Watson Takes Command

By Sports NetworkAugust 29, 2003, 4:00 pm
ALOHA, Ore. -- Tom Watson matched his career low round on Friday with a 10-under 62 and took the lead midway through the Champions Tour's fifth and final major, The Tradition. He established a new 36-hole mark with his 14-under-par 130 and is four ahead of Hale Irwin and overnight co-leader Jim Ahern.
Watson matched his all-time low mark that he originally set in the third round of the 1999 Bank One Championship. The 62 equaled the lowest 18-hole score in a major championship and tied the tournament 18-hole mark set by Doug Tewell in 2001.
The previous 36-hole tournament record was 132 and that was first established in 1991 by Phil Rodgers and later equaled by Gil Morgan in 1997. The four-shot margin at the halfway point is the largest since 1991 when Rodgers held a six- shot edge.
'I'm on a good roll now, but I'll need to stay aggressive,' said Watson, who is bogey-free in two rounds at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club. 'I didn't have a five on my card. That's a rarity.'
Ahern posted a 4-under 68 on Friday while Irwin, who is still battling back problems that plagued him at the U.S. Open in June, birdied his last five holes en route to a round of 5-under-par 67. The duo is at minus-10.
Fuzzy Zoeller, the other co-leader after round one, carded a 2-under 70 and shares fourth place with Tom Kite and Morris Hatalsky, who shot matching rounds of 4-under 68 on Friday. The trio stands at 8-under-par 136.
Watson wasted little time in breaking into red figures on Friday. He holed a pair of six-foot birdie putts at one and three, then birdied three in a row from the fifth, including two 20-footers and a tap-in at the par-5 sixth.
That run prompted some amazing thoughts in Watson's head.
'I was thinking about 59 after the seventh hole,' admitted Watson. 'I choked. I had a few sloppy shots in the middle of the round.'
Watson missed the green at the 10th, but pitched to a foot to set up the kick-in par. He also missed the putting surface at the par-3 11th, but got up and down for par after converting a six-footer.
Watson got back on track at the 12th. He knocked a sand wedge to three feet for birdie before another birdie tear. Watson sank a 35-footer for birdie at the 14th, two-putted from 50 feet at the par-5 15th and rolled home a three-footer at the par-5 16th.
The reigning Senior British Open champion parred No. 17, but took advantage of the par-5 18th, the third five-par in the final four holes. He laid up and wedged his third to five feet. Watson stroked home the birdie putt to take a big lead into the weekend.
'Lots of things went right,' understated Watson. 'I got a lot of good breaks. I made a few sizeable putts as well. The conditions made it easy, but it's one hole at a time.'
Ahern held the early clubhouse lead and got there with strong play on the second nine. He collected a pair of birdies at five and seven, but opened his back nine with a six-foot birdie putt at the 10th.
He dropped a shot at 12 when his ball plugged into a bunker but after back-to- back two-putt birdies at 15 and 16, Ahern is in the hunt for his first major title in close to four years on the elder circuit.
'I played pretty good,' said Ahern. 'I didn't make many long putts, but I did make four putts of seven feet or less that kept my round going. That was the difference between 68 and 72.'
Irwin, who has never won this major title, plodded along at even-par on Friday until he hit the par-3 14th hole. He sank a 10-footer for birdie there and holed a birdie putt from similar length at the next hole.
Irwin two-putted for his third birdie in a row at the par-5 16th, birdied No. 17 and drained a 30-footer for birdie at the last to cap off his second consecutive round of 67.
'I struggled to keep any semblance of scoring going,' said Irwin. 'I made an awful lot of long putts. I feel like I'm going out there with half the clubs in my bag.'
Defending champion Jim Thorpe posted a 4-under 68 on Friday and shares seventh place with Graham Marsh, who fashioned a round of 70. That duo stands at 7-under-par 137.
Bruce Fleisher (70), Mike McCullough (69), Dave Barr (69), Vicente Fernandez (68) and D.A. Weibring (68) are tied for ninth place at minus-6.
Jack Nicklaus, a four-time winner of this event, fired a 5-under 67 on Friday to vault into a tie for 14th place at minus-5.

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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 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.

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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.