Steele takes early RBC lead; Kuchar 1 back

By Will GrayJuly 25, 2013, 9:44 pm

As play got underway Thursday in the biggest professional golf event north of the border, Brendan Steele grabbed an early advantage thanks to a 7-under 65 at Glen Abbey. Here's the skinny heading into the second round of the RBC Canadian Open, where Steele leads by one shot over a trio of golfers that includes former Players champion Matt Kuchar:

Leaderboard: Brendan Steele (-7), Matt Kuchar (-6), Scott Brown (-6), Scott Gardiner (-6), David Lingmerth (-5), Hunter Mahan (-5), Bubba Watson (-4)

What it means: After a string of six straight missed cuts earlier this summer and with only one top-10 finish to his credit this season, Steele is in dire need of a strong week. He's played his way into position early, but will need to capitalize on the momentum from Thursday's round if he hopes to contend this weekend for his first PGA Tour title since the 2011 Valero Texas Open.

Round of the day: Starting on the 10th hole, Steele birdied three of his first seven holes but didn't truly heat up until he made the turn. Birdies on Nos. 1-2 were followed by three more across a four-hole stretch from Nos. 4-7 to reach 8 under on his round at one point. Despite a closing bogey, Steele fired the lowest score of the day and his 65 matched the lowest score he's shot on Tour since the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February.

Best of the rest: Since winning the Puerto Rico Open in March, Brown has failed to produce a notable result, and just last week missed the cut at Muirfield after rounds of 79-81. Things turned around quickly, though, as the 30-year-old carded a bogey-free 66 Thursday at Glen Abbey. At 6 under, he sits one shot behind Steele and alongside Kuchar, whose round included an eagle at the par-5 18th, and Gardiner, who surged up the leaderboard Thursday morning thanks to a run of six straight birdies from Nos. 2-7.

Biggest disappointment: After playing his way into contention through 36 holes at the British Open, Dustin Johnson faded down the stretch, a streak that extended into Thursday's first round in Canada. Johnson's 3-over 75 included just two birdies, but they were more than countered by a trio of bogeys as well as a double bogey on the par-4 eighth hole. He was far from the only notable name to struggle, though, as Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Charl Schwartzel all failed to break par Thursday at Glen Abbey.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Having endured a mid-season swoon, Steele hopes to demonstrate some consistency as he looks to card back-to-back rounds in the 60s for just the second time since early February. The list of players within three shots of his lead includes several notable names, as Kuchar and Watson are both off to strong starts and Mahan has already displayed some of the form that got him into the final pairing this past Sunday at Muirfield.

Shot of the day: After his drive at the par-5 13th hole left him 225 yards from the hole, John Huh crafted an expert approach shot to set up a short eagle attempt. Despite a pin tucked on the front left near the water, Huh took an aggressive line and his second shot rolled to within nine feet. The subsequent eagle putt was holed as the highlight of the American's outward 3-under 34.

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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.