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    Player News: Week 17

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Alex Cejka concocted a bogey-free, 6-under-par 33-33=66 during round one of the Desert Classic, tossing his name up the leaderboard while facing off with the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA WEST.

The Las Vegas resident is making his 12th appearance at the Desert Classic. Highlights include top 15s in 2011 and 2015 but he's finished T30 or worse in all other nine trips. Cejka knew this was going to be a special round early in the day when he holed out for birdie at the par-4 first hole. He added a second hole out for birdie just two holes later. Despite the pair of hole outs, Cejka still needed 26 putts to finish his round. Cejka has battled with some injuries over the last few years but he remains a strong fantasy option when healthy.
Jan 17 - 7:47 PM

Trey Mullinax made quick work of the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA WEST during round one of the Desert Classic, turning in a bogey-free, 7-under-par 32-33=65 to sit inside the top 10 on the live leaderboard.

The big hitter piped 10 (of 14) fairways on his way toward 13 greens in regulation. He started on the 10th tee and needed 14 putts before the turn, circling three birdies in the process. He picked up the pace a little on his way into the clubhouse and that included a hole out for birdie at the par-3 third hole. This is Mullinax' third appearance at the event and his first two results were T50 and T57. Despite the easy scoring conditions, this is just his third sub-70 round in nine tries here. His low round at the Desert Classic is a 64 which he fired in R2 of last year's edition (La Quinta Country Club). That is the course he'll face on Saturday but first he'll face off with the more difficult Stadium Course at PGA WEST on Friday.
Jan 17 - 7:38 PM

Adam Hadwin started on the toughest of the three layouts but still managed a 7-under-par 34-31=65 during round one of the Desert Classic, placing him inside the top 5 on the live leaderboard with play winding down on Thursday.

The Canadian posted a T48 in his 2015 Desert Classic debut. He's turned it up a notch since the switch to the current course rotation, though, posting three straight top 10s. Hadwin started this week on the Stadium Course at PGA WEST which is playing more than a shot tougher than both of the other layouts. That didn't stop the Canuck from racking up six birdies and an eagle to offset a lone blemish. Most of the heavy lifting came on the homeward nine, including a pair of birdie conversions from the 16-to-22 foot range in addition to a 60-yard hole out for eagle at the par-5 16th. Hadwin is currently the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to golfers that teed off at the Stadium Course today. Playing his 17th round at this event, this is his seventh round recorded at 66 or better.
Jan 17 - 7:23 PM

Wyndham Clark cruised to a bogey-free, 7-under-par 32-33=65 during round one of the Desert Classic, good for an early seat inside the top 10 but five off the pacesetter Phil Mickelson.

Getting his week started at La Quinta Country Club, Clark peppered 15 greens in regulation and paid off seven birdies. He's making his tournament debut this week but he likely feels comfortable in the desert since he's set up shop in Las Vegas, playing out of TPC Summerlin. The University of Oregon standout is still searching for his breakout week on the big stage. His previous low is a solo 17th (2017 Sanderson Farms Championship). That remains his only top 25 in 14 career starts but that could easily change by week's end. Next up, he'll head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course on Friday. This may be his new best on the PGA TOUR but it falls three shy of his personal best on the Web.com Tour (R3/2018 Lincoln Land Championship). He backed it up with a 67 to finish T5 that week.
Jan 17 - 7:14 PM

Martin Laird is making his first start of the new year but showed no signs of rust as he sprinted to a 7-under-par 33-32=65 during round one of the Desert Classic, placing him five shots off the torrid pace set by Phil Mickelson.

Laird took a lot of stress off himself by splitting 13 (of 14) fairways and from there he was able to land 16 greens in regulation. The field is currently tearing through the Tournament Course (69.57) but this beats the field average by over 4.5 strokes. Laird is no stranger to this event as he's making his 12th start in Palm Springs with a five-pack of top 25s on his tournament resume. If there was any rust in his game it came with the putter as he needed 27 putts on his way around the Nicklaus Tourney course. That's not such a high number in most events but this event presents pristine conditions and easy pin placements. This is Laird's lowest lap at this event since a 64 during round three of the 2011 edition.
Jan 17 - 6:15 PM

Phil Mickelson was flirting with 59 during round one of the Desert Classic but settled for a bogey-free, 12-under-par 30-30=60 while battling La Quinta Country Club to match his career-low round and lead the field early in Palm Springs.

Mickelson may have fooled gamers with his pre-tournament tweet that read, "I’m excited to start another year on tour at the Desert Classic! Although - I’m a bit rusty, I’m also fresh and ready to get started." The rust disappeared quickly after the morning fog delay as he striped 10 (of 14) fairways and pelted 14 greens. It was a hot putter that sealed the deal as he needed just 21 putts today, including just nine on the homeward nine. Highlights included an eagle at the par-5 sixth and a chip-in birdie at the par-4 14th. This is the third time in his career he's posted a round of 60 on the PGA TOUR with both of the previous instances coming at TPC Scottsdale (2005, 2013). Mickelson has converted 8 of his last 15 first-round leads/co-leads into victories but just one of his last seven.
Jan 17 - 6:08 PM

Curtis Luck roared out of the gate during round one of the Desert Classic, carding a bogey-free, 8-under-par 32-32=64 while taking on La Quinta Country Club, placing him inside the top three on the live leaderboard.

The Aussie entered the week with four straight missed cuts worldwide and then a pre-tourney WD last week at the Sony Open. A little time off served him well as he was firing on all cylinders today. Luck split nine (of 14) fairways and then landed 13 greens in regulation. Those numbers don't leap off the page but he did hole out for par at the opening par-4 first and needed just 23 putts to make his way around. It was a tidy short game that glued this round together. Luck's previous low on the PGA TOUR was a R3 67 during the 2017 Quicken Loans National. He did manage a 62 during R3 of the 2016 Western Australian Open (PGA TOUR of Australasia).
Jan 17 - 5:58 PM

Julian Suri underwent surgery for a core muscle injury and currently has no timetable for return.

Suri provided an update via social media by stating, "I’m excited to say I underwent surgery at the Vincera Institute this morning to repair a core muscle injury that has bothered me for the past 10 weeks I’m determined to come back stronger than ever..." Suri was an 11th-hour WD ahead of the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November. It seemed like a minor injury at the time but we now know that wasn't the case. The Duke University product has no status on the PGA TOUR but he did finish 35th in the Race to Dubai last year on the European Tour. The 27-year-old still provides a lot of value for dynasty gamers but we have no timetable for how soon he'll be able to return to action.
Jan 17 - 4:29 PM
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