Royal Rumble Set for Sunday at Troon

By Sports NetworkJuly 17, 2004, 4:00 pm
TROON, Scotland -- Todd Hamilton shot a 4-under 67 Saturday at Royal Troon Golf Club to move into the lead after three rounds of the 133rd British Open Championship. Hamilton's 54-hole total of 8-under- par 205 left him one shot clear of Ernie Els, the 2002 Open champion at Muirfield.
 
Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen posted a 68 to join Thomas Levet and reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson in a tie for third at 6-under-par 207.
 
Barry Lane was one shot further back at 5-under-par 208. Tiger Woods followed, after a round of 68 left him alongside Scott Verplank in a tie for seventh at 4-under-par 209.
 
Hamilton traveled the world for the first 17 years of his career, becoming a multiple winner in Japan before finding success on the PGA Tour earlier this season with a victory at The Honda Classic.
 
The 38-year-old played alongside Els on Saturday. While both have competed around the globe, Els has been to greater heights in the world of golf. But in the third round, Hamilton surpassed his playing partner to take the lead heading into the final round of a major championship.
 
'To be honest, I never even considered contending or not even too much playing in the majors,' said Hamilton. 'I just tried to improve on my golf game in Japan, tried to become more patient with my game, improve on the things that I needed to do and somehow get to the U.S. tour. I really didn't look at the majors as an ultimate goal. My goal was to get on the PGA Tour. It took me quite a long time.'
 
Hamilton parred his first three holes before reaching the green at the par-5 fourth in two. Hamilton missed his eagle try, but ran home his birdie putt to get to 5 under. At the par-4 sixth, Hamilton's birdie putt curled into the hole and he was on his way up the leaderboard.
 
He added a birdie at the eighth to keep pace with Levet, who was coasting at 9 under after a solid front nine. After Levet three-putted for a double-bogey at the 11th, Hamilton found himself in a tie for the lead at the British Open.
 
Hamilton was steady on the difficult holes on the inward half, safely hitting greens and lagging long putts close to the hole for easy pars. At the par-4 13th, Hamilton knocked his tee shot inside 3 feet for his fourth birdie of the day to take the outright lead at 8 under.
 
Lane joined Hamilton in the lead with a birdie at the 15th, but the veteran Englishman found trouble with a double-bogey at the 17th to fall back to minus-6.
 
Hamilton's tee shot to the 17th rolled off the green into the rough, but he got up-and-down for a par. He then parred the last as the wind began to pick up down the stretch to secure the 54-hole lead with a chance to follow in the footsteps of Ben Curtis and become the second straight first-time major winner at the British Open.
 
'I don't see why it couldn't happen again,' Hamilton said. 'I'm sure at the start of the week you wouldn't think something like that could happen.'
 
While Hamilton will assume the roll of front runner on Sunday, he has a leaderboard packed with some of the biggest names in the sport biting at his heels, including the man who will be his playing partner for the second straight day at Troon.
 
'It's a pretty good leaderboard, isn't it?' said Hamilton. 'Names you would expect at a major championship.'
 
Els, who survived a four-way playoff to win the British Open in 2002, dropped his approach inside 7 feet for a birdie at the opening hole. He then played his second shot to 6 feet at the sixth to move within one of the lead.
 
His tee shot to the difficult par-3 eighth found a bunker and Els was unable to save par. Els dropped another shot with a bogey at the 11th to fall back to minus-4.
 
With plenty of major experience at his side, Els persisted and hit his second to 5 feet for a birdie at the 13th. Els then drained a 13-foot putt for a birdie at the 15th and two-putted for a birdie at the 16th to again move within one of the top spot at 7-under-par 206 after a round of 68.
 
'Going into the final round you need to be patient, have confidence and have staying power because you know that not everything is going to go your way,' said Els. 'The course gives and it takes so you just have to hit your shots and try your best.'
 
Mickelson came close to winning the U.S. Open last month and now the left-hander once again finds himself in contention at a major.
 
He hit a bad drive in the mist at the first that actually found the rough on the 18th hole. Mickelson played a remarkable shot that landed within 6 feet of the cup and what could have been a disaster turned into an early birdie.
 
Mickelson, who has never finished in the top-10 at the British Open, added a birdie at the very next hole and dropped his approach inside 6 feet at the par-4 seventh for another birdie to grab a share of the lead at minus-6.
 
The 34-year-old was unable to pick up a birdie the rest of the way and parred his remaining holes for a 68.
 
'It is nice not to give shots back,' said Mickelson. 'It doesn't feel like they've been overly difficult pars.'
 
Goosen, who knocked off Mickelson at Shinnecock thanks to a superb putting display, had a fruitful start despite a pair of bogeys on the front nine.
 
The South African birdied three of his first six holes and ran home a 15-foot putt for a birdie at the ninth to make the turn at 5 under. Goosen mixed two birdies and a bogey on the back nine to finish two shots off the pace.
 
Levet began the day one behind Skip Kendall, but the Frenchman soon moved into the lead a birdie at the third and back-to-back birdies from the fifth that lifted him to 9 under.
 
The 35-year-old struggled on the back side, however, with a double-bogey at the 11th and a bogey at the 16th to complete a round of 71.
 
After two straight birdies starting at the 12th, Lane hit his second shot to 7 feet and rolled in the putt to match Hamilton at 8 under. He also found trouble down the stretch, however, with a double-bogey at the 17th and a bogey at the last to finish three shots off the pace.
 
Woods made a charge early as a squall came across from the Firth of Clyde and settled in over Troon. The top player in the game birdied his first two holes and reached the green in two en route to a birdie at the par-5 fourth.
 
'It was a good start,' said Woods. 'I just tried to take advantage of that front nine.'
 
The 28-year-old then converted a 10-foot putt for a birdie at the seventh and saved par at the eighth to keep his momentum. Woods picked up a clutch par save at the 10th, but the top player in the struggled to a bogey at the 12th to fall four shots back.
 
Local favorite Colin Montgomerie managed a 1-over 72 to join Kendall and Mike Weir in a tie for ninth at 3-under-par 210. Nick Price, the 1994 champion at Turnberry, was one shot further back along with Lee Westwood and K.J. Choi at 2-under-par 211.
 
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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 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.


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    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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

    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.