Lee, Fisher, Compton, Reed among Q-School grads

By Ryan LavnerDecember 3, 2012, 11:28 pm

For a few hours Monday, Steven Bowditch reminded observers that there is no pressure quite like the final day of PGA Tour Q-School.

The leader after five days and 90 holes, Bowditch played his first six holes on the Stadium Course at PGA West in 4 over, plummeting out of the lead and, most critically, near the projected cut line. 

“It did cross my mind,” Bowditch told Golf Channel afterward. “I really didn’t want to be a Q-School victim.” 

The Last Q-School: Articles, videos and photos

No worries. The Australian recovered to shoot 74 and earn his 2013 Tour card, but he was just one of several players who danced around the cut line Monday during the last round of Q-School under its traditional format.

Indeed, this year’s edition, per usual, was equal parts ecstasy and exasperation.

Dong-Hwan Lee earned medalist honors at 25-under 407. Former European Ryder Cup member Ross Fisher, Steve LeBrun and Kris Blanks were another shot back.

Another player to lock up his Tour card: Si Woo Kim, who at 17 years, 5 months and 6 days became the youngest player to earn a PGA Tour card through Q-School. (The record previously was held by Ty Tryon (2001), who was one month older than Kim.)

The rub here: Kim, who advanced through pre-qualifying, won’t be able to take up Tour membership until June 28, 2013, when he turns 18. (There is an abbreviated schedule in ’13, remember, with the FedEx Cup playoffs beginning in August.) In the meantime, he can play as many as 12 events as a non-member with a combination of sponsor exemptions, special invites and top 10s.  

Among the other notables who finished inside the cut line (low 25 and ties), which fell at 17-under 415: two-time heart-transplant recipient Erik Compton, 11-time European Tour winner Robert Karlsson, former NCAA champion Scott Langley and Monday-qualifying maven Patrick Reed.

“Being able to do this, the six rounds this week, with my health, you can’t write anything better than that,” Compton said. “I proved a lot to myself.”

A sampling of those who will be without a PGA Tour card in 2013: Camilo Villegas, Heath Slocum, Derek Lamely, Rod Pampling, Vaughn Taylor, Arjun Awtal, Len Mattiace, Patrick Cantlay and Tom Pernice Jr. (shot final-round 79 to move outside cut line). 

Perhaps the most heartbreaking story? Edward Loar. Having began the final round in a tie for third, he came to the par-3 17th inside the cut line, but rinsed his tee shot and carded a double bogey. He also found the water on 18 and bogeyed the hole, finishing two shots off the number. 

“I tried hard,” Loar told Golf Channel’s Curt Byrum. “We all know how cruel the game is. Hopefully I can learn from it. I persevered for 13 years, so hopefully this won’t set me back too much.”

This, of course, is the last year that Q-School will provide direct access to the PGA Tour. Beginning next season, the top 25 will earn Web.com Tour cards.

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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.


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."