Dampened Drama in River Region

By Kraig KannOctober 28, 2002, 5:00 pm
First, let me make myself clear. The folks in Prattville, Ala., and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail couldn't possibly be any more hospitable. The 'River Region,' as it is known, is full of good people and certainly has its share of golf enthusiasts.
But after a week in the rain, even the enthusiasts had to take cover! The River Region runneth over with water, and not drama, as we had expected at the Buy.Com Tour Championship. Now, I'm about as positive a person as there is, but even I must admit that the glass wasn't half full or half empty, it was overflowing with moisture! And my excitement about what just happened has washed away.
Patrick Moore won the rain-shortened 54-hole event and thus earned the top spot on the money list and an instant promotion to the PGA Tour because the victory was his third. Moore, who will now tee it up this week at the PGA Tour's Southern Farm Bureau Classic, is a great story. He's a man who began the year with limited status on the Buy.Com Tour and 'Monday qualified' his way to the first of three wins. Moore was a relative unknown who flew in under the radar this season and stole this tour's biggest prize. Too bad the tour's biggest prize played out under the green, yellow and sometimes red glare of a doppler radar.
Todd Barranger began the week 15th on the money list. Ironically, it was the same position he held going into the Tour Championship a year ago. He opened with a stellar 65, which just happened to be 20 strokes lower than the score he signed for in Round 1 last year. Barranger played the PGA Tour back in the mid '90s, but lost his status and nearly his life due to testicular cancer. He survived, and fought his way back to challenge once again for a position on golf's grandest stage.
When fourth round play was called on Sunday Barranger was a survivor of a different kind. He finished 15th on the final money list.
'I was spilling major oil,' Barranger said of his nerve-tested late play, which, good news for him, ulimately never counted. And we'll never know if he'd have finished in the same fashion as he started the week. Mother Nature took that drama away from us.
Jay Delsing is a 42-year-old professional who's spent 15 full years on the PGA Tour, and because of a second round 63 was in position for a return trip. Nunber 19 on the money list coming into the week, Delsing was excited about the chance to crash the Buy.Com Tour's top-15 victory party. But after Delsing went low, the rain levels crept higher and higher. Delsing moved up just one spot to 18th when the 54 hole scores were tallied. Who knows, it could have been different.
Walking the soggy Senator Course, I still have visions of 21-year-old Aaron Baddeley standing in disbelief in the 15th fairway in Round 4 on Sunday when the horn blew for what was to be the final time. 'It's just rain!,' he said.
And how about Jeff Klauk? The son of a course superintendent, Klauk began the week 42nd, but had the lead at one point on Sunday. Dad and son have no doubt spent plenty of time together making courses 'playable' in bad weather, but this time they had no control. Klauk left Prattville without the big move and the big prize because Round 4 never made it into the books.
Truth be told, Buy.Com Tour officials did what they could to make it work on Sunday. After play was halted, the scrambling began to get the course 'playable.' But with daylight an issue and a required number of players NOT done with their rounds to make the round 'official,' the decision was made. Ultimately, according to officials, the tour's 'regulations' would not allow a round to continue a round that they knew could not be completed.

Rain, you see, just wasn't going to give in. 'We may need to look into the regulations a bit. ' said Buy.Com Tour Chief Operating Officer Bill Calfee.
Don't get me wrong. We did see some good golf. And some great shots. But this tournament is supposed to be about drama that plays out over 72 holes at least. I don't make the regulations, or the weather forecasts, but I feel robbed. I'm not alone. And something tells me that while my rain gear is drying this week, I won't be able to just ring out the disappointment.
In the end, the always-talked-about, hyped-since-the-beginning-of-the-season, 'top 15' didn't have a single new member. Just guessing, but somehow that 'reward' for all the shots and putts during a season of dreams must feel a little bit tainted, even to the fortunate ones.
Fifty-four players showed up to contest the Buy.Com Tour Championship in Prattville, with all intentions of making it a week to remember. The 28th week on the Buy.Com Tour schedule is supposed to be the best of the year. Unfortunately, I think all we'll remember is the weather. And that's a darn shame for the hard-working folks who put the tournament together and the hard-working players who had worked so hard to show off in front of them.
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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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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.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.