Canadian Tour Announces 2002 US Stops
'It simply made more sense for us to follow the lead of most other tours and adopt a calendar year for the playing schedule of our tournaments' stated Canadian Tour Commissioner Jacques Burelle.
Of further importance was the announcement that the purse for the 2002 Panasonic Panama Open will rise to $225,000.00 US ' a record high both for the event and the Canadian Tour.
'We are thankful to the Panama Tourism Bureau for their additional contribution to our tournament' stated Tournament Director George Downing. 'We are looking forward to welcoming the Top 40 players from the Canadian Tour to this the seventh edition of the Panasonic Panama Open'.
The tour also confirmed Wednesday that it has teamed with Dallas-based Hambric Sports Management to stage the first two tournaments of its 2002 U.S. winter swing in Texas. The events will be held the weeks of March 4th-10th and March 11th-17th and, with several sites under consideration, a final decision on the host sites will be made by the end of October.
'It's a privilege for the Canadian Tour to be coming to the Lone Star State,' commented Canadian Tour Commissioner Jacques Burelle. 'The opportunity to partner with Hambric Sports Management for these events will truly take the Tour to the next level. We look forward to having 'the eyes of Texas upon us' as we undertake our maiden voyage to this great state.'
Speaking on behalf of Hambric Sports Management, President Roscoe O. Hambric, Jr. was equally enthusiastic with Tuesday's announcement.
'The numerous great young players who have turned professional over the last sixteen months collectively represent a pool of talent that is, in my twenty-four years in the business, unprecedented in its depth and quality,' said Hambric.
'Historically, the Canadian Tour has been the developmental Tour which has developed the most young talent for the PGA Tour, and it is the Canadian Tour that will be providing the majority of these great young players the chance to gain critical, high-level Tour experience early in their careers.'
'I am very excited about working with Jacques Burelle and his staff to expand the opportunities provided to the stars of tomorrow by the Canadian Tour. It is especially gratifying for me to promote these tournaments in my home state of Texas, which has produced so many of the game's great players.'
With the Texas dates now in place, the full winter schedule for the 2002 Canadian Tour season has been finalized. The Tour will kick off the 2002 campaign in the Republic of Panama with the Panasonic Panama Open from January 14th-20th.
A few weeks later, from February 11th through 15th, ChampionsGate in Orlando, Fla., will play host to the Winter Qualifying School before the Tour moves into Texas for the first two U.S. events of the year. Scottsdale, Ariz., will then be the site for the next two events, to be played March 25th-31st at McCormick Ranch and April 1st-7th at Eagle Mountain Golf Club.
Rounding out the Canadian Tour's second stint south of the border will be a return visit to Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC, with events to be held at the Greg Norman course April 22nd-28th and the Pete Dye layout April 29th-May 5th.
For the stops in Texas, Arizona and South Carolina, The Golf Channel will provide four-round coverage of each event, delivering three hours of live tournament coverage each day with a two-and-a-half hour prime time or late fringe replay. Viewers will also again have the chance to catch the last three rounds of action in an encore presentation during the week following competition. The Golf Channel will also provide daily updates, to be aired during Golf Central, from both the Panasonic Panama Open and Winter Qualifying School.
The complete 2002 Canadian Tour schedule, including all dates in Canada, will be released in mid November.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.