Odds on Reno

By Jerry FoltzAugust 27, 2002, 4:00 pm
While traditions are typically rooted in history and time, the four-year-old Reno-Tahoe Open quickly developed a bit of tradition in its own right. Perfect weather, a spectacular venue, and an exciting finish are as dependable as slot machines and buffets.
 
As the sun headed south and the nearby neon switches were flipped Sunday evening in Reno, the expected glorious week of professional golf came to an end. It followed the recipe of the previous three years, and nobody left Montreux Golf and Country Club disappointed. Well, except perhaps Jonathan Kaye after getting about as robbed as Ive ever seen on a birdie putt to win at the end of regualtion. But to the delight of the Nevadans on hand, Chris Riley, a Las Vegas resident, won his first PGA Tour title.
 
After a great four-year run, the RTOs contract with the PGA Tour has now concluded. The locals, who supported the event with great enthusiasm, not to mention a sizeable amount of money, are left to wonder if theyll have the opportunity to do so again next year. The truth isnobody knows.
 
The primary stumbling block at this point is, big surprise here, money.
 
The RTO has never had a title sponsor. While it has survived its four-year contract relatively easily and contributed nearly $1 million to charity, the fact is that the PGA Tour has subsidized the purse completely for four years.
 
The current lack of a title sponsor isnt unique to the RTO; there are a number of PGA Tour events that are either without, or in between, title sponsors. September 11th, crooked CEOs, and a slow economy are all factors contributing to the shuffling of sponsors like a single-deck at a $2 table. The problem is that they have never been able to secure one. Its important to keep in mind that the PGA Tour has a policy forbidding the inclusion of casino in any title sponsorship, or that would be a no-brainer. But absent the local support, the RTO hasnt been able to attract the big dollars.
 
When asked, the local tournament officials pose the ol chicken-or-the-egg hypothesis. Theyre convinced that they could attract big money if they had a stand-alone date on the PGA Tour schedule. They think that they could eventually become a premier tournament that would attract some of the bigger stars in the game. Even Peter Jacobson, whose management company actually runs the tournament, agrees that the tournament could get huge.
 
Whether the thing could get huge wasnt the forefront of discussion most of the week. Simple survival was. And to a man, every player in the field was supportive. Some more than others of course, but this is obviously a very popular tournament amongst the players.
 
An immaculate and challenging golf course, the local flavor of entertainment, perfect weather, and a perfect-sized town that has no need for a morning traffic report all combine to make this a tournament for which the players are willing to go to bat. If it were left to them, and ultimately it is, then the RTO will return. But theres always going to be some issue with the money.
 
Just a few weeks ago, most people around the RTO were ready to put a tombstone on it at weeks end. There was reportedly a PGA Tour-issued deadline to the RTO to secure sponsorship. However, as the tournament drew near, such deadline talk ceased, and the RTO was able to shine.
 
Will it shine again? According to Duke Butler, PGA Tour Vice President in charge of Tournament Business Affairs, The future of the Reno-Tahoe Open looks bright. The amount of wattage remains to be seen, but at this point, all indications are good.
 
At the very least, the impression was given that it would be extended another year under the current scenario opposite another bigger tournament. Two members of the RTO Foundation Board that I talked to seemed genuinely certain that good things lie ahead. They also seemed re-energized in a sense. Just a few weeks ago they were thinking about their swan song, and now theyre starting to hear the things they had hoped for so long.
 
Its tough to imagine that with all other things being equal (once again, money), that a better alternative could be found to the RTO. Not one single player uttered anything along the lines of never wanting to come back. Well, thats not true either. Some are sure theyll be at the NEC next year, and others just arent very good blackjack players. All the rest will have a star on the schedule for some time next August.
 
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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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."