Howell Alone in First Tiger Six Back

By Sports NetworkNovember 7, 2003, 5:00 pm
HOUSTON -- Charles Howell III carded his second consecutive round of 4-under 67 on Friday to take the 36-hole lead at the season-ending Tour Championship. He stands at 8-under-par 134 and owns a one-shot lead over Fred Funk, who also posted a 67 in round two.
Retief Goosen, the 2001 U.S. Open winner, held a two-shot lead but came undone with a bogey at 17. He finished with a 67 and is alone in third place at 6-under-par 136, followed by Chris Riley, who trails Goosen by a single stroke after a second-round 68.
With the Tour Championship at Champions Golf Club reserved for the top 31 on the PGA Tour money list and serving as the final event of the season, most eyes were focused on the battle between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh for the money title and Player of the Year honors.
The two, paired together in Thursday's first round, struggled a bit in the first round but bounced back on Friday. Woods, a five-time winner this season who trails Singh in the money race, put up his second 70 in as many days and is tied for 12th at 2-under-par 140.
Woods birdied the par-5 fifth then sank a four-footer for birdie at the 13th. He bogeyed the 15th to fall a notch, but the No. 1 player in the world and 1999 Tour Championship winner is still in striking distance.
'I feel like I'm playing well,' said Woods. 'I hit a lot of good, solid shots today. I hit numerous good putts, but nothing went in. Overall, I feel like I really played solid.'
Singh, a four-time victor in '03 and the leading money winner, mixed four birdies and a bogey for a round of 3-under 68. He is 1 under par for the championship and tied for 16th place.
'That was the easiest 68 I could have shot,' said Singh, who won last year at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. 'I left a lot of shots out there, but it's very hard to read the greens.'
In Friday's action, the leaderboard became bunched tightly several times, once with eight players tied for first. The greens at Champions Golf Club, bigger than most on the PGA Tour, have provided problems for the players, but Howell was able to handle it all and move ahead of the field.
He parred his first eight holes Friday when several players were moving around the top of the leaderboard. At the par-5 ninth, Howell ran in a short birdie putt to reach 5 under par for the tournament.
Howell, who shared the first-round lead with Kenny Perry, ran into some trouble at the par-3 12th. His tee ball went almost 40 yards right of the putting surface, and his chip came up 50 feet short of the stick. Howell blasted his par-saving putt four feet past the hole, but made the comebacker to save bogey.
Howell, winless in 2003 but 27th on the tour's money list, rebounded from the bogey in a big way. He played his second to 12 feet at the par-5 13th and drained the eagle putt to go to minus-6 and claim a share of first place.
'The eagle was really big for me,' said Howell, who finished second to Singh last year at East Lake Golf Club. 'It was a big boost for me. That really helped get the round in pretty good.'
Howell was not done. At the 14th, he hit an 8-iron from 189 yards that landed 10 feet from the hole. Howell canned the putt to go to 7 under and one ahead of the rest. Another 8-iron at the 16th resulted in another 10-footer for birdie and Howell polished off his sixth consecutive round in the 60s in this event.
'I went out there today like it was yesterday, like it was the first round,' said Howell. 'It's not an easy golf course, it's definitely not an easy format because everybody is bunched right in there together and you have an idea of what everybody's doing.'
Funk was 4 under for the tournament until he reached the par-5 13th. He birdied that hole then hit his approach to tap-in range at 14 for back-to-back birdies.
At the par-4 closing hole, Funk knocked his second to seven feet and cashed in on the birdie putt to go to 7 under and take sole possession of second place.
'I just played a real solid round today,' said Funk. 'Yesterday, in mid-round, my caddie told me I was standing a little too far away from it and I made a little adjustment on the tee. I've driven the ball a lot better since. That's key here - you've got to keep it in the fairway.'
Goosen, who won last week in Tampa, became a contender thanks to three birdies in a four-hole span starting at the 13th. He got it to 7 under but drove well right into the trees at 17 and canned a 12-footer just to save bogey.
'I probably played better yesterday,' admitted Goosen. 'I got away with a couple of good lies and here we are.'
David Toms, the 2001 PGA Champion, Justin Leonard, the 1997 British Open winner, each shot rounds of 2-under 69 to join Chris DiMarco, who shot a 70, in a tie for fifth at minus-4.
Ernie Els, Steve Flesch, Jonathan Kaye and PGA runner-up Chad Campbell share eighth at 3-under-par 139.
Joining Woods in a tie for 12th are Perry, who struggled to a 2-over 73, Bob Tway (68) and Davis Love III (67), a four-time winner in 2003 who can become a factor in the Player of the Year race if he wins on Sunday.
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    Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

    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.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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."