Irwin Takes ACE Group Classic
The win moved Irwin past the $20 million mark in all-time career earnings, joining Tiger Woods as the only other player to reach that plateau. It is also the eighth straight year that Irwin has earned a Senior Tour win.
'It's been a great career,' he said. 'The entire career I've been very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time.
Irwin began the day two shots behind overnight leader Tom Watson in what became a head-to-head battle between the two golf legends.
The pair stepped onto the decisive par-5 17th tee. Irwin played first, hitting his drive into a fairway bunker. It was now a three-shot hole for Irwin, with Watson giving himself the opportunity to reach the green in two after a solid tee shot.
'I knew I couldn't get to the green in two,' said Irwin. 'After Tom really bombed his drive, I wanted him to go for that green. It's not an easy shot, he just didn't hit it the way he wanted to.'
Watson had 232 yards to clear the water in front of the green, but his fairway wood fell just short of the ledge before the putting surface. His fourth shot left him with a long par putt and opened the door for Irwin.
Irwin hit out of the bunker leaving a short approach. He landed his third shot 12 feet from the hole to set up a birdie while Watson made bogey for a two-shot swing.
'I had my opportunity at 17 and I hit it about 10 yards left from where I was trying to hit it,' said Watson. 'I was trying to put the pressure on Hale. He's back there in a safe position and I'm in a risky position right there and I didn't hit the risky shot very well.'
The lead was enough for Irwin to bogey the final hole as Watson managed only a par.
'It was like the old days out there,' said Watson. 'I've always admired the way he plays.'
'It just so happened two players with some fame or infamy were
battling it out,' said Irwin.
He made his first birdie on the third to climb to 13-under while Watson matched him with a birdie on the same hole to retain the margin.
On the following hole Watson made the first of back-to-back bogeys while Irwin began his charge on the fifth with a birdie and took the lead outright at minus-14.
Irwin then birdied the sixth and ran home a long birdie putt on the seventh to take a two-shot lead over Watson at 16-under. But the 56-year-old kept Watson in the game, finding bunkers twice on the ninth for a double-bogey.
The duo was knotted in first place when Dana Quigley joined them in the lead on the 11th with a 12-foot birdie putt.
Watson set up a long eagle putt after reaching the green in two on the par-5 13th. He two-putted for birdie to move to 15-under while Irwin blasted out of a bunker to within six feet for a birdie of his own.
Irwin had a chance to re-take the lead but missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 14th. Watson capitalized, making birdie with a putt from just off the green.
On the 16th, the same hole Watson aced in the opening round, Irwin hit his tee shot to within 12 feet for a birdie and a share of the lead. It then came down to No. 17, where Irwin walked off with the title.
Jim Dent (66) used an eagle on the 13th to finish tied for third at 14-under 202 alongside Jim Thorpe (68). A trio of players finished one shot further back at 13-under, including Quigley (70). He was joined by Sammy Rachels (67) and Allen Doyle (69).
Ben Crenshaw, who made his Senior Tour debut, came back from an
opening-round 4-over 76 to finish at 1-under 215.
Full-field scores from the ACE Group Classic
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.