Mickelson with different plan heading to Masters

By Associated PressMarch 15, 2010, 5:00 am

2010 WGC-CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. – Phil Mickelson has had a different schedule than usual this year, and that’ll continue leading into the Masters.

Mickelson says the reason he decided to add Bay Hill was twofold – one, he wanted to get a certain number of tournaments in before Augusta, and two, his game simply isn’t where he wants it to be yet.

“I am not playing as, or scoring, I should say, as well as I need to heading into Augusta,” Mickelson said Sunday, after his final-round 68 left him at 8-under 280 for the week.

Mickelson won at Doral a year ago.

He was bothered a bit by an elbow stinger on Saturday, but said the problem “went away” before the final round.

THE KUCH IS LOOSE: Matt Kuchar came into this season with three top-three finishes in his last 52 PGA Tour starts.

So far in 2010, he’s 3-for-8.

Kuchar capped off a strong weekend at Doral with a final-round 68, and he finished the CA Championship at 11-under 277 and tied for third, seven shots behind champion Ernie Els.

“Winning last year got me back on track again,” Kuchar said, referring to his win last October over Vaughn Taylor on the sixth hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

Did it ever.

Kuchar opened the year by finishing third at the SBS Championship, tied for second two weeks later at the Bob Hope Classic and was in a three-way tie for third at Doral. He’s now just over $1.4 million in earnings already this year, good for seventh on the PGA Tour and about $550,000 behind Els.
When Tiger Woods comes back, the PGA Tour hopes he gives them maybe a few extra days to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of extra attention.

“We need time to do it,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday.

Finchem says he gets the Woods question – “When is he coming back?” – about 300 times a day. Woods intends to remain out of golf at least until the Masters, two people with knowledge of his plans told The Associated Press last week. Finchem did not say when he expects Woods to return.

“It’s going to be huge when he comes back,” Finchem said. “And then we’ll see how … it’s going to be an interesting thing to watch, how he re-enters the game, how he plays, how he deals with the reaction to his statement.”

Finchem also said he believes Woods will return with “a renewed respect.”

“I thought he set the bar for himself, and we all know what happens when Tiger sets the bar for himself,” Finchem said. “I’m as excited as everybody else to see him back this spring, but my sense is, we’ll know pretty soon.”
Since 1983, only seven players had recorded a hole-in-one, an eagle on a par-4 and an eagle on a par-5 in the same tournament.

Robert Allenby joined that list this week.

Pat McGowan (Andy Williams San Diego Open, 1984), Blaine McCallister (Tucson Open, 1987), Gary Koch (Andy Williams Open, 1988), Jesper Parnevik (BellSouth Classic, 2002), Jason Day (Turning Stone, 2008) and Rickie Fowler (Frys.com Open, 2009) all managed the same feat that Allenby posted this week.

Here’s something else they all have in common: Even with aces and eagles on their cards, none of them managed to win those respective tournaments.
Software company CA’s deal to be the title sponsor of the World Golf Championships event at Doral ends this year, and it’s expected that the tournament will have a different name in 2011.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday that Doral will be on next year’s schedule, and that the event will remain part of the WGC series. He said CA will reveal its plans regarding the “repositioning of some of its marketing” in the next week or so.

Finchem said the tour does not anticipate having any trouble finding a new sponsor for the Doral event.
Ian Poulter had a busy Sunday. Shoot 64, fly home to Orlando and watch the Magic try to lock up a spot in the NBA playoffs.

“Makes dinner taste better tonight,” Poulter wrote on his Twitter feed.

Poulter and Alistair Presnell each shot 64 in the final round, with Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner and Y.E. Yang each getting around in 65. Of those five players, only Presnell cracked the top 10, finishing in a tie for sixth.

No one shot better than 66 in the first three rounds at Doral this year.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem arrived in time to greet the last dozen players teeing off at Doral.

In the final group was Ernie Els.

Els was among the most furious when Tiger Woods ended his three months of silence on the Friday of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the first sponsor to drop Woods. Els wasn’t aware that Woods was headed back to therapy and described the timing as “selfish.” Finchem later said he should have alerted players to what was going on.

Finchem and Els have spoken over the phone since then, but as the Big Easy approached the commissioner on the first tee, Finchem offered a smile and handshake and said, “Go easy on me.”

Els forced a smile in return.

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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.

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.

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Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.

The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.

It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.

"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.

Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.

"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."

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Rahm (62) shoots career low round at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 10:33 pm

After a banner year in 2017, Jon Rahm found a way to add yet another accolade to his growing list of accomplishments during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Rahm got off to a fast start at La Quinta Country Club, playing his first seven holes in 6 under en route to a 10-under 62. The score marked his career low on the PGA Tour by two shots and gave him an early lead in an event that utilizes a three-course rotation.

La Quinta was the site of Adam Hadwin's 59 during last year's event, and Rahm knew full well that a quick start opened the door to a memorably low score.

"Any time you have that going for you, you get thoughts come in your head, 60, maybe 59," Rahm told reporters. "I knew that if I kept playing good I was going to have more birdie opportunities, and I tried not to get ahead of myself and I was able to do it."

Rahm birdied his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole sparked him to an outward 30. He added four more birdies on the inward half without dropping a shot.

The Spaniard is the highest-ranked player in the field this week, and while many players opted for a two-week stint in Hawaii he instead came home for some practice after opening the new year with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That decision appears to have paid some early dividends as Rahm gets set to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Low scores were plentiful on all three courses during the opening round, and Rahm remained pleased with his effort even though he fell short of matching Hadwin's sub-60 score from a year ago.

"That's golf. You're not going to make every single putt, you're not going to hit every shot perfect," he said. "Overall, you've got to look at the bigger picture. I birdied the last hole, had a couple of great sand saves coming in, shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for."