For one round, at least, everything goes Woods' way

By Rex HoggardAugust 20, 2015, 6:43 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – All he needed was one good shot, one good round, one good tournament.

Through the first turn at the Wyndham Championship Tiger Woods remained on topic, holing putts like he’s Jordan Spieth on his way to his lowest round on the PGA Tour (64) since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational ... in 2013.

Woods’ 6-under card was an impressive opening move in what is essentially an 11th-hour Hail Mary attempt to secure a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which begin next week.

“It was nice to finally get some putts going in and on top of that it was nice to make some par putts,” said Woods, who needed just 26 putts on a soggy Sedgefield Country Club layout.

Woods made putts for birdie at Nos. 1, 4, 5, 13, 15 and 18; but it was the crucial par putts, like at the par-3 16th hole when he raced his first attempt some 7 feet past the hole, that somehow made Thursday feel different.

All the little things that Woods has talked about in recent weeks – his inability to maintain momentum and turn a 70 into a 64 – were on display on Thursday at the Wyndham Championship from the outset.

Just before 8 a.m. (ET) he set the tone, igniting the gallery, and even himself, with a bold flop shot that bounced twice and trickled into the hole for an unlikely birdie at his first hole (No. 10).

“That was a loud roar,” said Brooks Koepka, who was paired with Woods on Day 1. “I haven’t heard that one, that loud in a long time. It was cool to see.”

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Woods seemed to agree, walking the pitch-in with his hand held high in the air like it was 2007, like it was the most natural thing to turn a hard par into an easy birdie.

“I went for the shot and instead of playing something more conservative, the greens were hard and fast and I wanted to play something long,” said Woods, who was tied for fifth place when he completed his morning round. “I got aggressive with it and I went for it and I pulled it off.”

Being aggressive seemed to be the order of the day for Woods.

Although many applauded Woods’ decision to play the Wyndham Championship for the first time, opining the relatively short Sedgefield layout (7,127 yards) would allow him to play away from his driver and focus on position, his game plan on Thursday suggested otherwise.

Woods hit driver five times in Round 1, finding the fairway on three of those occasions, the most impressive of which was a bomb down the middle of the par-5 15th fairway to set up a two-putt birdie.

Normally Woods would shy away from courses like Sedgefield, where 18 under par is a good target number unless the course is soft and things really turn into a scoring frenzy.

The course is soft and the frenzy began early on Thursday, with two players (William McGirt and Erik Compton) posting 62s.

“You just have to do it, accept how the golf course is playing,” Woods said. “When it’s like this you got to throw darts and go low.”

For a player who has dealt with all manner of pressure in his career, normally of the Grand Slam variety, this is strangely new. A win, or maybe a solo second-place finish depending on how the math settles, is the only way to play his way into the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list and the playoffs.

If not, Woods’ short-term competitive fortunes are on the shelf, probably until the Open in October to begin the 2015-16 season.

For so long now Woods has told anyone who would ask that he’s close, that he needs just one good push to break himself out of his competitive swoon. At his own Quicken Loans National, for example, he felt things were finally swinging in his direction after a second-round 66, but he signed for a 74 on Saturday and tied for 18th place.

Even at last week’s PGA Championship he didn’t feel like things were as askew as the scorecard would suggest.

“I know it’s crazy to say, but I wasn’t playing that poorly at the PGA,” said Woods, who missed the cut at Whistling Straits with rounds of 75-73. “Every spot I put myself I had no lie. ... Any borderline shot I never got away with it and that’s the way it goes.”

It’s the way things have gone for the better part of two years, to be accurate. Whether it was the rub of the green or the rut his game has been in there has always been a rally killer to turn what could have been a breakthrough week into just another break.

It’s still early in Woods’ 2014-15 walk-off, still plenty of birdies that will have to be made, but for one day, for one round things went his way.

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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

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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.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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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.

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.