Can I Get a Witness Please A Week at the Reno-Tahoe Open

By Kraig KannAugust 27, 2001, 4:00 pm
Im having a very hard time believing what I saw this week at the PGA Tours Reno-Tahoe Open. Starting with the way it finished. Its so hard to believe that the cruel game of golf could be just that to a great guy like Jerry Kelly. Still searching for his first victory in start number 193 on the PGA Tour, the 34-year-old Madison, Wis., native seemed to have this one wrapped up. At 18-under par, he was cruising along without a bogey on his final round until the 16th hole. What happened from there was a strong reminder of what this game is really about.
 
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!
 

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Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials phoned Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial. 

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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