Singh Shoots 63 Leads Buick Open

By Sports NetworkJuly 29, 2004, 4:00 pm
GRAND BLANC, Mich. -- Vijay Singh fired a 9-under-par 63, taking only 29 strokes on the back nine, Thursday to take the opening-round lead of the Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.
'I hit a lot of close shots, but I think making those 5- , 6- , 7-footers and occasionally 10-footers, that kept the round going,' said Singh, who posted three 63s prior to Thursday's opening round. 'I was really pleased with my round.'
Olin Browne is alone in second place after a first-round 64. Mike Grob birdied three of his final four holes Thursday to vault into third place at minus-7.
Defending champion Jim Furyk carded a 6-under-par 66 and is tied for fourth place with Brenden Pappas, Len Mattiace, Craig Barlow and David Peoples.
Tiger Woods, who won this title in 2002, returned to the tour for the first time since the British Open. He shot a 5-under-par 67 and is part of group tied for ninth place.
Woods was joined in ninth by good friend Mark O'Meara, Briny Baird, Roger Tambellini, Robert Damron, Stephen Allan and last week's U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee winner Carlos Franco.
Woods started on the back nine Thursday and made two birdies on his opening nine. Perhaps his best hole was the driveable, par-4 14th. He crouched under a tree and somehow saved par.
He recorded three birdies on his second nine to get into position for a run at the lead.
'The greens are soft and the wind didn't start blowing till probably the last three holes for us,' said Woods. 'It was probably as easy as we've ever seen it here. That's usually not the case here.'
Rain during the week made Warwick Hills longer, but the greens were receptive.
Singh wasted little time in taking advantage of the optimum conditions.
He holed a 5-footer at No. 1 to get into red figures early, but trouble loomed for the third-ranked player in the world. He missed the green at three, then pitched to 4 feet, where he missed the par putt.
The Fijian hit a sand-wedge to 3 feet to set up birdie at the sixth, then closed out his front nine with another great wedge shot, this time a pitching-wedge to 4 feet. Singh holed that to make the turn at 2 under.
Singh made it two in a row with a 5-foot birdie putt at 10. He parred 11, but got back to making birdies at the 12th, a 6-footer after another brilliant wedge to the green.
The two-time major winner reached the par-5 13th green in two with a 3-wood. The ball stopped 6 feet from the hole and Singh ran home the eagle try to get to minus-6.
He missed the green with a driver at the par-4 14th, but pitched to 15 feet where he made his longest birdie try of the round. Singh finished off back-to-back birdies at 15 when his 8-iron approach left him with 10 feet.
Singh polished off his round with a driver-9-iron to 8 feet at No. 18 and a round of 63, which matched his lowest round in the 2004 season.
For the first time in two-and-a-half years, Singh abandoned the belly putter and used the more conventional putter.
'I was struggling. I won three tournaments and doesn't mean I'm putting badly. I was putting nicely, but then all of a sudden, I just could not make any more putts,' said Singh, who won this title in 1997. 'I decided I'm going to try it out and worked every day last week at least an hour and a half a day, just putting on it and felt comfortable.'
Browne tallied four birdies on the front side, then played well in spurts on the back nine. He made a pair of 15-footers for birdie at 12 and 13, then once again ran off back-to-back birdies.
At the par-five 16th, Browne hit a lob-wedge to 12 feet and drained the birdie putt. He used a 6-iron at the par-3 17th and canned the 8-footer to get within one of Singh's lead.
Browne has only two top-10s this season, both in the last five weeks. He recorded only two top-10s in the previous two seasons, but Browne thinks he has figured out the problems.
'When you are hitting poor shots, you start getting into a rut where you wonder if you will ever get it figured out. The minute you get it going again, you think, it wasn't that hard,' said Browne, a two-time winner on tour. 'It's not just my putter. I'm driving it better than I was.'
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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.


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    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."