Is it 2007 Yet

By Kraig KannDecember 8, 2006, 5:00 pm
Sorry, but Im losing my patience. Im ready for 2007 to begin and certainly ready for 2006 to be done and gone. Not to say 2006 was a bad year, and not to say Im not looking forward to a break between Christmas and New Years, but enough already.
 
The beauty of a new season is the unknown. The players we just dont know about and the players well soon know plenty about.
 
Tis the Season and this column will be about numbers, using the Twelve Days of Christmas. Not trying to be cute (beyond just giving you the 12 subjects for the song in case youd forgotten). Instead (though you can hum along if youd like), Ill just give you a countdown using the number 12 to share some things that might just make you think about the year that was, the year that will be or just your love for the game and what it brings.
 
12. Drummers Drumming (Twelve Sure Bets to win a PGA TOUR event)
Some of these are easy. But as a whole, picking winners is never a lock. Heres 12, and while you can say that many were not that challenging, Id offer up the theory that if Ernie and Retief can go winless as they did in 2006, then who knows. I say each of these guys is sure to click at least once:
Woods, Mickelson, Furyk, Els, Singh, Toms, Immelman, Garcia, Scott, Goosen, Love, Ogilvy.
 
11. Pipers Piping (Eleven Pretty Safe Bets to win a PGA TOUR event)
These guys are no guarantee to find the winners circle. But if somebody said, you need to get away from the obvious, then I subscribe to the theory that this batch of 11 will hold a trophy in 2007:
Jerry Kelly, Steve Stricker, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Mike Weir, Ryan Palmer, Chad Campbell, Arron Olberholser, Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Shaun Micheel.
 
10. Lords-a-Leaping (Ten Decent Bets to Get a First PGA TOUR win)
How in the world doesnt Harrison Frazar have a PGA TOUR win by now? Far too talented to keep this streak going. I say it ends. And Ill give you a list of 10 who I think can get rid of the donut beside their name:
Frazar, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Justin Rose, Tim Clark. Brett Quigley, Daniel Chopra, Camilo Villegas, Nathan Green, Nick Watney.
 
9. Ladies Dancing (The Back Nine at Augusta 2007)
While its nine Ladies Dancing, well save the ladies for No. 8. This is about the years first PGA TOUR major. Much as I try right at this moment, I just cant see any way that Tiger Woods doesnt get Phil Mickelson to return the favor and slip a green over his shoulders. Woods battles Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Luke Donald on the back nine, until about the 15th hole where it becomes clear that Woods has it in the bag. It makes three majors in a row, 13 overall and the only question is whether he continues a streak of consecutive PGA TOUR wins in the process.
 
8. Maids-a-Milking (Top 8 on the LPGA Money List)
Remember, its a Solheim Cup year so the season will already have some drama. But the money list in 2007 should be a wild ride once again. This time, its not Ochoa or Sorenstam who wins it. Karrie Webb proved a lot in 2006. Ochoa has clearly established herself as the rising star ' well see how she handles the pressure. Itll finish like this:
Karrie Webb, Annika Sorenstam, Christie Kerr, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer, Mi Hyun Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Ai Miyazato.
 
7. Swans-a-Swimming (The PGA TOURs Lucky 7)
Last year, 20 players who graduated either from the Nationwide Tour or PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament were able to finish among the PGA TOURs Top 125 on the money list. Given that Chris Couch, Troy Matteson, Eric Axley, Brett Wetterich and J.B, Holmes counted themselves among the winners in 2006, wed better keep an eye on this years graduates. Heres a list of seven whove battled tough tours and tough times and who I believe will have their moments from either the Nationwide Tour or Q-School:
Paul Gow, Johnson Wagner, Anthony Kim, Matt Kuchar, Cameron Beckman, Dicky Pride, Bob May.
 
6. Geese-a-Laying (Six Foreign Born Players Ready to Make Noise)
Every year the invasion swells and it becomes tougher for the American up-n-comers to go ahead and come up. Its a worldwide game and here are six names to remember this year. One will be a PGA TOUR rookie, the others have been on tour and are ready to really make some noise:
Julieta Granata ' LPGA, Jarrod Lyle ' Nationwide Tour Graduate, Greg Owen ' PGA TOUR, Ian Poulter ' PGA TOUR, Justin Rose ' PGA TOUR.
 
5. Golden Rings (Five 50-Somethings Ready For Champions Tour)
Ah. Its great to be fifty. Ask Loren Roberts how hes doing these days. And this year the list of 50 year old birthday boys grows to include some other names. Watch out, because there they come. Nick Faldo, Nick Price, John Cook, Seve Ballesteros, Mark OMeara, Jeff Sluman. Together theyll provide the Champions Tour with some pizzazz. And look out Loren ' theyre after your money.
 
4. Calling Birds (The Four Major Winners)
When the PGA Grand Slam of Golf heads to Bermuda next Thanksgiving week, these are the guys who will be there:
Masters ' Woods slips past Fuyrk.
U.S. Open ' Furyk outlasts Woods and Els to win at Oakmont.
Open Championship ' Woods adds to Jean Van de Veldes pain by making birdie at Carnousties 18th en route to a four shot win.
PGA Championship ' at Southern Hills its Sergio Garcia breaking through at the site of Retief Goosens U.S, Open.
Els rounds out the foursome at the PGA Grand Slam by virtue of his consistent major record in 2007.
 
3. French Hens (The Three Most Intriguing Non-Majors)
This one is tough. Ill leave WGC events out of this because I actually believe that the playoff stretch run of the FedEX Cup will get far more water cooler conversation. But those events aside here are my three:
Mercedes-Benz Championship ' Will Tigers streak continue? Will Stuart Appleby win yet again? And selfishly, plenty of eyes will be on The Golf Channel as PGA TOUR coverage finds a new home.
EDS Byron Nelson Championship ' After Lord Byrons passing you can bet the field will be full of stars paying tribute and the trophy ceremony will be emotional. Winning it this year will be extra special.
The PLAYERS ' newly renovated course, new date in May and plenty of fireworks after the Masters and before the U.S. Open.
 
2. Turtle Doves (Two Most Perplexing Players Heading to 07)
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. This one is easy for me. Each man could win multiple majors and also Player of the Year. Each one could continue along their most recent path and struggle a bit. I pick them because well be watching them as much as anyone. Word is that Phils coming out more fit than ever and at this stage Ernies knee can no longer be an issue. The feeling here is that each man wins early whether they win often is what Ill be waiting to see.
 
1. Partridge in a Pear Tree (One Player of the Year)
In two of the last three years on the PGA TOUR I picked Ernie Els. He hasnt been able to do it. This year, Im not taking the chance. Until somebody proves Tigers not the best, hes still the best.
 
Predictions are just that. And youll probably find plenty of reason to disagree. Thats just fine with me. I enjoy reading your take on my take. More than anything, Im looking forward to a new look PGA TOUR, the continuation of a great bit of LPGA momentum and some new fresh faces on the Champions Tour.
 
The fresh new beginning for The Golf Channel is pretty exciting too. I hope youll enjoy the ride along with us. Happy Holidays!
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
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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.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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."