Evans Eagles 18 to Lead Club Pro Championship
Evans, the head professional at Berry Hills Country Club in Charleston, posted a six-under 66 -- the low round of the week at Valhalla Golf Club -- to finish three rounds atop the leaderboard at 10-under-par 206.
'All I said to my wife last night was that I wanted to play in the last group on the last day,' said the 40-year-old Evans, who missed the cut in his only other CPC appearance in 2000. 'I knew I had shoot under par, but you never know when these kinds of rounds are going to happen.'
Mike Gilmore of East Northport, New York, was in second place at nine-under 207 after carding a two-under 70.
'It got a little dry out there,' said Gilmore, who missed a six-foot birdie putt at the 18th. 'The greens started to get pretty hard there for a while. Hitting the greens with a soft iron shot was a premium out there.'
Saturday marked the second straight day Gilmore failed in a bid to close with a birdie. On Friday, the 37-year-old head pro from Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston, New York, left his 40-foot birdie attempt inches short at Valhalla's 535-yard, par-five finishing hole.
Tim Thelen of Richmond, Texas, the winner of the 2000 CPC at Oak Tree and runner-up last year at the Sunriver Resort, shot a three-under 69 to finish at five-under 211. He was tied for third with longtime Southern Texas PGA Section playing rival Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas.
Thelen, who was also named PGA Club Professional Player of the Year in 2001, dropped to even par for the championship with a pair of bogeys on the front nine Saturday but finished with an amazing eagle-birdie-eagle flourish.
Thelen needed only one putt on the final three holes. He holed a 161-yard eight-iron approach for eagle at the par-four 16th, sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th and knocked in a lob wedge from 20 yards for eagle at 18.
'I had a lot of patience today,' said Thelen, the head professional at Baywood Country Club in Pasadena, Texas. 'I couldn't see the ball go in on 16, but I heard some excitement from those who did. And at 17, it was the first birdie I made on a par-four all week. I would like to go out and play 18 more right now the way I feel.'
Thompson, head pro at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, drained a 90-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole Friday to earn a one-shot lead after two rounds. He backed up with four-bogey, one-birdie 75 on Saturday.
First-round leader Sean Farren of Oakmont, Pennsylvania, was alone in fifth at four-under par. Defending champion Wayne DeFrancesco of Baltimore, Maryland, finished knotted in eighth place at minus-one.
The low 25 scorers after 72 holes earn a berth in the 84th PGA Championship, to be held August 15-18 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
In addition, the low nine scorers and 2001 champ DeFrancesco will form the U.S. PGA Cup Team that will take on the Great Britain/Ireland squad in the 21st PGA Cup Matches, February 28 to March 2, 2003, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Full field scores from the PGA Club Pro Championship
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
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."
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."
Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder
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."
Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead
New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.
The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.
"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."
Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.
It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.
Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.