Round 1 What to watch

By Jay CoffinAugust 13, 2009, 4:19 pm
CHASKA, Minn. – The 91st PGA Championship begins Thursday at Hazeltine National. Here is a list of things to watch for during Round 1.

Tracking Tiger
Tiger Woods’ quest to make a good year a great one begins at 9:35 a.m. (ET) when he tees off with 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem and defending champion Padraig Harrington. Like him or not, you have to pay attention to where he is and what he’s doing at all times, especially when he comes in having won in each of the previous two weeks. To say Woods is the favorite is the understatement of the year. If he doesn’t win it’d be the first time since 2004 that he went a year without a major and it’d only be the fourth time in a year he hasn’t won.

“I’d say he’s got a pretty good chance,” Stewart Cink said. “He’s driving it pretty well, he’s got a short game that history has never known, he’s got the clutch putting that history has never known and he’s got the ultimate tank of confidence to draw from. So case closed.”

Let’s just hope his group doesn’t get put on the clock for slow play.

Par-5 prowess
Much already has been made of Hazeltine’s par 5s this week. The shortest of the bunch is the 572-yard seventh hole. The other three (Nos. 3, 11 and 15) all are over 600 yards at 633, 606 and 642 yards respectively. At first glance it appears that the length would favor the longer hitters but it’s quite the contrary. There aren’t many (if any) players in the field that’ll be able to reach three of the four par 5s in two, taking away the advantage. So, for a change, those playing the par 5s well this week will have to do so by having a stellar wedge game.

“The only one I really see a decent percentage of the field having a go at is 7,” Jim Furyk said. “The other three, you might have a guy here and there. But you’re not going to have a third of the field going in any of those par 5s. Might be a little bit of an equalizer.”

Round 1 leaders
Recent history says the winner won’t be amongst the leaders after the first round. The past three years the highest position a winner has found himself in after first round is Woods in 2006 where he was tied for 10th place. Woods was tied for 23rd in 2007 after Round 1 and Padraig Harrington was tied for 16th after the first round last year.

Club pro moment
This is, afterall, the PGA Championship, which means 20 PGA Club Professionals are in the field. Sure, they often get overlooked, but at times the do jump up and make a name for themselves for a round or two. There are four club pros in the field this year that have made the cut in previous appearances. Lee Rinker, from Jupiter, Fla., has played the weekend in four of his six PGA Championship appearances. Mike Small, the men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois and Club Pro National champion this year, has made two cuts. Ryan Benzell of Bothell, Wash., and Steve Schneiter of Sandy, Utah, each have made a cut.

Off the radar, Part IV?
Will history play out for the year and deliver a fourth consecutive heartbreak finish or will the golf gods give us a break and deliver the most intriguing major of the year? It’s been widely written and talked about how the first three majors of the year have given us exciting moments and building emotion only to be left wanting more

There was Tiger, Phil and Kenny Perry as the leading men at the Masters until Angel Cabrera won; Phil and David Duval thrilled the New York galleries at the U.S. Open before Lucas Glover jumped up to capture the hardware; And 59-year-old Tom Watson was the toast of Turnberry for 72 holes until he coughed up the Claret Jug to Cink in the four-hole playoff.

How will the final chapter of the 2009 major season be written?
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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.

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.