Time for DiMarco to Take Advantage

By Kraig KannApril 29, 2005, 4:00 pm
As I see it, Chris DiMarco has his chance. Fresh off the greatest pressure performance of his career to date, and rested after a few weeks off, this week in New Orleans DiMarco has a huge opportunity before him once again.
Heading into Fridays second round and the weekend at the Zurich Championship of New Orleans, DiMarco held a share of the lead at 7-under-par. And while its easy to remember Chris and his terrific play at Augusta National earlier this month, its tough to remember that his last PGA Tour win came in 2002. Thats right ' 2002. In Phoenix no less ' a lid-lifter if you will on the PGA Tour schedule - played when most of the PGA Tour elite are just breaking in the newest pair of shoes.
Chris DiMarco
Is Chris DiMarco ready to prove he's one of the big fish in the PGA Tour sea?
So its been three years and then some since Chris entered the winners circle at the highest level. And that alone is tough to imagine given his runs at the Masters, his near miss last year at the PGA Championship, his spot on the last Presidents Cup team and also the last Ryder Cup team.
A few weeks' ago, just days after the Masters, I talked about Tiger Woods being the star of all stars on the PGA Tour. But in the same breath I also talked about DiMarco having arrived at star status after his tremendous Augusta performance.
Chris DiMarcos stock is on the rise ' no doubt about it. Hes as tough as they come. He gets more out of his given ability than most anyone in the game. And hes not afraid to tell you how confident he is. I like that.
While DiMarco has just three PGA Tour titles to his credit, many feel that his next three might just include a couple of majors. Think about it. I know he does.
So this week, its just regular old New Orleans. But as I see it, its a huge window of opportunity for Chris to keep himself on the front page if you will. A win this week keeps everyone talking about the Masters performance. A so-so weekend gives people reason to forget and think only about when Tiger will return to action.
I actually think DiMarco is ready for big things. More ready than ever before. And more ready than ever for what could and will happen if he really does take advantage of things.
Once a journeyman looking for a putting stroke and a bit of security in this game, DiMarco now appears to be a man on a journey to start amassing titles and majors. How many and how soon are the questions that have us looking to find answers.
Heres an interesting note on Chris while he was on hiatus for the past two weeks: A little fishing trip with his buddies resulted in perhaps the biggest catch hes made since the FBR Open win in Phoenix back in 2002. DiMarco reeled in a 35-40 pound redfish among friends to help win a little 4-man best boat tournament. As the story goes, DiMarco had never seen a redfish in person. Now hes got fish stories to tell for years and a picture from the local Orlando paper to prove it.
Now, after casting himself into contention again, we find out if DiMarco is ready to reel in his fourth PGA Tour title and keep momentum on his side.
Believe him, he could use a few wins heading into the next three major championships and the Presidents Cup which will definitely hold a spot for him.
By the way, the man DiMarco found himself tied with after Round 1 owes a good bit of thanks to DiMarco himself.
Arjun Atwal, the second-year PGA Tour pro from Calcutta, India, was listed as the 23rd alternate on Monday at the BellSouth Classic just as he was spending his honeymoon with wife Ritika in Bali.
You remember threatening weather in Georgia that week cast doubt, not only over the completion of the tournament, but also put a fear-factor into the minds of players like DiMarco and Steve Flesch, who werent about to stray from a long-planned practice schedule for the Masters. Well, Atwals parents warned him of the storms and dropped a hint that he might want to make his way back to the United States where he has a home.
Atwal, who finished 146th on the PGA Tour money list as a rookie in 2004, made it all count - cashing in to the tune of $330,000. And the first from India to have won on the European Tour has apparently found his way just a bit. Seven worldwide wins for Atwal ' now maybe a first is in the cards on the PGA Tour.
At any rate, to me this is DiMarcos big week. The week that could really launch him on the PGA Tour. The week that can make the tough Masters defeat an even bigger victory. The week he angles himself into permanent conversation about the PGA Tours biggest fish.
Lets see if DiMarco can make it happen. He can.... can't he?
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.