Johnson Wins Strange One in Texas
The 30-year-old native fromTerre Haute, Ind., won the weather-shortened event at Barton Creek Resorts Fazio Foothills course with a 36-hole total of 10-under 134 (65-69), two strokes in front of Michael Harris (Troy, Mich.) and Mark Johnson (Helendale, Calif.). Hank Kuehne and James Driscoll were four shots off the pace.
Philip Jonas of Vancouver had the best Canadian showing, winding up tied for 8th at 4-under 140.
In as complicated a scenario as you will see in the world of professional golf, Tour officials announced Saturday that the Classic would be a 36-hole event, the first time in Canadian Tour history that a 72-hole tournament had been reduced to two rounds. That mean Johnson, who finished his second round late Saturday afternoon, could sit back and see if any of the remaining 65 golfers could take a run at his 10-under total Sunday. That never happened.
Kevin Stadler, the son of former Masters champion Craig Stadler, started the day at 6-under and seemingly had the best shot at catching Johnson. The 23-year-old birdied his second hole of the day before going on a bogey-double bogey-bogey slide that had him out of contention at the turn. Stadler struggled to a 6'over 78 and wound up falling from fourth spot to a tie for 35th.
Torrential rains washed out opening round action Thursday and caused a three-hour delay Friday morning.
Johnson, who had a pair of fourth-place showings during his six-year Tour career, arrived at Barton Creek Resort just before 11 A.M. CST in a buoyant mood. Stadler had fallen from the leaderboard minutes earlier, and Lee Williamson, his closest pursuer, was five shots back. Johnson was whisked to The Golf Channel broadcast booth where he did on-air commentary as Stadler and Williamson kicked into the stretch drive.
I dont think this will ever happen again, admitted Johnson when asked of Sundays bizarre circumstances. But those guys that came out here today had the weather to contend with, plus they knew the number they needed to catch me. They had to go to bed last night knowing what they needed to shoot, and that may have worked against them.
Those players who played most of their 36 holes on Saturday seemed to have the better side of the draw. Swirling winds Sunday didnt allow anyone to take it low, at least not low enough to challenge the leader. In fact, six of the top seven finishers were players that didnt have to take a club out of the bag on the final day of the tournament.
Having played 29 of his 36 holes Saturday, Johnson had set the early pace by finishing off an opening-round 7-under 65. The 30-year-old had time to grab a quick lunch before pegging it up for Rd. 2. As it turned out, the 56 putts he needed through 36 holes turned out to be added insurance for his initial Tour triumph. On Sunday, he awoke with the mindset it was another day of golf, dressing in his on-course attire in case a playoff materialized. Facing the prospect of playing perhaps one hole after having the entire of the day off wasnt something overly appealing to Johnson.
I was out with some friends Saturday night and (fellow Tour player) Bobby Kalinowski was telling me I had better get some sleep because I was going to be in a playoff today, joked Johnson, who met Julie, his wife of seven months, in Ottawa during his first season on Tour. It wasnt something I really thought about, but I would have had to go in there cold. These other guys had just played a round, and it could have been over for me as soon as I hit a tee shot in a playoff.
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.