Ahern All Alone in First

By Sports NetworkAugust 30, 2003, 4:00 pm
ALOHA, Ore. -- Jim Ahern birdied three of his final four holes Saturday to post a 4-under 68 and take the lead after three rounds of The Tradition, the Champions Tour's fifth and final major. Ahern finished at 14-under-par 202 and owns a one-shot lead over Tom Kite, Morris Hatalsky and overnight leader Tom Watson.
 
Hale Irwin, who shared the lead on Saturday until a bogey at 17, shot a 2-under 70 and is alone in fifth place at 12-under-par 204, followed by defending champion Jim Thorpe, who posted a 4-under 68 to finish at minus-11.
 
Watson held a four-shot lead heading into the third round but quickly lost his huge advantage. He dropped shots at the second and third but rebounded with a pair of birdies at five and six.
 
Watson was still on top of the leaderboard but knocked his birdie putt eight feet past the hole at the 12th. He missed the comeback par putt and missed the green short at 13 when he drove into a bunker. Watson bogeyed that hole as well and found himself tied for the lead with Irwin and Kite.
 
Kite dropped a shot at 14 and Irwin battled back spasms en route to a bogey at No. 17. Watson two-putted for birdie at the 15th to reach 13-under par and Kite closed with birdies at 15 and 17 to also get to minus-13.
 
Hatalsky birdied 15-17 to sneak up the leaderboard with a 5-under 67.
 
But it was Ahern who moved to the top of the leaderboard with steady play on the front nine at Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club. He made only one birdie through his first 14 holes but took advantage of the three closing par-5s in the final four holes.
 
Ahern birdied No. 15 to get within one of the lead and two-putted for birdie from 25 feet at the 16th to match Watson at 13-under par. The par-4 17th hole played the most difficult of the closing holes but Ahern's length helped. He had a 9-iron into the green and stopped the ball four feet from the hole where he drained the birdie putt.
 
'I haven't had a chance to really look at the leaderboard, but boy, there's a lot of guys there right behind me,' said Ahern, who won this year's Music City Championship. 'I played a really solid round of golf today. Tee to green, I was really right on.'
 
Ahern has never won a major championship on the Champions Tour. Watson has two, including this year's Senior British Open, Irwin owns seven, Kite and Thorpe one each, so the pressure will be on Ahern come Sunday afternoon.
 
'I've never led a major, so kind of uncharted waters for me,' said Ahern. 'My record in the majors hasn't been that good but I feel comfortable on this golf course. If I can spruce up a little bit with that putter, I feel confident.'
 
Watson matched his career low round of 62 on Friday but came back with a 1- over 73 on Saturday. Still, Watson is in the hunt for major No. 2 of 2003 after he has set a new record by playing in nine total major championships in 2003 between the elder circuit and the PGA Tour.
 
'I guess it was the law of averages,' said Watson. 'Yesterday was a superb day. Today was a very ugly day, as far as my standards. People can come from pretty far back in this tournament. It's going to be a shootout tomorrow.'
 
Kite, who shot a 67 on Saturday, is in the best spot to claim his first victory on the Champions Tour in 2003. He tied for second at the Senior Players Championship but is in great shape for his second Tradition title in four years.
 
'The golf course is relatively easy,' said Kite. 'Somebody's going to have come out and shoot a really good score tomorrow.'
 
Allen Doyle and Gil Morgan posted matching rounds of 5-under 67 and share seventh place with Graham Marsh, who shot a 69 on Saturday. The trio stands at 10-under-par 206.
 
Jack Nicklaus tallied five birdies on the back nine, including four in a row from the 13th to card a 4-under-par 68. He is tied for 10th place with Vicente Fernandez at minus-9 but was more concerned about missing a makeable birdie try at the closing hole.
 
'I didn't make my birdie at 18 which could have gotten one shot closer coming in,' said Nicklaus, a four-time Tradition winner.
 

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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.

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    Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

    By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

    Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

    The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

    They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

    It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

    “I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

    The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

    The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.