Lefty Stays Positive after Opening-Round 76

By Associated PressApril 5, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- On a day when the winds swirled and the greens hardened, Phil Mickelson carried two drivers in his bag to try and better navigate his way around Augusta National.
He might have had a better chance using two putters.
The drivers certainly didn't do much for Mickelson, who found himself constantly having to hit out of trees and fairway bunkers in a front nine Thursday that did some damage to his hopes of becoming only the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters.
Phil Mickelson
Defending champion Phil Mickelson had a tough go of it Thursday at Augusta. (WireImage)
But it was on the greens where the real trouble lurked, with Mickelson chunking one chip and missing a handful of short putts before rebounding with three clutch putts down the stretch for a 4-over 76 that could have been a lot worse.
'I'm not as concerned about the driver as some of the short putts I missed,' Mickelson said. 'You gotta make the short ones. If I make the short ones, I'm even par.'
Mickelson played the final four holes 2 under par, following a short birdie putt on the par-5 15th with a 30-footer for birdie on the 16th. He then saved par with a 15-footer on 17 after hitting yet another drive into the trees, and finished with a routine par.
It wasn't pretty, but it left the defending champion feeling a little better about his chances of being in contention on the weekend.
'Even par is going to be in the hunt tomorrow,' he said. 'If I can go out there and shoot a solid 68, I'm in contention.'
For a time in Thursday's opening round, it appeared Mickelson was headed not for a 68 but a 78.
In trouble right off the opening tee when he let a tee shot slide into the pine straw on the left, he made bogey there and the fun was just beginning. After a birdie at the short par-4 third hole, Lefty played the next four holes 5 over, including a double bogey from the bushes on No. 5.
He was going nowhere fast when he walked down the eighth fairway and told caddie Jim Mackay that his new goal for the day was now to shoot under par on the remaining 11 holes.
Mission accomplished on that one, though things looked dicey after Mickelson bogeyed both the 12th and 14th holes before rebounding with his two straight birdies.
'I accomplished a mini-goal, if you will,' Mickelson said.
Smaller goals were the story of the day all around Augusta National, where firm greens and sometimes tricky gusts caused scores to soar. The 76 tied Mickelson's worst round ever in the Masters, but didn't put him in immediate danger of missing the cut like he did the last time he shot 76 in the opening round 10 years ago.
Still, no one has ever won the Masters after shooting higher than 75 on Thursday. And Mickelson came to Augusta to win a third green jacket, not get a top 10 finish.
'There's birdies out there,' Mickelson said. 'It was tough in swirling winds and with the greens so firm. But I didn't feel it was unmanageable by any means.'
What was unmanageable was Mickelson's putter, which has let Lefty down at crucial times in the past, especially on the short ones. And making short putts is a must on Augusta's slick and undulating greens that proved so frustrating to Mickelson in the first round.
That's why Mickelson went directly from the 18th green to the practice putting green, where he immediately started stroking 5-footers under the watchful eye of his coach, Rick Smith.
Mickelson has traditionally ranked as one of the best putters in the Masters, a big reason why he has won two of the last three. He needed 30 putts in the opening round, not a bad number, but many of them were short putts for par because Mickelson also kept missing fairways and greens.
Even with two drivers in the bag for proper trajectory and position, he hit only six of Augusta National's 14 ample fairways. He putted for birdie only eight times, making four of them against six bogeys and a double bogey.
Even worse by Mickelson standards was that he stubbed a chip and made bogey on No. 7.
He wasn't going to blame the conditions, though, and said he thought the course played fair.
'I thought the course was set up fine,' he said. 'It's a tough course and a tough setup for everybody.'
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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.


    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.