Jacobsen kicks off Am Tour Nationals in Scottsdale

By Mike BaileySeptember 9, 2014, 11:17 am

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – With skies clearing and Peter Jacobsen and Co. addressing such topics as the Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods, the importance of clubfitting and how to play under pressure, the 2014 Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship got off to a rousing start Monday night.

Several hundred competitors from all over the country and parts of the world gave the popular former PGA Tour player and current TV commentator a standing ovation when introduced during the Players Dinner Monday night at Talking Stick Resort, the host facility for the Golf Channel Am Tour's regular and senior divisions for the next two weeks.

The dinner followed a 24-hour period of record rainfall in Arizona, where flooding closed down highways and streets as well as golf courses, including the courses at Talking Stick on Monday. The other host courses at nearby Grayhawk Golf Club, however, were open on Monday afternoon, for practice rounds as the inclement weather moved out of the area. The forecast for the rest of the week calls for clearing conditions.

Jacobsen, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour who works for the Golf Channel and NBC Sports, was joined Monday night by former PGA Tour player and TV commentator Curt Byrum as well as current PGA Tour player Charlie Beljan. Jacobsen, also known for his sense of humor and impressions of famous golfers, kept the proceedings light.

"You guys play a lot of golf intoxicated, which is very impressive," he mused. "We only have five or six guys (on the tour) who can do that."

With Byrum on stage, the topic quickly turned to the Ryder Cup, just a couple of weeks away at Gleneagles in Scotland. Both offered their theories on how the Americans can turn the tide on the Europeans. Jacobsen pointed out that The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles is a Jack Nicklaus design and very American, which could give the U.S. team an edge.

Byrum added that the Americans coming in as an underdog also could work to their advantage.

"It always ends up being the team that putts the best in the last couple of sessions, right?" Byrum said. "So I think the Americans usually get tight because they're supposed to win. So I think if the Americans can loosen up and say, 'Hey look, we're in Scotland, we're underdogs,' and let it go, we've got a chance."

Soon after, Jacobsen opened up the proceedings to questions from the audience and it didn't take long for someone to ask if Tiger Woods should go back to his old coach, Butch Harmon. Jacobsen echoed Harmon's sentiments when he said that Tiger doesn't need a coach; he's already had the best instruction in the world. "He simply needs to go out and figure it out on his own," Jacobsen said.

All three experts stressed the importance of clubfitting over buying the latest and greatest equipment.


"I think getting fit properly will automatically take a couple of strokes off your game, no matter what else you do," said Beljan, one of the longest hitters on tour.

Then Byrum, who is from Scottsdale, gave the players in the audience this bit of advice for the week.

"I don't know about Talking Stick," he said, "but at Grayhawk, everything breaks toward downtown."

Jacobsen, of course, entertained the crowd with his Craig Stadler and Lanny Wadkins impressions, then nailed a Jason Dufner impersonation. On a more serious note, he talked about how important it is to narrow your focus to the shot at hand when you start feeling the pressure of tournament golf. But he had some more general advice as well, and it didn't pertain to golf. It was about how he and his wife Jan have managed to stay married all these years.

"I've been married for 38 years," the 60-year-old Portland, Ore., native said. "And the key to that is I had my spine removed 37 years ago."


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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.