Westwood Leads Sergio Scott Chasing

By Sports NetworkJanuary 24, 2008, 5:00 pm
European TourDOHA, Qatar -- England's Lee Westwood shot a 5under 67 Thursday to gain a share of the first-round lead at the Qatar Masters.
Coming off back-to-back second place finishes to start the season, Westwood carded five birdies in a flawless round at Doha Golf Club and shared the lead with South Africa's Anton Haig.
Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and 2006 champion Henrik Stenson led a group of seven players who were two shots behind at 3-under 69, and there were 58 players overall at even-par or better.
Playing in the second group off the 10th tee Thursday morning, Haig set the early pace. He got as low as 6 under par before three-putting his last hole, the par-5 ninth, for his only bogey.
Westwood finished six groups later with a matching 67, posting a spotless round of five birdies and 13 pars.
A five-time Ryder Cup star and 18-time European Tour winner, Westwood is riding a hot streak that includes seven top-10 finishes in his last eight worldwide starts since the PGA Championship.
That stretch was preceded by a pair of European Tour wins earlier last season.
Westwood began this season by losing in a three-way playoff to Phil Mickelson at the HSBC Champions tournament in November. He then finished fourth at Tiger Woods' Target World Challenge in December -- an unofficial event -- before returning to the European Tour with a tie for second place at last week's Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
The renewed success -- following three winless seasons between 2004-06 -- has left the 34-year-old Westwood brimming with confidence.
'I can't help but be confident,' he said. 'You're always a bit mindful when you have a long break, but in the middle of that long break I finished fourth in Tiger's event and last week came out and started slowly ... but got it going on Saturday and got into the tournament and had a chance on Sunday.
His second-place finishes have made Westwood the early leader on the European Tour's Order of Merit.
'I'm usually a slow starter,' he said. 'It's all to do with my fitness. I usually come out a bit lethargic and the muscles not really working, but I do a lot in the gym with the muscles on the golf swing and feel very strong and everything feels all right.'
Haig, a first-time winner at the 2007 Johnnie Walker Classic, has missed the cut in three of his first six starts this season, including two straight.
'It's all about confidence in this game -- 90 per cent in the head, that's what I was told, and I agree with that,' Haig said. 'It's a tough struggle out there, especially with the conditions like they are with the wind and there are a lot of good players out there.
'I've got a long way to go still, but I am just really looking forward to playing well again.'
The tournament lost its defending champion when Retief Goosen withdrew because of an eye problem, citing blurred vision as the result of recent corrective laser surgery.
'I'm obviously very sad that I am unable to defend my title,' stated Goosen, who hasn't won since beating Nick O'Hern by a shot last year. 'I came all this way to play, but unfortunately the eye is causing a problem.'
Paul Broadhurst, Johan Edfors, Alexander Noren and Marcel Siem joined Garcia, Scott and Goosen in the group at 3-under 69. Luke Donald and David Howell led a pack of 11 players at 70.
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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.