Golf Talk Live - Robert Damron Transcript Segment 4

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 25, 2001, 4:00 pm
RICH LERNER
A LITTLE TROUBLE HOLDING THE HARDWARE UP? ... HEAVY?

ROBERT DAMRON
THAT IS A HEAVY TROPHY. IT'S THE KIND OF THING WHERE I HAD TO LOCK MY ELBOWS IN MY SIDE AND LEAN BACK A LITTLE BIT JUST SO I DIDN'T FALL FORWARD.

RICH LERNER
BOY WHAT A MOMENT. WE'RE GOING TO GET TO THAT EXCITING FINISH IN JUST A COUPLE OF MINUTES. FIRST, LET'S TAKE A PHONE CALL. WE'VE GOT A YOUNGSTER 14 YEARS OF AGE, ANDREW, YOU'RE ON GOLF TALK LIVE WITH ROBERT DAMRON. HI ANDREW?

ANDREW, CALLER FROM SOUTH CAROLINA (MALE):
ROBERT, HOW CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FEELING WHEN YOU LIFTED THE TROPHY ABOVE YOUR HEAD IN THE BYRON NELSON?

ROBERT DAMRON
WELL, YOU KNOW, I CAN'T, I CAN'T DESCRIBE IT AND IT'S THE TYPE OF THING WHERE IT HAPPENS SO FAST WHERE AS AFTER I MAKE THE LAST PUTT, THEY GRAB ME, THEY PULL ME TO 18 FOR THE TROPHY

PRESENTATION THEN YOU GO DO YOUR, YOUR INTERVIEWS AND ALL THAT, BUT I WISH I COULD ACTUALLY GO BACK TO THAT LAST PUTT GOING IN THE HOLE SO I COULD SOAK IT IN AND ENJOY IT MORE THAN I DID, BUT STANDING THERE ON THE

LAST GREEN WITH BYRON NELSON, THAT'S, THAT'S THE MEMORY THAT I'M GOING TO HAVE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE BECAUSE, I MEAN, WHAT A GREAT PLAYER THAT GUY WAS.

RICH LERNER
IT

ROBERT DAMRON
AND WHAT A GREAT MAN HE IS.

RICH LERNER
HE IS... ONE OF THE ALL TIME GENTLEMEN,

ROBERT DAMRON
UNBELIEVABLE

RICH LERNER
AND I THINK HE'S A GREAT MODEL FOR ALL TOUR PROFESSIONALS. I, I'M

ROBERT DAMRON
NO QUESTION

RICH LERNER
SURE YOU WOULD CONCUR WITH THAT BECAUSE OF THE WAY HE CONDUCTS HIMSELF.

ROBERT DAMRON
THERE'S NO QUESTION.

RICH LERNER
YEAH

ROBERT DAMRON
JUST A GREAT MAN.

RICH LERNER
AND WHAT A GREAT FIRST VICTORY TO HAVE. MY FIRST WIN WAS AT THE BYRON AND HE'S STILL WITH US AND STILL VIBRANT.

ROBERT DAMRON
ABSOLUTELY AND, AND LIKE I SAID, JUST, JUST THE FACT THAT, THAT, YOU KNOW, MAKING THE PUTT AND BEATING VERPLANK IN THE PLAY OFF AND ALL THAT, I, I REMEMBER VERY WELL, BUT,

IT DID STAND OUT, STANDING THERE WITH HIM AND, AND SIDE BY SIDE AND HOLDING THE TROPHY AND HIM HANDING ME THE TROPHY AND

RICH LERNER
YOU, YOU READY

ROBERT DAMRON
IT WAS AWESOME.

RICH LERNER
TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THIS BECAUSE, THIS WAS SOME HIGH VOLTAGE STUFF.

ROBERT DAMRON
SURE

RICH LERNER
AND THIS WAS SOME EXCELLENT SUNDAY AFTERNOON THEATRE IN DALLAS, TEXAS WHERE THEY DREW I THINK 250 THOUSAND PEOPLE FOR

THE WEEK.

ROBERT DAMRON
IS THAT RIGHT?

RICH LERNER
GETS A LITTLE CRAZY OUT THERE.

ROBERT DAMRON
YEAH IT WAS NUTS.

RICH LERNER
HUH? (LAUGHS)

ROBERT DAMRON
IT WAS NUTS.

