Double Defense for Tiger - and a Hangover

By Associated PressMarch 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipMIAMI -- Not even Tiger Woods was sure how he would introduce himself on the first tee at Doral, only that the words 'defending champion' would be appropriate in some capacity.
 
But defending champion of what?
 
Or is it where?
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods had some sand issues in Wednesday's practice round. (WireImage)
Woods has won the last two years on the Blue Monster, beating Phil Mickelson in a terrific duel in 2005, then holding off David Toms to win by one shot the following season. Both those victories came at regular PGA TOUR events featuring a 144-man field.
 
Now this is called the CA Championship, and it's a World Golf Championship with a 73-man field.
 
It used to be known as the American Express Championship, and Woods has won that tournament the last two years, too. He beat John Daly in a playoff at Harding Park in 2005, then blew away his alleged competition at The Grove outside London last fall to win by eight.
 
'Multiple defending champion?' Woods asked as he walked out the door. 'Have I ever done that? I don't know. Go look it up.'
 
No matter how anyone looks at it, he figures to be a strong favorite when the tournament begins Thursday. The debate is whether his advantage stems from being at Doral or being at a World Golf Championship.
 
Woods practically owns the WGC events, especially this format that invites the top 50 in the world ranking and leading money winners from the six major tours around the world.
 
The CA Championship, name change notwithstanding, is one of three tournaments he has won five times. The others are the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines and the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
 
What makes this one more unique is he has won on five courses in four countries -- Valderrama in Spain (1999), Mount Juliet in Ireland (2002), Capital City Club in Atlanta (2003), Harding Park and The Grove.
 
Why so much success?
 
'I don't know. He just plays well at them, I guess,' Sergio Garcia said. 'You ask him and let me know.'
 
It helps to have fewer players to beat. Only 73 players have qualified this week, and some of them -- Pram Meesawat of Thailand and Anton Haig of South Africa -- are making their U.S. debut in professional golf.
 
But if that were the case, it would be easier on everybody.
 
'Usually, that's how many are here once they make a cut,' Toms said.
 
No doubt, the tournament is different this year. Doral usually leads off the Florida Swing, and this year it's in the clean-up spot. Instead of players just starting to think about the Masters, the first major is right around the corner.
 
Toms noticed something else during his practice round on the Blue Monster -- quiet.
 
There was no pro-am, so players were able to play practice whenever they wanted. And all 73 are guaranteed a paycheck this week because the WGCs have no cut.
 
'Even though it's a very important event and very big event, it seems like guys approach it a little more low-key,' Toms said. 'I don't know if it's because there's no cut or they have got that guaranteed check or whatever it might be. It has a nice atmosphere to it.'
 
Woods had his own atmosphere Wednesday morning.
 
The size of his gallery was only about 300 people, and their attention was divided inside and outside the ropes. They had their choice between the No. 1 golfer in the world playing a practice round, and the No. 1 tennis player in the world watching him.
 
Roger Federer walked the back nine with Woods, both IMG clients who struck up a friendship last summer and had dinner Tuesday night on Woods' yacht. Woods said he will be in Key Biscayne on Saturday night when Federer plays his first match in the Sony Ericsson Open.
 
'It was great to have him out here,' Woods said. 'I think he's a wonderful supporter of golf, and I think it's pretty neat when you have probably the most dominant athlete on the planet out there in your gallery.'
 
Federer even got a chance to see Woods hit a tee shot into the water.
 
He missed the ending of Bay Hill last week, which has been somewhat of a hangover for Woods. Trying to catch the leaders, he took two double bogeys and a triple bogey on the back nine on his way to a 43 for a final round 76.
 
It was particularly ugly at the end -- Woods took bogey on the 16th, hit his tee shot into the water on the 17th for a double bogey, then hit his approach into the lake next to the 18th green for a triple bogey.
 
'But the other 69 holes, I made some mistakes along the way that I need to rectify,' Woods said. 'You can't look at it just one hole, one shot. Because I made too many mistakes throughout the entire tournament that going into Sunday, I probably should have been right next to the lead, if not leading.'
 
Woods said some of those errors were club selection on some of the holes, what he hit off the tee, his approach shots.
 
'I kept making silly mistakes -- mistakes I don't normally make,' he said.
 
That would be the second straight tournament that he erred on the mental side, coming off a third-round loss in the Accenture Match Play Championship when he said he failed to detect a ball mark in the line of a 4-foot putt against Nick O'Hern.
 
Those are issues he will want to sort out with the Masters only two weeks away.
 
Given his history at Doral -- and this tournament -- it might not be a bad time for him to fix it.
 
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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.