Thompson Drains Big Eagle for Club Pro Lead
'I've been playing golf for so long, and it's probably one of the longest I've ever had,' said Thompson, who posted a five-under 67 for a 36-hole total of eight-under-par 136.
The 45-year-old Thompson, the head professional at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas, had a little help on the enormous, left-to-right curling putt from his wife, Kris, who is caddying for him this week.
'She said to me, 'I can't read this,'' said Thompson, whose round also included five birdies and two bogeys. 'I was just trying to knock it up there somewhere close from down there to get it up to the hole.'
Thompson, playing in his sixth Club Pro Championship, took a slim one-shot lead into the weekend in steamy Kentucky. Mike Gilmore, the head pro at Wheatley Hills Golf Club in East Williston, New York, shot a five-birdie, one- bogey 68 to finish alone in second place at seven-under 137.
'I got off to a real good start and I'm looking forward to the next two days,' said Gilmore, 37, who nearly holed a 40-foot birdie at Valhalla's 535-yard, par-five finishing hole.
Don Berry of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, matched Thompson for the day's best round of 67. He led a foursome in third place at four-under 140 that included Tag Wylie (69) of Durham, North Carolina; Barry Evans (70) of Charleston, West Virginia; and Kim Thompson (70) of American Fork, Utah.
Defending champion Wayne DeFrancesco of Baltimore, Maryland, rebounded from a two-over 74 in round one with a four-under 68 on Friday. He pulled within six shots of the top spot and was alongside first-round leader Sean Farren of Oakmont, Pennsylvania; Joseph Klinchock of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Tim Thelen of Richmond, Texas.
Thelen, the winner of the 2000 CPC at Oak Tree and runner-up to DeFrancesco last year at the Sunriver Resort, also earned the PGA Club Professional Player of the Year Award in 2001.
A total of 84 players from the field of 156 made the cut, which fell at seven- over-par 151.
Among those on the outside looking in was Suzy Whaley of Farmington, Connecticut, the first woman to compete in the CPC.
Although she opened with an eight-over 80 on Thursday, Whaley was still on the good side of the cut after going two-under through 11 holes Friday. But she bogeyed the 12th and 15th holes, then suffered a quadruple-bogey at the par- four 16th en route to a 76 and a 156 total.
The low 25 scorers after 72 holes earn a berth in the 84th PGA Championship, to be held August 15-18 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.
In addition, the low nine scorers and 2001 champ DeFrancesco will form the U.S. PGA Cup Team that will take on the Great Britain/Ireland squad in the 21st PGA Cup Matches, February 28 to March 2, 2003, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Full field scores from the PGA Club Pro Championship
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
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.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
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
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
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.
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."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
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.
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.