Tiger on Fire Again

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2000, 4:00 pm
Proving Tiger Woods is the only player who can stop Tiger Woods, the world's #1 finished bogey-birdie-bogey to hold on to a one-shot lead after 18 holes of the WGC - NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio.

Seven under through 12 holes, Woods carded one birdie, three pars and a pair of bogeys over his final six holes to finish the first round at six under. Woods' 64 on the par-70 Firestone course was good enough to give him a one-shot advantage over Jim Furyk, who shot 65.

Six players are tied for 3rd at four under, including: Darren Clarke, Justin Leonard, Phillip Price, Lee Westwood, Carlos Franco and Phil Mickelson.

Ernie Els is in a 4-way tie for 9th at three under with Stuart Appleby , Loren Roberts and Jose Maria Olazabal.

After successfully defending last week's PGA Championship, Woods began his title defense this week with an eagle three at the par-5 2nd by nearly holing a 6-iron from 206 yards.

Tiger added birdies at the 4th, 5th and 8th - no putts longer than twelve feet - for a front-nine 5-under-par 30; then carded two more red numbers - also birdie putts of twelve feet or less - on the 11th and 12th.

At seven under through twelve holes, Woods was leaving the field in his rearview mirror. However, he slowed down coming home, allowing a host of players to stay within reach.

A six-foot save at the 13th began a run of three straight pars for Tiger, which was ended with his first bogey of the day at the par-5 16th.

Woods' tee shot on the second of the two par fives found the left center of the fairway. From there, Tiger elected to lay-up with a 6-iron. No problem. Woods was just a sand wedge away from the green. Then, inexplicably, Woods flew the green and found the back beach. When he made his way to the bunker, he also found a fried-egg lie.

Tiger's splash out barely made it to the greenside fringe. He two-putted from there for a bogey six.

Tiger regained that lost stroke at the par-4 17th. After catching the rough off the tee, Woods stuck a wedge to six feet. The ensuing birdie moved the 7-time 2000 winner back to seven under par with one hole to play.

Again playing from the rough on the par-4 18th, Woods nearly blew his second shot through a tree. Instead, his ball took a chunk out the tall timber and ricocheted backwards into the fairway.

Tiger's 3rd shot finally found the green. Two putts later, Woods was in the clubhouse signing for his lowest aggregate score since he shot 63 in the second round of the Memorial Tournament - which he won.

Afterwards, Woods went straight to the range to work out some kinks in his driver.

'I didn't drive the ball very well,' said Woods, who hit nine of 14 fairways in the first round. 'I drove it terrible on the back nine.

'I didn't hit the ball very well coming in; and consequently, I didn't shoot the scores I wanted to shoot.'

Fresh off another record-breaking performance at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, many wandered if fatigue - mental more than physical - would be an issue this week. Tiger answered those questions in round one.

'I got some rest on Monday and Tuesday, which was nice,' said Woods. 'Came here and played about six holes yesterday, which was nice. And I got a feel of the golf course. Went out today ready to go, and I was able to play well, for the most part.'

Last week, Tiger became the first man since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three majors in the same season. Woods defeated Bob May in a three-hole playoff to add the Wannamaker trophy to his U.S. Open trophy and the Claret Jug.

This week, no major hardware is on the line, but a million-dollar first-place check is up for grabs. Should Woods prevail again, he would surpass $7.6 million in season earnings.
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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 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.

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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.