Monday Scramble: Love, Tiger, DeChambeau impress

By Will GrayAugust 24, 2015, 4:00 pm

Davis Love III beat the young guys, Bryson DeChambeau destroyed the field and Tiger Woods showed that rumors of his demise may have been greatly exaggerated. All that and more in this week's AARP-approved edition of the Monday Scramble. 

So much for this being a young man's game. At 51 years old, Love fired a final-round 64 to win the Wyndham Championship for the third time. It was the 21st PGA Tour win of his career, first since 2008, and it showed that the greats can always surprise you.

Love joins Tom Watson as the only players to win a Tour event after serving as a Ryder Cup captain, and his return to the winner's circle is all the more impressive considering he has returned from a pair of surgeries in recent years. While many of his peers graduated to the Champions Tour, Love has maintained a schedule on the main circuit for each of the last two years in an effort to challenge himself against players half his age. 

Love began the day four shots off the pace, and he was listed at the Westgate Las Vegas Sports Book at 80-1 to win entering the final round. But the grandfather showed that he could still hang with the young kids, belting drives over 300 yards and making eagle on both of the par 5s at Sedgefield Country Club. 

Love is one of the more popular players on Tour, as evidenced by the support he received to captain the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the second time next year at Hazeltine. But entering the week at No. 186 in the FedEx Cup standings, even he may not have anticipated an outcome like this - or a schedule that will now include stops at The Barclays, the Deutsche Bank Championship, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the Masters.

Not bad for an old guy.

1. He didn't get a Hail Mary victory to crash the playoff party, but Woods certainly made the most of his maiden appearance in Greensboro. He shared the lead at the halfway point, rekindled many aspects of his game and showed off some of his trademark confidence and swagger that has been largely dormant the last two years.

There were fist pumps, there were crowd roars and there were many, many club twirls.

Several pundits, myself included, were surprised to see Woods peg it at the Wyndham. But months from now, this could be viewed as a big step in a larger turnaround. 

2. Anyone questioning Woods' status in the game need only catch a glimpse at some of the crowds that followed him around all week at Sedgefield. Tournament organizers printed tens of thousands of extra tickets, full-throated applause followed his every shot and move, and galleries were six-deep to watch him warm up.

This week was a great example why the question, "Who will be the next Tiger Woods?" is a silly query. There is only one. 

3. While there were plenty of positives to take from his week, Woods' title run ended in disastrous fashion. He shanked and flubbed his way to a triple bogey on No. 11, and while he closed with a handful of birdies, those gasp-inducing chips brought back unpleasant memories from earlier this year in Phoenix.

Woods' short game has progressed immensely since his struggles at TPC Scottsdale, but Sunday showed that the scar tissue created by the yips is never that far below the surface – even for 14-time major champions. 

4. With his victory, Love became the third-oldest player to win in PGA Tour history. Here is a look at some of the over-50 company he joined (side note - apparently Greensboro is home to the fountain of youth):

  • Sam Snead: 52 years, 10 months, 8 days, 1965 Greater Greensboro Open
  • Art Wall: 51 years, 7 months, 10 days, 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open
  • Davis Love III: 51 years, 4 months, 11 days, 2015 Wyndham Championship
  • Jim Barnes: 51 years, 3 months, 7 days, 1937 Long Island Open
  • John Barnum: 51 years, 1 month, 5 days, 1962 Cajun Classic
  • Fred Funk: 50 years, 8 months, 12 days, 2007 OHL Classic at Mayakoba
  • Craig Stadler: 50 years, 1 month, 18 days, 2003 B.C. Open

5. When Love played a twilight practice round with Woods Tuesday in Greensboro, it was so late in the day that some of the flags had already been removed from the greens. It seemed like an inconsequential nine-hole jaunt, but both Love and Woods found a little something this week in the Tar Heel State. Perhaps now more players will abandon the dewsweeping practice routine in favor of a "last man out" strategy.

6. Love wasn't the only guy to earn a spot at The Barclays at the buzzer, as Jason Gore, Jonas Blixt, Ryo Ishikawa and Camilo Villegas all cracked the FedEx Cup top 125 in the final event of the regular season. It was a more active bubble than in years past – only one player made it last year, and none the year prior - but it provided some compelling storylines (abacus optional) for one of the year's more underrated events.

Of course, there are always two sides to the bubble. In addition to the five players bumped out of the top 125, Scott Langley bogeyed four of his final six holes to finish 127th on the points list. 

7. Woods' appearance at Sedgefield was just the latest feather in the cap of a mid-level PGA Tour event this season. He also made an unexpected start in Phoenix, his first since 2001, and Jordan Spieth not only teed it up at the John Deere Classic as a two-time major champ, he won the thing. 

Top players will always rely on their status as independent contractors when crafting their schedules, but these appearances show that much can be gained from guys deviating from their typical slate and adding a one-off event every few years. 

8. Brooks Koepka keeps rolling along. Koepka got off to a slow start at Sedgefield, but he finished the week T-6 after missing just two greens in regulation over his final 41 holes. Koepka's record since mid-June: T-3, T-18, T-10, T-18, T-6, T-5, T-6. Attention, Captain Haas.

9. Speaking of Haas, son Bill has now played his way right onto the Presidents Cup bubble in his bid to earn a spot on the team captained by his father, Jay. Bill has had a, well, Haas-like season: a quietly consistent campaign, highlighted by his win in Palm Springs with a few top-10s sprinkled in for good measure.

