Profiling, ranking 10 amateurs in Open field

By Ryan LavnerJune 12, 2013, 8:13 pm

ARDMORE, Pa. – Ten amateurs are in the field at the U.S. Open, and if last year’s championship taught us anything, it’s that these guys aren’t simply happy to be here.

Surely you remember the 2012 Open. In the third round Beau Hossler, then 17, held the outright lead at The Olympic Club for about, oh, 15 minutes. Yes, he would fade over the next round and a half, but consider what had transpired: A 17-year-old amateur, not yet enrolled in college, was leading the U.S. Open. Mind-boggling stuff.

Anyway, Hossler’s performance should change the way we view this week’s amateur participants.

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After all, at least two amateurs have made the cut at the past five Opens. In recent years, they have not just played the weekend but also fared well: Russell Henley and Scott Langley each tied for 16th at the 2010 U.S. Open, while Patrick Cantlay (2011) and Jordan Spieth (2012) each finished joint 21st. The best finish by an amateur since 1980 is T-13, by Spencer Levin in ’04.

So, get to know the 10 players listed below, ranked by their predicted finish. Who knows? They may surface on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Max Homa: Led Cal to an 11-win season, and last month won both the Pac-12 Championship and NCAA title in his final starts as a senior. Emerged from a 3-for-2 playoff at his sectional qualifier. Plans to stay amateur through the Walker Cup.

Michael Kim: Rising junior at Cal, he won the Nicklaus and Haskins awards as the top player in college golf. Earned co-medalist honors at his sectional qualifier in Georgia.

Chris Williams (pictured above): Got into the field after receiving the 2012 McCormack Medal, given to the top-ranked amateur in the world. The Ben Hogan Award winner turns pro next week, but also has the potential to make this a huge week, as well.

Cheng-Tsung Pan: A rising junior at Washington, Pan is the fifth-ranked amateur in the world and is making his second U.S. Open appearance (2011, MC).

Steven Fox: The reigning U.S. Amateur champion recently completed his senior season at Chattanooga. He’s missed the cut in all six of his spot starts on the PGA Tour this season, including three straight (Colonial, Memorial, Fedex St. Jude Classic).

Michael Weaver: Another Cal player in the field, Weaver was the runner-up at last year’s U.S. Amateur, which earned him a spot at the Masters (MC) and here.

Kevin Phelan: A departing senior at North Florida, Phelan earned medalist honors at his sectional qualifier in Florida, and he’s playing in his second Open (2010, MC).

Gavin Hall: The 18-year-old might be the youngest player in the field, but he showed a lot of grit birdieing the last four holes to advance out of his sectional qualifier. And like Hossler, he’s a Longhorn.

Grayson Murray: The recent UNC-Greensboro transfer caught fire in the sectional qualifier, playing his last 13 holes in 8 under, including a final-hole birdie, to book his first trip to the Open.

Cory McElyea: The rising senior at San Francisco, who had four top-10 finishes this season, survived a 3-for-2 playoff at his sectional. 

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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 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.