Habig Fires Course Record

By Marty HenwoodJuly 31, 2003, 4:00 pm
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Rookie Josh Habig matched the course record Thursday to take the lead after the opening round of the Canadian Tours Greater Vancouver Classic.
Playing in the lead group on the afternoon side of the draw, the 26-year-old was 6-under at the turn on his way to an 8-under 64, the same mark Malaysias Iain Steel equalled in the final round one year ago on his way to his first Tour triumph. Lingering two shots back is B.C. amateur star James Lepp, sponsor invite Nathan Fritz, Erik Compton and Matt Bettencourt. Three others opened with a 5-under 67.
The weatherman cooperated with players and tournament organizers Thursday, offering up mild temperatures and clear blue skies all day long. The field made the most of the conditions, with 65 of the 156 players breaking par.
Habig reeled off four consecutive birdies on holes 8 through 11 to get to 8-under before cooling down with a bogey on the par-4 12th. After a stretch of five straight pars, he almost holed out for eagle on his approach on 17, sucking the ball back to within six inches and tapping in for birdie. On the final hole, Habig, who had good friend and fellow ex-Northwestern University player Brad Newman-Bennett acting as his caddie, just missed a six-footer for birdie that would have given him sole possession of the Swan-e-set Bay Resort and CC benchmark.
We were talking out on the fairway and I told Brad we were at a perfect distance for a full wedge and we laughed that maybe we could hole it out for eagle, said Habig of his near-miss on number 17. Those are the kind of shots you love, the ones you dont have to think about at all. My ball striking was good all day and I had a hot putterI had the mindset that I was just going to go as low as I could.
While Habig grabbed most of the headlines Thursday, Abbotsford amateur James Lepp was a close second with his 6-under 66. The 19-year-old phenom, the NCAA Big Ten Player of the Year and Second Team in All-American in 2002-03, birdied his first three holes out of the chute, including a 20-footer on the opening hole of the day. Playing just a few kilometres up the road from his hometown, Lepp is hoping to have a better showing in Vancouver than he did last season, when he bogeyed two holes late in the second round to miss the cut. On Thursday, Lepp was 4-under through his front side but missed some putts on the back nine that could have seen him finish even further in the red.
This is some of the best competition I have played against, and being at home makes it a little more special, said Lepp. I am expecting to play well here. It was frustrating on the back side'when you are playing well, you want to make as many birdies as possible. If I could have putted the way I know I can, I may have been at 64.
Lepp, a standout at the University of Illinois, caught most of the Vancouver media off guard Thursday when he announced he would be transferring to the University of Washington next year. Cutting through the red tape that is the NCAA transfer policy will determine if Lepp will play in Washington or if he will have to red-shirt it for the 2004 season, meaning he will not be allowed to compete in official college tournaments.
The new record is something Habig would have enjoyed adding to his resume, but he admitted it wont matter if he is standing on the 18th green Sunday afternoon collecting the winners cheque. In fact, the 64 wasnt even on his mind until he stood on the 18th tee, when Habig remembered reading Steel had tied the record to win last June. With his blistering start Thursday, Habig added, albeit tongue-in-cheek, that if he can keep his current pace he will likely find himself in the winners circle in three days.
That was the only time we even talked about it, (the record) standing on 18. You tend to get a little nervous when you start going low like that. But Im pretty sure if I can shoot 8-under the next three days, I have to like my chances.
Two and a half months after winning his first Canadian Tour title at the Michelin Guadalajara Classic, Compton, himself a Second Team All-American in 2001 while at the University of Georgia, also shot 4-under on his front nine to make an early statement. Early in the week, the former U.S. Walker and Palmer Cup team member couldnt get the mechanics of his swing down pat and stayed at the practice range until 9:30 Wednesday night trying to correct the problem.
I couldnt find the groove all week long but today I hit it well, so the extra work paid off, he reasoned. Its definitely a strategy game. The weather is perfect, the course is in great shape, and so you have to take advantage. But its just the first round. If I am there come Sunday afternoon, thats all I can ask for.
Fritz, playing this week on a Golf Channel exemption, also made the most of ideal scoring conditions Thursday. After a 15-foot birdie putt on his first hole, he holed out from a greenside bunker on number two to get an early jump. The 22-year-old played solid through the first 54 holes at last weeks Victoria Open, but struggled to a final round 5-over 75 that relegated him to 40th spot.

He provided some comic relief midway through Thursdays round when he had severe case of the hiccups, prompting one tournament volunteer to go out and offer advice on how to overcome the sudden attack.
It took all I could not to hiccup in the middle of someones backswing, he laughed. I couldnt figure out what was wrong. At least it gave us (playing partners Rafael Gemoets and Stuart Anderson) something to laugh about.
Since turning pro just two weeks ago, Fritz has played both Tour events in B.C. after The Golf Channel, in the province to broadcast both events live, offered him a spot each week. Others in his spot may have to come over an initial intimidation factor teeing it up with such a strong field but, talking to Fritz, he didnt seem fazed in the least.
I was really just a nobody, and The Golf Channel gave me the opportunity to make this happen. I knew I could play out here with these guys. The tournaments are well run and played on some great courses. But I am not worried about who I am playing against. Its not like I am stepping on the tee thinking Oh my God, I am playing on the Canadian Tour. Ill just do what I can and see where it leaves me.
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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.”

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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.

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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.

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    ''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.

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    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.

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    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.