Look Out Above The Next Level Wont be Long for Kuehne

By Kraig KannMarch 18, 2002, 5:00 pm
Hammerin Hank Kuehne wore out our Golf Channel crew with conversation all week at the Texas Challenge, and by weeks end hed worn out the field as well, on his way to the first professional title of his career. That makes it two name winners in two weeks on the Canadian Tour - great stuff for golf fans and the Canadian Tour as well. In fact, I feel like were really on to something here!
Kuehne, who blasted drives more than 400 yards on at least two occasions during a wind-aided week at the Circle 'C' Ranch Golf Club, shot weekend rounds of 65, 65 to outlast a strong field. So good was Kuehne that even Jason Bohns final-round birdie barrage and Steve Runges Sunday 64 couldnt make up enough ground. Bohn, a two-time winner on the Canadian Tour who calls Atlanta home, made eight straight birdies during his final-round 63 but finished a shot back. As did Steve Runge, a 33-year-old with a Canadian Tour win and a Buy.Com Tour win as well. Runges great day was ruined by an 18th hole bogey caused by an errant second shot that found the water.
Still, this was Kuehnes weekend. And it was really fun to watch. From the two-round, 14-under par total that put him at 18-under for the week, to the gallery made up of wife Nicole and a corral of other family and friends, Hank has officially put struggles and injury behind him. Actually, Sunday playing partner Darren Griff likened the support to Jack (Nicklaus) at Augusta. Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but hes found his form that helped him to the 1998 United States Amateur title and perhaps more importantly hes having a heck of a lot of fun doing it.
Golf Channel commentators Curt Byrum and Jerry Foltz came into the pre-show meeting on Sunday talking about how Hank strolled their way on the practice range to talk about everything from golf to fashion, obviously loose before a round where he just as easily could have been tight. Ask the veteran PGA Tour winner Byrum, who took some of Hanks abuse about a rather slick pair of black shoes he was wearing! Pretty bold for a young hot shot, huh?
As far as the on-course persona is concerned, were seeing an updated Hank of sorts. Its a confident Hank. And the golf world had better get ready. He is as embraceable as he is long off the tee. And his short game is as good these days as his drives are powerful. His four straight pars between the 15th and 18th holes on Sunday included a big up-n-down at the par-3 16th, and another one at the last. Impressive to him, and it had our crew dropping jaws as well.
That wouldnt have happened a few years ago when he blew out his shoulder, causing him to accept the possibility of never playing again, let alone hitting a drive well over 300 yards. And it wouldnt have happened last year while playing on the European Tour trying to regain his form.
In Houston at the Texas Classic Kuehnes second-round 64 put him right in the chase. But a Saturday 75 that included 41 shots on the back nine figured to knock him out. Not the new Hank. He put it behind him and shot a Sunday 64 to tie for second. And perhaps that was the springboard to the win in Austin.
The 26-year-old used a Bohn-like string of six straight birdies on Saturday this time around en route to a 65, and followed it up with another on Sunday. And thus the trophy was his, the struggles were a thing of the past and everyone was left to look at the bright future which lies ahead.
There is no doubt that Kuehne has the game to succeed at the highest level. Heck, hell make Tiger look like a short-knocker at times. Hes really THAT long. But the long and short of it all is that Kuehne has things in perspective. His smile is as electric as his game and it appears his game will go as far as he wants.
One more thing, if Hank Kuehne comes your way and starts wearing you out with conversation, take advantage of it. This guy is gonna be something!
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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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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

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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.