Lefty Happy to be Back at Sawgrass

By Associated PressMarch 25, 2004, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Phil Mickelson was reminded at The Players Championship how so much has changed in one year.
 
He missed the tournament last year for the second time in his career because his wife, Amy, gave birth to their third child. Only later did Mickelson disclose that he was close to losing both his son, Evan Samuel, and his wife during a difficult delivery.
 
They celebrated his first birthday Tuesday.
 
'We had a nice little party, so it's nice to be back out playing,' Mickelson said. 'We obviously had a tough year last year and missed a bunch of tournaments at this time.'
 
Lefty went on to have his toughest season on the course, finishing out of the top 30 for the first time. But he put that behind him quickly, winning the Bob Hope Classic in his first start of the year, then following that with top-10 finishes in his next four tournaments.
 
What does Sawgrass hold for him?
 
Mickelson has never played well at The Players Championship, missing the cut four times and only breaking 70 four times in 32 rounds. His best finish was a tie for eighth in 1998.
 
Mickelson is coming off a two-week break, during which he took a family vacation.
 
'I haven't played the last two weeks. Typically, when I don't play for a couple of weeks, the first couple of holes I'm on edge as far how the round will go. This is a golf course that penalizes a miss much more than other courses.'
 
CADDIE SHOT
 
Kevin Sutherland was among the first players on the practice range Wednesday morning, but he didn't hit the first shot. That belonged to his caddie, John Wood, who took one shot with a 9-iron.
 
Wood had good reason -- Wednesday is when caddies hit a tee shot on the island-green 17th.
 
The closest to the pin was Robert Ames, the brother of Stephen Ames, who hit his shot to about 4 feet.
 
So many other players were disappointed.
 
Phil Mickelson was asked about his guy, Jim 'Bones' McKay, whose handicap is in the single digits.
 
'Bones,' Mickelson moaned, reliving the shot. 'He fatted a wedge. There was just a little right-to-left wind, and he tried to hit this big hook and caught it heavy.'
 
And John 'Cubby' Burke, the caddie for Davis Love III?
 
'Water,' Love said.
 
Brennan Little, the caddie for Masters champion Mike Weir, found land and would have hit a great shot, except the pin was back center, and Little pushed it to the right.
 
'He hit it over the Sunday pin,' said Weir, who used to compete against Little during their junior days in Canada. 'He was trying to blame me for the wrong club, but I wouldn't let him get away with that. He didn't hit a very good shot.'
 
It wasn't all for fun.
 
Players used to chip in money, and the winning caddie got the pot. This year, Wood spearheaded a move to donate the money to 'Drive 4 Life,' the charity launched last year by Bruce Edwards and Tom Watson to seek a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. Edwards, a longtime caddie, is dying from the disease.
 
Players donated $8,250 to the pot this year, and the PGA Tour chipped in $5,000. Ames received $1,000 of the collection, meaning the contest raised $12,250 to the charity.
 
WEDGE ON DISPLAY
 
Augusta National Golf Club always asks its Masters champion to donate a club to the trophy room that was instrumental in the victory.
 
For Mike Weir, it was an easy choice -- his wedge.
 
'I hit so many great wedge shots that week,' Weir said. 'My putting was great, too. But I didn't' want to give up my putter. I figured I could part with my wedge.'
 
One of his biggest shots Sunday was a wedge into 5 feet for birdie on the par-5 15th, enabling Weir to pull into a tie with Len Mattiace. After making 6-foot par putts on the final two holes, Weir won in a playoff.
 
VICE CAPTAIN
 
Two assistant captains at the Ryder Cup have one thing in common -- no previous experience.
 
European captain Bernhard Langer on Wednesday announced that Anders Forsbrand of Sweden will be his vice captain for the Sept. 17-19 matches at Oakland Hills.
 
Forsbrand never played in a Ryder Cup; neither did Steve Jones, one of Hal Sutton's assistants.
 
'Anders has enormous respect throughout the world of golf, and with 22 years of competing on the European tour, he is well-known to all our players,' Langer said.
 
Forsbrand won six times in Europe, and also represented Sweden in the World Cup and Dunhill Cup.
 
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    Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

    By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

    Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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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.


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    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.