Mickelson Cautiously Optimistic at FBR

By Associated PressFebruary 1, 2006, 5:00 pm
2006 FBR OpenSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Mickelson loves the FBR Open, and the feeling is mutual.
He used to live in Scottsdale, and the rowdy crowds that flood the Tournament Players Championship Course still consider him one of their own. Mickelson won the tournament twice, in 1996 and last year, when he tied the course record with an 11-under-par 60 in the second round.
It was his best 18-hole score and, he said, the best round of his life.
'This is one of my favorite weeks,' Mickelson said Wednesday before his pro-am round. 'There's a feeling we get at this course, with this many people, that we don't get anywhere else. It's pretty cool to have a chance to have won it now a couple of times.'
Mickelson and Vijay Singh lead a field that will begin play Thursday on the par-71, 7,216-yard course. Tiger Woods hasn't played in the event since 2001. He reportedly is getting $3 million to play in this week's Dubai Desert Classic.
So Mickelson is everybody's favorite in a tournament he hopes will kick-start his season, just as it did last year. Mickelson had an erratic final round to finish two shots behind Woods, Jose Maria Olazabal and Nathan Green at last weekend's Buick Invitational. Woods won the tournament in a playoff.
'I've had a couple of chances but haven't really played very well,' Mickelson said. 'But I've been able to get the ball in the hole and get in contention.'
He said he's made a few adjustments after talking with instructors Rick Smith and Dave Pelz.
'I think I may have ironed out a few things,' Mickelson said. 'I went out and played yesterday, and it seemed to be a little bit better, so I'm cautiously optimistic about playing well this week.'
The left-hander's big drives should bounce even farther on the dry fairways.
The Phoenix area has gone a record 105 days without rain, and sunshine with temperatures in the mid to high 70s is forecast through the weekend. Sprinklers can do only so much to soften the terrain.
'It will be a matter of guys trying to hit driver, trying to knock it on the surface of (the par-5) 17, trying to have short irons or mid irons into the par 5s. I think the weather will be a big factor,' Mickelson said.
Booming shots should mean shrinking scores, unlike last year, when wind played havoc with the first round.
'The first day was brutal,' Mickelson recalled. 'Balls were rolling off the greens, and yet we still played, and you just tried to hang in there, and then when the wind died down, turn it on and try to make some birdies.
'This week I think it's going to be more of a shootout. It looks like it's going to be beautiful weather. I think we're going to see a lot of low scores.
Mickelson has earned $1.6 million at the FBR Open, formerly known as the Phoenix Open. That's more than any other golfer. This year's winner gets $936,000.
Some golfers don't like the raucous atmosphere on the north Scottsdale course, where a crowd of 165,168 was reported for last year's third round. The atmosphere is especially unusual on the par-3 16th hole, where the crowd surrounds the entire hole like a football stadium, cheering boisterously and singing the college fight songs of some of the golfers. They even boo bad shots.
Camilo Villegas, the 24-year-old Colombian given a sponsor's exemption to compete, said he can't wait.
'I've heard many stories, and I'm looking forward to that 16th tee,' Villegas said. 'Hopefully I'll hit it on the green. I don't want any boos.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - FBR Open
  • Getty Images

    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

    Getty Images

    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

    Getty Images

    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

    Getty Images

    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.