Bjorn Back Shatters Course Record

By Sports NetworkJuly 24, 2003, 4:00 pm
PORTMARNOCK, Ireland -- Thomas Bjorn fired an 8-under 64 on Thursday to grab the opening-round lead of the Irish Open. Bjorn finished two strokes clear of Michael Campbell at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Only days after a late double-bogey cost him the British Open Championship, Bjorn was back on the European Tour and eager to put the memories of Royal St. George's behind him.
'You've sometimes got to face reality and say 'Yes, I made a mistake last week,' but my golf is certainly good enough and that's what I believe.' said Bjorn. 'Today certainly shows that my best golf is good enough to play with the best.'
Bjorn played the back half first and opened with three birdies over his first nine holes. The Dane found a greenside bunker at the par-4 second but unlike his difficulty in the sand at St. George's on Sunday, Bjorn hit out to the bottom of the cup for a birdie.
'If ever there was a shot five days too late, that was it,' said Bjorn.
At the par-4 third, Bjorn hit his approach to 20 feet and drained the putt to reach 5-under. He then dropped his second shot inside four feet at the fifth for the first of three consecutive birdies.
Bjorn found trouble with a bogey at the par-4 eighth but recovered at the very next hole. He left his approach within 25 feet and ran home the birdie putt to stand two clear of his closest competitor after Round 1.
'I probably haven't walked off a golf course ever in my life as happy as I did today,' said Bjorn. 'I am proud of what I did out there. It is not the easiest golf course in the world. I felt comfortable on the golf course. I holed a putt on the first hole and I was back in the swing of things.
'We are conscious that we play Open Championship courses that are the finest links in the world. This is right up there with the finest, finest links in the world. This is the most fair links course I have ever played.'
Campbell also played the back nine first and picked up four early birdies to go out in 32.
The New Zealander missed the green at the par-5 sixth but converted a putt from the fringe for an eagle. Like Bjorn, Campbell bogeyed the eighth but responded with an 18-foot birdie at the ninth for a round of 66.
'It's nice to get off to a good start for a change,' said Campbell. 'I am gradually getting better and better every week. Today was a prime example that my game was getting back.'
England's Paul Broadhurst finished alone in third at 5-under-par 67.
Phillip Price was one shot further back alongside Luke Donald, Gary Emerson, Stephen Gallacher, Simon Khan and Greg Owen.
Padraig Harrington, who is trying to become the first Irishman to win this event since John O'Leary accomplished the feat in 1982, finished five shots off the lead in a group at 3-under-par 69.
Defending champion Soren Hansen tallied four birdies and four bogeys to finish at even-par 72.
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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 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.


    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."

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    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."

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    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."