What we learned: McIlroy runs away with 2nd major

By Jay CoffinAugust 13, 2012, 1:40 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This time it's an easy task for the team at the PGA Championship; we focus on another major-less season by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy's second major win at age 23.

I need to trust what players say a little more. Journalists by nature are bred to be skeptical. We're not necessarily supposed to believe everything we're told. Sometimes it's the truth, sometimes it's less than the truth. When Rory McIlroy played terribly at the Masters then went on a stretch where he missed four of five cuts – including the U.S. Open – I didn't believe him when he said he wasn't concerned, that he thought good play was just around the corner. I bought into some of the talk that he was more interested in chasing his tennis girlfriend all over the world. Won't make that mistake again with Rory. When he talks, I'll listen. And I'll believe him. – Jay Coffin

That Rory McIlroy may not be a once-in-a-lifetime player, like Tiger Woods, but he is swiftly becoming a once-in-a-generation player.

We also discovered that Kiawah may be an idyllic slice of Atlantic Coast faux linksland, but if the PGA of America plans to bring its marquee tournament back to this corner of the Low Country may we suggest another bridge or perhaps flying shuttle buses. – Rex Hoggard

I learned that Tiger Woods is desperate, really desperate, to win a 15th major. How else to explain his bizarre decision to change the way he approached the weekend at the PGA Championship? The pressure to win a major was intensifying, and he was pressing, plain and simple. Thus, he decided that he wanted to “enjoy the process” of attempting to win a major, even trying to be “a little bit happy out there.” Some have suggested that this was just a convenient excuse, a way to bypass the larger issue of his weekend woes in majors. Even Woods was quick to admit that the Happy Experiment flopped, miserably, so expect to see the usual ruthless competitor come April 2013. – Ryan Lavner

I learned that we should have seen this coming. Three years ago, I sat in the clubhouse at Doral shooting the breeze with Ian Poulter on a number of topics. When Rory McIlroy’s name was broached, Poulter sat forward in his seat and stared right at me. “He hits it a long way. He hits it straight. He owns good distance control with his irons. He’s a solid putter. And he has the right mental resolve to succeed in this game,” he said. He then threw his arms up in the air and rhetorically asked, “That’s golf. What else is there?” In the history of the game, there have been very few players of whom we could list such natural talents at such a young age. Rarely did any flame out. McIlroy is right in line to be the next superstar, if he’s not there already. We can hold off on handing out legendary status until he’s accomplished more, but I’m confident greater successes are on the horizon. After all, he’s got all the tools. That’s golf. What else is there?  Jason Sobel

Rory McIlroy is complicating the most compelling question in golf. Can Tiger Woods surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championship titles? That’s the question that captivates the golf world, but McIlroy seems intent on amending it. With McIlroy winning his second major Sunday, another dominating performance in a record eight-shot rout, the compelling question now may be: Can Woods get through McIlroy to claim Nicklaus’ record? McIlroy’s second major championship triumph is validation that his heart is every bit the rival of his talent. He’s a large presence in the game’s largest events now, and he may be a Tiger roadblock, too. If Woods keeps coming on, and he seems determined to find his best form again, he may have to beat McIlroy to beat Nicklaus. Randall Mell

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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.