Campbell Blows in Masters Lead

By Associated PressApril 7, 2006, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There's no mistaking this place for Augusta National.
 
Azaleas are bursting with pink, white and purple blooms. The wind swirls down at Amen Corner, turning good shots into bogeys or worse, and Rae's Creek is as scary as ever.
 
Chad Campbell
Chad Campbell is in search of his first major championship victory.
Everything else about this Masters, however, is starting to resemble the U.S. Open.
 
Chad Campbell kept his mistakes to a minimum in Friday's second round, turning three straight birdies into a 5-under 67 and taking a three-shot lead over Vijay Singh, Fred Couples and Rocco Mediate.
 
'I don't think there's anything to celebrate yet,' said Campbell, who was at 6-under 138. 'I haven't really accomplished much yet. We're only halfway through.'
 
Campbell's birdie run through the back nine was about the only thing resembling a charge that typically defines this major. Everyone else was hanging on, happy with par, trying to survive what is shaping up as the toughest test in golf.
 
Just like so many U.S. Opens, the goal was to keep the ball in play off the tee and go from there.
 
'You play away from flags here like you do at U.S. Opens,' Ernie Els, who has won the Open twice, said after his second straight 71. 'The only difference is the rough is not as high. Give that some time.'
 
And as Els looked ahead to a weekend in which 15 players were within five shots of the lead -- including defending champion Tiger Woods -- he expected something else that reminds him of that other major held in June.
 
'You don't want to get too aggressive here at the moment, the way the golf course is playing,' he said. 'I can see a lot of backtracking over the weekend at some stages in this tournament.'
 
For now, much depends on Campbell.
 
He is a khakis-and-a-white-shirt player in an arena of dogwoods and magnolias, a prototype U.S. Open golfer who digs shots out of the dirt. The firm, crusty conditions over two days has shortened this beefy course and helped medium-length hitters like Campbell, who once described his driving distance in relation to a steak -- medium, left on the grill two extra minutes.
 
Campbell began his surge at Amen Corner, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th that drew virtually no applause. He laid up on the par-5 13th and made a 10-foot birdie, then hit a 9-iron to a back pin on the 14th that stopped 6 feet away. His final birdie, a 15-foot putt that swirled into the hole, gave him a comfortable margin.
 
But as so many others learned, no lead is safe.
 
Singh birdied two of his first three holes and appeared to be in command until hitting two shots he thought were perfect. A 6-iron went over the fourth green and into the bushes, and a 7-iron went over the fifth green into a bunker. Singh made double bogey on both holes, and the gallery gasped as it watched him tumble down the leaderboard.
 
For good measure, Singh found Rae's Creek on the 13th for another double bogey. He wound up with a 74, bruised but not out of it.
 
'I don't think I've ever had back-to-back doubles for a long, long time,' Singh said. 'I'm happy that I hung in there. I didn't give up. I cannot win the tournament today. I just made sure I wasn't going to lose too many shots.'
 
Fred Couples, who has never missed a cut at the Masters, was poised to join Campbell in the lead until his second shot in the par-5 15th came up short and rolled back into the water. He managed a 70, while Mediate ground out a 73.
 
Mediate has been struggling on the PGA Tour, but got into the Masters because he tied for sixth last year in the U.S. Open. Clearly, he likes this kind of golf.
 
Phil Mickelson
It wasn't all smiles for Phil Mickelson Friday, as he had four bogeys to go along with four birdies.
'I hit a few good-looking shots that turned out horrible,' Mediate said. 'Just to be in this position to have a shot, that's all I can ask for. It's the ultimate examination, this golf course.'
 
It proved plenty tough for Woods again, although he was very much in the picture. He made short work of the par 5s on the back nine, two-putting for birdie on both of them, but was disgusted by missing birdie putts of 8 feet on the 16th and 18th holes that could have brought him closer to the lead.
 
Instead, he was at 1-under 143 and in a group that included two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (73) and Ben Crenshaw, the two-time Masters champion who shot 72. At age 54, he's wondering when his improbable run is going to end.
 
'I'm in contention, so it's a good spot,' Woods said.
 
The group at 2-under 142 included Els, Darren Clarke (70), Tim Clark of South Africa (72), David Howell of England (71) and former Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who kept his round together with clutch par saves, but failed to shoot up the leaderboard by missing putts after spectacular shots.
 
His best one might have been for bogey.
 
Mickelson posed over a 6-iron into the back right hole location on the 11th, only to feel the wind shift on his face -- switching from left to right -- enough to gently push his ball into the water. From behind the pond, he fired a long chip that stopped 6 feet from the hole and enabled him to escape with only a bogey.
 
He traded birdies and bogeys the rest of the way in his round of 72.
 
'I would not say it resembles the U.S. Open because the rough isn't rough -- it's first cut,' Mickelson said, referring to the grass that grows just under two inches. 'But the penalty for a missed tee shot on a number of holes now is U.S. Open-type penalties.'
 
The leaderboard might be the best indicator.
 
Even with Campbell ahead by three shots, this Masters appears to be wide open with some of the strongest games in golf -- from Singh to Mickelson to Els to Woods to Goosen, all members of the so-called Big Five.
 
The only thing that could transfer Augusta National back to its old self is rain, and there is a chance for that Saturday.
 
'Unless we get rain to soften it up, if it's windy then 2 or 3 under might not win,' Couples said.
 
Perhaps no one is more desperate to wear a green jacket than Els, who has been runner-up twice at Augusta National since 2000, and is still smarting from losing a duel to Mickelson two years ago. He closed with 67 in 2004; he was happy with 71-71 this year.
 
'I've just got to try and sneak something into the 60s over the weekend and see what happens,' Els said. 'At least I know you don't have to try and shoot 65 to win.'
 
Related Links:
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    Rahm (62) fires career low round

    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

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    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."