Record Field of More Than 1,250 Set to Compete in 2014 Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships, Sept. 9-18

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 3, 2014, 2:30 pm

Golf Channel announced a record field of 1,252 players qualified to compete in the 2014 Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships, Sept. 9-18 in Scottsdale, Ariz,. Tournament competitors range in age from 15 to 82, and represent 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

The Golf Channel Am Tour National Championships are divided into two events – the Open National Championship, Sept. 9-12, and the Senior National Championship (age 50+), Sept. 15-18. Host courses for the National Championships will be Grayhawk Golf Club’s Talon and Raptor courses, and Talking Stick Golf Club’s North and South courses.  Talking Stick Resort – Scottsdale’s premiere resort and casino – will be the host resort and tournament headquarters for the week. This is the first time Scottsdale will serve as the backdrop for the Am Tour National Championships, often touted as one of the world’s finest golf destinations, accounting for more than 200 golf courses, and home to numerous professionals on the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour.

Several NBC Sports / Golf Channel on-air personalities will participate in the National Championship welcome dinners, with Golf Channel on NBC analyst Peter Jacobsen, and Golf Channel analyst Curt Byrum scheduled to attend the open division welcome dinner on Monday, Sept. 8. Golf Channel’s David Feherty is slated to attend the senior division welcome dinner on Sunday, Sept. 14, during which he will present a check to the Troops First Foundation on behalf of the Golf Channel Am Tour. Feherty is a co-founder of the Troops First Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops, operates and supports a synergistic group of wellness, quality of life, and sports-based initiatives in support of today’s military personnel. 

In addition to the on-air personalities in attendance, Cleveland Golf / Srixon will feature a few of their Tour staff players on-site at the National Championships during competition play.

Twelve participants in six flights – six from the senior division (age 50+) and six from the open division – will be crowned national champions in official awards ceremonies immediately following the conclusion of their respective tournaments. Twenty-nine past champions are in the field, including eight defending champions. A few of the top performers and storylines from the 2014 season-long Golf Channel Am Tour schedule in the National Championships field include:

Hardeep Dhani (Poway, Calif.) – Dhani has won five of nine tournaments entered in 2014, including the Western Masters and Southern California Tour Championship, where he posted a 12-under par mark (65-67). Dhani has gone from a 3-handicap to a plus-1 over the course of the past two years on the Am Tour, and will likely turn professional in the next 12 months.

James and Jamie Smith (San Diego, Calif.; Vermont) – The father-son duo qualified for the National Championships at the Duel in the Desert. James competes in the Hogan Flight (8.0-11.9 handicap), while Jamie competes in the Sarazen Flight (12.0-15.9).

Rafael Rodriguez and Heather Taher (San Jose, Calif.) – The significant others have combined for an impressive run on the 2014 Am Tour schedule. Rodriguez won the National Championship last year in the Sarazan Flight, and will compete in the Hogan Flight in Scottsdale. Taher began competing in the Snead Flight (20+ handicap) and has improved her handicap to qualify to compete in the Sarazen Flight.

Kody Conover (Las Vegas, Nev.) – The son of Clifford Conover, who won three consecutive Senior National Championships in the Palmer Flight (2009-11), Kody has Down Syndrome and is competing on the Am Tour for the first time in 2014. He won a Major (Western Classic) and has improved his play throughout the season, beginning in the Snead Flight, and competing in the National Championships in the Sarazen Flight.

Shane Rutherford (Los Angeles, Calif.) –Rutherford proposed to his wife two years ago at the Hawaii Major and now the couple are expecting. His wife, Christie, plans to lend her support in person, following Shane during his final two rounds in the Championship Flight.

Jason Meijers (San Diego, Calif.) – Meijers has improved from a 10-handicap two years ago to a plus-2 handicap this season. Practicing at the same club at Gunn Yang (recent 2014 U.S. Amateur champion), Meijers has won three times on the Am Tour in 2014 and will likely turn professional in the next 12-24 months.


Open Division National Championship Welcome Dinner                  Sept. 8

Open Division National Championship Competition Play                 Sept. 9-12

Senior Division National Championship Welcome Dinner                 Sept. 14

Senior Division National Championship Competition Play                Sept. 15-18

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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.