Bubba-Webb could form premier team at Medinah

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 27, 2012, 4:06 pm

MEDINAH, Ill. – These Ryder Cup matches have no shortage of ready-made pairings.

After years of unsuccessful partnerships, Tiger Woods has finally found a steady teammate in Steve Stricker. That’s a lock.

Rory McIlroy has enjoyed plenty of success with his friend and fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell. They could play all four team sessions together.

Phil Mickelson seems likely to play with mentee and frequent practice-round partner Keegan Bradley, and Luke Donald can make a formidable team with Lee Westwood, and Justin Rose and Ian Poulter form another solid, all-English duo.

Yet it wouldn’t surprise if one of the most successful pairings this week at Medinah is Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson – devout Christians who first teamed at last year’s Presidents Cup, with much success – even if the two players couldn’t be any more dissimilar.

Bubba is a goofball in golf slacks, a Masters champion who buttons his shirt all the way to the top, who tries mind-bending shots and posts trick-shot videos on Twitter, who cries and scowls in equal measure, who tops the Tour in titanium-denting drives, who wears a $500,000 Richard Mille watch and donates plenty of cash to charity.

Webb, meanwhile, is straight out of a Polo ad, a good ol’ boy from North Carolina who wields a belly putter with ease, who won the U.S. Open when no one was watching, who can be painfully deliberate during rounds yet quick with a compliment, who pummels courses into submission with his ball-striking, who takes his young children to Starbucks and reads the Bible.

“We’re good friends away from golf,” Simpson said of Watson, “and I think that makes us a good team. You put him and me together, where I am a little more serious, he kind of relaxes me and I help him focus on golf and draw him back to what we need to be looking at.”

Last year at Royal Melbourne, Simpson, 27, and Watson, 33, went out first during each team session, sporting a 3-1 record en route to a U.S. victory at the Presidents Cup. They went 2-0-1 in the foursomes format (alternate shot), a trend that could continue at Medinah given the course’s forgiveness off the tee and Watson’s prodigious length.

For Watson, that partnership in Australia stood in stark contrast to what he endured in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. He went 1-3 in Wales, a performance more memorable for Jeff Overton’s “boom, baby!” hole-out than anything Watson accomplished on the course.

This, now, is Bubba’s first Ryder Cup on U.S. soil, an experience that is sure to stir an already emotional man. He’s playing for his father, who died in October 2010 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He’s playing for his country, and Watson has talked at length in the past about his passion and respect for the U.S. military.

The enormity of the moment already has hit Watson, hard. On Tuesday night, during a private team dinner at Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse, both captain Davis Love III and Watson teared up while seated at the same table.

“I’m probably going to cry at some point this week,” Watson said, “because I cry just about every week. So there’s going to be good shots I’m going to cry about, there’s going to be bad shots I cry about, and hopefully I do everything in a respectful way.” 

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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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.

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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.