Cejka Thirlls Fans Leads Tiger and Company

By Golf Channel NewsroomMay 17, 2002, 4:00 pm
Germanys Alex Cejka was brilliant Friday competing in his native country against an elite field containing the worlds No. 1 ranked player.
The bleached-blond 31-year-old made eight birdies without a bogey in taking the first-round lead in the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open TPC of Europe. Cejka is one shot clear of New Zealander Greg Turner, and two removed from 1989 champion Colin Montgomerie.
Tiger Woods, trying to become the first man ever to repeat at this event, opened in 3-under 69. The defending champion had four birdies and a bogey on the 7,255-yard, par-72 St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Heidelberg.
It wasnt my best, but any round in the 60s today is a job well done, said Woods, who also won here in 1999.
Woods started with a 10-foot birdie at the 10th ' his first hole of the day ' and two-putted the par-5 12th to go 2-under. He sank a 25-footer at No. 16 to go to minus 3, but caught a bad break on the next hole.
Tigers second shot at the 551-yard, par-5 17th landed under the lip of a bunker, from where he was only able to advance his ball some 20 yards. He made bogey to turn in 2-under 34.
Woods struggled on the slow St. Leon-Rot greens, making one birdie and eight pars on the front side ' his back.
I felt I really hit the ball well today, Woods said. I felt comfortable. The new greens on the new holes are slower than the pace we are used to on the U.S. tour. They are all about the same speed there.
Last year, Woods also shot a first-round 69, but trailed by a greater margin, as Michael Campbell fired a 62.
Cejka, who fled the Czech Republic at the age of nine to settle in Munich, is a three-time European Tour winner, though all came in 1995. He made noise last year when he went into the final round of the British Open with a share of the lead, only to shoot 73 and finish tied for 13th.
It was a new experience, Cejka said of the British Open. I finished 13th, but it could have been third or second or even first. Some people only ever have one chance and maybe this year it could be me again. You never know in this game.
For now, however, Cejka will have to focus on the task at hand ' beating another top-notch field.
Montgomerie is trying to continue a nine-year winning streak on tour. He was in position to do so at last weeks Benson & Hedges International, but played poorly Saturday and made a pair of crucial mistakes Sunday.
The 38-year-old Scot is on twice-daily painkillers to alleviate the pain in his back. He felt a twinge in the area Thursday and withdrew from the pro-am, but showed no signs of discomfort in shooting 66 Friday.
I am delighted with what happened today, said Montgomerie. I am running into a bit of form, so lets see how long we can hold it.
Speaking of injured golfers, Darren Clarke shot 5-under 67 in the first round, despite pulling a muscle in his thigh Monday on a fishing trip.
Full-field scores from the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open
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Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

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.

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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

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."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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."