Wounded Woods Trails at Tour Championship

By Mercer BaggsNovember 1, 2001, 5:00 pm
Bernhard Langer hasnt played in the Tour Championship since the inaugural event in 1987. Frank Lickliter has never played the tournament. Yet, both share the lead after the first round in Houston, TX.
Each opened in 6-under-par 65 at the Champions Golf Club. Five shots back is a wounded Tiger Woods.
Woods went to the fitness trailer Wednesday and felt some discomfort in the right region of his lower back ' an area he said has never bothered him before.
It just started acting up yesterday and just one of those things that you have to go out there and deal with it, Woods said following his round.
Woods played through a painful first round, making adjustments to try and alleviate the aches. He was forced to bend at the knees to pick his ball out of the hole and place his tee in the ground.
Still, he managed to score a 1-under 70.
The hardest time is when youre standing around. Its fine walking, the problem is when I have to rotate or bend over, and thats an integral part of the game, Woods said with a laugh.
The way I was feeling today if someone were to tell me would you take under par and go home, Id say yes. I was very thankful and very lucky to end up under par and I got a good shot at winning this tournament.
Ill get it fixed tonight and hopefully tomorrow Ill be 100 percent.
Woods said he planned to see Tom Boers, the back specialist who has worked for Davis Love III, Fred Couples and Ernie Els.
If the problem persists, Woods didnt rule out a possible withdrawal. When asked if he could play four days under these conditions, he replied, Who knows? I really dont know. I just hope I feel better, lets put it that way.
If Woods were to withdraw during his round, it would cost him the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average on tour. A player with an incomplete round is ineligible for the award.
If you are hurt, you are hurt. If you cant go, you cant go, he said.
Lickliter also said he felt uncomfortable Thursday, but for a greatly different reason. This years Kemper Open champion was altering his swing on the range. And though he felt uneasy about his shot making, he was utterly pleased with the results.
I am happy, he said, without disclosing what it was he was working on. I felt very uncomfortable on basically every shot I hit, which isnt a bad thing because you have to pay attention.
Its when you get really comfortable that you dont know exactly what you are doing.Hal Sutton was in his comfort zone, leading the tournament at 5-under through 13 holes, but then was put on the clock by PGA Tour official Mike Shea on the par-4 14th.
Its funny, because that was the first shot I had anything to think about, Sutton said. Drove it in the edge of the right rough ' water on the left, tree in front of me. So I had to stand there and look at the shot. I gotta think about it. It takes more than a dumbass to hit the shot, basically.
Feeling rushed, Sutton left his approach shot 75 feet from the hole on one of the course's many massive greens and proceeded to three-putt for his first bogey of the day.
From there, he also bogeyed the par-3 16th and double bogeyed the par-4 17th to finish with a round of 1-under 70.
After signing his scorecard, he spent over ten minutes discussing the situation with Shea.
Im probably the fastest player out here, thats whats so bad and thats why the system is flawed, because its always the fast player that speeds up, Sutton said; though, he didnt put any of the blame on playing companion Billy Mayfair.
So how do you fix the system if it is flawed? Sutton said its simple ' address the slow-playing individual.
We all know who the slow players are, we know exactly who they are, he said. They know who they are and we know who they are. So if we cant do something like that, then we have problems.
Ironically, Langer is known quite well for his meticulous manner.
This is the first time since 1988 that the 44-year-old German has played a full schedule (at least 15 events) on the PGA Tour. And hes played incredibly well, especially in the years biggest events.
Langer finished third in The Players Championship, tied for sixth in the Masters Tournament and tied for third in the British Open. Add those results to two more top-3 finishes in the states, and a pair of victories overseas, and Langer is having his best campaign since a four-win season on the European Tour in 1997.
A lot of people say why am I playing so good? I have played like this for many, many years. Its just the last three years I hadnt played quite this well and now I feel I am playing again the way I played from 1985 through 1997, said Langer, who has 42 worldwide wins, including a pair of Masters titles (1985, 93).
Langer gave much of the credit for his resurgence to the fact that he has 14 new clubs in his bag, as well as a new golf ball. He also stated he hasnt lost that competitive desire.
I think I am just as motivated as I was, he said. I love being competitive. I enjoy being out there competing with the other guys and its great fun when you are having a good year.
News, Notes and Numbers
*Woods is scheduled to tee of Friday at 11:39 a.m. local time with Love, who is also battling a bad back. Langer and Lickliter will tee off at 1:00 p.m.
*Steve Stricker started horribly Thursday, with a quintuple bogey on the par-3 4th. He was 7-over-par through seven holes, but birdied four of the next seven holes and finished with a 3-over 74.
*20 of the 29 players in the field broke par in the first round. Sutton was the lone player to card an eagle, doing so on the par-5 10th.
*Though the field is reduced to the top 30 players on the money list, no one outside the top 20 has won since Jim Gallagher, Jr. (21st) in 1993. Langer is 24th on the money list, while Lickliter is 19th.
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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.