Julian Puts Masters Week in Perspective
Jeff Julian, who is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease, accepted the Ben Hogan Award from the Golf Writers Association of America. It goes to a player who remains active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.
The 41-year-old Julian played seven times on the PGA Tour last year, even as his condition worsened.
He lost his ability to speak in November, and he has lost so much strength in his arms and legs that he had to stop playing golf shortly before he came to Augusta for the award.
Tiger Woods, accepting his player-of-the-year award for the fourth straight time, paid tribute to Julian and Bruce Edwards, the caddie for Tom Watson who recently was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
'The toughness they show really inspires me to do more with my life,' Woods said at the Wednesday night dinner.
Woods had already left when Julian stepped to the podium, his hands shaking as he tried to wipe away tears.
A crowd of about 400 fell silent when Julian typed letters into his hand-held computer, then held it to the microphone as the computer spoke the words.
'Tiger mentioned my name. I made it.'
Julian, showing humor in the face of a disorder that progressively robs the body of voluntary muscles, continued to punch away at his computer.
'You would think a person who can't speak would have a relatively short speech. But no such luck.'
The speech indeed was short. His regular computer was damaged on the trip. Overcome with emotion, Julian eventually gave up on the hand-held device and used sign language that his wife, Kimberly, translated.
Julian had a ticket to attend the Masters on Thursday, his only time to see Augusta National. By the time he arrived, however, the first round had been postponed by rain, and the gate he was supposed to enter had already closed.
Julian never made it to the golf course.
Despite not winning a third straight Masters title, Tiger Woods continued to show his dominance in the majors.
His 6-under 66 in the third round was the 19th time that Woods has shot the low score of the day in a major championship. He now has played 100 rounds as a pro.
Nine of those rounds gave him at least a share of the lead in the tournament, and three increased his lead. In 2000 and 2002, Woods shot the low score in at least one round at each of the four majors.
Is it any wonder Woods won eight of his first 25 majors?
Jack Nicklaus didn't have as many low rounds in the majors at this point in his career. Nicklaus finished with 40 low rounds in the majors for his career, but only 13 after his first 100 rounds as a pro.
The best performance for a single major was J.H. Taylor in the 1900 British Open, where he became the only player to have the best score in all four rounds.
Woods came close. In the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he had the best score in three rounds. Ernie Els shot a 68 in the third round, three strokes better than Woods.
The economy is making it tough on companies who sponsor tour events.
Williams, a diversified energy company in Tulsa, Okla., has pulled out as title sponsor of its LPGA Tour event at Tulsa Country Club. Williams has agreed to meet its $2 million obligation for this year's event in September.
It also wants out as presenting sponsor of the Target World Challenge, Tiger Woods' end-of-the-year silly season event at Sherwood Country Club. Williams was the title sponsor of that tournament until last year.
Kemper Insurance, meanwhile, withdrew as title sponsor of the PGA Tour event Tuesday.
For the third time in the last three years, Phil Mickelson closed with a 68 in the final round of a major championship and came up short.
Not only does he remain the undisputed 'Best Player Never to Win a Major,' Mickelson is closing in on another title -- most top 10s without winning a major.
His tie for third at the Masters was the 17th time he has finished in the top 10, tying him with MacDonald Smith at No. 2 on the all-time list.
Ed Dudley holds the record for most top 10 finishes - 19 - among players who have never won a major. Seven of those came at the Masters, just like Mickelson.
Jim Furyk (fourth at the Masters) and Jeff Maggert (fifth) also continue to move up the charts. They each have 12 top 10s in the majors.
Surprisingly low on the list is Colin Montgomerie, who missed the cut at Augusta. He has only eight top 10s in the majors.
Chris DiMarco was the only player who failed to return Saturday morning to finish his second round at the Masters.
DiMarco, the 36-hole leader in 2001, opened with a 10-over 82 and was 6-over par for the second round when darkness suspended play. He told Brad Faxon and Stuart Appleby he would not be coming back.
'I'm going to have to play dumb on this,' DiMarco told The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun. 'I didn't know you don't withdraw from Augusta. I've never withdrawn from a tournament in my life. It just didn't seem like it was worth it, to tell you the truth.'
DiMarco left early Saturday morning to attend his son's baseball game in Orlando, Fla.
DIVOTS: Sergio Garcia signed a deal with TaylorMade last year said to be worth as much as $7 million a year and include an agreement for him to play the Maxfli ball. The contract is being tweaked because Garcia switched back to the Titleist ball last month. ... Tiger Woods will break ground Wednesday in Santa Ana, Calif., on his learning center. The project includes a 35,000-square-foot education center at H.G. Dad Miller Golf Course, where Woods played as a kid. ... Mark Frost has won the 2002 U.S. Golf Association International Book Award for 'The Greatest Game Ever Played.'
STAT OF THE WEEK: Mike Weir is leading the PGA Tour money list, the first time since 1999 someone other than Tiger Woods has been No. 1 coming out of the Masters.
FINAL WORD: 'It looked more like a phone number on my card than a golf score.' -- Jeff Maggert, who had a triple-bogey 7 and a quintuple-bogey 8 in the final round of the Masters.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur
Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.
The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.
They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.
It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.
“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”
The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.
The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.