Can I Get a Witness Please A Week at the Reno-Tahoe Open
Kelly hit his tee shot to the 178-yard par 3 hole long and left, up the hill. Though only about 25 feet from the hole, the grass was going against him, the green sloping away from him and the green was as hard as it was fast. Not the place to be, but then again, I certainly didnt expect to watch our monitor from the booth, and see Kelly slide his club underneath the ball not once, but twice. Thats exactly what happened. It ultimately cost Kelly a triple-bogey on the hole and the tournament as well. Kelly came up one short in his bid to find his way into a playoff for the 2nd time in his career, and probably what seems to him like a million short of his first tour win. John Cook collected his 11th Tour win in the process.
As hard as that was to take, it was perhaps more amazing to see youth not only appear on a leaderboard this week, but nearly walk away with the trophy. Not that we dont expect Charles Howell III or Bryce Molder to earn their share of victories before their time is done, its just that its all coming so fast.
Howell is, officially, the real deal! He nearly won Milwaukee after a final round 64 put him in a playoff, and has been raking in the cash ever since. The 22-year-old is already assured of official PGA Tour membership at years end because of his awesome feat of turning sponsors invitations into cold hard cash that will put him into the Top 125 at years end. What turns my head is that thats just not good enough! He wants a win so he can lift the special temporary member tag from his name and make his money officially count toward things like the gasp ... Tour Championship! After a 4th place finish this week and $144,000 this week, dont count him out.
As for Molder, this 22-year-old made his professional debut THIS WEEK - and all he did was finish solo 3rd. Which, by the way, earned him $204,000. Its important because a top 150 spot on the money list at years end will earn him unlimited sponsor invites for next year. (As though every tournament wouldnt take advantage of that) Still, Molder, who was a four-time All-America at Georgia Tech and a two-time Academic All-America as well, said at weeks beginning that he was just excited to play for a CHANCE to earn his card. Right! I believe him, its just that I didnt expect it to almost happen in one week!
So what does this all mean? I say its great for the game, especially if you get a chance to talk to these two kids who combined for 43 birdies this week. They are the new face of the game, a classy duo of youth who is not afraid to win, and certainly willing to be humble about the process. They are role models for young kids with aspirations of success, and at the same time, exciting to watch play this great game. I just cant believe they are this ready this soon. But they are. And get this ' Howell just told me in our hotel lobby that he Couldnt believe Molder was ready so soon. It even took me a while to get comfortable out here, he added. Surprise, surprise youth amazed about youth.
And oh yes, I cant forget about John Cook. Hard to believe that a 43-year-old veteran can still get it done out here! Two rounds of 64 in a week is something to tell your kids about. Unless, of course, theyre already shooting rounds of 63 and thinking about being the next Charles Howell III or Bryce Molder!
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
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.”
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.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.
After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.
Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.
Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.
Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.
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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.
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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.
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.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
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.
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.
Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur
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.