Clarke Survies Then Succumbs

By Mercer BaggsOctober 6, 2000, 4:00 pm
Darren Clarke survived a scare from a three-time Masters winner, but he couldn't get past the reigning Augusta champion. Clarke completed his first round match Friday morning by eagling the fourth extra hole to defeat Nick Faldo; and then fell to Vijay Singh 5-and-4 in round two.
Joining Singh in the semi-finals are Colin Montgomerie, who defeated Padraig Harrington 5-and-3; Lee Westwood, who defeated Sergio Garcia 2-and-1; and Ernie Els, who bettered fellow South African Retief Goosen 2-and-1.
Each of the four higher seeds won on Friday, doing so with a combined aggregate of 46-under-par. Defending champion Montgomerie led the way by shooting an 11-under-par 61 over his first 18 holes to take a 5-up lead entering the afternoon 18.
Harrington played well Friday morning. In fact, the Irishman, who lost to Monty 7-and-6 in the semi-finals last year, won the first two holes. However, his 67 wasn't good enough to stay within earshot of Montgomerie.
Monty continued his assault on the Wentworth's West Course in the afternoon. Overall, the Scot was 15-under-par for the day, equaling Sandy Lyle's tournament record.
'If I had finished birdie-eagle in the morning I could have shot 59, but I was given the putt on the 5th,' said Montgomerie. 'That was the only stroke - a four footer - which didn't actually go in. I did, however, give it to myself.
'That round was up there with my best. Padraig made four birdies between the 3rd and the 18th and lost seven holes. When I drive in here it gives me a feeling of being 1-up. It's an amazing feeling.'
Montgomerie has won four of the last five times he has played on the West Course, including three straight Volvo PGA Championship titles. Monty will now face 1997 Match Play champion Singh. Singh was 11-under-par on the day in his thumping of Clarke.
Clarke came out early Friday morning to finish his first-round match with 43-year-old Nick Faldo. Faldo extended the match to 40 holes, before falling to the Ulsterman.
Singh was only 1-up through the first 27 holes, but won the 28th, 30th, 31st and 32nd holes to clinch a semi-final berth.
'Obviously, Colin is playing pretty good but I'm not playing too shabbily either,' Singh said. 'I played well today, especially in the afternoon. I am still taking painkillers for the arm injury I sustained in August, but it's getting better.'
In the bottom-half of the draw, Westwood will now face three-time Match Play champion Els. Two years ago, Westwood bettered the South African in the second round.
Both Westwood and Els survived close matches on Friday. Westwood shot 64 in the morning, but was just 1-up over Garcia. However, the Spaniard could get no closer in the afternoon, finally losing out to the Englishman 2-and-1.
Els and Goosen met for the first time since the two were juniors in South Africa. Els, who won this event in 1994-96, was leading his countryman by as much as 5-up. Goosen clawed back to get within 2-down, but lost out when both men parred the 35th hole.
Should Els and Singh both win on Saturday, it would set up a rematch of the 1997 finals, where Singh ended Els' three-year winning streak. If Monty and Westwood win, it would set up a much-anticipated match between Europe's best.
Said Westwood: 'Me against Monty? That would be fine by me, but I just want to play whoever is playing the better. That is what I want. I like to be tested.'
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

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.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

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

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

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 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.

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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."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

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.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

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.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.