Sabbatini Maintains Lead in Tiger-less Nissan

By Sports NetworkFebruary 18, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 Nissan OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Rory Sabbatini carded a 4-under 67 Saturday to remain four strokes clear of the field after three rounds of the Nissan Open. Sabbatini stands at 14-under-par 199 through 54 holes.
Fred Couples, a two-time winner here, fired a 65 in the third round and that helped him jump into tie for second place at 10-under-par 203. He was joined there by Craig Barlow, who shot 67 on Saturday.
Tiger Woods Withdrawal
A scoreboard at the Nissan Open shows Tiger Woods' withdrawal on Saturday.
South Africans Tim Clark and Trevor Immelman share fourth place at minus-9 after they each shot 67 in the third round. John Rollins posted the low round of the day as he shot 64 to fly up the leaderboard into sixth place at 8-under-par 205.
The big story on Saturday was the withdrawal of Tiger Woods. For the first time in his professional career, Woods withdrew from a PGA Tour event for health reasons. He was one of several players this week battling the flu. Woods had won both of his starts this season -- the Buick Invitational on the PGA Tour and the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour.
The Nissan Open has long been a nemesis for Woods, who has never won this tournament. He played this event twice as an amateur and this was his ninth start at Riviera Country Club as a professional. This marks the most starts at any PGA event without a win for Woods.
Sabbatini was steady to start his round with six straight pars. At the seventh, he sank a 4-foot birdie putt to move three clear of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman and Dean Wilson.
The 29-year-old Sabbatini saved par on the eighth and did the same on No. 9, but his lead over Wilson dipped to one stroke. The South African caught fire around the turn though.
Sabbatini got up and down for birdie on the 10th. He then two-putted for birdie at the next to move three clear of the field at minus-13.
He made it three in a row as he ran home a 22-foot birdie try on 12. Sabbatini could not get up and down for par at the next though, but still led Couples by three.
Sabbatini, who owns two PGA Tour wins, parred his next four holes. At the last, he dropped his second shot within 6 feet and made the birdie putt to finish four ahead of the field.
'I got off to a slow start, but I played solidly,' said Sabbatini, who leads after three rounds of a PGA Tour event for the third time. 'I had some opportunities that I did not convert. However, from the seventh hole on, I got things going a little bit. It was just a matter of staying patient out there, knowing the putts would eventually drop.'
Couples, who won this event in 1990 and 1992, birdied the first, but tripped to a bogey at the next. He birdied the par-3 sixth to move to minus-5.
The 46-year-old birdied four of five holes from the 10th to fly up the leaderboard. Couples dropped in a birdie effort on the par-5 17th to get to 10 under.
'Today was a day where I hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of putts,' said Couples, who is playing this event for the 25th time and has 11 top-10 finishes here. 'It helps to know not to miss in certain spots. I've got to play well tomorrow for sure.'
Barlow, whose best career finish on the PGA Tour is a tie for third, played the front side at minus-2 with birdies on five and eight. The 33-year-old jumped to 10 under as he birdied the 10th and 11th.
However, Barlow gave strokes back on the 13th and 15th to fall back to minus-8. He got those shots back with an eagle at the 17th to share second place.
Wilson struggled late in his round to finish at 2-under 69. He shares seventh place at 7-under-par 206 with Jim Furyk, Mark Brooks and Bob Estes. Lehman is one stroke further back at minus-6 and is tied with Nick Watney and Lee Westwood.
Related Links:
  • Tiger Woods Withdraws from Nissan
  • Leaderboard - Nissan Open
  • Full Coverage - Nissan Open
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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.

    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.

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    Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

    The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

    It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

    "It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

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    Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

    Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

    "This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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    Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

    After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

    La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

    "Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

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    Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

    The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

    "That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."