Woods Kuehne Rally to Win Battle at Bridges
Woods played hard over the first two holes, as he was given his birdie putt to halve the first hole and won the second hole courtesy of a seven-foot birdie putt.
Mickelson and Daly took charge from there though. Woods and Kuehne both struggled to bogeys at the third, while Mickelson rolled his 15-foot birdie try within inches of the cup and was given the par putt to halve the match.
At the par-3 fourth, Daly knocked a 6-iron to 20 feet. After Woods and Kuehne missed birdie tries, Daly ran his birdie putt into the hole for the win and a 1-up lead.
Kuehne found water off the fifth tee. He tried to play out to help Woods, who was under the lip of a bunker, but Kuehne made a mess of the hole. Woods pitched out of the bunker and knocked his third onto the green. Mickelson meanwhile, left his second shot short of the green. Woods went on to two-putt for bogey, while Mickelson got up-and-down for par and his teams' third straight win to go 2-up.
The match settled down with the teams halving the next seven holes. Daly and Kuehne played the sixth head-to-head as Woods and Mickelson both found water off the tee. Daly and Kuehne each left their birdie tries within inches of the hole and were given their par putt.
Daly got up-and-down for birdie from a greenside bunker at the par-5 seventh. Woods and Kuehne were both looking at birdie putts from within five feet. Daly and Mickelson seemed to disagree, but gave the Woods/Kuehne duo their birdie to remain 2-up.
Woods and Daly halved the par-5 ninth with birdies. Kuehne and Mickelson both sank short birdie putts at the 10th to halve that hole. Mickelson, Woods and Kuehne all missed birdie putts on the 11th, and their pars meant the match remained 2-up in favor of Mickelson and Daly.
'The front nine I needed a little something because that was pretty ugly,' Kuehne said of his play. 'He got it going a little bit there and I kind of helped him on some other holes.'
All four players made par as they missed birdie putts on the 12th, with Woods having the best chance, missing from 12 feet.
'John and I had some chances to extend the lead, and it just goes to show you when you're 2-up you've got to push harder get to three,' Mickelson said. 'We didn't do it.'
Things quickly turned in favor of the top player in the game and his long- hitting partner. Woods dropped his second shot within eight feet at the 13th. He sank that putt to get his duo within 1-down. Kuehne took over from there.
Kuehne, the 1998 U.S. Amateur champion, dropped his second shot inside eight feet at the 14th. Daly nearly chipped in for birdie, but his chip rattled the pin and spun out. Mickelson's birdie try then lipped out. Kuehne stepped up and drained his birdie to even the match.
At the par-4 15th, Kuehne bombed his drive nearly 320 yards uphill. He knocked a sand-wedge within 12 feet of the cup and converted that birdie putt. Mickelson had a chance to halve the hole, but missed his birdie try to give Woods and Kuehne a 1-up lead.
Woods took over at the 16th, a long par-5. He ripped a five-iron from over 210 yards onto the green some 22 feet from the cup. Mickelson pitched his third to five feet and Daly missed his eagle attempt. Then, Woods drained his eagle putt to win the hole and take a 2-up lead.
'Well they were 5-under through their that four-hole stretch and it was just some great playing,' said Mickelson. 'It's unfortunate, but boy did they play well on the back nine.'
The foursome headed to 17 with Mickelson and Daly needing a win. Daly, Mickelson and Woods all had birdie putts. Daly went first from just outside 20 feet, but was unable to convert. Mickelson followed with his 22-foot birdie try. That putt slid by the right edge.
Woods, who has played in all six Battle at the Bridges, rolled his birdie try within inches of the hole and was conceded the putt and the match.
'We got it going a little bit there on the back nine,' Woods said. 'It was nice to get a couple of putts to go in and get some momentum and we built upon that. Hank got it going on the back nine and made some birdies.'
With the win, Kuehne and Woods split $1 million, while Mickelson and Daly share $400,000. Daly and Mickelson also won all four long drive competitions for another $150,000 per player.
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.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
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."
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."