With rounds of 62-64, Keith Mitchell grabs CJ Cup lead and is proving Rory McIlroy knows what he's talking about

True to Rory McIlroy’s words, Keith Mitchell has played lights out this week.

With rounds of 62-64, Keith Mitchell grabs CJ Cup lead and is proving Rory McIlroy knows what he's talking about

LAS VEGAS – When speaking to the depth of talent in professional golf earlier this week, Rory McIlroy took his mind back to the final round of this year’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.

He was paired with Keith Mitchell in the final group, with Mitchell two shots ahead with 18 to play. McIlroy, who went on to win that day, knew right away he would have his hands full dealing with Mitchell.

“The talent is so deep that people wouldn’t maybe pick a Keith Mitchell to win a tournament at the start of a week, but you play with him in a final round on a Sunday, he stopped me in my tracks. I was like, he is a hell of a player,” McIlroy said. “He came out and he hits it in the left bunker on 1, hits an unbelievable 7‑iron to like 10 feet and holes the putt.

“And people don’t realize you could say that about 100 guys out there, depending on who you play with. I think that just sort of illustrates how deep the fields are.”

True to McIlroy’s words, Mitchell’s been a hell of a player this week.

A day after opening with a 10-under-par 62 in the first round of the CJ Cup at The Summit, Mitchell tacked on a 64 Friday to grab the 36-hole lead at 18 under. He is five shots clear of Jordan Spieth (66-65), Harry Higgs (64-67), Seonghyeon Kim (68-63) and Adam Scott (68-63). Scott made four birdies and two eagles in his last seven holes.

Mitchell has made 17 birdies and an eagle his first two trips around the soft, windless course, with his only blemish on the card being a bogey on the par-3 11th on Friday when he missed the green.

Mitchell, who tied a PGA Tour record earlier this year by making seven consecutive birdies to start the third round in the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota, was on pace to match or break Justin Thomas’ PGA Tour record for lowest total after 36 holes. Mitchell’s 126 total fell three shots short of Thomas, who began the 2017 Sony Open with rounds of 59-64.

“I spent a lot of time in the last few days leading up to this tournament working hard on my game and it’s showing,” said Mitchell, who is trying to win for the second time on the PGA Tour. “I’m very thankful for that. Just shows you that hard work pays off as long as you’re doing the right things. My putter’s definitely been nice, and my speed has been a lot better this week.

“If those two things stay through this weekend, hopefully I can keep hitting in some quality shots and capitalizing.”

Hearing the words of McIlroy also gave him some extra juice.

“Everything that Rory says always seems to be the right thing and he usually means it, which is rare these days. So when he gives you a compliment like that, it’s pretty deep,” Mitchell said. “I mean, it means a lot to me because he’s a superstar in our game and I’m not even close to that. So when he calls you out unannounced, it does mean a lot.

“A compliment from anybody out here is special but coming from him is huge.”

Mitchell’s lone PGA Tour title came in the 2019 Honda Classic when he birdied the last hole to beat Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one. He’s weathered through some lean times of late, with only five top-10s in his last 51 Tour starts. But his confidence has never been higher as he looks to win his second Tour title.

“It’s been hard, but I had a really good run with Rory at Wells Fargo. I thought I had that one. He made some incredible putts down the stretch and it was close. I don’t want to count that one as a win, but I count that as being in contention,” Mitchell said. “When you’re in contention like that, a lot of it comes down to the last few holes, getting lucky or making a putt or two. Hopefully those can fall in my cards this week as long as I can continue the play that I’m having because definitely (trying to win) the second one for me has seemed to be a lot harder.”

Mitchell started his fifth season on the PGA Tour by missing his first two cuts. But now he feels he’s ready to tackle a specific goal he formulated in the offseason.

“I felt like I’ve either had the game, the potential I should say, to play a lot better than I have on a consistent basis,” he said. “I just wanted to take this year and just try to be as consistent as possible because I felt like feast or famine was kind of my game the last four years and I wanted to be a little bit more consistent, a little bit more patient. Play like a Tour pro and not just like a young kid out there firing at flags. It’s a lot harder to do than I thought, but when your putter’s hot like it was the last couple days, it kind of just makes up for the rest.”

Source : Golf Week More   

What's Your Reaction?


Next Article

Adam Scott burns bright at end with four birdies, two eagles in seven holes, moves into contention at CJ Cup

Fortunes can turn quickly in Vegas. Sometimes to the good, more often to the bad. For Adam Scott, it was to the better.

Adam Scott burns bright at end with four birdies, two eagles in seven holes, moves into contention at CJ Cup

LAS VEGAS – Fortunes can turn quickly in Las Vegas.

Sometimes to the good, more often to the bad.

For Adam Scott, it was to the better.

The 2013 Masters champion was moseying around The Summit Club during Friday’s second round of the CJ Cup, heading to the 12th tee after consecutive bogeys and seeing he was 13 shots behind leader Keith Mitchell.

Then the man from Down Under started to go way under par.

Over his last seven holes, Scott made four birdies and two eagles to suddenly jump up the scoreboard into a tie for second place. Scott finished with a 9-under 63 to move to 13 under, five shots behind leader Keith Mitchell.

Scott was sterling as he made birdies from 2 feet on 12, 5 feet on 13, 4 feet on 15 and nine feet on 17. His eagle on the par-5 14th came from three feet, his eagle on the par-5 18th from five. His lone non-circle hole came on the par-3 16th where he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker for par.

Scott is trying to win his 15th PGA Tour title and first since the 2020 Genesis Invitational.

“You can’t expect a finish like that, but I’m going to take it,” Scott said. “I hit a lot of shots close and that made light work with the putter. Put myself in contention. I mean, I’m a long way back still, but 36 holes to go, I like where I’m at, moving in the right direction. I’d love to have a nice solid day tomorrow.

“Hopefully that wasn’t all the wind in my sail.”

Scott started sailing after making bogeys at 10 and 11 and falling well behind.

“Felt like I was playing in another tournament,” he said. “I needed to get something going.”

He got it going, indeed.

“I needed to just play aggressive and I went driver off the tee at 14, which is maybe unusual to say for a par‑5, but a lot of guys are not hitting driver. I just thought, well, if I want to have a chance at this tournament, I’ve got to probably hit one up there,” he said. “Hit an iron on the green close and make an eagle and that’s what I did. I hit a 6‑iron in and it rolled down to a couple of feet.

“Then on 18 I hit a poor drive actually, hung it out to the right in a bunker, but I had a good yardage and I had a good lie and I hit a 5‑iron, got it online and finished about five feet from the hole.

“I can handle those eagle putts.”

Source : Golf Week More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.