Blue Devils Start Strong at East Regionals
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, FLA. - The top-ranked and top-seeded Duke women's golf team kicked off the 2004 NCAA East Regional in stellar fashion on Thursday as the Blue Devils carded a 2-under-par round of 286 and lead by 11 strokes at the Par 72, 6,165-Yard El Campeon Course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
Duke (286) leads UNLV (297), Oklahoma State (298), Tulane (301) and Auburn (302) rounds out the top five. It marks the 16th time this season the Blue Devils have registered an under-par round as a team.
'Today I saw good shots, but I also saw quite a few misses,' said Duke Head Coach Dan Brooks. 'I think our best golf is ahead of us.'
Senior Leigh Anne Hardin and freshman Brittany Lang each led Duke with 1-under-par rounds (71) on the morning. Hardin, a product of Martinsville, Ind., came into the final hole with a 2-under-par score, but suffered her only bogey on the day as she missed the green on the final hole and could not get up and down.
'Leigh Anne has been such a hard worker on her golf swing and her swing is looking better right now than it has looked since she has been at Duke,' said Brooks. 'The nice thing is she is starting to own it-she is starting to swing the club in this new technique like she has always done it this way. That is what we have needed her to do. She is starting to store power and hit the ball longer. Leigh Anne knows what it feels like to hit a ball hard now and that is the greatest thing going on in her game at this time.'
Lang made the turn at even par and was able to also obtain a 2-under-par score through 12 holes, but had a bogey on the par-4 hole 13. A McKinney, Texas, product, Lang led Duke with four birdies. Both Hardin and Lang are tied for fourth in the individual competition.
The nations top-ranked individual golfer, Liz Janangelo posted an even-par 72 on the day and sit in tied for seventh place along with freshman Anna Grzebien. Janangelo began the morning with a birdie of the first hole but suffered bogies on holes seven, eight and nine. The product of West Hartford, Conn., had three birdies on the day, all of which came on par 5s.
Grzebien, a Narragansett, R.I., native, notched three birdies and three bogies on Day 1 to finish with a 72. She was about to post a birdie on the par-5 hole 17 to move to even par. Overall, Duke owns four golfers in the top seven of the individual competition.
The 2001 East Regional Champion, Virada Nirapathpongporn, began her day with three bogies on the first four holes and later collected one birdie and one bogey on the back nine to finish with a 3-over-par 75. The Bangkok, Thailand, native is in tied for 19th place after round 1.
'What is nice is they gave us a good golf course this time,' said Brooks. 'It is set up pretty tough and the pins are in tough spots. This is a course where I am not surprised that we are separated a little bit, because I think every time we have been tested by the golf course this year we have had solid wins. We tend to excel when the course is difficult.'
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
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.