McNulty Surges into the Lead

By Sports NetworkMay 6, 2006, 4:00 pm
Champions TourHOOVER, Ala. -- Mark McNulty posted his second consecutive 5-under 67 on Saturday to assume the top spot on the leaderboard after two rounds of the Regions Charity Classic. He stands at 10-under-par 134 and is one ahead at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge.
Dick Mast, a Monday qualifier, shot a 6-under 66 and is tied for second place with Brad Bryant, who carded a 5-under 67 on Saturday. The pair is knotted at minus-9.
David Edwards, playing in only his second Champions Tour event, fired a 7-under 65 and is alone in fourth place at 8-under-par 136.
McNulty, who shared the first-round lead with Tom McKnight, Keith Fergus and Scott Simpson, collected back-to-back birdies from the third hole, then made it two in a row from the seventh, including an 18-foot birdie putt at the eighth.
McNulty birdied the 10th hole to reach 10 under par, but hit a poor tee ball at the par-3 11th. He had close to 70 feet for his birdie and came up 15 feet short. McNulty missed that putt to drop his first stroke of the second round.
At the par-5 13th, McNulty hit a relatively poor drive and was forced to lay up short of the green. His third came to rest 3 feet from the hole and he converted the birdie putt. McNulty added another birdie at the par-4 15th, but the wheels came off down the stretch.
McNulty, who was ahead by two at 11 under par, found water at the 17th and walked off with a bogey. His lead was down to one and the 52-year-old found trouble at the closing hole. McNulty holed a clutch 10-footer to save par at 18 and that could be huge.
There are thunderstorms in the forecast for Sunday, so tee times were moved up. If the storms are too severe, there always looms the possibility that the event would be shortened to 36 holes.
That would give McNulty his sixth victory on the Champions Tour. But that's certainly not how he wants to collect the win.
'Everyone wants to play tomorrow,' acknowledged McNulty. 'I'm glad to be in the lead and here's hoping we finish 54 holes. It will be fun if we manage to get things done tomorrow.'
McNulty has converted two victories in five tries with the 36-hole lead. He has yet to finish better than a tie for 10th this season, but McNulty was still thinking about his finish on Saturday.
'I was more angry with myself,' said McNulty. 'I didn't quite play as nicely as I did yesterday. Had more birdies today. I am happy to make four at 18 and get out with the lead.'
Mast did his damage on the front nine Saturday. He sank a 12-footer for birdie at the first, then made two in a row from the fourth, including another 12-footer at five.
He two-putted from 25 feet for birdie at the seventh and rolled in a long birdie putt at No. 8. Mast recorded only one birdie on the back nine, at the par-5 13th, but he can still become the first Monday qualifier to win on the elder circuit since Pete Oakley at the 2004 Senior British Open.
'It could have been much lower on the back nine,' admitted Mast. 'I set my goal to win a tournament and was thinking about it today. If I can shoot 66 tomorrow, I'll have a chance.'
Bryant got within one in the opposite way of his fellow second-place finisher. He notched only two birdies on the front nine, then closed with a flurry. Bryant kicked in a short birdie putt at the 12th, two-putted for birdie at 13, then tapped in a 3-footer at the 16th.
'I'm hitting the ball really good,' said Bryant. 'Today I played the course exactly the way I wanted. I would have liked to have gotten the ball closer to the hole. I'm not making many, but I'm not three-putting either.'
Three-time winner this season Loren Roberts (67), Des Smyth (68), Simpson (70) and McKnight (70) are knotted in fifth place at 7-under-par 137.
Fergus (71), Hale Irwin (70), Jack Ferenz (67), Danny Edwards (67) and Bobby Wadkins (69) are tied for ninth place at minus-6.
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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – 

    Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    ''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

    ''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

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    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

    ''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

    Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

    ''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

    The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

    ''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

    Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

    ''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

    The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

    ''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

    He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

    Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

    ''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

    Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

    ''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.

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    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.

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    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.