RICH LERNER
YEAH. ALRIGHT, LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE HIGHLIGHTS. WE'RE GOING TO PICK IT UP ON SUNDAY AT NUMBER 14 AND YOU COME TO 14

ROBERT DAMRON
MHMM

RICH LERNER
AND YOU PUSHED YOUR DRIVE RIGHT

ROBERT DAMRON
RIGHT

RICH LERNER
YOU'RE TIED FOR THE LEAD

ROBERT DAMRON
THIS IS A BAD MISTAKE. NOW DO NOT HIT IT THERE.

RICH LERNER
WELL YOUR CADDIE'S TELLING YOU TO HIT IT OUT TO THE FAIRWAY. WHY, WHY ARE YOU GOING TO GAMBLE HERE?

ROBERT DAMRON
BECAUSE I'M NOT, I'M NOT HERE TO FINISH SECOND. I'M NOT, THERE'S A GAP, THERE'S A REASON THERE'S A GAP THERE AND I'M GOING THROUGH IT.

RICH LERNER
BUT FROM THIS VANTAGE POINT IT

LOOKS LIKE NOTHING BUT TROUBLE.

ROBERT DAMRON
YEAH

THAT'S, YEAH THAT'S PRETTY MUCH IT, BUT THIS SHOT IS THE EQUIVALENT OF A HOLE IN ONE. THAT, THAT BUNKER WHERE I HIT IT WAS EXACTLY WHERE I WANTED TO HIT IT, AND THAT WAS THE, THAT WAS I KNEW THE ONLY WAY, TO PUT IT THERE WAS THE BEST CHANCE TO MAKE PAR

RICH LERNER
AND

ROBERT DAMRON
FROM UP AND DOWN.

RICH LERNER
ANYTIME YOU GUN FOR A BUNKER AND GET IT THERE YOU ALMOST ALWAYS GET IT UP AND DOWN.

ROBERT DAMRON
OH YEAH

RICH LERNER
ARE YOU FEELING SO GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF?

ROBERT DAMRON
I'M STARTING TO GET COCKY AT THIS POINT RIGHT HERE, BECAUSE, BECAUSE I, I'VE WATCHED A LOT OF GOLF AND I LIKE IT AND WATCH IT ON TV, AND THE GUY THAT WINS EVERY WEEK GETS GOOD BREAKS AND DOES GOOD THINGS COMING DOWN THE STRETCH.

RICH LERNER
LOCKED UP WHEN IT MATTERS.

ROBERT DAMRON
AND TO ME THAT WAS ONE OF THE, ONE OF THE, THE DEFINING MOMENTS

RIGHT THERE.


RICH LERNER
OKAY NOW YOU'RE AT THE PAR 5, 16TH

ROBERT DAMRON
THIS WAS KIND OF AN IN YOUR FACE SCOTT SHOT RIGHT HERE BECAUSE HE'S ON THE GREEN, I'VE GOT TO HIT THIS CLOSE, PUT A LITTLE STEAM ON HIM, OR, OR HE'S GOING TO HAVE A FREE RUN AT BIRDIE.

RICH LERNER
I LOVE THIS SHOT. THIS IS 17, THE PAR 3.

ROBERT DAMRON
MHMM

RICH LERNER
GOOD LOOKING HOLE. GREAT FOR TELEVISION, AND

ROBERT DAMRON
YEAH

RICH LERNER
YOU, YOU HAD SAID THAT YOU DID NOT LOOK AT LEADERBOARDS. YOU HAD YOUR HEAD

ROBERT DAMRON
NO

RICH LERNER
AT YOUR FEET

ROBERT DAMRON
ABSOLUTELY

RICH LERNER
AND YOU WERE TRYING TO MAKE BIRDIE ON EVERY HOLE.

ROBERT DAMRON
THAT'S IT, YOU KNOW IT'S, TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, IT'S KIND OF LIKE MATCH PLAY BECAUSE I KNEW WHAT SCOTT'S DOING. HE'S THE ONLY ONE I KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING AND, AND SO IT WAS ONE ON ONE.

WHAT A GREAT PUTT THIS WAS. THAT WAS IN THE, IN THE HOLE ALL THE WAY.

RICH LERNER
AND THAT'S WITH THE SEYMOUR PUTTER. YOU MADE THE CHANGE EARLY IN THE WEEK FROM

ROBERT DAMRON
MHMM. WHO'S THIS GUY?


RICH LERNER
SCOTTIE CAMERON.

ROBERT DAMRON
I KNOW.

RICH LERNER
SPEAKING OF SCOTTIE, THIS IS SCOTT VERPLANK AND THIS IS AT NUMBER 18.

