BuyCom Class of 2001 Holding Their Own
Perhaps the most prominent instance of a Buy.com Tour player making an impact is Pat Perez, who graduated to the big dance by earning medalist honors at the grueling Qualifying School.
Perez held a one-shot lead over Matt Gogel standing on the majestic 18th tee at Pebble Beach Golf Club in the National Pro-Am. His drive landed out of bounds, under a hedge and forced him to take the lonely walk back to the tee to hit his third shot. That found the fairway but his fourth found the Pacific Ocean and crashed his hopes for the title like the waves that crashed into the rocks where his ball splashed.
'I don't know what I'll learn out of it,' said Perez, immediately following the bitter defeat to Gogel at Pebble Beach.
Perez, now 12th on the tour's money list, may not have needed to learn anything out of the miscue at the 18th because the Buy.com Tour has proved to be more than a minor league golfing tour.
Perez is not the only story so far in 2002. Rod Pampling, an Australian who played the Buy.com Tour in 2001, has made four out of five cuts and is currently 38th on the money list. While that ranking may not sound high, consider it is higher than such names as Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Mark Calcavecchia, Jesper Parnevik and perhaps the Buy.com Tour's two most respected graduates: David Duval and Tom Lehman.
Two other players, Deane Pappas and John Rollins, who entered the tour through the top-15 on the 2001 Buy.com money list, have also netted top-10 finishes on tour this year. Pappas tied for sixth at the Bob Hope Classic while Rollins shared eighth at the Buick Invitational.
With foreign players coming from all over the world to compete on the PGA Tour, there is not the same room in the fields for alternates and lesser talented players.
Fields that are now filled by Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bernhard Langer and a laundry list of other top-notched international players mean that there is no place on the big tour for players with solid games but unrecognizable names. In years past, these players were content to play on the other side of the pond but now, thanks in part to Tiger Woods' dominance, the European Tour players know they have to compete on the best tour to best prepare themselves for major championships.
That is where the Buy.com Tour comes in for the Pat Perezs of the world. It gives players who may not have exactly what it takes currently a venue to perfect their craft for the future. The level of competition is high because for every young player on the course, there is a former PGA Tour veteran who may have lost his card but certainly did not lose the experience he received on the PGA Tour.
Here is an indictment as to how the Buy.com Tour has come along. David Sutherland missed several months on the PGA Tour last year due to a shoulder injury. When he was able to come back, he went to the Buy.com Tour to get back into a competitive spirit, not right to the big tour.
In the end of August, Sutherland matched the tour's record for lowest opening 36-hole total with 127 and opened a six-shot lead halfway through the event, also tying a Buy.com Tour record. When the tournament was over, Sutherland did win - by one shot over Danny Briggs.
A final factor that can not be overlooked when it comes to the Buy.com rise to respectability is the determination factor. It is simple, if you win three times in one Buy.com Tour season, you go to the PGA Tour and are exempt for one year. Your professional dreams are realized.
If you finish in the top-15 on the money list after the Buy.com Tour Championship, you go to the show. If you succeed in the Buy.com Tour, you will make it to the PGA Tour, golf's showcase.
Success on the Buy.com Tour does not automatically translate into success at the highest level. For every Duval, Lehman or David Toms you see winning majors, there is Rob McKelvey, Andy Morse or any other Buy.com player who wallows in obscurity, never making the grade.
Don't be surprised, however, if one day Chad Campbell or Heath Slocum is hoisting a PGA Tour trophy over his head.
Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
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.
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.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
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.”
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.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
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.
''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.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
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.
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.