Singh moves up leaderboard with Friday 69

By Randall MellAugust 10, 2012, 9:25 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Vijay Singh will turn 50 next February.

There’s gray hair sprouting under his visor now.

He doesn’t pound range balls into sunsets the way he did in his prime.

There have been back problems, knee surgery and other aches and pains that time brings, but none of that mattered Friday at the PGA Championship. In the gusting, heavy winds on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, Singh re-emerged on a major championship stage. He reminded a new generation he just might not be done setting records.

With a 3-under-par 69 in the second round, Singh heads into the weekend with a chance to become the oldest winner of a major championship.

“Vijay’s score today is phenomenal,” Graeme McDowell said.

Singh posted the lowest score in the morning wave in winds gusting to 25 mph. He was just one of three players to break par in the morning.

“Folks watching on TV back home, I don’t think they realize how good that 69 is because there are a lot of pins you can’t even sniff,” Blake Adams said.

Singh is on the leaderboard at 4-under 140. If he can continue his stellar ball striking, and keep an erratic putter in line, he is poised to make a run at surpassing Julius Boros as the oldest winner of a major. Boros was 48 when he won the PGA Championship at Pecan Valley in 1968.

“Vijay is a tremendous ball striker,” said Phil Mickelson, who has had his share of battles with Singh. “These conditions here, where you don’t have an option to go on the ground, where you have to keep it through the air, plays right to his strength. He hits the ball extremely solid, penetrates right through the air. He’s done that his whole career.

“When he gets hot with the putter, he can reel off a number of wins, just like he did that one year, when he won nine times. He has that ability. You don’t ever forget it. Sometimes, you might go through hills and valleys, but you don’t ever forget how to hit those shots and win.”

Not so long ago, nobody would have been surprised to see Singh break Boros’ mark. No one has ever been better in golf after turning 40 than Singh. Not Boros. Not even Sam Snead. Singh’s 22 PGA Tour titles after turning 40 are better than Snead’s mark (17). They’re the most in the history of golf.

But Singh has shown signs of wearing down the last few years. There was knee surgery in ’09 and a drop off in his game.

Though Singh has won 34 PGA Tour titles, he hasn’t claimed one since 2008. The last of his three major championship titles came eight years ago. When he won nine times in 2004, he was the only real rival Tiger Woods ever faced. Singh was No. 1 for 32 weeks in that run.

That seems like a long time ago with Singh slipping to No. 74 in the world, but his game has shown signs of a return.

Singh is coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes at the British Open and RBC Canadian Open.

“I’ve been playing well for awhile,” Singh said. “I’ve been telling myself I’m swinging the club really well, but . . . All of a sudden, it clicked.”

Singh’s ball striking has long set him apart, though he has lost some of the power advantage he once enjoyed. Singh used to be among the longest hitters in the game, one of the new “bomb-and-gougers,” but he’s 41st in PGA Tour driving distance this year.

Really, though, Singh’s long putter will dictate just how much he can turn back the clock this week. He hasn’t ranked among the top 100 in putting on the PGA Tour since 2006.

Singh’s short game Friday opened the door to his 69. He hit just 11 greens in regulation but scrambled his way to pars. He needed just 26 putts.

Singh’s confidence is returning.

“I’ve started believing I can do it,” Singh said. “I was so negative for a long, long time. I’ve had great sessions on the driving range and just couldn’t take it on the golf course. I’ve finally started to believe I can do what I’m doing on the range. My head is in a better spot.”

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, 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.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

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 PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

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 Course 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. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

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.

Getty Images

Mickelson 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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. 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.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.