Mickelson Gearing Up for Masters

By Associated PressMarch 29, 2006, 5:00 pm
BellSouth ClassicDULUTH, Ga. -- Phil Mickelson enjoys using the BellSouth Classic to prepare for the Masters the following week.
This is his last chance.
Mickelson, a two-time BellSouth Classic winner, says the tournament helped prepare him to win the 2004 Masters -- his first title in a major. But this will be the eighth and final year the BellSouth Classic, which begins Thursday, will be played the week before the Masters.
The tournament at the TPC at Sugarloaf moves to May next year as it searches for better weather. But with the move the tournament in this Atlanta suburb loses the appeal of playing so close to the Masters in dates and location.
'It's set up just perfectly,' Mickelson said Wednesday when asked about the tournament as practice for the Masters.
'It's great for the guys that came here to get ready for Augusta,' he said.
Chris DiMarco, who has three top-10 BellSouth finishes, said 'the weather will be better for sure' in May. But he said players will lose 'a great tuneup for Augusta.'
'Green speeds are very similar,' DiMarco said. 'It's always a great tuneup and I always look forward to playing in Atlanta.'
Mickelson said he spent Monday and Tuesday playing the Augusta National course, and he said the Duluth course is 'similar.'
Mickelson, who won the 2005 BellSouth in a playoff, doesn't know if he will follow the tournament to its new slot in May.
The Houston Open will be played the week before the 2007 Masters.
Mickelson said he would not play in Houston next year because the Houston course 'is nothing like what's here in Atlanta and what BellSouth does for this tournament to make it as close to Augusta conditions as possible.'
'I will end up not playing the week before the Masters,' he said. 'I'll have to find another way to get ready.'
Mickelson tied for 14th in The Players Championship last week.
'I feel as though this year I have started to play consistent golf, but I have to get over that hump a little bit,' he said. 'This week will be a good test for me to see if I'm improving.'
The BellSouth has been hounded by bad weather. The tournament has enjoyed four consecutive good weather days only twice during the last seven years.
Morning fog reduced Wednesday's pro-am to a 9-hole event, but that may be the only weather issue of the week. The forecast is unusually good for the rest of the week.
Last year the first two rounds of the tournament were rained out. The third round was played in 30-degree wind chills, snow and sleet.
Eight of the top 20 PGA TOUR money winners are in the BellSouth field.
Rory Sabbatini, the PGA TOUR's 2006 leader with earnings of more than $2.2 million, will join Mickelson as one of the tournament favorites.
Other earnings leaders in the field: No. 4 David Toms, No. 8 Luke Donald, No. 9 Arron Oberholser, No. 12 Retief Goosen, No. 17 Davis Love III, No. 18 Jose Maria Olazabal and Mickelson, at No. 20.
Donald and Olazabal were 4 under in Wednesday's 9-hole pro-am. Mickelson was 1 under.
Olazabal was one of four golfers who joined Mickelson in last year's playoff. The other three -- Brandt Jobe, Arjun Atwal and Rich Beem -- also return this year.
Mickelson also won the BellSouth Classic in 2000, another year bad weather limited the tournament to 54 holes.
'Having to play all 72 is going to be a challenge,' Mickelson said with a laugh.
DiMarco missed The Players Championship last week with sore ribs following a fall while skiing. He said he is fully recovered. ... European Tour star Colin Montgomerie withdrew from the field Tuesday, choosing to prepare for the Masters by working out in private, according to his manager. Montgomerie missed the cut last week at The Players Championship.
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''

    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.