Scott's Masters win invigorates fellow Aussies

By Rex HoggardApril 15, 2013, 9:59 pm

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Robert Allenby wandered onto the practice putting green at Harbour Town Golf Links late Monday afternoon and straight to Stuart Appleby There was no “Hello.” No “G’Day, mate.” Just smiles.

Less than 24 hours earlier Allenby, Appleby and the entirety of Australia were lifted from an 0-for-76 schneid with a twisting 12-footer for birdie on the second playoff hole at the Masters.

The national heartache that essentially began in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus stormed past Australian Greg Norman to win the Masters was washed away by Sunday’s rain and Adam Scott’s determined victory over Angel Cabrera.

“I was thinking about it when I went to bed. I woke up thinking about it. How awesome it would be for Australia,” said Appleby, who watched the historic event unfold from his couch back home in Orlando, Fla. “I hope we do manage to get on with it for Australia, but I think we can gloat on this glory for a while.”

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Sydney’s Greg Chalmers was equally effusive: “To win that one and I guess kill off the ghosts for previous major championships for not just himself but for all of us other Australians was special.”

For decades Australians have awoken every Masters Monday hoping this would be the year a player from Oz would finally claim a green jacket, and every year a nation moped off to work or school disappointed.

“You feel like you finally got over the hump to win that tournament,” Chalmers said. “As a golf fan I grew up watching Norman. I remember watching them all; ’86 (when Nicklaus played his final nine holes in 30 shots and clipped Norman by a stroke) was the first Masters I ever watched. You live with Greg Norman’s heartache. He was everyone’s hero growing up.”

That mantle has been officially passed to Scott and the weight lifted from all of Australia.

It had been a swoon – dubbed the “Aussie duck,” duck being a cricket term meaning zero – that had grown exponentially with each near miss.

Norman was clipped by Larry Mize, who chipped in at the 11th hole in a playoff in 1987. In 1996 the Shark led by six strokes through 54 holes but posted a closing-nine 40 to lose to Nick Faldo by five shots.

“It’s massive,” Allenby said. “No Aussie to ever win the Masters and Scotty is the first one. It’s everyone’s dream in Australia. We woke up for so many years back home watching Norman come so, so close and hoping he was going to have at least one, two, three green jackets of his own. For so many years he was cheated, really.”

In 2011, it appeared either Scott or Jason Day would finally deliver the green jacket Down Under, but Charl Schwartzel closed with four consecutive birdies and the Australian duo finished two strokes back.

In many ways it was like Norman all over again.

The baffling part is it should have been so easy, so obvious. As Geoff Ogilvy once pointed out, “Augusta National is just Royal Melbourne (both courses were designed by Alister MacKenzie) with greener grass,” and Australia has had no shortage of world-class players.

“The pressure that was on him must have been humongous,” Allenby said. “I’m over the moon that Scotty won, because he deserved to win the (2011) British Open. I could tell something good was going to come out of it.”

As Australians congregated at this week’s RBC Heritage, however, the conversation quickly turned from the past to the future. Golf in Australia has struggled in recent years, boxed in by waning interest and economic headwinds.

The hope is Scott’s victory on Sunday did more than just end a winless streak. The feeling is the coveted green jacket could inject some much-needed energy into Australian golf.

“This is huge for Adam, him and Jason (Day) have led Australia in quality golf the last couple of years. To see Adam lose the British (Open), it was tough as a country. You keep saying, ‘Man, man,’” Appleby said. “To see him make that putt is huge. Now Aussies have got ourselves our first Masters.”

Late Sunday, Allenby sent a text message to Scott that metaphorically spoke for an entire nation: “You made my bottle of Grange taste even better.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.