Stock watch: Buying Bae, selling Guan

By Ryan LavnerMay 20, 2013, 7:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we'll examine which players' stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

BUY

Surprise winners: Entering the Nelson, Sang-Moon Bae had just one top-10 in 30 starts since his playoff loss last spring in Tampa. So, naturally, the 26-year-old South Korean out-dueled one of the world’s most explosive players on a windswept day and captured his maiden PGA Tour title. Only Michael Thompson and Derek Ernst were left unimpressed.

Red numbers: This last week alone saw '59 Watches' on every major circuit. Sweat stains, sundresses and scary-low scores – it’s the annual rite of summer in pro golf.

Peter Uihlein: The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion (and son of Acushnet Co., boss Wally Uihlein) took an unconventional route after joining the play-for-pay ranks in late 2011, heading to such faraway locales as Kenya and Kazakhstan instead of grinding on the mini-tours in the U.S. Did the 23-year-old expect his first pro win to come in Portugal? Of course not. But the well-traveled Uihlein showed young pros everywhere there is more than one way to prepare for the Big Show.

Cal men: The Golden Bears set a NCAA single-season record last weekend with their 11th win of the season. Each starter, 1 through 5, has earned medalist honors at least once this season, and in sophomore Michael Kim (four wins, no finish outside the top 11) Cal also boasts the country’s best player. Monday night's Ben Hogan Award ceremony should cement that.


SELL

Keegan Bradley: OK, we’re not really selling. He’s still one of the top four prospects in the sport, an immensely talented player despite his bizarre pre-shot routine. But during the final round of the Nelson, and with Tuesday’s anchoring decision looming, Keegs squandered one final chance to defiantly hoist his belly putter in victory. That sound you heard? The blue coats exhaling.

Guan Tianlang: The Memorial Tournament justified the kid’s exemption by saying, essentially, that if the Asia-Pacific Amateur winner earns a berth in the Masters, then he should receive a spot in Jack’s event, too. But frankly, this story now bores me. The curiosity is gone. It’s impressive, of course, but we know what we are getting with the 14-year-old – few birdies, a chance to make the cut – and it’s time to give more deserving players an opportunity.

Anchoring: A final decision will be handed down Tuesday, after an oft-contentious comment period that lasted much longer than 90 days, but this announcement carries about as much suspense as Tiger with a six-shot lead. Your move, Commish.

Going low: Buying and selling this week. Every golf observer has heard this axiom: “It’s hard to back up a low round with another good one.” Apparently so. Keegan Bradley opened with 60 in Dallas and didn’t win. Anna Nordqvist carded a third-round 61 in Mobile and still couldn’t chase down Jennifer Johnson. And Chesson Hadley began his final round on the Web.com Tour with an 8-under 27, but stalled for a disappointing 63 and T-3 finish. Weird.

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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.

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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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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."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."