Drive to Oakland Hills Continues at Nissan

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 16, 2004, 5:00 pm
Bernhard Langer now plays the majority of his golf in the United States, which could make it difficult for him to evaluate, first hand, the players who will comprise his European Ryder Cup team.
 
This week, however, many of those potential team members will join their captain on American soil.
 
Langer, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Fredrik Jacobson, Thomas Bjorn, Sergio Garcia, Niclas Fasth and Jesper Parnevik are all in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for the Nissan Open.
 
And unlike in past campaigns, their PGA Tour play will go a long way towards their inclusion in the 35th Ryder Cup Matches.
 
For the first time, qualification for the European Ryder Cup team can be determined in two ways.
 
Players can qualify by finishing in the top 5 on the World Points List, which awards points based on finishes in worldwide events ' not just on the European Tour ' from Sept. 4, 2003 to Aug. 23, 2004.
 
They can also do so by being among the top 5 finishers, who did not make it via the world list, on the European Points List. This list is based on money earned in European Tour events from Sept. 4, 2003 to Aug. 29, 2004.
 
Click for the latest Ryder Cup standings
 
For now, Westwood, Clarke and Jacobsen are on the inside; Bjorn, Garcia, Parnevik and Fasth have a little ways to go, and plenty to time to get there.
 
The Ryder Cup is slated to be contested Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield, Mich.
 
United States captain Hal Sutton will also get a sneak peak at players trying to make his team.
 
With the top 10 at the conclusion of the PGA Championship getting an automatic berth onto the U.S. team, 18 of the top 25 players in the standings are in this week's field.
 
That includes Tiger Woods.
 
The worlds No. 1 has played this tournament ' six times as a professional ' more than any other PGA Tour event without winning. He closed with a 65 last year to tie for fifth.
 
Woods grew up in the greater Los Angeles area, and competed in his first tour event at Riviera Country Club in 1992. He missed the cut that year, and did the same in 93. Hes since never finished outside of the top 20, while posting a pair of runner-up finishes.
 
His closest chance to victory came in 1998, when he lost to Billy Mayfair in a playoff at Valencia Country Club.
 
Ive come close a couple of times, Woods said. I've got a lot of great memories here.
 
As does Mike Weir.
 
Weir defeated Charles Howell III in a playoff to claim his second title of the 2003 season. He went on to win the Masters and nearly $5 million.
 
Howell didnt exactly fall apart after that defeat ' collecting another runner-up finish, at the Tour Championship, to go along with four other top-10 finishes ' but he hasnt yet come that close to earning his second tour title.
 
The promising 24-year-old has yet to break the top 20 in five starts this season.
 
This is the 78th playing of what was, for most of its existence, known as the Los Angeles Open.
 
Its the 42nd time that Riviera has hosted the tournament. The par-71 course, dubbed Hogans Alley after three-time winner Ben Hogan, has been lengthened to 7,222 yards ' up 48 yards from a year ago.
 
The purse has also been increased by $300,000 to $4.8 million; the winner will net $864,000.
 
The field includes Buick Invitational winner John Daly, Vijay Singh, who had his streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes snapped when he missed the cut last week in La Jolla, British Open champion Ben Curtis, PGA champion Shaun Micheel, Chad Campbell, FBR Open winner Jonathan Kaye and David Toms, who is scheduled to make his first start in two months after hand surgery.
 
Last years result was no anomaly. There have been three playoffs in the last six Nissan Opens. The other three tournaments during that span have been determined by a total of four strokes.
 
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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 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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    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."