Donald Cruises to Victory

By Sports NetworkSeptember 5, 2004, 4:00 pm
European TourCRANS SUR SIERRE, Switzerland -- Luke Donald, one of Bernhard Langer's captain's picks for the Ryder Cup, shot a 5-under 66 on Sunday to coast to a five-shot win at the European Masters. Donald finished at 19-under-par 265 for his second win of the season.
'This is more than I expected,' said Donald, who was named to the European Ryder Cup team last Sunday. 'I knew I had the ability to win two tournaments but having the ability and doing it is something different.'
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who captured last week's BMW International Open, held a one-shot lead heading into the final round but struggled with a 72 to take second place at 14-under-par 270. Robert Coles fired a 64 to join Sergio Garcia, who shared the lead with Donald midway through the final round, and Eduardo Romero at 13-under-par 271.
Donald returned to the European Tour this year in an attempt to earn a spot on the European Ryder Cup team. It took little time for Donald to break into the win column at the Scandinavian Masters, and now the Englishman has shown once again why he was deserving of one of Langer's selections.
'I'm glad I made the decision to come over here and rejoin the European Tour,' said Donald, who was a winner on the PGA Tour in 2002. 'Everything's worked out just perfectly.'
The final group of Donald, Jimenez and Garcia began the day as the only legitimate contenders for the title at Crans-sur-Sierre. Donald broke away from his playing partners quickly with an eagle at the par-five first to move into the lead at 16 under.
'Sinking that putt got me off to a great start,' said Donald. 'A couple of hiccups, a couple of bogeys along the way, but every time I made a bogey I seemed to come back with a birdie and that was the difference.'
Donald hit his tee shot to 15 feet for a birdie at the par-3 third, but found trouble with a bogey at the fifth. He then birdied the par-4 seventh to find himself tied with Garcia, who picked up his third birdie of the day at the very same hole.
Garcia stumbled to a bogey at the eighth, but hit his third shot from a bunker to four feet at the par-5 ninth for a birdie to again join Donald atop the leaderboard.
Donald took advantage and kicked his second shot to the par-4 10th off of a hill and watched as it rolled within 12 feet of the cup. He drained the birdie putt and continued to lead despite a three-putt bogey at the 11th.
While Garcia was struggling at the 12th and Jimenez was unable to shake off his slow start, Donald played his approach inside 10 feet at 12 for a birdie to open a three-shot advantage.
Donald faltered to a bogey at the 13th, but recovered with a birdie at the par-5 15th. After a bogey at the 16th, Donald converted a 5-foot putt for a birdie at the 17th and hit his second shot to 8 feet at the closing hole.
The 26-year-old walked up the 18th fairway with cheers coming from the crowd, and applause from his Ryder Cup teammates, before sinking the putt to cap off the runaway win.
'All three of us being in the Ryder Cup, being in the last group, I think that's a strong message to send to the U.S. guys,' said Donald. 'It's great for European morale.'
Jimenez, who was gunning for his fifth victory of the season, tallied a lone birdie over his first nine holes. The veteran Spaniard managed a pair of bogeys on the inward half, failing to make a move down the stretch.
'I didn't play so good as I played the first three days,' Jimenez said. 'I tried hard but it happens. Luke Donald played very well, nice and solid. It's a good boost for the Ryder Cup Team.'
Graeme McDowell carded a 70 to finish alone in sixth place at 12-under-par 272. Ernie Els, who won this event last year, put his second shot in the water for a double-bogey at the 18th to complete a round of 71. Els was eight shots off the pace at 11-under-par 273.
K.J. Choi and Carlos Rodiles tied for eighth place at 10-under-par 274.
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

    The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

    Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

    What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

    Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

    Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

    Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

    Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

    Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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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.

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    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."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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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."