Par 5: Ruthless or Clueless?

By Randall MellJuly 26, 2011, 2:48 pm

Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for tournament golf at large …

Is this new college breed more clueless than ruthless?

These college kids on a hot summer run are raising speculation there may be a new breed of American player poised to take the PGA Tour by storm.

The bravado spilling out of NCAA champion John Peterson’s mouth Sunday at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational is evidence there’s no lack of determination or cocksureness in these young ones.

After the University of Georgia’s Harris English won the Nationwide Tour event and Peterson placed second in a 1-2 amateur finish, Peterson confidently crowed to Golf World that the top 20 or 30 players in college could beat the top 20 or 30 pros today, with a few minor exceptions.

“I knew I could beat all those guys,” said Peterson, an LSU standout. “I didn’t win the tournament, but I beat all those pros.”

English was just as bold.

“We’re ruthless,” English said. “All college events are very competitive, and you learn how to go out there and win.”

The fact that English’s teammate at Georgia, Russell Henley, also won a Nationwide Tour event as an amateur this summer, and that UCLA’s Patrick Cantlay is on a roll as an amateur in Tour events, makes you wonder if something super is heating in the collegiate game.

Are these guys an exception to an old rule? Or are they the new rule?

English and Peterson know what it’s like to freewheel as amateurs in professional events. They’ve yet to learn what it’s like to play for money, to play when there’s so much more to agonize over, to choke over. They’ve yet to know the sting of missing a putt that costs them $100,000 or even a paycheck for the week.

Those hard lessons aren’t taught in college.

“We’re ruthless.” Those are words we can excuse as youthful exuberance. Still, they were uttered on a pro stage, and that also makes them words that promise to define someone, for better or worse.

Will they be staging a party or a tournament at Killarney this week?

The Irish Open will feature just three players among the top 50 in the world at Killarney this week, but it couldn’t pick three better.

Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell will turn the event into a celebration of what’s right with Irish golf. The trio from Northern Ireland, winners of three of the last six major championships, are teeing it up there this week. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, the three-time major championship winner, is also in the field. Even Wednesday’s pro-am is expected to draw enormous crowds.

Clarke is making his first start since winning the British Open the week before last. He played the Irish Open in his first European Tour start as an amateur in 1990.

“It would be a hell of an achievement – a dream come true – to have the (British) Open and Irish Open trophies on display back at home,” Clarke told the European Tour’s website. “It has already been an amazing month for me and to do the double would be unbelievable.”

Can Phil Mickelson be re-energized in the summer time?

With his front-nine Sunday charge at the British Open, and then his back-nine fade at Royal St. George’s, we got a glimpse of the old Phil Mickelson, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He was, after all, younger back then.

At 41, Mickelson’s biggest problem at the Greenbrier this week isn’t his age. It isn’t that he’s moving toward the autumn of his career. It’s that this is summer time, and even in his prime he’s never played well in the middle of summer.

Of Mickelson’s 39 PGA Tour titles, just one has come in the month of July, and barely in that month. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 2001, when the first three rounds were played in June and the final round on July 1. He’s also won just once in June.

Actually, Mickelson hasn’t been much of a second-half player through his career. Thirty of his Tour victories have come in the first five months of the year, 17 during the West Coast swing months of January and February.

Here’s a breakdown of Mickelson’s PGA victories by month:

January: 8

February: 9

March: 2

April: 7

May: 4

June: 1

July: 1

August: 4

September: 2

October: 0

November: 1

December: 0

Will Yani Tseng join Armour, Hogan, Player and Watson as Carnoustie winners?

With the Ricoh Women’s British Open continuing to visit historic venues for the first time, Tseng gets a chance to defend her title on a course that’s been host to seven British Opens.

Carnoustie promises to offer a difficult test. It is, after all, where Jean Van de Velde infamously collapsed to lose to Paul Lawrie in the British Open finish of ‘99. It’s also where Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff in ’07 and where Tommy Armour (‘31), Henry Cotton (’37), Ben Hogan (’53), Gary Player (’68) and Tom Watson (’75) won.

Tseng, 22, is going for her fifth major championship title, her third in the last five played and her fourth in the last two seasons.

Who will win the Watson-less U.S. Senior Open?

The buildup to the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness includes focus on who is not there.

Watson, who has yet to win this major, is skipping the U.S. Senior Open to play his first regular PGA Tour event since the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2007. He’s playing the Greenbrier Classic. Watson is the pro emeritus at Greenbrier and said he’s playing there to live up to a commitment he made to Greenbrier owner Jim Justice after missing the inaugural event last year.

At 61, Watson, winner of the Senior PGA earlier this year, would have been one of the favorites at Inverness. Count Bernhard Langer, the defending U.S. Senior Open champ, among the favorites as he continues to make his way back after undergoing left thumb surgery in March. After winning the Senior British Open last week, Russ Cochran looks like the man to beat. Count Tom Lehman and John Cook as the hottest players on the senior circuit this year.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.

Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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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.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''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.