Motivated by McIlroy, Scott grabs share of lead

By Jason SobelAugust 22, 2014, 11:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Prior to the opening round of this week’s Barclays, former No. 1-ranked player Adam Scott sat back in his chair behind an interview room podium and ruminated on a month in golf that saw him not only lose that title, but become completely overshadowed by the man who raced past.

“He's put on a clinic the last few weeks in how to drive the golf ball,” Scott offered in regard to Rory McIlroy’s straight, booming tee shots. “And it's motivating for me, because I can see what's possible. I believe if he can do it, I can do it for sure.”

Good news, golf fans: These are exactly the words you wanted to hear.

Dominant players shouldn’t send their fellow competitors scurrying for the nearest bunker to bury their head and crawl into the fetal position. No, they should inspire them. Motivate them. Provoke them into practicing more and focusing better and playing improved golf. 

It appears that’s exactly what McIlroy has done, too – at least for Scott.

Thanks to a second-round 6-under 65, the defending champion has claimed a share of the lead entering the weekend.

And thanks to the player who’s won three tournaments in the past month, he isn’t showing any signs of letting up anytime soon.

“I think you've got to draw motivation from wherever you can,” Scott explained. “I'm not afraid to say that I look at the way he played and I want that to be me. And I feel that I can play like that and have runs like that. You've got to learn from the best and he's one of them.” 

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A calm competitor on the outside who burns with intensity on the inside, Scott seems annoyed – if not completely frustrated – that his good hasn’t been good enough lately.

Since his victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational back in May, his results read as follows: 4-9-5-8-15. That’s enough to have some players ecstatic. For Scott, it meant losing the No. 1 ranking and trying to get better.

That includes trying to chase down Rory and reclaim that position.

His goals, though, aren’t so tangible.

“It's not that specific. I think it's more about what's possible. I mean, to win two majors in a month ‑‑ we've seen other guys do it, but it doesn't happen very often. But I think you've got to believe it can just happen a bit more often.

“I'd love to get back to No. 1 and I think this is a good stretch of golf for me to try and do that. But the standard I'll have to play at is really high. So it would be great to put myself up in the mix and hopefully have Rory think he's got to look over his shoulder – at least for me.”

Not that this is anything close to a two-man tournament, but it should be noted that McIlroy remains five strokes behind Scott entering the final 36 holes, a position that would have the latter smiling if it hadn’t also come with so much missed opportunity.

In the second round, Scott put on an impressive ball-striking display, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation. His putting, however, was another matter. Still wielding the anchored broomstick, he holed only four putts of longer than 4 feet and missed three inside 10 feet.

When asked how many shots better his 65 could have been if he’d putted well, he answered, “Always hard to put numbers on it, but 6-7. … Ifs and buts, but I played well enough that if I had it really going on the green today to do that for sure.”

Afterward, he appeared both dismissive of how poorly he putted, but aware of how it affected his score.

“Your speed's got to be perfect to get that true roll, and most of them were good putts,” he maintained. “Of course, some were not. My putting feels good. It just wasn't my day today on the greens.”

Scott will undoubtedly try to change that during the weekend rounds. He’s not only chasing another title at this event, he’s chasing a player who has prompted a frenzy over the past month.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – or at least that’s what they say. Scott is trying to beat McIlroy by joining him as a recent elite player taking a turn in the winner’s circle. That’s been Rory’s domain lately, but it’s given his next-closest pursuer on the world list plenty of motivation.

“Look at what he's doing,” Scott said. “The way he's going about it is important, because it's relevant to the way we all play out here.”

So far this week, McIlroy’s recent dominance has been relevant to lighting a fire under Scott, helping to ignite his run to the top of the leaderboard.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

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''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.