It's unlikely that he would receive a captain's pick from his father - this isn't the board room or the NFL coaching carousel, where nepotism can reign supreme - so Haas will likely have to earn his spot in Korea the hard way over the next two weeks.

10. DeChambeau cruised to victory at the U.S. Amateur, joining some impressive company in the process. After capturing the NCAA individual title earlier this year, the SMU standout pulled off a double that only Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Woods and Ryan Moore had previously accomplished in the same year. That's a pretty good list. 

With his vector putting, unique clubs and methodical approach -  when was the last time you floated golf balls in epsom salt to identify imbalances? - DeChambeau stands out in a crowd. But his game has been doing plenty of talking this summer as well, and he has separated himself as a player to watch in the coming months and years.

11. Sean Crocker made waves during his run to the quarterfinals at Olympia Fields, largely for his on-course swagger. While some of his tactics bordered on poor etiquette - namely walking off the green before his opponent putted out - I'm all for players showing some emotions inside the ropes. Golf doesn't have to be a stuffy game with bland characters, and when players show some fiery reactions to shots, it makes the viewing more compelling. 

12. With the possible exception of taking 52-year-old Mike McCoy over four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Nathan Smith, the final U.S. Walker Cup roster didn't have much controversy. McCoy, Scott Harvey, Robby Shelton, Jordan Niebrugge and Denny McCarthy round out the American side for Royal Lytham, as McCarthy survived the prospect of getting bumped by former Virginia teammate and U.S. Amateur finalist Derek Bard.

Those roster decisions, however, don't take away from the fact that the entire selection process is shrouded in an level of secrecy that is unnecessary, if not counterproductive. 

13. It's been a bit of a quiet summer for Lydia Ko, as Inbee Park supplanted her atop the Rolex rankings and won the Ricoh Women's British Open. But Ko's playoff win at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open - the 18-year-old's eighth LPGA victory - proves that she is still one of the game's brightest stars. 

14. If Ko ever wants to leave New Zealand, she should probably just start house shopping north of the border. This was her third win in the last four years at the Canadian Open, and her second victory at Vancouver Golf Club, where she was already an honorary member after winning as a 15-year-old amateur in 2012.

Should the LPGA decide to revitalize the old du Maurier at some point - I mean, if you've got five majors, why not push for six? - Ko seems like a lock, regardless of venue.

15. Yet another close call for Stacy Lewis, whose season continues to be defined by her near-misses. Lewis remains the best American in the women's game, but she still hasn't won since last June and now has seven top-3 finishes this year. She'll get back in the winner's circle eventually, but you know what they say: the waiting is the hardest part. 

16. You might not have noticed, but Patton Kizzire is putting together a season to remember on the Tour. The Auburn product notched another victory Sunday at the News Sentinel Open, and his 2015 tally now reads as follows: 18 starts, 11 top-10 finishes, two wins and a pair of runner-up finishes. He has clearly been the best player this year on the developmental circuit.

17. What a season for Austin Cook. Beginning the year with no PGA Tour status and next to no status on the Tour, Cook used a combination of Monday qualifiers and top-10 finishes to burst onto the scene. The Wyndham was his seventh PGA Tour start of the year, and Cook racked up five top-25 finishes to the tune of $537,648. Talk about taking advantage of your opportunities.

18. Tiger's not the only big name missing the playoffs, as guys like Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer (more on him below) will also miss out. The PGA Tour is the biggest meritocracy in sports, and nowhere is that more evident than in the season-long standings. There are no sponsor exemptions into the playoffs. 

When you're a little-known professional making just his second start of the year on the European Tour, why not make a big splash? That's just what 27-year-old Andreas Harto did at the Made in Denmark, following a birdie on the par-3 16th with a proposal. His girlfriend said yes, the fans gathered on Himmerland Hill offered a hearty ovation, and the couple now has a top-shelf engagement story.

As far as golf course proposals go, it's not quite Mark Hubbard bending to one knee behind the 18th green at Pebble Beach, but still a solid effort:


A look at this week's award winners ... 

Need a Scheduling Mulligan (or two): Kaymer will miss the playoffs next week, but his struggles this season had even bigger ramifications. Because the Wyndham was only his 13th start of the season, Kaymer will lose his PGA Tour membership for next season despite wins at The Players and U.S. Open just last year. The Tour requires members to tee it up at least 15 times each season to maintain membership for the following year, so this seems like an unfortunate situation that could have easily been avoided with a few more "reps." 

The Streak Lives On: Despite a missed cut in Greensboro, Jeff Overton held onto the 125th spot in the FedEx Cup standings by the slimmest of margins over Will MacKenzie. It allowed Overton to maintain his run of making the postseason every year since its inception in 2007. Only 22 players can still make that claim, a group that includes a few of the usual suspects (Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia) as well as some guys whose consistency is underrated (Pat Perez, Rory Sabbatini, John Senden and Jerry Kelly). 

You Couldn't Have Felt That Twinge Last Night?: Erik Compton got off to a great start at Sedgefield, but he opted to withdraw prior to the third round because of an ankle injury. The only issue, though, was that exactly 70 players made the cut and had Compton withdrawn before close of business following the second round, the cut line would have been adjusted. Nineteen more players would have seen the weekend, including Ollie Schniederjans, who needed to make the cut to qualify for the Tour Finals.

Compton's decision certainly wasn't malicious, but the timing was unfortunate for several of the trunk-slammers leaving Greensboro Friday night. 

Best Video of the Week: When choosing between taking off your jacket and applauding an excellent shot, why not just go for both? 

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.