Scott wins Barclays; Woods challenges despite pain

By Jason SobelAugust 26, 2013, 12:55 am

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Deep in the bowels of the Liberty National clubhouse, nestled inside a room that serves as the club’s cart barn 51 weeks out of the year, is a makeshift hallway constructed solely for use during the first FedEx Cup Playoff event. Stretching some 25 feet and bordered by faux wood paneling, it leads to a scoring area on the right and an interview room on the left before spilling into a temporary caddie lounge.

Every competitor in the tournament must walk down this hallway upon completion of his round. It is the first specter of semi-privacy from spectators, the first opportunity to show true emotion away from the intrusive glare of the public.

This is where, at 5:17 p.m. on Sunday, Steve Williams stomped through in about four steps, finding Adam Scott relaxing on a couch after a final-round 66 had propped him into a share of The Barclays lead.

The caddie had already packed his player’s bag in hopes of making a quick exit, but now realized they needed to stick around for a while. Seconds later, he was hurriedly escorting Scott back the other way down that hallway as they headed toward the driving range in the optimistically fueled hope that there would be more golf left to be played.

Just before the door to the outside world closed, Williams could be heard saying, “If Justin doesn’t birdie …”

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Photos: Woods felled by back pain

This is where, at 5:32 p.m., Justin Rose burst through that door and released a loud, guttural grunt while slamming his fist into the faux wood paneling.

Less than two minutes removed from racing a 25-foot birdie putt for the win past the final hole and missing the comebacker for par, Rose angrily took a right turn into the scoring area, signing a card that read 68 for the round, one number too large to force a playoff.

He then walked back across the hallway into the interview room, more composed now, and told reporters, “I'm not going to stand here and complain about it or whatever. I had to thread it through a couple spike marks I felt, but I aimed right-center, I had my head down and I felt like I put a reasonable roll on it, and it missed. I guess sometimes you can't do more than that. The error was putting myself in that situation. You're clearly a little bit nervous at that point and you really don't want to give yourself 5 feet coming back.”

This is where, at 5:51 p.m., Tiger Woods gingerly shuffled, stone-faced, appearing in more physical pain than any internal anguish caused by a final-round 69 that left him one shot shy of a playoff.

It was remarkable that he even had a chance. On the 13th hole, Woods pulled a shot into an algae-covered hazard and immediately fell to his knees. The lingering back pain which had afflicted him throughout the week made its cruelest impression at a crucial juncture. When he finally stood up and started walking again, it was unclear whether he was on a path toward where his ball had landed or if he was leaving the course because he couldn’t continue the round.

Not only did Woods continue, he followed bogeys on that hole and the 15th with birdies on 16 and 17. It left him, like Rose earlier, with a chance to make a putt on the final hole to force a playoff. Putting from off the back of the green, he rolled his ball on a perfect line, but it stopped a rotation or two short of the hole. After signing his card, he shuffled back down the hallway and out the door, telling a reporter, “You know, I was in the perfect spot and unfortunately just couldn't finish off the rest of the day.”

He then shuffled away, undoubtedly more worried about his back injury than failing to win an 80th career PGA Tour title.

This is where, at 6:07 p.m., Gary Woodland trudged through the door, hat askew, broad shoulders slumped, a deep sigh emanating from his mouth.

Just three weeks ago, the former college basketball player had solidified his full return from injury, winning the Reno-Tahoe Open. This, though, was a much bigger step in that progression. Facing a leaderboard brimming with elite-level talents, Woodland had withered at times during the day, but never wilted.

On the final hole, he flushed a 9-iron to 10 feet. Standing over a birdie putt to force a playoff, he heard a train whistle in the distance and stepped away, much to the delight of the zealous gallery. He stepped back up to the ball, whistle still sounding, and stroked the putt agonizingly past the hole.

Past the luxury suites and the first tee and a set of bleachers, Scott and Williams stood on the driving range, their preparation for the playoff halted as they watched Woodland’s miss on that final hole. The caddie removed his hat, hugged his player and they shook hands.

Less than an hour earlier, this scenario was so improbable that Scott’s bag was already packed away, ready to be shipped up to Boston. Even after he was handed the trophy, he still didn’t quite believe it.

“I’m shocked, really, that that was good enough to hold up,” he explained. “I mean, I feel like I've been given a bit of a gift, but I'll take it, that's for sure.”

Late on Sunday, as afternoon morphed into evening, Scott was the last player to walk through that hallway. Unlike all of his fellow contenders, he giddily strode through, smiling the entire time.

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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.