SHOWED THAT HIM WINNING THE NATIONAL OPEN OVER RAY AND VARDON WAS NO FLUKE. THIS GUY COULD PLAY GOLF AND HERE IS 19 YEARS OLD, IT JUST CAPTURED THE FANCY OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE, KNEW ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT GOLF OR, THEY SAID WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED GOLF?
REALLY? AND UH SAME THING IS HAPPENING WITH TIGER WOODS. THEY'RE SAYING WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON HERE? WELL, WHAT WENT ON THEN. WELL I'LL TELL YOU, IT WAS ALMOST A MIRACLE.
WE COULDN'T BELIEVE THAT FRANCIS QUIMET BEAT VARDON AND RAY. GREATEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD.
PEOPLE LIKE TO CRITICIZE A LITTLE BIT JONES' 1930 YEAR BY SUGGESTING THAT BECAUSE HE WAS AN AMATEUR AND NOT A PROFESSIONAL THAT HE DIDN'T HAVE GREAT PLAYERS TO PLAY AGAINST. NOW WE KNOW OF COURSE THAT HAGAN AND SARAZEN WERE IN THEIR PRIME AND
FROM 1923 ON NEITHER ONE OF THEM EVER WON A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP THAT JONES ACTUALLY PLAYED IN BECAUSE HE
WAS BUSY WINNING ALL OF THEM. GIVE US A SENSE OF WHY JONES' RECORD IS AS GREAT AS YOU AND I THINK IT IS REGARDLESS OF WHETHER HE WAS AN AMATEUR OR PROFESSIONAL.
WELL THE FIRST PLACE, HE HAD TO TRAVEL TO PLAY IN THESE FOUR TOURNAMENTS AND TRAVELING WASN'T TOO EASY THEN, HOW YOU GOING TO GET THERE? WELL, ONLY WAY YOU CAN GET
TO ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND'S GET ON A BOAT. WELL AFTER YOU'VE BEEN TOPSY TURVY ON A BOAT FOR FIVE TO SEVEN DAYS I WANT TO SEE YOU GET OUT AND REALLY HIT THE BALL. CHARLIE YATES IN 1938 GOT OFF THAT BOAT AND HE WAS HITTING THE BALL LIKE, BOY, JUST LIKE HE WANTED TO HIT IT.
WHO WON THE BRITISH AMATEUR OF COURSE THAT YEAR.
AND HE WON THE BRITISH AMATEUR, WAS A STAR OF THE WALKER CUP, JUST GREAT. SEVERAL OF US, WE, WE, WE WERE WOBBLING ALL OVER THE PLACE. IT WASN'T TOO MUCH FUN. ONLY WAY YOU
COULD GET THERE. JONES OVER CAME. HE HAD TO DO THAT TWICE. IT'S A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION, TRAVELING, AND FINDING PLACES TO STAY. OF COURSE I'M SURE HE HAD SOME HELP, BUT IT WAS
WONDERFUL THAT HE WAS ABLE TO PUT TOGETHER WHAT HE DID. WE JUST ALL MARVELED AT IT. WE REALLY DID. HERE'S AN AMATEUR THAT'S WORKING AND IS PLAYING WITH THE BEST PLAYERS
AND IF YOU DON'T THINK HAGAN AND CHUTE AND CRAIG WOOD AND ALL THOSE GUYS COULD PLAY. SARAZEN, WELL I WANT TO TELL YOU THEY COULD. THEY WERE GOOD AND YOU OUGHT TO SEE THE EQUIPMENT THEY (LAUGHING) PLAYED WITH.
IF THEY HAD HAD THE GRAPHITE SHAFT WHERE THEY COULD HAVE HAD A 45 OR 46 INCH DRIVER, HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THEY'D HIT IT? WELL WE HAD WOODEN SHAFTS AND I WANT TO TELL YOU IF YOU HIT THE BALL ON THE TOE OR THE HEEL
YOU JUST HAD NO IDEA WHERE THE BALL WAS GOING TO GO. NOW IF YOU CAUGHT IT RIGHT IN THE CENTER LIKE JONES DID ALL THE TIME, HE COULD PLAY WITH IT.
WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU WHEN HE INVITED YOU TO PLAY IN THE MASTERS IN 1935 AFTER YOU HAD WON THE SOUTHERN OPEN IN 1934?
WELL IT WAS THE SOUTHERN AMATEUR AT THE NEW ORLEANS COUNTRY CLUB AND THEY ASKED ME TO PLAY WITH BOBBY. I WAS QUITE HONORED, QUITE NICE. HE CAME TO THE MEADORY (?) COUNTRY CLUB. WE PLAYED IN SEPTEMBER AND WHEN WE GOT THROUGH BOBBY SAID WE HAD A
GATHERING OF SOME REAL FINE PROFESSIONALS LAST YEAR AND HE SAID WE'RE GOING TO PUT ON A TOURNAMENT THIS YEAR THAT WE'RE GOING TO CALL THE MASTERS AND HE SAID I'D LIKE TO HAVE A COUPLE OF YOUNG AMATEURS
LIKE YOU AND CHARLIE YATES COME OVER AND PLAY. WOULD YOU CARE TO PLAY? I SAID THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. JONES, I'LL BE THERE, PLEASE SIR.
WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOU TO HAVE FRANCIS QUIMET AS THE CAPTAIN OF THE 38 WALKER CUP TEAM? YOU ALREADY REFERENCED HIS AMATEUR WINS, ACTUALLY ONE IN '31 AND HE ALSO WON IN 1914 AFTER WINNING THE OPEN IN '13. WHAT KIND OF CAPTAIN WAS HE?
OH HE WAS GREAT (LAUGHS). IF YOU JUST HAD THE OPPORTUNITY OF KNOWING FRANCIS. YOU JUST, THAT WAS IT, AND FRANCIS WAS JUST MADE THE TRIP A SUCCESS BECAUSE I HAD TWO REALLY
GOALS IN MIND. I WANTED TO BE ON THE WALKER CUP TEAM. I THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE REALLY NEAT TO PLAY, AND I ALSO WANTED TO WIN THE NATIONAL INTERCOLLEGIATE CHAMPIONSHIP WHICH
WAS PUT ON AT THAT TIME BY THE USGA AND I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO WIN THE INTERCOLLEGIATE IN '37 AND WON THE SOUTHERN IN '34 AND '37. I PLAYED CHARLIE YATES IN THE FINAL. THAT RASCAL. HE PLAYED GOOD, BOY, I JUST
DIDN'T KNOWS HIM. I TELL YOU. THAT WAS A TOUGHIE. ANYWAY, I PLAYED AND IT WAS, IT WAS PROBABLY THE HEIGHT OF MY GOLF CAREER. I ENJOYED THE RYDER CUP TEAM AND IT WAS FINE BUT, AND WE WENT OVER TO FRANCE AND PLAYED AT
ST. (?) AND WE PLAYED AT ST. JERMAINE AND WE PLAYED WITH NATO AND WE PLAYED A GROUP FROM THE CONTINENT OVER THERE. WE HAD A GREAT TIME, AND IT WAS WONDERFUL BUT SOMETHING
ABOUT THE WALKER CUP TEAM IS JUST MAGIC AND CHARLIE YATES IS CAPTURING THAT NOW. I DON'T KNOW WHETHER YOU KNOW THEY'RE HAVING A BIG GET TOGETHER AT THE WALKER CUP THIS
YEAR AND HE'S BEEN DOING THAT FOR THE PAST OH I DON'T KNOW, SIX, OR EIGHT, OR TEN YEARS AND IT, IT'S CAMARADERIE PERSONIFIED. IT'S GREAT.
WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A LITTLE BREAK AND WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK. AS WE LEAVE YOU FOR JUST A MOMENT, JUST A COUPLE OF THE PLAYING CAREER HIGHLIGHTS OF FREDDIE HAAS, JR.
-WHILE AT LOUISIANA STATE, 1937 NCAA INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION, RUNNER-UP IN 1935.
-FIRST PERSON TO PLAY ON BOTH THE U.S. RYDER CUP AND WALKER CUP TEAMS.
-1966 PGA SENIORS AND WORLD SENIORS CHAMPION
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."