Kuchar Claxton Resume Battle

By Sports NetworkJune 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
Nationwide TourRALEIGH, N.C. -- Matt Kuchar and Paul Claxton, combatants in a playoff two weeks ago, each posted 6-under-par 65s on Thursday and share the first-round lead of the Rex Hospital Open.
Tim O'Neal, Hunter Haas, Brenden Pappas, Joe Daley, Michael Sim and Gary Christian are knotted in third place at 5-under-par 66 at the TPC at Wakefield Plantation.
Kuchar, who won the playoff against Claxton, began on the back nine Thursday and promptly opened with a bogey at No. 10. He rebounded from the dropped shot with three birdies in a row from the 12th and got to 3 under par for the championship with a birdie at the par-5 closing hole.
Kuchar, who won the Honda Classic on the PGA TOUR in 2002, parred his first four holes on the second nine. He recorded back-to-back birdies from the fifth, then closed with a birdie at the ninth to grab his share of first place.
'I didn't necessarily drive it great today, but well enough to be in play,' said Kuchar, the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion. 'I putted really well today. Any putt that I had to make was inside that kind of range that you feel you should make.'
Kuchar had not won anywhere since the Honda Classic. Two weeks ago he defeated Claxton on the third extra hole to get back into the winner's circle, but the former Georgia Tech standout is not getting a big head.
'Confidence is a funny thing,' acknowledged Kuchar. 'A month or two ago I was playing well and missing cuts. I knew I was playing well, but when I kept missing cuts I'd get more and more frustrated.'
Claxton also teed off on the back nine and, like Kuchar, soared up the leaderboard with a run of three birdies in a row. Claxton collected three in a row from the 13th, then parred his final three holes on his opening nine.
Claxton birdied the fourth, seventh and ninth holes to earn his piece of the lead.
'I played real solid,' said Claxton. 'I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens and made some putts when I hit it close. I feel like I'm swinging better.'
Johnson Wagner, Roberto Coceres, Josh Broadway, Matthew Jones, Boo Weekley, David Mathis, Joel Edwards, Rick Price, Erik Compton, Michael Putnam, Charlie Wi, Andrew Pratt and Jason Enloe are tied for ninth place at minus-4.
Eric Axley, who won this event as a Monday qualifier last year, is not in good shape to become the first player in Nationwide Tour history to successfully defend a title.
He was at 2 under par through the turn, but recorded four bogeys and a double-bogey at his last to shoot a 4-over 75. Axley is part of a group tied for 139th place.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Rex Hospital Open
  • Full Coverage - Rex Hospital Open
  • Getty Images

    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

    Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    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 Web.com 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."

    Getty Images

    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.