Which Euros Will Fare the Best

By Tom AbbottJune 12, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on thegolfchannel.com with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
 
The Euros at Oakmont:
With the U.S. Open almost off and running it's time for me to stick my neck out and make a few predictions. Which European will have the best finish? Im going to go with three names, giving me a slightly better chance of not looking foolish.
 
Justin Rose. The Englishman hasnt been seen much in competition this year. In fact, since the WGC Accenture Match Play, hes only made two appearances, but theyve been good ones. A fifth place at the Masters, which he had a chance to win; and a runner-up spot at the BMW PGA Championship. The back problems have been of great concern to Team Rose, but he has good people around him making smart decisions. There has been no need for him to play unnecessary tournaments and he hasnt. Rose practiced last week at Lake Nona under the watchful eye of coach Nick Bradley. The pair flew on the private jet to Oakmont on Monday morning and I believe Justin will have a great week, possibly even a win.
 
Lee Westwood. The recently crowned Valle Romano Open de Andaluca champion, Westwood is on his way back to greatness. Hes a straight driver of the golf ball which is going to be a must this week, and hes a steady putter. Many forget how experienced this player is. A former European No. 1, Lee has been around the upper echelon of the game for over 10 years. He finished tied fifth at the U.S. Open in 2000 and having missed last years tournament I expect him to return with confidence and high hopes of a very good week.
 
Colin Montgomerie. You may laugh, but watch for Monty. Time is running out for this great player. How can Colin end his career without a major title, it doesnt sound possible? He is without a doubt the greatest of them all never to have won a major. His recent form wouldnt suggest a good week is on the cards, but that was the case last year and he came so close. He knows how to play U.S. Opens and he knows how to play Oakmont; this was the site of his playoff loss in 1994. Alistair Mclean, his long-time caddie will not be on the bag. The pair has parted ways for the time being, but Monty will have an experienced local bag-man to guide him through the terrors of Oakmont. Montgomerie has said himself that he knows what works for him in terms of preparation. Hell go through his routine and unlike some other competitors, wholl be caught by the distractions, Monty will be focused on one thing, a victory.
 
Away from Oakmont:
Obviously all the attention in golf will be focused on Pittsburgh this week, but elsewhere around the world we do have golfing action. The European Tour has a co-sanctioned event with the Challenge Tour in St. Omer, France. The big names are taking the week off, but this gives a bundle of lesser ranked players and Challenge Tour regulars the chance to scoot-up the rankings. Last week, Hollands Joost Luiten won his second event on the Challenge Tour calendar with a stunning 61 on the final day for a come-from-behind win. He now joins Eduardo Molinari on the battle-field promotion watch list; if either one takes one further victory theyll be off to the European Tour. Both are in the field at St. Omer.
 
The Ladies European Tour heads to Spain for the Catalonia Ladies Masters, a limited field three-day tournament which begins on Friday.
 
Denis Watson makes a trip to Wales to compete on the European Seniors Tour. Joining the recently crowned U.S. Senior PGA Champion at the Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open are Bob Charles, Sam Torrance and Costantino Rocca.
 
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Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder

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.

@tommyfleetwood_1

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.

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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."


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


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."