ROBERT DAMRON
I WAS JUST HOPING HE'D HIT IT IN THE BUNKER OR SOMETHING.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHING)

ROBERT DAMRON
LET'S JUST

RICH LERNER
SECRETLY SERIOUS. YOU SECRETLY WANT TO HEAR IT. (?)

ROBERT DAMRON
LET'S JUST GET THIS OVER WITH.

NO, I, I

TRY NOT TO

RICH LERNER
YOU DON'T

ROBERT DAMRON
UH, I, I JUST, I DIDN'T NEED ANY BAD KARMA. I DIDN'T WANT TO SIT THERE AND TRY TO JINX HIM, JUST, YOU KNOW, LET ME WIN DOING THE WAY THAT I , YOU KNOW, DO THINGS. I HONESTLY DON'T, THE ONLY THING I KNOW AT THIS POINT IS IF I MAKE THIS PUTT I'VE BEATEN SCOTT.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT ANYONE ELSE HAS DONE.

RICH LERNER
SO YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT THAT WAS FOR THE TOURNAMENT RIGHT THERE.

ROBERT DAMRON
I HAD NO IDEA. AS I TAP IN, I WALK OVER TO MY CADDIE AND RIGHT ABOUT NOW AND I SAY, WHAT'S THAT MEAN? WHAT DO I DO? AND HE SAID WELL WE'RE THREE AHEAD OF THE NEXT GUY. IF SCOTT MAKES THIS IT'S A PLAY-OFF. IF NOT, WE WIN.

RICH LERNER
PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU'RE IN ESSENCE THE VISITOR HERE PLAYING ON HIS HOME COURT. HE HAD THE HOME CROWD ADVANTAGE

ROBERT DAMRON
YUP

RICH LERNER
BECAUSE HE GREW UP IN DALLAS, HAD TAKEN A LESSON FROM BYRON NELSON

ROBERT DAMRON
MHMM

RICH LERNER
AND YOU GUYS ARE ENJOYING YOURSELVES. THAT'S THE

ROBERT DAMRON
OH WELL

RICH LERNER
OTHER ASPECT THAT I THINK PEOPLE REALLY LIKED ABOUT THIS TOURNAMENT IS HOW MUCH FUN YOU HAD TOGETHER. NOW THIS WAS IN THE PLAY-OFF.

ROBERT DAMRON
YEAH.

RICH LERNER
17TH HOLE AGAIN.

ROBERT DAMRON
I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THAT SLOWED DOWN. SLOWED DOWN VERY FAST, BUT IT'S THE KIND OF THING WHERE, YOU KNOW, YOU, YOU DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING DUMB. YOU WANT TO HIT A

GOOD PUTT BUT YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOCK IT WAY BY AND, AND, AND NOW

RICH LERNER
I KNOW YOU DON'T WANT TO WATCH THIS ONE.

ROBERT DAMRON
DO WHAT I'VE SEEN.

NO, I'M, I'M LOOKING AWAY A LITTLE BIT. IN MY MIND IT'S OVER. I KNOW HE'S GOING TO MAKE THE PUTT. HE'S BEEN PUTTING SO WELL.

RICH LERNER
THAT WAS THE THIRD PLAY-OFF HOLE. THAT WAS FOR PLAYING FOR THE WIN.

ROBERT DAMRON
MHMM

RICH LERNER
NOW AGAIN, YOU GUYS ARE JUST HAVING A GOOD TIME?

ROBERT DAMRON
WE ARE HAVING A GOOD TIME. WE, WE DEFINITELY ENJOYED EACH OTHERS COMPANY THAT DAY. WE ENJOYED COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER.

RICH LERNER
WHAT ARE YOU SAYING TO ONE ANOTHER RIGHT THERE?

ROBERT DAMRON
I CAN'T TELL YOU.

RICH LERNER
RIGHT THERE. ANY IDEA?

ROBERT DAMRON
I KNOW WHAT WE SAID BUT I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU.

RICH LERNER
ALRIGHT. THIS IS IT. FOURTH PLAY-OFF HOLE,

AGAIN A PAR 3.

ROBERT DAMRON
VERY CONFIDENT. SAME LINE I HAD IN REGULATION. A LITTLE FURTHER. I KNOW, I KNEW I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT.

RICH LERNER
OH DO THAT.

ROBERT DAMRON
AWESOME. I, I KNEW I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT. SO THAT'S, THAT'S JUST A GREAT FEELING.

RICH LERNER
PAYNE'S (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

ROBERT DAMRON
NOW, NOW IT GETS, NOW IT GETS SCARY. LOOK AT MY EDDIE MUNSTER HAIR. I PULLED MY HAT OFF.

