Spieth an experienced Ryder Cup rookie

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2014, 3:24 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – It was another seminal moment in the growing legend that is Jordan Spieth.

On Tuesday Matt Kuchar, who seems to be the 21-year-old’s likely partner this week at Gleneagles, was asked if he planned to give any advice to Spieth? After a few moments the American’s face twisted and he asked, “Is this his first Ryder Cup? I didn't know that. Yeah, I thought he played.”

It was an honest mistake that Kuchar compounded, “Was last year his first Presidents Cup?”

Last year was Spieth’s first everything, at least as far as professional golf is concerned. He won his first PGA Tour title, earned his first trip to the Tour Championship and made his first international team as a pro. He even won the Tour’s Rookie of the Year award, which should have been a hint for Kuchar.

Even Spieth’s captain, Tom Watson, who in two turns as a Ryder Cup skipper has demonstrated a reluctance to lean on rookies, doesn’t see him as a first-timer.

“Jordan has a great attitude about this game,” Watson said. “He has a very strong, mature attitude about how he plays the game, and I couldn't be happier to have him on the team.”

If Spieth doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a Ryder Cup rookie it likely has something to do with his fascination with the event from a young age.

It was four years ago while he was playing in the Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles when the thought first occurred to Spieth that he could one day join the varsity team at the biennial grudge match.

Stat Man: Numbers on Spieth's side

“I remember thinking, is there a chance that I could be here four years from now for the Ryder Cup?” he said. “I’m supposed to be a senior in college, so I would have to leave school early and have things go pretty well to be here.”

Things went swimmingly, as they say in this corner of the United Kingdom.

Spieth secured his Tour status at the 2013 John Deere Classic and finished seventh on the final FedEx Cup point list. Although he failed to add to that victory total in 2014, he finished runner-up twice and inside the top 25 in 18 of his 27 starts to solidify his spot on Watson’s team.

As a 17-year-old he figured his odds of returning to Gleneagles to be the proverbial “million-to-one shot.” Now, he’s staying in the same hotel and using the same team room, although he points out there was no “open bar” back in 2010.

That ’10 Junior Ryder Cup has also served as a form of motivation for Spieth in recent months. When he is at home in Texas he uses the same carry bag they gave him four years ago and a few months ago he switched to a commemorative head cover for his putter from those matches.

 “I’ve been using that for a month or so,” he said. “I used it through the playoffs just getting ready. I thought it was a cool thing to do.”

Spieth is the rarest of 20-somethings, a millennial with a sense of history and perspective.

While this may be his first Ryder Cup, Spieth has an impressive team resume, including an undefeated record at that 2010 Junior Ryder Cup and the 2011 Walker Cup which was also played in Scotland.

He was also an instrumental part of the U.S. Presidents Cup victory last year when captain Fred Couples made him one of his wildcard picks.

Paired with Steve Stricker, he went 2-1-0 in team play including a Day 1 fourball victory over Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge. That opening match may have been the last time Spieth had the look of a rookie.

“About halfway down the first fairway I kind of pulled him to the side and tried to calm him down,” Stricker said of the opening match last year at Muirfield Village. “After that he was fine.”

Some would say he’s been more than fine. Some, like Kuchar, may even mistake the youngster for a cagey veteran poised, along with fellow millennials Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed, to lead the United States out of its Ryder Cup victory abyss.

“He seems like he's played good golf for a long time now. So no advice,” Kuchar said. “He seems to be very aware of what's going on and how to handle things. I mean, he's quite mature. At 21, he seems nearly a veteran. He seems like he could nearly be a guy to just speak like he's been here for years.”

For the record, Spieth is a rookie. But it’s a title he wears in name only.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.