Hooks Cuts on Golfs Winding Trail

By Rich LernerJanuary 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
  • At least golf invented the celebrity play-along concept. Lord knows were inundated with celebrity television vehicles these days -- 'Dancing with the Stars,' 'Skating with the Stars,' 'Celebrity Poker.' Theres no limit to the public's appetite for this kind of fare. I cant wait for Home and Garden Networks new offering, 'Lawn Mowing with the Stars.'
  • I visited Ken Venturi at Rancho Mirage over the weekend. Nearing 75, hes enjoying the desert life with his beautiful wife of three years, Kathleen. His homes a museum of memories, and the takeaway is that from Sinatra to President Reagan to Ben Hogan to Francis Ouimet, Venturi hung out with more legends than Zeus.
  • The PGA Tours bursting at the seams with ball hitting geniuses. But theres really no sign of a modern day Chi Chi Rodriguez or even a Lee Trevino bounding forth from some happy horizon. So twice a year'here and at Pebble Beach'the sport does well to let down its neatly combed hair.
  • Saw Paul Azinger at an early week party packed with A-list luminaries like Matthew McConaughey, Justin Timberlake and Samuel L. Jackson. Zinger reported that he overheard a conversation between two women planning to attend the affair that went like this. Whats the dress code? asked the one woman. Competitive, said her friend.
  • Venturi let me hold the 4-wood that Hogan gave him. Anyone remember playing with a 2-wood, or the brassie as they called it? Kenny pulled that out, too.
  • I asked Anthony Anderson, the bright young star of 'Hustle and Flow,' whats funny about golf. Charles Barkleys swing, he deadpanned.
  • I asked MConaughey if hed rather be Peoples Sexiest Man Alive or a scratch golfer. Not lacking for confidence, the 5-handicap replied, Some days Im both.
  • Why dont we see the likes of Chi Chi or The Merry Mex? The professional grind, for all the riches that lay at the end of the emerald fairways and all the sunshine that greets the players at each dreamy paradise, can be draining. So often a solitary walk, golf breeds more brooders than live wires.
  • Roger Clemens made an ace this week to go with his seven Cy Young Awards.
  • If youre sexiest man alive, theres more pressure to perform than if you had 5 feet to win the Masters.
  • Yogi Berras top salary was $65,000, but claims they still had more fun than the modern millionaires. Now 80 and in the field at the Hope, Yogi says players were close knit in his era because they traveled by train.
  • Mike Weirs healthy and hungry. He played most of 05 in pain with four compressed discs in his neck area.
  • Chris Riley withdrew after a third-round 81. A member of the 04 Ryder Cup team, he plummeted to 184th on the money list last year. He and wife Michelle are expecting their second child, and priorities have changed. Normally quick with a smile and easy going, Rileys body language in round 3 was plainly negative. My attitude hasnt been good, he admitted. No excuses, I just have to work my way out of it. People dont realize how tough it is out here. If youre not sharp, you can get run over.
  • I absolutely love the European Tour. Just as the call for prayer went out across Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, an American dropped in a clinching birdie putt. Chris DiMarco, with wife Amy on the bag, played an 18-hole stretch between Saturday and early Sunday in 14 under par.
  • If Bob Hope were still here, by now hed have visited the men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hed have strolled on stage with his golf club, cracked a few well timed zingers and then thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice. Hed have returned to this beloved Palm Springs area, gathered his pals for his tournament, and reminded one and all that golf is just a game, a game for everyone'comedians, actors, athletes and ball hitting geniuses.
  • Finally, President Ford was a fixture at the Hope for so many years. Bob Hope used to joke that the President made golf a contact sport and that he was easy to spot because he was the one riding around in a cart with the Red Cross emblem on it! Now 92, President Fords recovering from pneumonia, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
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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.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."