Singh Drives to Mercedes Lead

By Sports NetworkJanuary 9, 2004, 5:00 pm
04 Mercedes ChampionshipsVijay Singh ran off seven straight birdies on the back nine Friday en route to a nine-under 64 to grab a one-shot lead at the Mercedes Championships. Singh completed 36 holes at 14-under-par 132, one stroke clear of first-round leader Stuart Appleby.
Darren Clarke carded a four-under 69 Friday and stands in third place at 10- under-par 136. Kirk Triplett is one stroke further back at minus-nine, while Scott Hoch stands alone in fifth place at seven-under-par 139. Retief Goosen and Davis Love III are one shot back at minus-six.
Singh got off to a nice start with birdies at the third and fifth to move to seven-under. He dropped his first shot of the tournament when he bogeyed the sixth. After three straight pars, he headed to the back nine at six-under.
'I was a little disappointed with the front nine, didn't birdie nine and also two-putted (for bogey) the sixth hole,' said Singh, a four-time winner last season. 'I just said, 'I'll go play a solid back nine.' I started making some putts, which is always nice on these greens and played solid.'
The Fijian caught fire from there. He birdied the 10th before a par at No. 11. From there, he rocketed up the leaderboard.
'The wind was more favorable today and I hit it right where I aimed,' said Singh of his drive on No. 10. 'I made a good pitch shot and putt there.'
Singh rolled home a 18-footer at the 12th to climb to eight-under. He made it two straight when he converted a three-footer at the next. The 2003 PGA Tour money leader curled in an eight-foot putt at the 14th for his third straight birdie.
He followed with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 15th. When he drained a five-footer at 16, the lead was his at 12-under as Appleby bogeyed the 14th. Appleby briefly tied Singh atop the leaderboard with his birdie on No. 15.
Singh, however, was not done. He continued his hot streak as he drained a putt from over 30 feet out on No. 17 to get to 13-under. He closed out a string of seven straight birdies when he rolled in a short birdie putt at the last.
'I was just playing along,' Singh said. 'I wasn't trying to hard or anything. I didn't make too many mistakes, kept the ball in play and hit it close.'
Singh's stretch of seven straight birdies is one shy of the tour record, which has been done six times previously. His eight-under 29 is two strokes off the tour's nine-hole mark of nine-under 27.
'You've have to make putts over here to score and I didn't do it Thursday as much, but I think the greens paid me back today,' said Singh.
Appleby had a solid round of his own but was overtaken by Singh's hot play. Appleby fired a six-under 67, despite three bogies. He bogeyed the second, but answered with a birdie at the very next hole.
The Australian ran off five straight birdies from the sixth to climb to 12- under and a three-shot lead at the time. However, he bogeyed the 12th and 14th but did manage a birdie in between at No. 13.
Appleby also came back to birdie the 15th to return to 12-under. He climbed within one stroke of Singh with a short birdie putt at the last.
'The wind was playing pretty much the same as Thursday, a little stronger, certainly a lot more of a concern to club selection,' said Appleby. 'There were some birdies to be had out there. But I played pretty well all day. Liked the way I hit it, and liked the way I putted it.'
Tiger Woods and Masters champion Mike Weir each posted rounds of three-under 70 to move to five-under-par 141. That duo is joined in eighth place by Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, John Huston, Peter Jacobsen, Justin Leonard, J.L. Lewis, Shigeki Maruyama and Shaun Micheel.
Ernie Els, the defending champion, carded a three-under 70 to join Adam Scott at three-under-par 143.
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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.

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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.


    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.