Rookie One Round From Victory

By Sports NetworkJune 28, 2003, 4:00 pm
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Richard S. Johnson carded a 2-under 69 on Saturday to take the 54-hole lead of the St. Jude Classic at the TPC at Southwind. He stands at 14-under-par 199 and owns a one-shot lead over 2001 PGA Championship winner David Toms.
Tim Herron (65), David Peoples (71), Fredrik Jacobson (68) and two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (67) share third place at 12-under-par 201.
Johnson, a tour rookie who shared the second-round lead with John Huston, opened the scoring with a seven-foot birdie putt at No. 2 after a long 3-wood off the tee and a beautiful pitching-wedge approach.
He fell one behind Huston when Huston birdied six, but Johnson reclaimed a piece of the lead when he stuck an 8-iron three feet from the hole at the eighth.
Huston fell down the leaderboard with a missed two-foot par save at No. 9, but Johnson also slipped at the 11th. Johnson misjudged the wind at 11 and plugged a 7-iron into the bunker. He failed to get up and down and fell back into a tie for the lead.
Johnson took back first place when his pitching-wedge approach at the 13th resulted in a five-foot birdie putt. Huston closed with three bogeys in his last five holes to give Johnson sole possession of the lead as Toms was in the clubhouse for quite a while when Johnson finished his round.
'I felt really calm out there today,' said Johnson. 'I wasn't hardly nervous at all, just went out with the attitude of trying to play my game and didn't look at the leaderboard. I was trying not to but you always get a sneak peek at it once in a while. I'm very happy with how I performed but not very happy with the putting.'
Johnson won the 2002 ANZ Championship on the European Tour and that was contested under the Stableford scoring system. He is looking for not only his first victory in a stroke-play format but also his first PGA Tour title in only his 15th start on tour.
'I just have to keep playing like I've done the last three days,' said the Swede. 'I just have to get the putter rolling again. If I can do that, I think I have a very good chance of taking this home.'
Staring him down will be Toms, who won this year's Wachovia Championship and tied for fifth at the U.S. Open two weeks ago.
Toms flew out of the gate Saturday with a 12-foot birdie putt at No. 1. At the par-5 third, Toms two-putted for birdie from 45 feet, then chipped in for birdie with a lob-wedge at the fourth.
Toms made it three birdies in a row at No. 5 when, once again he reached the green in two at the par-5 hole and two-putted from 30 feet.
'I got off to a good start today,' said Toms. 'That was key to having a fairly low round. I was four-under through five and then finished up well.'
At the par-5 16th, Toms landed over the green in two, but chipped his third to five feet and cashed in on the birdie opportunity. One hole later, Toms knocked a pitching-wedge inside two feet and tapped in the birdie to polish off his round of 6-under 65.
After his major breakthrough at the PGA Championship in 2001, Toms went winless in 2002, despite making nearly $3.5 million. His win in North Carolina in mid-May stopped something of a slump and now the LSU graduate is thinking of becoming the seventh multiple winner on the PGA Tour in 2003.
'I don't have that doubt in the back of my mind, 'can I do this again?' It had been a while since I won when I won there (Wachovia Championship) and I've gotten that monkey off my back,' said Toms. 'I know that I can do it again, so that's not going to be a factor tomorrow. The only thing I have to do is go out and play good golf.'
Ben Crane shot a seven-under 64 in the third round and is alone in seventh place at 11-under-par 202.
Huston struggled to a 2-over 73 on Saturday and is part of a logjam in eighth at 10-under par. Among the notable players who joined Huston four shots off the lead are: Notah Begay III, Bob Estes, Chris DiMarco and Jay Haas.
Related Links
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    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.

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    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

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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.