Day stays in the zone, has shot at 59 at BMW

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 17, 2015, 11:39 pm

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – There is only 44 yards between Jason Day and another 59 at Conway Farms.

The way he’s playing these days, don’t count him out.

After a much-needed bye week, Day picked up right where he left off Thursday at the weather-delayed BMW Championship. He made nine birdies, holed a long bunker shot for eagle and gave himself a chance on the last – a 44-yard wedge shot from the right rough to a front-left hole location – to shoot the seventh 59 in PGA Tour history, and the second in the past four rounds here.

“If it goes in, it goes in,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to play the best I can.”

Day was so in the zone Thursday that he didn’t even realize he was on the verge of history. In fact, it wasn’t until Jordan Spieth told him on their walk up the ninth fairway that Conway Farms was a par 71, not 72, and Day’s eyes widened.

“Obviously I’ve got an opportunity to do it tomorrow,” he said, “so that’s pretty neat.”

His bid for 59 will resume at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday, but already there is a sense of inevitability about this week’s outcome. With one hole left to play, Day is already four shots clear of the field.

Perhaps it wasn’t a surprise, then, that as he sauntered through the locker room during the delay, a few players posed these questions:

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Are you playing from the ladies’ tees?

Are you playing a different course?

Are you playing every hole downwind?

Because it sure appears that way. He is now 89 under par over his last seven PGA Tour starts.

Making Day’s performance Thursday even more impressive was that he shot this round in a consistent 15-mph wind. Breaking in a new driver, he uncorked six drives of at least 325 yards and has needed only 21 putts on the greens.

Good luck beating that combination.

The only double-digit, under-par round he has shot on Tour came this year at Kapalua, when he closed with 62. Barring a final-hole collapse, he will record his fourth round of 62 or better this season – no other player has more than two.

“It feels like a practice round, like it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “No matter what you do, even if you hit a bad shot, it’s going to be all right. I’m just playing golf. I’m excited about playing golf.”

Once again, Day stole the show on a day that featured plenty of electricity even before the storm rolled in.

In the star-studded group with Spieth and Rickie Fowler – Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the FedEx Cup, and a trio that has won 11 events worldwide and three majors – Day proved that he has no rival at the moment.

Opening up with three birdies in his first four holes, he holed a 77-yard bunker shot to start his inward nine and then rolled in a 20-footer on top of Spieth’s ace on the second hole (their 11th).

“It’s like I’m a paid amateur just watching,” Spieth said as he walked off the green. “It’s a joke. It’s been like this for weeks.”

Indeed, it seems like only the weather can slow down Day. Since the U.S. Open, he has three wins, two other top-10s and no finish worse than 12th.

“I’m not trying to think about it,” he said, “because the moment that I start attaching myself to a number, I start thinking about the outcome instead of just trying to get out there and rip my driver as far as possible down the fairway.”

Spieth was on the verge of getting lapped before that hole-in-one on the 184-yard second hole. It proved to be just the spark he needed.

Growing increasingly frustrated with the putter and wrestling with his full swing, his second career ace vaulted him into red numbers, and he followed it up with a chip-in birdie on 3, a 5-foot birdie on 4 and 3-footer on 7. He is 5 under and facing an 87-yard approach on the last, ensuring that he will end a run of four consecutive over-par rounds.

“This is the nine holes that I needed to really feel confident and comfortable and back on track,” he said.

Fowler, the third member of the group, is 1 under playing the last hole.

All three players are virtually guaranteed to be in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Tour Championship. That means they would win the FedEx Cup title, and the $10 million bonus, with a victory next week at East Lake.

“I’m just ready,” Day said. “I feel good about how I feel mentally, physically, and the golf game feels nice.”

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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.”

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.

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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.