RICH LERNER
GOOD HAIR.

ROBERT DAMRON
YEAH, ISN'T THAT NICE?

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHS)

ROBERT DAMRON
UM, SCOTT DIDN'T EVEN SCARE ME ON THAT PUTT. HE HIT IT, HE KIND OF HIT A BAD PUTT, AND YOU KNOW, LIKE THIS IS THE MOMENT I WAS TALKING ABOUT A MINUTE AGO. I, I JUST DON'T REALIZE WHAT'S GOING ON AT THIS POINT. IT, IT'S

ALL HAPPENING SO FAST AND YOU KNOW, JUST, IT WAS, IT WAS A NEAT TIME BUT EVERYTHING HAPPENED SO FAST AFTERWARDS YOU REALLY DON'T GET THE CHANCE TO

RICH LERNER
YEAH AND WELL HOPE

ROBERT DAMRON
TO SOAK IT IN AT THE END.

RICH LERNER
YEAH HOPEFULLY YOU'LL HAVE 40 YEARS FOR THAT FIRST WIN TO BECOME CRYSTAL CLEAR

ROBERT DAMRON
MHMM

RICH LERNER
IN YOUR, YOUR MEMORY BANKS. PAYNE STEWART'S CADDIE, MIKE HICKS,

ROBERT DAMRON
RIGHT

RICH LERNER
RECOMMENDED THAT PUTTER. THE SEYMOUR. YOU HAD BEEN USING THE SCOTTIE CAMERON.

ROBERT DAMRON
WHAT HAPPENED WAS ON SUNDAY MORNING. ON THE, ON THE DRIVING RANGE AS I'M WARMING UP. THIS CADDIE

FOR JUSTIN NOW, WHO WAS IN THE GROUP IN FRONT, AND HE CAME UP TO ME AND SAID I TOLD PAYNE, AND PAYNE AND I AGREED A FEW YEARS AGO THAT YOU HAD THE PERFECT STROKE FOR THIS PUTTER. IT JUST MATCHES YOU, AND UH,

THE WAY YOU SET UP TO IT, THIS PUTTER IS UH, IT JUST LOOKS, WOULD LOOK GOOD IN YOUR HANDS AND UH I SAID SO FAR YOU'RE RIGHT.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHS) YOU HAD SOMEWHAT OF A SPOTTY RECORD, THIS SEASON, PRIOR TO COMING TO DALLAS. WAS IT SIMPLY A CASE OF BETTER PUTTING?

ROBERT DAMRON
OH DEFINITELY. MY CHIPPING AND PUTTING HAD BEEN ATROCIOUS THIS YEAR. IT, IT'S UNBELIEVABLE THAT, THAT I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS

ONE OF THE BETTER PUTTERS ON THE TOUR, AND THAT'S KIND OF WHAT'S, WHAT'S CARRIED ME. ONE OF THE, YOU KNOW, THINGS THAT'S

RICH LERNER
YEAH

ROBERT DAMRON
THAT'S KEPT ME ON TOUR AND IT JUST LEFT ME. ALL OF A SUDDEN I START HITTING IT BETTER, AND, AND I'M, I'M IN CONTROL OF MY GOLF BALL NOW WHERE AS THE LAST FEW YEARS I'VE BEEN HITTING IT KIND OF BAD, AND ALL OF A

SUDDEN THE PUTTER GOES. IT, GOLF WORKS THAT WAY, BUT I, I KEPT TELLING MY CADDIE, WE'RE, WE'RE NOT GOING TO KEEP HITTING GOOD SHOTS, JUST, LIKE THIS AND WALK AWAY WITH NOTHING.
SOMETHING'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

RICH LERNER
MMM

ROBERT DAMRON
AND IT DID.

RICH LERNER
AND THEN

ROBERT DAMRON
AND THEN THE WEEK AFTER I, I WIN I START HITTING IT BAD.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHS)

ROBERT DAMRON
SO, BUT I'M PUTT, CHIPPING AND PUTTING WELL, NOW.

RICH LERNER
WHAT A STRANGE GAME.

ROBERT DAMRON
I HAVE YEAH.

RICH LERNER
BUT WE LOVE IT.

ROBERT DAMRON
TOUGH TO HANDLE

RICH LERNER
WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A SHORT BREAK. COME BACK IN JUST A MOMENT.

(MUSIC)

(BREAK)

NEXT SEGMENT
Getty Images

The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

Getty Images

Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

Getty Images

Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

Getty Images

Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.