Dufner Leads Delayed New Zealand Event

By Golf Channel NewsroomFebruary 23, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 ING NZ PGA ChampionshipCHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Jason Dufner carded a 5-under- par 67 Thursday to grab the lead during the weather-delayed opening round of the ING New Zealand PGA Championship.
Play was halted for two hours early in the round due lightning and heavy rain. The first round was eventually suspended for the night due to darkness. First round action will resume Friday morning local time with the second round to follow.
Brett Rumford stands alone in second place at 3-under par through 16 holes. Gareth Paddison and Chris Tidland each posted rounds of 2-under-par 70 and share third place. They were joined there by D.J. Brigman and Brandt Snedeker, who have each completed 16 holes of their opening rounds.
Dufner was in the first group off the 10th tee. He parred his first two holes before play was delayed. When he returned, he parred his next two holes as well.
'That's probably the toughest conditions I've played in with the temperature low and the wind constantly blowing at about 20 mph and gusting up to 30 mph,' said Dufner.
The 2001 Wichita Open winner birdied the par-5 14th and made it two straight with a birdie on the 15th at Clearwater Resort.
After a par on 16, Dufner moved to 3-under with a birdie on No. 17. Once again he made it two straight as he birdied the 18th.
Trouble loomed around the turn though. Dufner stumbled to a bogey on the par-4 third. He slipped to 2-under as he dropped a stroke on the fourth after his tee shot to the par-3 came up short and he was unable to get up and down for par.
The 28-year-old, who has missed the cut in his previous four trips here, chipped in for birdie on the sixth to get one of those strokes back.
Dufner came right back to birdie the seventh. At the ninth, his last, Dufner stuck a six-iron approach within tap-in range for a closing birdie to end at minus-5.
'That was a nice way to finish,' Dufner said. 'It's a difficult par-3 and the wind was pretty hard to gauge and to be honest I was kind of guessing at what club to hit.'
Rumford got off to a good start with birdies on the third and fifth. He parred eight straight holes around the turn. The Australian birdied the par-5 14th to move to minus-three. After he parred the next two holes, play was called for the night.
Kevin Stadler, who won the Johnnie Walker Classic on the European Tour two weeks ago, shot a 1-under-par 71. He stands in a tie for seventh place with Andrew W. Johnson, Stephen Allan, Nick Flanagan, James Nitties and Jarrod Lyle. Matt Hendrix also is 1-under, but has four holes left to play.
Thirteen more players have completed their rounds at even-par 72 with two players left on the course at that number.
Related Links:
  • Leadeerboard - ING New Zealand PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage - ING New Zealand PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    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.

    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."

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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."

    Getty Images

    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."