Stadler Snags SBC Lead

By Sports NetworkOctober 18, 2003, 4:00 pm
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Craig Stadler matched the course record Saturday with a 7-under 64, which gave him a two-stroke lead after two rounds at the SBC Championship. Stadler completed the opening 36 holes at 11-under-par 131.
Bob Gilder stands alone in second place at 9-under-par 133 after a 4-under 67. Bruce Fleisher, Walter Hall and Tom Watson share third place at 6-under-par 136.
Stadler rolled in a birdie at the par-4 fourth at Oak Hills Country Club to create a four-way tie for the lead early in the round. He and Fleisher burst out of the pack with birdies on the fifth and sixth to move to 7 under.
Fleisher dropped a shot at the seventh to give Stadler the lead all to himself. Stadler maintained his one-shot lead with pars on the eighth and ninth.
The Walrus sank a 10-footer for birdie on the 10th to briefly take a two-shot advantage. However, Gilder birdied the same hole to get to minus-7 and within one of Stadler.
Stadler's lead moved back to two strokes when he drained a 20-footer for birdie on the 12th. He climbed to 10-under with a kick-in birdie at the par-3 14th.
After pitching out of the trees, Stadler ripped his third shot to the par-5 15th to 25 feet. He calmly made that putt to move to 11 under, which gave him a three-shot cushion as Gilder as birdied the hole.
'I did drive the ball well except for the one on 15,' said Stadler, who has two wins in his first 12 Champions Tour starts. 'Then I chipped it out and hit a real solid 2-iron third shot. And obviously I made a good putt.'
Stadler's drive off the 16th tee found the left rough and he was forced to pitch out again. That led to a bogey dropping him to minus-10. Gilder birdied the hole to get within one shot.
'I tried to cut it around the corner Friday and clipped the trees and almost put it out of bounds. Today, I tried to hit just left of the fairway bunker, but pull-hooked it and made five,' said Stadler of his travails on No. 16. 'Tomorrow, I might just hit 8-iron off the tee and 5-iron in. It can't be any worse.'
Stadler found the fairway off the 17th tee, but his ball came to rest in a divot. Not to worry, as he muscled his second shot out of the bad lie within one foot of the cup for eighth birdie of the day. He closed his round with a two-putt par at the par-3 closing hole.
'I hit a 2-iron off the tee and unfortunately it ended right in the middle of a divot,' Stadler said of his tee shot on 17. 'I had a nice soft 8-iron, it came out perfect and I got a good bounce and I'm in there for a kick-in birdie.
'Those are the things though, the 2-iron on 15 and the shot out of the divot on 17. You have to do that stuff to shoot 64. It's little things like that, that make scores go down.'
Stadler, with a win tomorrow, would become the first three-time winner on the Champions Tour this season.
Gilder began the day one stroke behind overnight leader Jim Thorpe. Gilder bogeyed the third, but responded with back-to-back birdies from the fourth. He later matched Stadler with birdies on the 10th, 15 and 16th.
'It seemed like I was playing out of the rough all day today,' said Gilder. 'I was able to manage it well enough and make some birdies out there.
Gilder has finished second here two straight years and knows tomorrow will be tough to win.
'I've got to shoot a low number,' said Gilder. 'You know Stads is going to. He's making putts right and left. He made bogey in the end there and fired it right in there for another birdie. He's going to be tough to beat.'
Thorpe stumbled to a 1-over 72. He shares sixth place with Jim Ahern (68), Larry Nelson (67), Bill Rogers (69) and Fuzzy Zoeller (70).
Hugh Baiocchi, Allen Doyle, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Gil Morgan and D.A. Weibring are tied one stroke back at minus-4.
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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.

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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."

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    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."