Stenson Gonzalez Share Lead in Qatar

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 26, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 Qatar MastersDOHA, Qatar -- Henrik Stenson and Ricardo Gonzalez fired matching 6-under-par 66s Thursday to share the first round lead at the Qatar Masters, but the day's biggest story came from the only amateur in the field.
Playing in his first professional tournament, England's Danny Denison is among a group of three players one stroke behind the leaders after a 5-under-par 67.
Denison, 20, earned his berth in the tournament by winning the Qatar Open Golf Championship in December, also at Doha Golf Club. He was enjoying a spotless round until a bogey at the par-5 18th ruined his chance for a share of the overnight lead.
'I just tried to block out everything that was going around and tried to play my own game and it worked,' said Denison, who said he hoped to turn professional in September.
Joining Denison in third place are 2003 champion Darren Fichardt and Chawalit Plaphol.
Defending champion Ernie Els, who made a strong comeback from knee surgery with a win at the dunhill championship last month, shot a 1-under 71 and is tied for 25th place with 19 other players.
For Els, it was a better start than last year when he opened with a 73 before posting three rounds in the 60s to win. If he makes the cut this weekend, he will tie Bernhard Langer's record for the most consecutive cuts made on the European Tour at 69.
Els was two shots better than world No. 2 Vijay Singh, who was one of 18 players tied for 59th place at 1-over 73. Singh shared eighth place last week at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on the European Tour.
In all, there are 58 players even-par or better after the first round, and 42 of them are within five shots of the lead.
Gonzalez began his round on the back nine and collected five birdies before the turn, including one at the par-5 18th. He birdied back-to-back holes at Nos. 4 and 5, but missed the green and dropped his only stroke at the par-3 eighth.
A three-time winner on the European Tour, Gonzalez finished fourth last week in Abu Dhabi.
'I played great again,' Gonzalez said. 'On my first nine holes, I hit it really solid and I will try to stay up there after last week and play the same. Today I was just very relaxed.'
Stenson's round was a bit more up-and-down. He opened on the front nine and stumbled to a bogey at the par-3 third before picking up birdies at four and five. He was even-par around the turn after a bogey at No. 8, but the Swede turned it on after that.
Following birdies at 10, 11 and 13, Stenson eagled the 307-yard, par-4 16th after driving the green. He then tied Gonzalez for the lead with a birdie at the last.
'Today I got off to a bit of a trembling start, but then got it back on track after a couple of holes and played really well on the back nine,' said Stenson, who was second last week in Abu Dhabi, one stroke behind winner Chris DiMarco.
Sharing sixth place at 4-under 68 were Niclas Fasth, Richard Finch, Boonchu Ruangkit, Charl Schwartzel and Graeme Storm. Paul McGinley and Jean van de Velde led a group of nine players tied for 11th place at minus-3.
Related links:
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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 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."