Just another comeback for Stricker at Riviera

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES ' With a history of comebacks, Steve Stricker is hopeful of another one at the Northern Trust Open.
 
A month after his meltdown in the final round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Stricker put together a 5-under 66 on Friday and was tied for the lead with Tommy Armour among early finishers at Riviera.
 
Phil Mickelson, who opened with a 63 for the first-round lead, was among those playing in the afternoon.
 
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker's Friday 66 has him in contention entering the weekend. (Getty Images)
In more gorgeous conditions, Stricker hit a 7-iron to 5 feet for eagle on the par-5 first hole, then atoned for his lone bogey by hitting a 4-iron to 4 feet on the par-3 sixth, which played 202 yards with a bunker in the middle of the green.
 
Armour, a 49-year-old who has yet to make a cut this year, made a terrific par save on his opening hole at No. 10 that settled him down, and picked up the pace on his back nine for another 67.
 
Stricker and Armour were at 8-under 134.
 
One shot behind was a group that included Kapalua winner Geoff Ogilvy (67), K.J. Choi (69), Pat Perez (66) and Rory Sabbatini (67).
 
Stricker became a footnote in PGA Tour history when he was voted comeback player of the year in consecutive seasons ' first when he went from not having a full card to 34th on the money list in 2006, the next year by moving up to No. 4 in the world.
 
The latest crisis was simply one bad round on a windy day in the California desert.
 
Stricker was in command at the Bob Hope Classic until hitting one tee shot out-of-bounds and his next shot into the water, scrambling to escape with a quadruple-bogey that ended his hopes of winning.
 
He played the next week in Phoenix and missed the cut.
 
That one stuck with me, Stricker said. The next week in Phoenix, I shouldnt even have played. I should have just gone home. Mentally, I wasnt in it, down in the dumps. It just felt like I threw a tournament away with a real good opportunity to win.
 
The two-week break at home in Wisconsin was planned all along, but could not have come at a better time.
 
Stricker spent a week taking his daughter to school, working on his tennis game so he could compete against his wife, and putting three bad rounds in the desert behind him.
 
Losing a tournament in howling wind is no reason to panic, and he figured that out.
 
Ive had to pick myself up a number of times out here on tour, so Im used to it, he said. You need to move on, and just try to keep doing what you know how to do. And for me, thats working at it and trying to get better and try to get myself in that position again.
 
Armour has been out here too long to get overly worried by a bad start. He didnt play too badly in missing the cut at the Hope and Phoenix, but he was 10-over par last week at Pebble Beach when he said he played terrible.
 
Just needed to tighten it up a little, Armour said.
 
Among the late starters were 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, who was at 2 over through six holes as he tried to make the cut; and Vincent Johnson, playing on the Charlie Sifford Exemption. Both are playing on the PGA Tour for the first time.
 
Johnson birdied two of the first three holes, but ran into trouble on the fifth when his ball moved as he placed his wedge behind it for a chip shot. He wasnt sure if it moved, and eventually was assessed a two-shot penalty for a triple bogey.
 
Divots:
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger was paired with the next U.S. captain, Corey Pavin. Azinger opened with a 67, but followed with a 76 and was likely to miss the cut. Pavin, wearing a Ryder Cup logo on the back of his collar, had rounds of 73-78. Sabbatinis 67 began with a tee shot that went out-of-bounds on the first hole.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Northern Trust Open
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.