Mickelson falls three back of McCarron at Riviera

By Associated PressFebruary 20, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES ' With darkness rapidly descending, Scott McCarron saw enough of the 18th green from 211 yards away to realize it would be one of the tougher shots he faced Friday. The way his week is going, it turned into another birdie.
 
McCarron aimed his 5-wood toward the bleachers and watched it fade beautiful back toward the flag to about 10 feet, a final birdie in his round of 3-under 68 that gave him a two-shot lead over Steve Stricker and Tommy Armour III in the Northern Trust Open.
 
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker's Friday 66 has him in contention entering the weekend. (Getty Images)
I usually do my best work at night, McCarron said.
 
Phil Mickelson will need to do better on the weekend if he wants to successfully defend his title at Riviera. He was nine shots worse than his opening-round 63, but it was easy to see the upside after a 72 put him in the group only three behind.
 
This is the first time Im in contention heading into the weekend, and Im excited about it, Mickelson said.
 
The last two groups finished in the dark, including two players whose PGA Tour debuts turned into short ones.
 
Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year-old sensation from Japan, had a 71 to finish at 2-over 144 and miss the cut by three shots. Vincent Johnson, playing on the Charlie Sifford Exemption, bogeyed his last hole for a 74 to also finish three shots below the cut line.
 
The reason why I missed the cut was I didnt hit the shots I should have, Ishikawa said. Of course, pressure and nerves had something to do with it.
 
Johnsons round came undone on the fifth hole.
 
After opening with two birdies, he was preparing to chip for par from right of the fifth green when the ball moved ever so slightly as he placed his wedge behind it. Johnson wasnt sure it moved, so he checked with his playing partner, Bryce Molder, who did not think it did.
 
Television showed otherwise, and when rules official Steve Rintoul caught up with Johnson on the seventh tee, he had to deliver the bad news. It was a two-shot penalty ' one for the ball moving, another for not replacing it.
 
It was too hasty of a move instead of waiting for a rules official, Johnson said, adding that he had a good time and learned his lesson.
 
McCarron was at 10-under 132, the 36-hole leader for only the fifth time in his career. He could not have found Riviera more peaceful in the cool of evening, with the fresh smell of eucalyptus and the air filled with the chirping of birds.
 
Then again, there were hardly any fans on the course ' except the mass of media following Ishikawa. The biggest cheers McCarron has had all week came Thursday night when he and other former UCLA golfers were introduced at halftime of the Bruins win over Washington.
 
Maybe that will change if McCarron can keep it up.
 
He loves Riviera and has felt vexed on this fabled course off Sunset Boulevard. His first time playing in the final group on the PGA Tour came ini 1997, joined by Masters champion Nick Faldo and Craig Stadler. He closed with a 73 and tied for sixth. Seven years ago, he had a three-shot lead with seven holes to play, bogeyed two of the last three and watched Len Mattiace win.
 
I love this golf course, McCarron said.
 
It showed him a little love in return, especially over the final hour. McCarron went after a tucked flag on the par-3 14th and hit 6-iron to about 4 feet for birdie, then came the sweeping cut he played around the trees and onto the green with his 5-wood on the 18th.
 
Stricker had a 66 to get into contention, which was important for his psyche.
 
A month ago, he had the lead at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Sunday until the desert wind began raging and Stricker paid for it on the 10th hole ' one tee shot out-of-bounds, another in the water, a bunker save for quadruple bogey that ultimate cost him the tournament.
 
And the next week, he missed the cut, describing his attitude as down in the dumps.
 
But he went home to the now in Wisconsin and returned ready to make amends.
 
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.
 
Geoff Ogilvy, who opened the year with a wire-to-wire victory at Kapalua, had a 67 and was in the group at 7-under 135 that included Mickelson, K.J. Choi (69), Bob Hope winner Pat Perez (66), former Riviera winner Rory Sabbatini (67) and Luke Donald (69).
 
Armour and Stricker had both posted at 8-under 134 when Mickelson teed off, and he promptly holed a 30-foot eagle putt. But that was among the few highlights.
 
He found the right side of the par-3 sixth green ' the wrong place to be with the pin in the back left and a bunker in the middle of the green ' then bogeyed consecutive holes on the back nine.
 
Obviously, Ive got to get things turned around, he said. I just couldnt get it to click. But weve got two more days.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Northern Trust Open
  • Full Coverage - Northern Trust Open
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''