Mickelson hopeful of Woods return

By Associated PressJanuary 28, 2010, 9:03 am

SAN DIEGO (AP)—Phil Mickelson is the No. 1 player in golf, at least amongactive players.

The way he played at the end of last year, and as excited as he is about hisgame going into a new season, he has reason to believe he can be No. 1 whenTiger Woods returns.

His putting feels better ever, courtesy of hooking up with former PGAchampion Dave Stockton toward the end of the FedEx Cup and getting immediateresults with a victory at the Tour Championship. Mickelson says his driving hasgone from a weakness to a weapon. He has gone to a driver with about 6-degreeloft, and his misses are not what they used to be.

Phil Mickelson, left, hits fro…
AP - Jan 27, 4:33 pm EST

And the last two tournaments he played last year, the final day turned intoa duel with Woods. Mickelson won them both.

“At the end of last year, I felt like things were starting to really cometogether,” Mickelson said Wednesday. “Taking some weaknesses and turning theminto strengths give me the confidence or the belief that this could be anexceptional year.”

It starts for Mickelson when the Farmers Insurance Open gets under way atTorrey Pines. And his season starts without Woods, who is on indefinite leavefrom his spectacular and sordid downfall.

That’s about the only thing that tempered Mickelson’s enthusiasm.

He doesn’t look at Woods’ absence as any greater opportunity than when Woodswas playing, for Mickelson is among the few that relish such competition. Nordoes Mickelson look at himself as the one player capable of bringing star powerto golf.

“Nobody will be able to … fill the shoes,” Mickelson said.

Speaking for the first time in public since Woods’ confessed to infidelity,Mickelson didn’t bother waiting for the first question at his press conferenceWednesday. He offered a pre-emptive strike filled with compassion andperspective, even if it was short on detail.

“The game of golf needs him to come back,” Mickelson said. “It’simportant for him to come back and be a part of the sport. But right now, he’sgot a lot more important things going on in his life. Amy and I are good friendswith both Tiger and Elin, and we care deeply about how this turns out.

“But I’m going to choose not to talk about it publicly anymore, and Iappreciate your understanding on that.”

More questions followed, although Mickelson refused to be drawn into adiscussion on whether he can fill the void left by Woods or whether he wassurprised by the amount of media coverage, from gossip magazines to standuproutines on late shows.

He did confirm that he has tried to reach out to his longtime rival and had“limited communication.”

“With the family—not necessarily saying with who in the family,”Mickelson said.

No one has more to gain than Mickelson while Woods is away.

He is the No. 2 player—in the world ranking, PGA Tour victories,television appeal—and even before details emerged of Woods’ infidelity,Mickelson was poised to challenge him like never before.

“My whole career, I’ve been trying to get to No. 1,” he said. “I justhaven’t had much success. But this year, whether or not Tiger is in the field, Istill believe that this is an opportunity for me to compete in majors, tochallenge him. I’ve had some great head-to-head success in the last year or two,and I expect this year—with or without him—to be one of the best years of mycareer.”

Mickelson is a three-time winner at Torrey Pines, although he hasn’tseriously contended since 2001. The South Course later was revamped and thegreens were rebuilt to get ready for the 2008 U.S. Open. Now, however, Mickelsonhopes he has figured it out.

The timing couldn’t be better.

While the Farmers Insurance Open has the prime spot on the West Coastschedule—played during the one-week break before the Super Bowl—the field atTorrey Pines never had been particularly strong. It only looked that way becauseit featured Woods and Mickelson, the top two draws in golf.

Mickelson is among three players from the top 20—the others are RobertAllenby and Ernie Els .

Storms swamped the courses last week, and while they arein good shape heading into the opening round, officials could only get lawnmowers in the rough on Tuesday. It was still thick, prompting Allenby to say ashe studied his ball in the left rough Wednesday, “We played a U.S. Open herealready. Are we playing another one?”

Els played his pro-am late Wednesday, and after missing the fairway on No.7, he grabbed a 7-iron and began a 280-yard walk. He knew that was all the clubhe could play from that rough.

The U.S. Open is the biggest trophy missing from Mickelson’s collection, andhe’s hopeful this is the year he wins that and so many other prizes that haveeluded him—a money title, PGA Tour player of the year, even No. 1 in theworld.

Still, he made no secret of his hopes for Woods. Mickelson wants him back,for himself and the sport.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.