Trio Share 36-Hole Lead in Virginia

By Sports NetworkMay 21, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Henrico County OpenRICHMOND, Va. -- Scott Sterling and Daniel Chopra each fired rounds of 9-under 63 on Friday to grab a share of the lead through two round of the Henrico County Open. They share first place at 16-under-par 128 with Franklin Langham, who posted a 64.
 
Those three set what would have been a 36-hole scoring mark of 128 if it weren't for play being contested using lift, clean and place rules due to wet conditions.
 
Ryuji Imada, who won the Charity Pro-AM at The Cliffs in a playoff earlier this year, posted an 8-under 64. He shares fourth place with Nathan Green and Jeff Street at 13-under-par 131. John E. Morgan is one stroke further back at minus-12.
 
The cut line of 7-under-par 137 matched the lowest 36-hole cut in tour history. The last time it fell that low was at the 1991 Dakota Dunes Open, when the cut was 50 players and ties.
 
The field scorched the course averaging 69.115 on Friday. Of the 312 scores posted over the first two days, only 31 have been over par. The field was a cumulative 901-under par over the first two days.
 
Sterling and Chopra shared seventh place entering the second round. Sterling opened his round on the 10th tee at The Dominion Club and ran off three straight birdies from No. 10.
 
The 32-year-old picked up two more birdies on the back side to head to the front nine at minus-12. He carded his sixth birdie at the second. He then notched back-to-back birdies from the fourth. He moved to 16 under with a birdie at the par-3 ninth, his last.
 
'I'd rather be in this position on Sunday,' said Sterling, whose best finish on tour is a tie for fourth at the 2003 Lake Erie Charity Classic. 'Still, I'm very pleased. It's all a matter of making putts.'
 
Chopra, who won the First Tee Arkansas Classic in April, also started on the back side. He carded three consecutive birdies from the 11th and picked up another birdie at the 15th.
 
He capped his first nine with a birdie at the 18th to head to the front side at minus-12. On the front side, Chopra birdied four of the first five holes to grab a share of first place. He parred the final four holes to remain there.
 
'It's amazing how good these guys are,' said Chopra, who has made six of 13 cuts on the PGA Tour this season. 'To keep this pace up for four days is going to be tough. I think the officials are really going to tuck the pins away and make us pay for all these birdies we're making.'
 
Langham, who won the Rheem Classic the week after Chopra's crown, birdied the first and second to get to minus-10. He then drained three straight birdies from the fifth to continue his climb up the leaderboard.
 
The 36-year-old tripped to a bogey at the ninth. He came right back to birdie the 10th and converted his seventh birdie of the round at the 12th. He stumbled to another bogey at the 14th, but again came right back to erase that mistake.
 
Langham birdied the 15th to get to 14 under and grabbed a share of the lead with an eagle at the par-5 18th.
 
'The greens are soft so you can fire right at the pins and they're not that quick so you can pretty much gun at your birdie putts,' said Langham. 'When you put those factors together, and the guys are so good, you're going to have low scores. I'm just trying to make birdies and keep up.'
 
Jimmy Walker, who has two wins this season on the Nationwide Tour stands at 11-under-par 133. He is joined there by Bryant MacKellar, Eduardo Herrera, Chip Sullivan, Johnson Wagner, Justin Bolli, Jason Buha, Jason Caron, Patrick Damron, David Faught and Troy Matteson.
 
Brad Ott fired a 10-under 62 Friday to survive on the cut line of 7-under- par 137. Seventy-four players advanced to the weekend.
 
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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 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."

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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.

    @tommyfleetwood_1

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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."